The New Social Order

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Hey, Concierge!

Noah Lemaich, Nonplussed. Meet the Thompson LES‘s wily go-to guy. Go ahead: Ask him to score tickets to “Cats” for you. His claws will stay in…at the inn, at least. Now ‘snap’ to it!

Room 100: What is the most requested, er, request that guests make?

NOAH LEMAICH: “Just something good.” That’s what they say. We call it “JSG.” Dinner? A particular cuisine you are looking for?  “J.S.G” Something more trendy and ”scene-y,” or something more quiet?  “J.S.G.” Theatre? A musical or a play? “J.S.G” Are you looking to have fun, or see something that may be more dramatic? “J.S.G.”It’s the thing we hear the most as concierges.  I know, it doesn’t sound like a “request.” But its what we hear the most.

What item do guests most forget?
Chargers.  They forget them at home, they forget them when they leave, they forget to give them back if they borrow them.  Our I-Home docking stations save a lot of guests with iPhones.

What is the most outrageous request you have ever gotten, and what was your response?
After several years doing this, my concept of “outrageous” is completely off.  You want a drag queen who can sing better than most pop stars? Sure. What do you want her wearing?
A $200 chess set, gift-wrapped and delivered to the room in 45 minutes? Of course. Brass? Ivory? Alabaster?

The “simple” questions are the ones that make me feel like I’m drowning.  All it takes is one guest saying, “Where should I eat?  It doesn’t matter if it’s in walking distance. I don’t care about the cuisine as long as it’s good, just something with a good ’atmosphere’” I’ve got 400 restaurant fighting to get out, at once, and I find myself thinking, This is outrageous.

Who is more needful: celebrity guests or regular visitors?
I don’t think either are more “needy.” However, their needs are different than most people may think. Most celebs don’t need the concierge to tell them where the hottest club or restaurant is. They come to me asking for a quiet spot where they can get a superb meal or a good drink. They want me to direct them to a scene where they won’t be seen. Alternately, many of our non-celeb guests are looking for me to let them in on the new “hot spots,” the scene where they can see and be seen.

Tell us what you pack in your own bag when weekend traveling.
The one thing I’ve learned from watching hotel guests is the most important thing to pack is nothing!  Always leave room in your suitcase.  Don’t get caught fighting that futile battle of trying to find room in a suitcase that had no room to begin with.  I also keep a list of the things I find myself using during the one-to-two days prior to a trip. It reminds me of what’s important.  I’ll realize what I don’t need to pack, and also reminds me to pack some of the things that you use daily, but don’t “think” of.

What do you yourself expect out of a hotel?
I’m actually a bit scared to stay in hotels, when I travel.  After seeing how much goes on behind the scenes for us to go above and beyond.  It makes me a hypercritical hotel guest.  I always find myself thinking, “Is this up to the standard I’m used to maintaining?”

Can you most of the time fulfill a need for, say, an A-list restaurant reservation?
All of our team works hard to fulfill those requests… one of the great things about working in New York City is that there is always another A-list restaurant to try, if we strike out with the first option. What is much harder than getting an A-list reservation? Gracefully, letting the guests know you are happy to cancel, when their plans change

Describe as specifically as possible what makes your hotel distinct from the pack?
I really believe, with any hotel, the staff is what makes your hotel distinct from the pack.  With how many choices travelers have, everybody expects an exquisite room, everybody expects some sort of stunning hotel features and amenities. A hot bar, rooftop pool, or new in-room gadget, may get people in the door once… but it’s the staff that will make them stay.

Where do you go when you want someone to take care of YOU?
Manhattan concierges know they can walk into many places, flash a business card, and be treated like royalty. It sounds great from the outside, but it makes me wonder how they treat their normal guests.  I’m always a bit concerned when I see a change in attitude once someone learns what I do. I end up searching out the spots where I feel treated exceptionally well, and equally, to everybody else.

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