Last month, my wife and I stayed at a high-end luxury hotel for the first time. This time, my wife’s birthday brought us to The Roosevelt in New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria hotel. One of the advertised services at Waldorfs is a “Personal Concierge”. Sounds very fancy and exclusive. But how does this work in practice? Overall, it was a net positive for us, though Hilton does seem to overpromise in some areas.
How The Personal Concierge Works
Waldorf Astoria describes its personal concierge service thusly:
Since 1930, our legendary service has made each stay unforgettable. Your Personal Concierge will ensure your every request is met, from assisting with culinary preferences to arranging details for a special occasion.
Concierge services encompass all three phases of a guests stay: pre-arrival, the stay itself, and departure. Specifically, Hilton advertises the following services during each phase:
- Pre-arrival – “tailoring your stay to your exact preferences and specifications”
- During stay – personal welcome at check-in and escort to room; assistance with special requests
- Departure – complimentary bag packing service and “swift checkout”
Pre-arrival services are rather vague, but I assumed this meant special requests like extra blankets, etc. Otherwise, the main perks are a personal welcome at check-in and the bag packing service. So how did they do on each of the three areas?
With the special occasion of my wife’s birthday, I had a perfect excuse to test out the pre-arrival service. Waldorf provides an e-mail and phone number for each of the concierges. So, about a week and a half before our stay, I e-mailed the Roosevelt’s concierge with two requests. First, I asked for a plate of chocolate covered strawberries on arrival for Prita. Second, I asked for a small refrigerator to store food for Ashok. It took about two days to receive a response, but the response? Definitely worth the wait. The concierge said no problem on the strawberries, and also offered a bottle of champagne. Sure, why not?
But the best part was her solution to my refrigerator request. She said that based on my Honors Gold status, she upgraded us to a King Suite, since those rooms had refrigerators built in! I’ve held Gold status off and on since 2010, and never received a true upgrade before. Talk about hitting the jackpot on the first win. So keep that in mind if you’re a Gold or Diamond hoping for an upgrade. Ask the concierge, and they might be able to help.
Incidentally, the concierge delivered on the strawberries and champagne. (Well, technically, a cheap sparkling wine, but good enough for me. Especially since they gave it to me for free, as I later found out.)
And she did come through with the upgrade to a spacious suite.
At least so far, I regarded the execution as A+.
During Stay and Depature
This is where I found myself – confused. Best as I could tell, The Roosevelt offered none of the promised “during stay” and “departure” services. Upon arrival, we found no concierges waiting to personally welcome guests. In fact, I’ll address this in my forthcoming review, but the check-in process was the least pleasant aspect of our stay. Nor did the hotel offer the bag packing service. That’s actually something I hoped to take advantage of, what with all of the baby junk we had. (In the hotel’s defense, I also forgot to ask about it.) I suppose we did receive “swift checkout”, when the front desk proactively offered to check us out over the phone when I called for a bellhop.
Granted, The Roosevelt is a large hotel, checking in at 504 guest rooms. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a personal welcome and escort to your room in a hotel that size. But why advertise a service that isn’t delivered? It seems like Hilton should just add an exclusion for larger properties.
Waldorf Astoria’s personal concierge does actually work, at least for pre-arrival requests. They came through on my birthday requests, and even got me an upgrade. The upgrade piece might prove especially useful Hilton elites hoping to score one. But at least at The Roosevelt, the other services weren’t offered. So keep your expectations in check. Especially if you hoped to have someone pack your bags for you…