Concierge

If you’re planning a visit to Cape Grace make sure that you visit our Concierge Team situated on the ground floor.  Made up of Hoon Kim, Quintin Smit, Liezel van Schalkwyk and Ulani Bodenstein, they will gladly assist you with anything from travel and excursion plans, dinner reservations and other seemingly impossible tasks. We spent some time with them to see what makes this team so successful.

WHAT IS THE STRANGEST GUEST REQUEST YOU’VE HAD?
HOON
I wouldn’t say I’ve had a strange one but rather an unusual one. A guest mentioned that his son wanted to play a soccer game with local children in one of the townships. Not only did they enjoy the game but they also donated a large sum of money to an NGO to help towards the township children’s education. It was an amazing feeling that I could assist and be part of this experience.

QUINTIN
A guest wanted to view the body of Late President Nelson Mandela. He wanted to fly out of Cape Town in the morning, go to Parliament by private vehicle (where thousands of peoples queued) to view the body and then fly back in the afternoon.

LIEZEL
A guest, who was arriving 3 months later, wanted to go inside Ford Wynand at the Cape Garrison Artillery, a high security section of the South African Army. After speaking to quite a few high-ranking officers I managed to secure a private tour for them during their stay.

ULANI
A guest once asked me for sawdust [they wanted to make smoked meat) … that was pretty odd. I was also asked to find out why my parents gave me a Hawaiian name – the guests actually followed up the next day to get the answer!

 

GUESTS OFTEN ASK FOR ADVENTUROUS PURSUITS - WHAT’S THE MOST DARING THING YOU’VE EVER DONE?
HOON
A Huey helicopter ride and shark cage diving. I am not one that likes adrenaline and I have to admit that I almost vomited during the tour.

QUINTIN
I bungee-jumped off the Bloukrans Bridge on the Garden Route.

LIEZEL
I had a near death experience when I abseiled down Table Mountain - that's why my name is not G.I. Jane!

ULANI
Applying for this position! I never thought I would be a Concierge in a city I’ve only lived in for 3 years. I often feel like the baby in the team because of it, but at least I get called for all questions regarding Pretoria (Ha Ha! I never get called). I think I’ll be able to honestly answer this question once I have hiked up Table Mountain [I don’t exercise and my fitness level is shocking…watch this space!]

 

WHAT EXCURSIONS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO A GUEST WITH ONLY 1 DAY IN CAPE TOWN?
HOON
Definitely go up Table Mountain with the Cable Car. And don’t forget to include the Cape Peninsula tour with a stop in the Constantia Wine region. That way, you can see the best of the Cape all in a day.

QUINTIN
Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula Tour – you’ll get beautiful views, wildlife inlcuding penguins, dolphins and seals, and don’t forget the Cape Wines!

LIEZEL
Start the day with a beautiful Signal breakfast. Visit Table Mountain for an hour and watch the city as it wakes. Enjoy high tea in the Library at Cape Grace. See the city from above with a 60 minute helicopter ride around the Cape. Pre-order a picnic basket and take it with you to Kirstenbosch Gardens. After three hours return to our famous Bascule Bar for sundowners or whisky tasting if you are a fan and enjoy the live music. Dinner at La Colombe in Constantia is a perfect end! Remember: you don’t need a holiday, you just need Cape Town and we at concierge are ready to introduce you. Welcome home! My name is Liezel.

ULANI
EXTEND YOUR STAY! Too many places to see, people to meet and great food to eat – even if you could face an all-nighter, you won’t be able to truly experience the beauty of Cape Town!

 

WHAT IMPORTANT TRAVEL TIPS DO YOU GIVE GUESTS COMING TO CAPE TOWN?
HOON
I always suggest bringing a light wind jacket due to unpredictable winds, even in the summer. Plus, book the Robben Island Tour in advance as availability is always limited.

QUINTIN
Expect the unexpected! Cape Town has a lot to offer but have a little bit of patience with the weather. You need at least 3 days to see all the highlights.

LIEZEL
Bring a wind jacket even in the Summer; Cape Town wind can take some dramatic turns!

ULANI
Plan ahead! Book your tours and restaurants in advance! Then you can truly sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!

 

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF BEING A CONCIERGE?
HOON
Connecting with people in the industry and getting to know more about our beautiful Cape Town.

QUINTIN
Experience new and wonderful places, get to see your own city in a new light.

LIEZEL
Every encounter with guests is magic. Meeting people across the globe and being able to build the relationship between the guest and Cape Grace is humbling and an honour. I can say I change the world every day.

ULANI
You get to build relationships with suppliers (tours and restaurants), but also relationships with guests before they even arrive. My favourite thing is putting the face to the voice upon arrival and you feel like old friends by then.

 

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF BEING A CONCIERGE?
HOON
I always scrutinise every detail in every restaurant, attraction or experience which means I don’t often relax but, I guess it is part of my job to experience what our guests would.

QUINTIN
Guests see you as ‘the hotel’ and even if a mistake isn’t yours or your department’s, it still gets directed at you.

LIEZEL
Low season is definitely not my favourite. Not enough guests to interact with.

ULANI
Not Being from Cape Town makes it tough reminiscing with guests who remember Cape Town from a previous trip (more than three years ago). Also, you can’t know everything about everything even if you try (very hard).

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