Beyond the Call of Duty: The City’s Most Respected Concierges

Concierges are some of a hotel’s most valuable assets, as they help ensure a pleasant experience for guests. Concierges know where to find the least crowded restaurants before a play, or how to get good seats for a Knicks game. They can even locate a lost cell phone. Concierges go beyond the call of duty to ensure guests feel pampered from the moment they arrive to the time they check out.
These three New York City concierges exemplify excellence. Their affable personas, combined with a strong work ethic, enhance the stay of their hotel guests. In a city known for its abruptness, these professionals exhibit special patience and concern that make each guest’s stay more enjoyable.

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Isabelle Hogan, The Mark Hotel

With more than 17 years of experience within the luxury hospitality industry, Hogan is widely known for her extensive network and direct relationships with VIP guests. A proud member of Les Clefs d’Or concierge association, she was educated at Hotel Institute Montreux in Switzerland and is fluent in five languages. She has a proven track record of maintaining loyal guests based on her outstanding service, professionalism, and associations.

What are your main responsibilities?

First and foremost, overseeing our guests and ensuring all their needs are met—whether it’s dinner reservations, Broadway tickets, museum tours, arranging children’s activities, coordinating requests for special occasions, or others. It’s all about enhancing each guest’s experience.

What type of requests do you receive?

Mainly recommendation requests for the best restaurants, shows, boutiques, and exhibits. Also, I am often asked to share tidbits on New York’s best-kept secrets, such as taking a fall foliage pedicab ride through Central Park, complete with warm cider and Jean-Georges cinnamon donuts. No request is impossible to fulfill—my job is to make the impossible possible.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

My guests.

Memorable Moment:

Hogan was once given a briefcase that contained a large amount of money and was asked to take the guest’s daughter, who just happened to be a princess, on a true New York shopping experience. The princess had recently turned 16, and as a gift her father gave her $100,000 to spend. At eight months pregnant, Hogan accompanied the princess, a bodyguard, and the briefcase of money into a stretch limo. “We certainly didn’t come back empty-handed,” she says.


Christopher Scali, Dream Downtown Hotel

Scali was born and raised in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and has experienced New York City from a “borough” perspective. Outside of work, he plays the piano and guitar, loves to cook, and has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He has a passion for showing hotel guests the real New York City, as opposed to tourist attractions. He created WOMME, an iOS app that offers users a better way to search, refer, and provide local services in their community—all through the trusted referral of a friend. The app is slated to launch in March 2017.

What are your main responsibilities?

My main responsibility is making sure I am abreast of all happenings in New York City, including entertainment, food, culture, arts, shopping, health and wellness, and so on.

What type of requests do you receive?

Given all the food and beverage outlets at Dream Downtown, people typically ask me for recommendations about our in-house venues. My individual responsibilities include making meal reservations; providing directions; arranging shopping experiences; assisting with live music venue recommendations and bookings; arranging pet sitting and walking services; setting up marriage proposals; and engaging with pre-arriving guests via phone and email to make sure their upcoming stay is as seamless and enjoyable as possible.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is helping people truly experience New York City. Since I am a native New Yorker, I am passionate about all the boroughs and what each of them has to offer. If I can show people where I come from and allow them to enjoy New York from my perspective, they’re able to experience the real heart of New York City. I love creating little moments of magic for our guests.

Memorable Moment:

A guest explained she just lost her brand new iPhone 6 Plus in a taxi. Scali tried calling the phone, but it went straight to voicemail. He then taught her how to use “Find My iPhone,” however, the app couldn’t find the phone. An hour after the woman left his desk, he checked the app again and saw that her phone was in a taxi in Brooklyn, making stops all over town. The guest wasn’t in her room, so he decided to alert the phone. Luckily, the taxi driver called back, and Scali paid him the fare to return the phone to the hotel. Scali put the phone back in the guest’s room with a note, a big red bow, and bottle of champagne.

Juan Espinal, The Chatwal Hotel

A dynamic professional with a background in customer service, Espinal is bilingual in English and Spanish and possesses public relations talent along with a keen ability to provide excellent guest support. He plays a key role in providing seamless, one-of-a-kind service to hotel guests. Before joining The Chatwal in 2010, Espinal worked at various properties in New York and Miami, Florida. He graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a degree in hotel and restaurant management.

What are your main responsibilities?

To always know someone who knows someone so I can “make it happen.”

What type of requests do you receive?

Because The Chatwal is in the heart of New York City’s Theater District, we receive all kinds of last-minute requests for tickets to sold-out shows, reservations for hard-to-get tables at popular restaurants, helicopter or other exclusive vehicle transfers to and from the airports, and amenities to help celebrate special occasions.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

In this wonderful world of hospitality, there are many great rewards. For me, there’s nothing more gratifying than receiving a sincere gesture of gratitude for making someone’s experience as enjoyable as possible while always keeping a sense of humor.

Memorable Moment:

A guest was celebrating her best friend’s birthday, and the peak of the trip was secret tickets to see the Broadway musical “Beautiful.” Espinal showed her tickets that were out of her budget, so she proceeded to buy tickets through another website. Thirty minutes before the show, she called Espinal hysterical because she had been scammed. Determined to fix the situation, he called his sources and managed to secure premium seats to a sold-out show for the same price as the tickets she had purchased through the third-party website. Upon departure, the guest left him a note saying, “Silent gratitude is good for no one. You made my weekend! Thank you.”

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