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The Art of The Concierge


When we think of a concierge, most of us will think of swish 5 star hotels where knowledgeable and well-connected staff will ensure that the wishes of their clients, from a table at the best Michelin star restaurant to filling a room with roses for a romantic engagement, are met with professional efficiency. But the role is much older in origin than the Savoy Hotel or Claridge’s or their ilk.

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The term was first used in France around 1697 to mean doorkeeper or landlord’s representative. There is some dispute as to the origins of the title – one theory being that the word is a contraction of ‘comte des cierges’ or keeper of candles, meaning the servant responsible for lighting the castle. Other ideas relate the origin of the word to keeper of keys and there was a famous prison in Paris, the Conciergerie which is where Queen Marie Antoinette spent her last hours. The word is also said to be from the Latin ‘conservus’ meaning ‘fellow slave’ but the development is definitely French.

By the 19th century a concierge was a common sight in all apartment buildings and in Paris was often known as a “Suisse” as the position was often filled by Swiss people. The concierge usually had a small apartment on the ground floor, known as La Loge, from where they could keep an eye on all the comings and goings. These ‘observational’ skills were often put to good use by fictional detectives such as Maigret in Georges Simenon novels.

From filling a bath with champagne or chocolate, concierges at top hotels aim to fulfil all wishes as long as it’s not illegal or unethical. One concierge at the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel, was even asked to arrange a $15,000 wedding for a guest’s dogs including an ordained minister and catering. For the very top of the profession, the goal is to gain admittance to “Les Clefs d’Or”, the prestigious organisation for concierges from the top luxury hotels in the world.

Whilst we at SkiBoutique haven’t quite reached those dizzy heights (yet!), we do aim to ensure that with our PA service, all aspects of your holiday are taken care of in advance. With nearly 50 years’ experience of living and working in the Alps, we know our resorts like the back of our hands. We can organise ski instructors, book lunch or dinner at the best places, sort childcare, arrange transfers and even have your favourite flowers delivered to the chalet for your arrival. All you need to do is enjoy your holiday.