Because it's Whale Week, we're looking at how and where the moneyed class eat and drink. One thing all whales do is travel, and so we decided to talk to some of LA's top concierges about their experiences with whales.
[Elizabeth Daniels, 1/30]
Hotel Bel-Air, a short drive up a canyon from downtown Beverly Hills, is tucked away in the woods like a French chateaux. There, Alex Niezgoda serves guest whales as concierge at the lush property, amid swans, exotic flora and modern art deco decor. Originally from Albany, NY, Niezgoda's been with Hotel Bel-Air since it re-opened in October 2011, though he's worked as a concierge in New York and around town before accepting the position in Bel-Air.
What goes into working as a concierge at Hotel Bel-Air, a part of the Dorchester Collection?
I am primarily available to help with restaurant reservations, transportation, nightlife outings, tours, event tickets, flowers, spa services, rental cars, onward travel arrangements... and this being LA, personal fitness like trainers, tennis pros, and yoga instructors.
Concierges are expected to be the ambassadors to our hotel and our city. We think that in our hyperconnected world we're all one global village, but it just makes the culture shock that much more acute for overseas travelers... It helps ease that transition when I can tell a guest I've been to where they're visiting from so I know what it's all about.
Is there a difference in working in Bel-Air versus any other locations (where you may have worked)?
I would have to say that the level of service that we provide at Hotel Bel-Air is at the highest level ... our guests reflect the highest end of the luxury travel market ... Expectations are high, and it's a concierge's job to exceed them.
What is the most expensive request a guest has asked for?
A private box at the Staples Center for a group of visiting international businessmen. Just your typical $10,000 Sunday afternoon. There was also a last minute "wardrobe malfunction" during the Grammy's last year where a personal shopper was dispatched at $300 per hour to find a women's shawl.
What is the most outrageous request?
My favorite ever is the time a couple in New York asked me to help them ship a taxidermied moose head back to the French island of Corsica.
Have there been any requests that could not be fulfilled? If, so, why?
Many guests ask us who are the best plastic surgeons in LA but we are not really able to make recommendations about this. However, we can direct them to our house doctor.
Do celebrities ever stay at the property?
Are there any regulars from abroad? Where are they from?
In the summer we welcome a lot of Saudi families, and we also have a lot of regulars from Switzerland and Australia. Russia also continues to be a strong market now that Visa requirements are more relaxed.
What are the most common requests?
Restaurants and transportation services.
What restaurants do you most often get asked to make reservations at?
In order of total number of reservations I've booked since we opened: Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, Cecconi's, The Bazaar by Jose Andres, Matsuhisa, Polo Lounge, Spago, Madeo, Osteria Mozza.
And what about clubs?
Beachers Madhouse, Bootsy Bellows, and La Descarga.
·All Whale Week 2013 Coverage [~ELA~]