The logo of the National Concierge Association (NCA) is three letters -- NCA -- punctuated by a key. That's because the word "concierge" originated as a French term for "gatekeeper" or "keeper of the keys."
"The position has its origins going back to ancient France where the royal household employed a concierge whose job it was to see the various needs of guests and to essentially 'keep the keys' to the many castle rooms," NCA explains on its website. "The 'key' remains a symbol of the concierge profession to this day."
Of course, concierges no longer carry physical keys with which to open literal doors. They do, however, carry a mental keychain that's full of insider knowledge that they use on a daily basis to unlock unique experiences for hotel guests -- including meeting planners and their attendees. Their "keys" today include everything from restaurant reservations and theme park passes to transportation arrangements and theater tickets.
If you think dinner and a show are the extent of a concierge's magic powers, however, you're sadly mistaken. At many properties, guests can find unconventional concierges whose unique expertise truly breaks the concierge mold. Here are five such concierges who offer special services that can help you make your meeting truly memorable for attendees:
Surf Concierge at Westin Los Angeles Airport
Between attending film screenings on Hollywood Boulevard and scouting for celebrities in Beverly Hills, it can be easy to forget: There's a lot more to Los Angeles than movies and movie stars. Sure, there's an abundance of Pilates studios and plastic surgeons, but there's also fantastic restaurants, amazing museums, and beautiful natural scenery -- including that at the Pacific Ocean, where surfing, not celebrity, reigns supreme. The Westin Los Angeles Airport celebrates the quintessential California sport by employing a surf concierge to assist guests with all their surf-related questions and to organize surf sessions for them at El Porto in Manhattan Beach, a popular surf beach located just 2.4 miles from the hotel. In addition to the concierge's sage surf wisdom, groups that sign up for the hotel's Manhattan Beach Surf Package receive 90 minutes of personalized surf lessons with Los Angeles surf school Campsurf, and will be outfitted with everything they need to ride the waves, including a surfboard and wetsuit for each surfer.
Style Concierge at Hotel Eventi
If you're like most people, you save your big suitcase for vacations, packing it to the brim with clothing to suit every occasion, from a nice dinner to a day at the beach. When it comes to business travel, however, you probably leave the big guy at home and bring your roll aboard, instead. Unfortunately, your carry-on won't fit more than a couple of go-to outfits for your meeting -- the same few outfits you always wear. If you want more looks to choose from, but don't want to haul the extra luggage, you're out of luck. That is, unless you're staying at Hotel Eventi or one of its sister properties, Ink48 or The Muse Hotel. At all three New York properties, guests have access to a style concierge: Rox Hauldren, owner and CEO of Shop with Rox. Hauldren's service begins with a pre-arrival style consultation by phone or email, which helps him determine your style preference, size, and budget. From there, Hauldren will leverage his access to exclusive industry showrooms to create a custom digital lookbook of recommended styles, including outfits, jewelry, handbags, and shoes available for purchase. Finally, Hauldren will make your selected purchases for you and ensure they're waiting in your room when you arrive. And if you'd rather shop in person, Hauldren also can arrange a private three-hour "Shop with Rox" shopping session. Looking good has never been easier.
Director of Serenity at The Inns of Aurora
The Finger Lakes region of central New York is breathtaking. Its bright blue skies, verdant forests, and refreshing waters make it an ideal place to unwind before and after a day of focused meetings. To help you do just that, The Inns of Aurora in Aurora, NY, has a Director of Serenity onsite whose charge is helping guests find and facilitate physical, spiritual, and mental wellness. Specific capabilities include providing in-room yoga kits, yoga instruction, custom-blended essential oils, and curated relaxation playlists.
Beach Butlers at Azul Beach Resort Riviera Maya, by Karismah
There's a lot to love about the beach, including the feeling of warm sun, the sound of rolling waves, and the smell of salty ocean air. There also are a few things to loathe about it, however, such as sunburns, sand in your shoes, and sweat in your eyes. At Karisma Hotels & Resorts' Azul Beach Resort Riviera Maya -- located in Cancún, Mexico -- there are beach butlers who will help you embrace the best qualities of the beach and escape the worst ones. Afraid of burning? Your beach butler will get the sunscreen. Hungry? Snacks are on the way. Bored? He'll bring you reading material or sand toys at no extra charge, and can even arrange a picnic lunch or romantic dinner to enjoy seaside.
Energizer Butler at Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino
Everyone's been there: You have to compose an important email, or make an important phone call, or take an important Instagram selfie in front of a quirky tourist attraction … but your phone is almost out of juice -- and your charger is back in your hotel room. Or worse, hundreds of miles away at home. Fear not. If you're staying at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the hotel's "Energizer Butler" will give your mobile device the juice it needs to stay awake. Whether you're on or off property, the butler will meet you with a selection of Fidus Power Bank wireless chargers that work with iPhones, Androids, tablets, and music players. Recharge once, or keep a charger for the duration of your stay. You'll never need to go through smartphone withdrawals again.