Concierge Confidential: The Secrets of Serving Champagne Bitches and Caviar Queens

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9781250002730: Concierge Confidential: The Secrets of Serving Champagne Bitches and Caviar Queens
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New York City's top concierge gives up a keyhole view into the luxe hotel rooms, private dining and dressing rooms of the ridiculous, rich and demanding

Michael Fazio is the ultimate behind-the-scenes support man. Want two orchestra tickets to the Broadway musical that just won the Tony? Call Fazio. How about an upgrade to first class on an overbooked overnight flight to Tokyo? Call Fazio. Or a roomful of fresh hydrangeas―in winter? That's right. Call Fazio. From his early start as the harried and neglected personal assistant to a typical L.A. casting agent, Fazio took what he learned there and moved into concierge work at New York City's Intercontinental Hotel, where he was eventually able to parlay his services into a large and successful business of his own.

In Concierge Confidential, Fazio reveals the behind-thescenes madness that goes into getting the rich and famous what they want, and shares some great insider knowledge on how to get access to the unattainable without making the concierge, waiters and other service people crazy.

A few of Fazio's tips include:
· When and how much to palm in tips
· How to get a seat or ticket to the hottest thing in town
· How to avoid being labeled a rube the minute you walk through the door
· How you can become your favorite store or restaurant's most beloved customer
· And much more

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About the Author:

MICHAEL FAZIO is a partner in Abigail Michaels Concierge, Manhattan's premier concierge business, serving almost 20,000 condominiums, hotels and private clients. He has been featured in a wide variety of publications, including The New York Times, The New York Post and Crain's New York Business, and is a recurring guest on ABC's The View. He lives in New York City.

MICHAEL MALICE is the co-author of Made in America: the Most Dominant Champion in UFC History, a New York Times bestseller, and the subject of Harvey Pekar's Ego & Hubris. He lives in Brooklyn.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1.
 

Almondgeddon
You sell the sizzle, and not the steak.
There’s no apartment building more sizzling than The Setai Wall Street, which has the chutzpah to describe itself as “the world’s most privileged condominium”—and the reputation to back it up.
It’s as dark as a nightclub in the lobby, with Buddha Bar music playing in the background. It smells very exotic, too. You can’t really tell if it’s fresh gardenias, or if they have scented candles, but it definitely smells very nice—and very, very rich. The floor is covered with beautiful silk rugs, and the walls are adorned with gigantic tribal jewelry pieces framed in boxes that protrude almost a foot off the wall. You’d expect there to be some Playboy Playmate in a gorgeous nightgown, smoking a cigarette and dipping into caviar, lounging on the sofa in the lobby.
My concierge company had long since taken concierging outside of the hotel context and into luxury buildings, but there’s luxury and then there’s luxury. When it came to our relationships with buildings, we always got the “nice girl,” the Betty. We never got the fancy, sexy Veronica—and The Setai was definitely Veronica. Being a concierge is often about trying to get behind the velvet rope. Getting The Setai would be like jumping over the rope and parking ourselves there, so that we’re not on the other side constantly trying to push our way in. We’d be in a position to decide who gains access.
I wanted to send in a proposal when The Setai was first going to open, but it was hard to sit down and focus. Concierges do more before nine o’clock than most people do in a day. As my staff and I had our meeting, the discussions settled around:
Do organic tampons only come in one absorbency? (They do? Order a crate, then.)
Ms. Strauss wanted Ciao Bella to deliver a salad with grilled chicken to her apartment on Tuesdays and Fridays at noon—but Ciao Bella isn’t open for lunch, and they don’t deliver. Her “second choice” restaurant, Jacques, is also not open for lunch. Plan C?
Mr. Jaiswal was just inoculated when he climbed Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Are there inoculations specific to Rwanda for his next trip? (Yes—and how.)
Ms. Sheehan needs to be called. Someone needs to remind her that she can’t tell anyone where she got her $5,500 ticket for the premiere party for the new Sarah Jessica Parker movie. She also wants to get private typing lessons.
“I don’t remember the brand name,” Daria reads from a client email, “but I just returned from Moscow and I saw an air purifier in the window of an electronics store. It was really sleek looking and modern. Can you get one of those for me?”
Car service is a must for Robin, our jeweler, who will be carrying $100,000 worth of diamonds to Mr. Stadtmiller’s office. He’s “too busy” to go into the store; maybe the diamond studs aren’t for his wife? He also wants a second-hand television for $75 or less delivered to his office—today.
There is a pop-up restaurant in Paris sponsored by Electrolux. You can only make reservations online, they are only open for a year—and they are totally booked. Does anyone have a vacuum cleaner connection? (Action item: make contact with the director of corporate communications for Electrolux in Milan.)
Who knows the best Jewish bakery in the Marais area of Paris?
Any ideas for a fifty-eight-year-old’s bachelorette party? Anyone?
But if my mind was in the countless requests we were working our way through, my heart was focused on finding time to write that business proposal for The Setai. It was the days of yore—2007—when Soho House still mattered and people fought for reservations at Spice Market. The market had yet to crash, and The Setai was going to be the new playground for all the hedge funders sick of Core Club.
I met countless times with their marketing people over the following months, and presented every possible scenario to get the account. I tried the deluxe plan: Four people on duty at all times! White gloves! International coverage for members! Then I suggested the economy plan: Two people covering fourteen hours a day between them, gloves optional.
No matter what I said, they weren’t biting. But apparently someone in the company thought enough about me to add me to their email list, and I kept track of everything that was going on in The Setai. I knew when the south elevator would be closed. I learned about March’s spa schedule. Regardless of the subject line of the email, I made sure to read the thing. One day I noticed that the emails had a new footer:
Enjoy,
Crystal Springs
Director of concierge services, Setai Club, Wall Street
Crystal Springs? Crystal Springs? I thought they would have had some really hot Scandinavian model or a real-life Bond Girl. But Crystal Springs sounded like an off-brand bottled water, or some teenage deodorant. I printed out the email and brought it over to my partner, Abbie Newman. She’s the “Abigail” in Abigail Michaels Concierge (except her full name isn’t really Abigail, but who cares). “Look at this!” I said. “Someone named Crystal Springs is the concierge at The Setai!”
“That name sounds familiar,” Abbie said. Abbie knew everyone and could out-schmooze anyone. I wouldn’t be surprised if she told me she used to sit down on Sundays to watch The Ed Sullivan Show with Howard Hughes. “I’ve either met her or I just bought a candle with that scent.”
“Let’s look her up online,” I suggested.
We found pictures of Ms. Springs, and I understood it immediately. She was pretty and she was only about thirty years old. I could laugh at her name, but at the end of the day she was doing The Setai—and I wasn’t.
PEOPLE YOU’D ASSUME WOULD MAKE GREAT CONCIERGES—BUT WON’T
The Party Girl Who Hangs Out at All the Hotspots. She might forget to put your name ahead of hers on the “list.” Hangovers can also hamper her service skills in the “early” morning hours before noon.
Out of the blue, I got a call from the club manager. He’d spent decades in the hotel industry; he wouldn’t even glance at something that didn’t bear five stars. “Michael? This is Toma Vaca.” At least that’s what his name sounded like, filtered through his thick French accent. “I want to know what is your idea on how you do Setai.”
“What do you mean?”
“Do your people come here or we call you?”
“There’s many ways we could do it,” I said, trying to decipher his idiom (which is part of the job, anyway). “We could have an on-site person, or you could call into our office remotely and we could handle requests that way.”
“Because Crystal, she tell me she is no more. She is gone!”
“Really?” She left The Setai?
“She done wonderful work, she taken really good care of the people, but she not happy and she got another job for a hedge fund company as their social director. I really, really want to do this, and can you give me a proposal?”
“Sure.”
“Can you have it in an hour?”
“Uh ... No.” I hadn’t sent him proposals for months; most of the data I had was no longer relevant. So I spent the entire weekend working on two new tentative proposals. Toma Vaca took them to the owner and we got approved immediately.
“We want to do one of these,” Toma Vaca told me. “But I think it’s going to be the smaller one. Let’s have a meeting.”
Toma Vaca should have been an artist, because the picture he painted of The Setai’s clientele was exactly what I had suspected. Rock stars hobnobbing with hedge fund superstars—in other words, the kind of people who would suck the life out of you. The building was not only a luxe condo, but also a private membership club. It was clear that the residents would be using our services the most.
“So how many members do you have?” I asked him.
“Oh, we’re doing very well on the membership. The members, they like to have very nice. Very nice Porsche, they drive. Celebrities, they like to come. Oh, the luxury!” He wasn’t speaking English, and he wasn’t speaking French. He was speaking Keyword.
He couldn’t answer many basic questions, but it didn’t really throw me. Part of a concierge’s job is ascertaining what someone wants, even if they don’t have the vocabulary to explain what that thing is. Besides, I had an entire week before they wanted us to take over. I was used to delivering things “now, now, now!”
“All right, look,” I said. “I need Crystal to download everything to me. First, so I can understand if you’re making the right choice with this skeleton crew that we’re going to be putting in here. And second, I want to make sure for my own self that we didn’t underbid this.”
The next day, I had an appointment to see Crystal. I had seen her pictures online, and I had left the bathroom smelling like her, but I had yet to meet her. I brought along Daria, our VP of client services. She’d been in the concierge business even longer than I had.
The doorman pointed us to Crystal’s office, and we sat down and waited for her. The room itself, like most back-of-the-house office spaces, was pretty industrial and not at all elegant. I slowly looked around at the mess that was everywhere. Peeking out from under her desk was a pair of really expensive shoes. The combination of those two things should have warned me about what was ...

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