Whistler welcomed the Fairmont’s Daniel Havens to the prestigious Clef D’Or Society, the hotel industry’s top international honour for concierges, in a ceremony last week.
“Le Clef D’or are considered to be the top concierge professionals in the world,” said Havens, who joins the more than 3,000 concierges in 43 countries who wear the Clef D’Or, or golden key, on their lapel. “The well-seasoned, travelled guest recognizes the keys and is knowing that they can go to that smiling face and rest assured that they’re going to get the quality of service that they are looking for.”
Havens brings 35 years of service industry experience to the table, including the past eight he’s spent as a concierge at the Fairmont, and is one of only three others in Whistler with the Clef D’or distinction.
He hopes that being in the Clef D’Or Society will provide more networking opportunities within the industry, an important aspect of any concierge’s work.
“Through networking we give ideas to each other, feed off of each others’ experiences … to better ourselves not only professionally, but personally as well,” he said. “I feel that Whistler and Vancouver are so close-knit, but on the concierge side of things, we really haven’t begun to explore that as much, and I think with having another key in the valley, it strengthens that force and it will eventually close that gap that’s there.”
A typical day on the job for Havens “goes by very quickly” on the Fairmont’s Gold Floor, which the Chateau calls “a hotel within a hotel” that offers personalized service for the discerning business and leisure traveller down to every last detail.
“It’s almost like you have personalized concierge service up there,” said Havens. “When you are not on the phone, you are taking care of guests’ required desires and requests, making reservations for activities, dinners, ski lessons or flight arrangements for our guests in-house, or for incoming future guests. In the midst of all this going on, you are still assisting all the guests who walk up to the desk asking for recommendations, advice or simple directions.”
Havens said time management is key to any concierge, but especially for those working in Whistler since most travellers visit for a short amount of time and want to experience all that the town has to offer during their stay.
"I think one of the greatest luxuries we can provide for our guests these days is time, our service as a concierge can make the most of that,” he said. “We end up doing itineraries for our guests that come into Whistler from A to Z, from the time that they get off the plane to the time they get back on to fly home. We’re fortunate in that sense because … we get to build quite a unique and a close bond with a lot of our guests, which end up being repeated with yearly visits from them as well.”
Havens was awarded the Clef D’Or in a ceremony last Monday (Dec. 3) at the Vancouver Art Gallery.