An ultimate accolade for our Marvellous Moira Mdakana — A Golden Key Concierge at Cape Grace
Two crossed golden keys glint on Moira’s lapel – a subtle sign that she is a newly-minted member of the elite Les Clefs d’Or – or Society of the Golden Keys.
The Society of the Golden Keys is recognisable to hotel guests all over the world by the lapel pins of top concierges (which reflect the keys). The Golden Keys is awarded by Les Clefs D’Or, and the recognition is synonymous with “excellent services rendered by a seasoned professional”. Those who wear the pin are revered for their professionalism, integrity, local knowledge, and impeccable recommendations.
It is an incredible achievement for any concierge, but in Moira’s case, is made even more remarkable by the fact that she is the first woman in Cape Town to receive her Golden Keys and the first black woman in South Africa to have done so too!
So what does it take to make the cut? Moira explains:
“To become a member, an applicant must have served a minimum of five years as a concierge, and be nominated by two members who are currently in the Society. You are then interviewed and tested by a panel part of the Society. Once you have passed the test your application will then be presented to the committee for approval. If you are successful, you will then be presented with your golden keys.”
The benefits of being a member of the Golden Keys are numerous but primarily focused on great networking opportunities. “The keys are recognised throughout the hospitality industry, which means, as concierges, we are able to provide the very best service to guests by arranging just about anything for them”, adds Moira.
Moira’s arranged her fair share of magical moments, from engagements to special mementos for guests. “Imagine how rewarding it is to be part of orchestrating such a milestone life event for someone!” she enthused. But that’s just part of what she does in between arranging bookings, transfers, restaurants, and tours, going so far as to “anticipate guests’ needs before they even ask”.
Of course, being a top-class concierge doesn’t happen overnight. Moira’s passion for hospitality perfection was fanned into flame by an experience she had at the young age of 16.
“I had the opportunity to have High Tea at the Mount Nelson hotel. From the moment I walked in, I knew that the hotel industry and hospitality were my calling. From then on, I’ve wanted to be a part of providing the best customer service and experience for people coming to Cape Town and South Africa.”
So just what makes a great concierge stand out from the rest? Passion, Moira explains, is the answer. “If you do not love what you do then it is not worth pursuing. You have to be able to engage with all types of guests and provide them with the best customer service all of the time. So you really have to genuinely love it.”
A Golden Key Concierge is also charged with having the ultimate insider knowledge of their city. So what are Moira’s top recommendations for things to do in the Mother City?
“I really enjoy finding new places to eat. A few of my favourite places to go are Sea Breeze in Bree Street and Tjing Tjing in Longmarket Street – the food is mind-blowing and so creatively prepared.” For a great vibe on a Saturday, the Oranjezicht City Farm Market is another crowd pleaser she enjoys, the local produce and artisanal foods the main drawcards. Lastly, as the mother of a 5-year-old daughter, the Two Oceans Aquarium is always on her list. “Not only does it keep my little one busy with entertainment and fun, but the conservation work they do is incredible (and often goes unnoticed) too!”
As for things to do at the Cape Grace, Moira encourages guests to take full advantage of the 5-star service she and her team love to provide. “We always ensure we give a little more from the complimentary chauffeur service to the introduction to Cape Wine Experience. We ensure that each and every guest has a lasting memory of their stay with us.”
So what is next for our golden lady? Moira explains that she would like to marry her passion for the industry with social responsibility. “I want all young children who are in hotel schools right now and are dreaming of becoming an elite concierge to know that anything is possible through hard work. Your background does not define where you will go in life. I’ve proven that anything is possible if you set goals and work hard.”
We are so proud of Moira, and look forward to seeing her continue to thrive, flourish, and encourage others through her greatest strength – the relationships she builds, and continual warmth she exudes.
Blog post by Tarah Darge