Insider Interview: South Pacific Concierge Teams
There’s an element of mystery in any hotel concierge. How do they come by their expansive knowledge? Whose secrets do they keep? Which questions stump them?
We had a chance to interview a team of people who hold what many would describe as a dream job: concierge at luxury South Pacific resorts. These are no surf bums: across the board, their dedication to their guests stands out, and more than wishing to revel in their paradisaical environments, their main goal is enabling their guests to enjoy it. When we asked the concierges to name the best part of their day, we thought they might describe the beautiful sunsets or the impossibly famous celebrities they get to meet. But (and it shouldn’t have come as a surprise), each one answered: “Helping people.”
Rather than through specific training, a concierge is formed through a variety of experiences and education. Yumi Refalo of InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa says that “motivation and passion” are the building blocks of a good concierge, although a background in tourism, food & beverage, or cultural studies often begins the career. Many got their foot in the door in other destinations before graduating to the South Pacific. Laure Salabert, Head Concierge at InterContinental Bora Bora & Thalasso, learned the ropes in Europe, but it’s her “passion to advise and guide the guests to make their dreams come true” that she calls her most important skill.
Teiva Milz grew up in the Midwest before moving to Tahiti to become first a bellboy, then Doorman, and eventually Head Concierge at the InterContinental Tahiti. For him, it’s “the unpredictability of the guests’ questions,” he says, that “keeps the job exciting.” For Veronique Bellivier, concierge at the InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana, “nothing is more touching than the wonder-struck regard and the sincere ‘thank you’ of an enchanted customer” as a reward for her dedication.
Laure Salabert: One of our guests spent five weeks in French Polynesia, traveling around the different archipelagos, and he had fallen in love with Tiki, the Polynesian god. He took so many pictures of different types of Tikis he met during his trip. His other passion was chess, so he asked me to find a local artist to carve in stone a chessboard and figurines according to the pictures he had taken. It took me two days but I found the craftsman in Bora Bora who could do it!
Yumi Refalo: Aquablue, the helmet dive, offers a very unique, safe, and fun way to explore the underwater world and it’s accessible to everybody. It’s often considered an activity for kids or non-divers, but even certified and experienced scuba divers can enjoy it. You can have an experience that’s very different than scuba diving. During your exploration, it gives you a feeling of no gravity– you won’t regret it!