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L e s C l e f s d ’ Or US A News l et t erSpri ng2014

Fe a t u r i n gh i g h l i g h t sf r o mt h e

18t hPa nAme r i c a nLe sCl e f sd’ OrCongr e s s2014

Message from the President I’ve saved the best news for last. The new Bucherer keys have arrived. As part of our pledge to make this a “year to give back,” we’re gifting a set to every keywearing member. Several cities are having celebrations to distribute the keys. Be sure to send your photos to our Media Director if you have a celebration. If you’re not working in an area with multiple members, the keys will be sent to you separately. All keys should be in the hands of members before the end of June.

Dear Colleagues, It was good to see so many colleagues in Los Cabos during the 18th PanAmerican Congress. We were 350 strong, with 120 from the USA. Our Mexican hosts’ warm hospitality made the congress very special. They provided us with a magnificent array of functions and networking opportunities. The congress came to a thunderous close during the fireworks at the gala on the beach.

It remains a great pleasure to work with such a dedicated board. Thank you for the confidence you’ve placed in us.

The congress included two days of General Assembly meetings. The Board of Directors presented their reports and gave a few special presentations. We also held our elections for the Board of Directors. Please welcome Robert Watson as the newest member of Les Clefs d'Or USA’s Board. Congratulations to Nathan Goff, Robert Marks and Harald Mootz for being re-elected. Thank you to Kathy McClanathan and Jerome Jeannest for participating in the democratic process and their willingness to serve.

In friendship, Shujaat Khan President

In This Issue President’s Message . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Leigh Anne Dolecki presented the upgraded and expanded Les Clefs d'Or USA mobile app, which features many new cities. Despite her new role as Director of Membership, Leigh Anne will continue to spearhead the app’s development. She looks forward to the participation and addition of more cities this year.

Recognition & Retirement Fund . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Pan American Congress Los Cabos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Members’ Spotlight. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 New Members & Southern California Concierge Association Workshop . . . . . . . . .7

The Recognition and Retirement committee gave a great presentation. We had 28 long-time members present at the congress this year. Each was given a special logoed polo shirt to acknowledge their tenure. I’m sure that many of you have seen the pictures on Facebook. During the presentation, several local associations supported the idea by making financial pledges to the fund. The NYCHAC pledged $5000; WACA pledged $2000; SFCA pledged $2000 and CHCA pledged $1000. Thank you to all contributors.

Lessons from Grand Budapest Hotel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Eugenio Chinigo and New American Express/LCD Strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Board of Directors Updates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . .10 62nd UICH International Congress 2015 . . . . . . . . .. . . 15


Recognition & Retirement Presentation The Recognition & Retirement Committee gave a great presentation to members in Los Cabos. There were 28 long-time members present at the congress. Each was given a special logoed polo shirt to acknowledge their tenure. Many have you have seen pictures of the event on Facebook. During the presentation, several local associations supported this initiative by making financial pledges to the R&R Fund. NYCHAC pledged $5,000; WACA pledged $2,000; SFCA pledged $2,000 and CHCA pledged $1,000. Thank you to all the generous contributors.

Members 25 years or more Jimmy Azbite Manuel Barrios James Carey Laurie Gordon Michael McCleary

Arlene McDermed Jack Nargil Cynthia Reid Julie Saunders

Jeanne Venn Robert Watson Tom Wolfe Eric Sofield

Members 20-25 Years Yvonne Alton Ernesto Aragon Steven Bagley Steven Beasley Inger Boudouris Richard Burton Alfredo Caliva Thomas Carroll Elaine Claros Rick Cook Kay Cremeens Maurice Dancer

Kevin Edmonds Regena Falling Charisse Fazzari Len Feiner Carlos Freire Robert Geist Gloria Hernandez Shujaat Khan Billy Kennedy Mary LaMarche Ric Lee James McCasland

Mel Odilao Mark Peterson Michael Rowland Michael Romei Karen Shor Dan Sotelo Sandor Subert Abbie Todd Lisa Treacy Barbara VanderVloed Brenda Verna Raphael Pallais

Special Recognition Marcel Babaki Loida Diaz Ted du Charm Jim Gibbs Jean Goodson Jackie Hallstead


Diana Nelson John Neary Elaine Oksner Miguel Pena Marjorie Silverman Holly Stiel

Melody Williamson Maria Wittorp de Jonge Olga Pierce Ginny Thomason Elizabeth Wilson

The 18th Pan - American Congress in

Our host hotel

A warm welcome from the Mexican delegates

Michael Romei (UICH General Secretary), Jeanne Mills (Past President, USA), and Emmanuel Vrettos (UICH President)

Key Note Speaker: Peter Bowling Managing Director, One & Only Palmilla

Michael Romei (UICH General Secretary), Peter Bowling (One & Only Palmilla), and Emmanuel Vrettos (UICH President)

Educational Symposium Speaker: Francisco Javier Suarez Orozco Director of Training & Quality, JW Marriott Cancun

Pan-American General Assembly

USA National Meeting

Los Angeles delegates

Boston delegates

Chicago delegates

DC delegates

San Francisco delegates

Membership Committee

New member Mariana Malek gets pinned


Los Cabos, Mexico April 30 – May 4, 2014

Adam Isrow, Sponsor

American Express Sponsors James Grundy, Amy Johnson & Gerald Parent

Alicia Rocha, Sponsor Texas de Brazil

Cynthia Graham & Michael Roman International New York Times Sponsors

Danny Alford and colleagues present New Orleans 2015

Michael Romei, UICH General Secretary, gave a presentation on UICH updates

Roderick Levejac, UICH 3rd VP, gave a presentation on the new, electronic international Book of Members

Maurice Dancer (The Pierre, A Taj Hotel)

USA votes for Board of Directors positions and proposed bylaw changes

Late afternoon cruise from Puerto Los Cabos, gateway to the Sea of Cortez


Q&A Session

The All White Beach Gala


Frank Hernandez is featured in GQ Article (excerpted here)

Robert Spinrad, Chef Concierge, Ritz-Carlton San Francisco Retires

A concierge can make a hotel. It can break one, too. Frank Hernandez, the concierge at the wonderful Halekulani in Honolulu, is one of the best I've met in ages. Not only did he always appear to be behind his desk (most hotels seem to have a different concierge on duty each time I walk through the lobby), but he also always had the right answers. His most charming asset was making me feel great about the choices I'd made. When I asked him to check us in online for our connecting flight back to Los Angeles, I discovered I was in row 40, the very last row on the plane. As I rolled my eyes he said, "Oh, that's the row I always choose. You get to board first and you get served before anyone else." No, neither of these things were true, as United, my carrier, is one of the world's worst airlines, but his enthusiasm was infectious.

Distinguished elegance and poised discretion describe Robe rt Spinrad, Chef Concierge at the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco. Robert began his career at the Pan Pacific Hotel in 1991, earned his golden keys in 1997, and took over the helm at the Ritz-Carlton in 1999. Robert has been active in the Northern California Concierge Association since 1991 and has served as mentor and friend to many of his colleagues.

I hope he isn't behind his desk when you visit, because he deserves to be a COO of his own hotel, although if he turns out to be the COO of Halekulani then the hotel could become even better than it already is. And this is probably the best hotel I've stayed in during the past 12 months. See full article

Over his tenure at the Ritz-Carlton, Robert has been able to create an exceptional team of remarkable concierges. His attention to detail and his professionalism have endeared him not only to his NCCA and LCD colleagues, but also to the many guests who enjoy staying at the Ritz-Carlton and who look forward to his unassuming smile and humility. Robert has brought both passion and grace to his role, consistently providing the services expected of an exceptional member of Les Clefs d'Or USA. Robert's sense of humor can make even the most cynical of us smile. Robert, it is unfortunate you can't sail there on one of the many cruise ships you so enjoy, but however you get there, Les Clefs d’Or USA sends you heartfelt wishes for a Bon Voyage!


Welcome New Members

SDCA Members Attend Educational Workshop by Holly Stiel

Mariana Malek Acqualina Resort, Sunny Isles, FL San Diego Concierge Association members attended an educational workshop by Holly Stiel, author and first female member of Les Clefs d'Or USA. The workshops were called "Spirit in Service" and “A-Z Guide on How to Get the Best Out of Your Hotel Concierge." Holly Stiel, Robert Marks (Omni San Diego & VP/Secretary LCDUSA), and Charisse Fazzari (Mandarin Oriental San Francisco & Director of Concierge Relations LCDUSA)

William Hinds The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, New York

Lydia Montez, Park Hyatt Aviara, with Lance Levitt (Enterprise Holdings)

Vanessa Torreullas Iroquois Hotel, New York

Thomas Bell Dream Downtown, New York

Presidents of California local associations: Justin Sondgeroth (San Diego Concierge Association), Keilaine Ruiz (Orange County Concierge Association), Sara Joseph (Desert Resorts Concierge Association) and Kalindra Ashleigh (Los Angeles Concierge Association)


freedom. In fact, the relationships he creates, with his colleagues and all the people he meets along the way, are at the heart of the movie. In fact, without them there would be no story.

Six Lessons from The Grand Budapest Hotel by Holly Stiel

Uphold honor and trust . Gustave promises to light a candle at the local sacristy for a deceased guest. The request couldn’t have come at a worse time, and no one would’ve been the wiser if he “forgot” to fulfill his commitment. But, he kept his promise, delegated the task

I don’t usually write movie reviews, but I’m so enthusiastic about The Grand Budapest Hotel, I would be remiss in not recommending it. It’s a beautiful, delightfully entertaining caper; often zany and hilarious and sometimes utterly ridiculous. But beyond the fun, the colorful scenes, engaging characters and intrigue, the movie also tips its hat to the real-life nobility of luxury hotels at their very best The Grand Budapest Hotel and its protagonist, concierge Gustave H., illustrate powerful lessons; not only for staff members who serve guests in hotels, but also for anyone who serves customers or clients in any endeavor. As a former concierge and now customer service consultant, I was thrilled to discover these lessons as the plot unfolded. Here are six of the gems I saw in the film:

to a trusted colleague and followed up to ensure it was accomplished. Foster resourcefulness and creativity: One of the funniest scenes involves Gustave the inmate solving the problem of finding digging tools for an escape effort. Using eating utensils he has accessed from his mealserving detail, he and his fellow prisoners, patiently chink away to create the passageway to freedom. (This is also a lesson in the power of teamwork, accomplishing the seemingly impossible with help from others.)

Make it Personal: Gustave, always the ultimate concierge, knows all his guests’ names and remembers them for decades after their visits. He makes it his responsibility to know what they want and when they want it, often before the guests even know themselves. It’s little wonder that repeat guests keep coming back to the property for the express purpose of seeing Gustave. Take pride in representing your organization and embody its values. For many guests, Gustave is the hotel and, for him, working there is a dream come true; a noble ambition and something to be proud of and cherished. He embodies the spirit of the hotel to the extent that he demonstrates the same caring, diligence and graciousness when off-duty and outside of the hotel, as he does performing his duties within it. Who he is is at least partly a function of what he does and vice-versa. Even when facing personal difficulties, unable to get to the hotel, he continues to concern himself with the hotel and its guests.

Exhibit grace under fire when coping with difficult people and situations in any context. Much of the fun of the movie is watching Gustave navigate difficult situations and contend with difficult people, while maintaining the style and unremitting grace that reflects his hotel. In prison, he continues to serve others by giving his fellow prisoners their meals. “May I offer a plate of mush, and would you care for salt?” he asks, as if it were offering heads of state fine caviar. As for dealing with difficult people, he gives his staff this most excellent insight: “Rudeness is an expression of fear, which only needs to be loved.”

Relationships are our power and our responsibility. Instead of conducting transactions, Gustave forges relationships. In his role of concierge, he was kind to a child, whom, as an adult, later saves his life. Wrongly imprisoned, he is able to turn a conflicted relationship into a friendship that ultimately results in his

Like real, live human beings, Gustave wasn’t perfect. However, he did do his best to practice honorable principles and pass along his knowledge, passion and commitment to those whose lives he touched. He created a legacy, and regardless of the fate of The Grand Budapest, the spirit of its concierge will live forever.


The Inaugural Eugenio Chinigo Award Submit essays to by September 15, 2014

Most of you remember the beloved and profound role model for the concierge profession, Eugenio Chinigo, who sadly passed away last year. Mr. Chinigo portrayed the essence of Les Clefs d’Or. In his honor, the Eugenio Chinigo Award has been created to inspire young members of our organization to continue his spirit and dedication.


If all these criteria are met, applicants may submit essays detailing their aspirations, their interest in the profession, and why they should be chosen to represent the USA at the Andy Pongco competition held annually at international congresses. The winner of the Eugenio Chinigo Award receives paid registration and airfare to attend the international congress. He/she will represent the USA as the Andy Pongco candidate in the international friendly competition.

A special committee has been formed to select one individual to represent Les Clefs d'Or USA at the 2015 UICH I nter nati onal Congr ess i n Mendoz a, Ar genti na, Apr i l 9-14, 2015. The wi nner of the E ugeni o Chi ni go Awar d wi l l be the USA nom i nee for the Andy P ongc o Awar d.    

Good luck and Vive Les Clefs d’Or!

Shujaat Khan, Maria Wittorp de Jonge and Harald Mootz host a tribute to Eugenio Chinigo during the Los Cabos congress

Applicant must be able to meet the 35-or-younger age qualification, as the Pongco candidate, at the next international congress Applicant has never attended an international congress Applicant is fluent in English Applicant has the title “Concierge” on a hotel-issued business card

Les Clefs d’Or USA is pleased to welcome back American Express as USA sponsor

Director of Service Strategy, Ms. Amy Johnson (above), spoke during the Pan-American General Assembly and presented American Express’ new strategy of introducing Les Clefs d’Or members to American Express hotel guests. We look forward to building on this renewed relationship.


Dear Colleagues,

Dear Friends,

The last several weeks, since the end our PanAmerican congress, have been busy and eventful. Upon arriving home from our memorable congress in Los Cabos, I had the opportunity to join President Shujaat Khan at a Lincoln Academy training session in Chicago. Our participation allowed Les Clefs d’Or USA to continue our collaboration with the Lincoln Motor Company, fulfill our contractual obligations, and strengthen the wonderful relationship we’ve established.

It was so great to see so many of you in Los Cabos last month at our 18th Pan-American Congress. For those of you who could not attend, you were deeply missed. I encourage you to join us next year in New Orleans! At our Board meeting in Cabo, it was determined that I shall serve as your new Treasurer in the coming year. I’ve spent the past few weeks learning as much as I can about our funds—what our sources of income are and how/where we spend our money.

After returning home from the Chicago meeting, I set my full attention to learning the ropes and the ins and outs of my new position as Vice President and Secretary. I’ll be working very closely with our President, Administrator and fellow Board members to ensure that I live up to your expectations and needs in my new role.

Speaking of where funds come from, I’d like to remind all members that dues payments are to be received no later than July 1st. If your hotel pays your dues, please double-check to make sure your payment has been received by us. As a reminder, the timely payment of annual dues is your responsibility. After July 10, a $25 late fee will be assessed to all members whose dues payments are in arrears.

My goal is to ensure that member communications continue to be accurate, current and easily accessed. Please expect to see email reminders regarding important dates such as recertification and dues deadlines, congress registration deadlines and much more from me. Once the minutes from the PanAmerican congress are finalized, they will be posted to our website for your review.

Thank you for your support and for allowing me the honor to serve as your Vice President and Treasurer. Your vote of confidence means a great deal to me. If there is anything I can assist you with, regarding the Treasury or otherwise, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. In friendship, Nathan D. Goff VP & Treasurer

I am so pleased and honored that you have allowed me the opportunity to continue to serve you on Les Clefs d’Or USA’s Board of Directors, and I am always available for any questions or needs you may have. Please feel free to contact me at any time.

Be sure to visit

I wish everyone a very successful and enjoyable summer season. In service and friendship, Robert Marks VP/Secretary

UICH has launched a new, interactive worldwide e-directory. If you haven’t received your logon invitation, please write to


Dear Friends,

Your mentoring may make the difference in the outcome. Isn’t that what sponsoring is about?

It was wonderful to see so many of you in Los Cabos. The host committee did an amazing job, and it was truly a successful congress.

Also, while in Los Cabos, we were pleased to present the Clefs d’Or mobile application during our meeting. So far we have 12 cities represented in the app, with two more cities under construction. If you haven’t logged on yet, please do, and if you have, please check back on the progress of the new cities. If your city isn’t represented, please volunteer; we want every city to be included! As a reminder, you may visit the web application on your desktop, just go to and type in the password LCD1234, your name and email address. When you do this on your tablet or smart phone a little window will open and ask if you want to bookmark it to your home page. Choose yes, and watch what happens!

I am very excited to begin a new chapter on the Board of Directors as the Director of Membership. Nathan Goff has done an amazing job in the past three years and I am grateful for his organization and efforts to make this an easy transition. By the time you read this, our latest group of applications will already be in process. I send my thanks to our committee members, the Eastern, Western and Central for their commitment to volunteer. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of sponsoring. Sponsoring is so much more than just signing the paperwork. When you agree to sponsor, you make a commitment that you will evaluate and mentor the candidate, to make certain that when he or she sends in their application; they are truly ready for membership.

It is a great pleasure to serve on the board of directors of this incredible organization. Thank you all for your support and commitment to making this organization the best it can be. I hope you have a wonderful summer.

If you are considering sponsoring a candidate, ask yourself these basic questions:    

Is he/she actively networking in the local community? Is he/she upholding the performance standards of Les Clefs d’Or? Is he/she upholding the principles and ethics of Les Clefs d’Or? Does he/she have the heart of a Les Clefs d’Or concierge?

In Friendship, Leigh Anne Dolecki Director of Membership

Make sure to mentor the candidate in areas where mentoring may be needed. Don’t be afraid to offer advice to the candidate. It is the sponsor’s responsibility to ensure that a candidate does not apply until the sponsors are satisfied that the candidate is truly ready.


Dear Colleagues,

Dear Friends, On behalf of the entire Board, we hope you find our new website much easier to navigate and a reliable source of information. Even though we just launched the new site in late April, more features will be added soon. In an effort to project a stronger image to the public and to enhance the image of our prominence in hotel lobbies, we’ve created a new header for our home page. It features a rolling photo montage of members across the country interacting with guests. I encourage you to send me appropriate highresolution, high-quality photos in landscape orientation. To ensure that we showcase our relevance to hospitality in the best possible light, photos must be at least 1000 pixels wide x 290 pixels high. Les Clefs d’Or USA’s website will always be a work in progress. However, every decision the Board makes is based on how that decision will affect our membership 10-20-30 years from now. Who knows if we’ll even use websites that far into the future?! A perfect example of this progression is the new UICH Les Clefs d’Or on-line Book of Members, which 3rd VP Roderick Levéjac presented to us in Los Cabos. If you’ve not already visited the site, I strongly encourage you to do so. It is a great and interactive resource where members are able to find colleagues around the world, and also access their own profiles to make corrections or updates. The USA Board has been considering this concept for several years. We applaud UICH for bringing it forward. In the meantime, we continue to keep up with everevolving Social Media by posting appropriate daily updates on Facebook, Twitter and whatever is next!

I hope we’ve all recovered from our sunburns. It was a great adventure! From the sunset cruise to tequila evenings on the beach, it was truly a congress in paradise! I would like to send out a huge thank you to our friends in Mexico. It was beyond amazing! “In service through friendship” seemed to be a way of life in this heavenly paradise on the tip of the Baja Peninsula. Are we ready for the 62nd International Congress 2015? It will be in Mendoza, Argentina, April 9–15. It should be quite festive, set against the stunning backdrop of Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas, and amidst several vineyards with great regional wines. There are many attractions like rock climbing, fishing, zip lines, or you can just relax with a spa experience. Registration is open on our website. We are getting closer to “Unmasking Our Potential,” the USA Congress (July 13-17, 2015) in my home town of New Orleans! It will be in the (soon to be) Le Meriden Hotel located in the Central Business District, right across from Harrah’s Casino and just a couple of blocks from the French Quarter. This will be 10 years after the last congress was in the Big Easy (and right before Hurricane Katrina). We have so much to show off. The city is shining with the bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans and not too many years from the tercentennial of the Jewel of the Mississippi River. Our group is working hard to make sure this is a great event. Put some jazz in your soul, some spectacular cuisine in your tummy, and wash it all down with some N’awlins-style cocktails. Stay tuned for more information as we get closer to the date. We are still waiting to find out where the 2016 PanAmerican Congress will be. San Francisco is considering hosting the 2017 USA Congress. I’m so excited to revisit the City by the Bay! Maybe I will even find my heart there... (I know, I know, like I ever had one to lose). We will keep you posted with congress progress. Hope to be bringing the fun your way soon!

In Service through Friendship, Kathleen Fitzgerald, Director of Media

Danny Alford, Congress Liaison


Dear Members, The organizing committee for the congress in Los Cabos did an amazing job! It was the perfect balance of education and socialization in the perfect setting of sun and surf. It was truly inspirational to see members come together and make every event such a success. Thankfully, the meetings were conducted in a timely fashion so we were able to enjoy a little bit of the beautiful surroundings! While in Los Cabos, we conducted the Local Associations Meeting; the goal was to begin the compilation of a President's Manual. In attendance were:               

Justin Sondgeroth, San Diego Concierge Association Adrian Robbins, Bay Area Concierge Association (Florida) John Wood, LCD Liaison, Northern California Concierge Assoc. Ric Lee, Northern California Concierge Association Doug Ward, Southern Nevada Concierge Association Kawai Yamashiro, Hawaii Concierge Association Kathy McClanathan, Chicago Concierge Association Domenic Alfonzetti, Past President of the New York Association of Hotel Concierges Brenda Currie, Portland Concierge Association Danny Alford (standing in for Travis Gilbert), New Orleans Concierge Association Leslie Valtin, Washington Area Concierge Association Claudia Abma, Maria Elena Miller and Amparo Valbuena, Southern Florida Concierge Association Jossell Velazquez, Puerto Rico Concierge Association Betty Salemme, Greater Boston Concierge Association Kalindra Ashleigh, Los Angeles Concierge Association

The brainstorming energy in the room was palpable! It was inspirational to have everyone working together toward a common goal. Sections of the manual were broken down and “homework” was assigned to various volunteers to develop their designated areas. It takes a lot to run an association effectively. The President’s Manual will include job descriptions of each officer, responsibilities and their relative tasks, local tax compliance regulations, a code of ethics, and insurance requirements and budgeting, to name just a few topics. Our goal is to finalize the manual at the next Leadership Summit, which takes place in Dallas this October. A Leadership Summit is where the presidents of the local associations, along with one other representative, come together to learn from one another about how to effectively lead their associations. As some associations have existed longer than others, we use this time to share best practices and offer solutions as needed. As Director of Concierge Relations, my goal is to create an atmosphere of approachability. Please let me know your thoughts and ideas, and I will do my best to always communicate what is taking place in your organization. Thank you for your trust and confidence in me! In Service through Friendship, Charisse Fazzari Director of Concierge Relations


Dear colleagues around the world: After the successful Pan-American congress that we developed in 2010 in Buenos Aires, it became our desire to bring to Argentina an International Congress. We now proudly announce the 62nd UICH International Congress in Mendoza, Argentina, from April 9th to the 15th 2015. To all our colleagues, we invite you to the 62nd UICH International Congress in Mendoza, and to enjoy all the attractions that Argentina has to offer, from the Iguazu Falls, Perito Moreno Glacier, Ushuaia, or the classic and gorgeous Buenos Aires. On behalf of Les Clefs d'Or Argentina, it will be an honor for us to receive and give you a warm welcome to our home. See you soon. Viva Les Clefs d’Or! In Service through Friendship, Mario Morelli Concierge, Sheraton Buenos Aires President, Les Clefs d’Or Argentina

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Les Clefs d’Or USA, we hope you enjoyed this digital edition of the Spring 2014 Key Newsletter. As always, we welcome your feedback!


Les Clefs d'Or USA Newsletter Spring 2014  
Les Clefs d'Or USA Newsletter Spring 2014