Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts has been pioneering luxury travel in some of the world’s best known and up-and-coming destinations. The appeal of the brand lies not only in iconic hotels in stunning locales and award-winning restaurants and bars, but also in its impeccable service and network of concierges – many of whom are part of the prestigious Les Clefs d’Or (Keys of Gold), the world-renowned association famous for the best of the best concierges.
InterContinental The Willard in Washington D.C.
Steps from The White House, InterContinental The Willard Washington D.C. has been at the forefront of luxury travel since 1818. From the Napier Ball to honor British Minister Lord Napier in 1869 and the first Japanese Diplomatic Delegation to the United States in 1860, to President Calvin Coolidge taking his second Presidential Oath of Office in his hotel suite and the hotel serving as the official White House in 1923, the hotel is often referred to as the “Residence of Presidents.”
Robert Watson, Chef Concierge and Honorary International President Les Clefs d’Or U.I.C.H., began his InterContinental Concierge journey 46 years ago at InterContinental London Park Lane. Since then, he has worked at six InterContinental hotels across three continents, spending the last 16 years with InterContinental The Willard Washington D.C. While Robert delights in discovering his city and sharing his local knowledge with guests, his personal hobbies include flying and photography and he’ll often find himself at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the headquarters of The National Geographic Museum.
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“My first interaction with our guests is always to learn about their interests and what they would like to take away from their experience,” explains Robert. “I’ll then create an itinerary designed to leave them with something exciting to discover, such as a visit to the ‘Reading Room’ at the Library of Congress, which isn’t open to the general public.”
InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown in California
Sophisticated and metropolitan, the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown was designed to capture the Southern California lifestyle at its finest for travelers and locals alike. Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles’ historic financial, art, entertainment and sports districts, the hotel quite literally brought guests to new heights when it opened in 2017.
Chef Concierge Charles Hawkins has been with the property since its opening, but this hospitality industry veteran has been shaping visitors’ experience of Los Angeles and the surrounding area as a concierge for more than 29 years. The Los Angeles Concierge Association member shares that it’s the ability to interact with people from all cultures around the world that he loves most. “I also enjoy learning from my guests,” says Charles. “Throughout my career, I’ve been able to tap into the knowledge I have gained simply from talking to past guests to further my ability to assist future ones.”
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“The hotel is perched atop the tallest building west of the Mississippi and our rooftop lounge, Spire 73 on the 73rd floor, is the tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere,” shares Charles. “I love being able to bring our guests to specific corners of the 70th floor lobby or Spire 73 and watch the views of the city take their breath away.”
InterContinental Presidente Cancun Resort in Mexico
When InterContinental Presidente Cancun Resort first opened its doors in the 1970s, Cancun was merely a budding tourist destination with much to be discovered. Surrounded by natural white sand and the crystal-clear water of the Caribbean, the resort has welcomed guests back year-after-year with breathtaking views and luxurious amenities that only world-class hotels can offer.
Though she has only been with the InterContinental Presidente Cancun Resort for six months, Head Concierge Noemi Aguirre is grateful to work for the iconic property, sharing that her work allows her to meet thousands of people from around the world and be a small part of their experience in Cancun. For her, there is nothing better than receiving a thankful smile and being in their memory as they reflect back on an incredible trip. “InterContinental Presidente Cancun Resort is a place full of tradition that has been preserved through time, and our most loyal guests choose to celebrate their milestone moments with us – from proposals and weddings to birthdays and family reunions,” says Noemi. “As the world slowly returns to travel, the resort continues to offer guests an incredible paradise filled with both adventure and the comfort they’ve been craving.”
InterContinental Barcelona in Spain
As the first luxury hotel to open in Barcelona this year, the new InterContinental Barcelona celebrates bold exploration, travel and cultural discovery as the world begins to reopen. Taking inspiration from the Mediterranean Sea and the striking architecture the city is famous for, guests will uncover nods to the richness of a European city built on Catalan culture throughout the property, inspiring them to experience the city as if for the first time the moment they step beyond the hotel’s doors.
Chief Concierge Christian Fons may be the newest team member at the hotel, but he’s worked as a concierge for luxury hotels in the city for the past 12 years. The Les Clef d’Or Concierge International member jumped at the opportunity to become an InterContinental Concierge after hearing how proud other members were to be part of the InterContinental family. According to Christian, “A concierge is such an important part of the guest experience not just in the hotel, but also the city. Through our recommendations, we create genuine connections, lasting memories and a sense of trust. As a concierge, being trusted by our guests is one of the best feelings.”
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Christian shares “When making a recommendation, my main objective is for guests is to feel like a ‘Barcelonian.’ One of my favorite experiences to share is a stroll in ‘Carretera de les Aigües,’ a 20-kilometer ancient road that snakes around the mountains overlooking Barcelona. It has some of the most incredible views of the city and you will not find any tourists here. Just locals biking, jogging or walking their dogs.”
InterContinental Berlin in Germany
Steeped in history, Berlin is a vibrant and bustling multicultural metropolis for modern explorers with a penchant for history as well as cultural connoisseurs. First opened in 1958, InterContinental Berlin is one of the most established and internationally renowned hotels in the German capital and continues to surprise guests with experiences as unique as the city itself.
For Sebastian Brill, Reception Manager and Concierge at InterContinental Berlin, being a concierge is not just about telling guests stories of Berlin, but rather helping them form stories of Berlin. Sebastian has been in his role for just over two years and brings a wealth of knowledge of the city to his role. In speaking to his role as a concierge, he revels in his daily interactions with guests and the fact that no two days are alike.
Key to the City:
“As one of the most diverse cities in Europe, we encourage our guests to uncover the city’s treasures – whether seeing the iconic glass dome of the Reichstag, exploring the new Humboldt Forum celebrating art, culture and science, or finding calm with a cup of coffee in hand at Hackesche Höfe, eight beautifully-restored courtyards in Mitte,” remarks Sebastian.
InterContinental Porto – Palácio das Cardosas in Portugal
InterContinental Porto – Palácio das Cardosas redefined Porto with its new concept of luxury, elegance and sophistication when it opened as the first international luxury hotel in the historical city center and the first InterContinental hotel in Portugal in 2011. The hotel is a renovated 200-year-old palace set in the city’s main square that has become a local landmark, never going unnoticed by visitors or locals.
Concierge Tiago Morais has climbed the ranks at InterContinental Porto – Palácio das Cardosas, working his way up from a trainee to a bellman and then a front office receptionist before transitioning to the role of concierge in 2017. Though he calls it an enormous pride to work for the hotel, he’s most excited to come to work each day to show guests what the city of Porto has to offer, especially when it comes to culture and gastronomy. “When guests tell me they are in love with Porto and want to come back or live in this city, it makes me happy knowing my recommendations were strong and I’ve done my job,” says Tiago.
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“When you arrive to the city of Porto, you feel the magic, the culture, the history and the warmth of its people who welcome explorers from around the world,” comments Tiago. “A visit to the Invicta Gin School, the first urban distillery in Portugal, is not to be missed. After a three-hour guided tour, you will have the opportunity to select and blend botanicals, creating your own unique gin that you can bring home to sip on as a reminder of your time in Porto.”
InterContinental Amman in Jordan
Perched atop one of the seven hills of Amman, InterContinental Amman (Jordan) was opened by His Majesty The Late King Hussein in 1963 as the first international five-star hotel in Jordan. The hotel is located in a city of contrasts, showcasing a unique blend of old and new – in the heart of the diplomatic area, within walking distance to the old city center and a short ride to popular sites, such as the Citadel. Today, the iconic landmark welcomes international visitors with cosmopolitan amenities and experiences with a Middle Eastern touch.
Chief Concierge and Les Clefs d’Or member Raafat Debas began his journey as a concierge in Amman in 2008 and has served as Chief Concierge at InterContinental Amman (Jordan) since 2017. According to Raafat, the word “no” is not one that’s in his vocabulary, revealing that a good concierge is creative and rises to the challenge of crafting authentic, meaningful experiences.
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“Jordan is a traveler’s wonderland where you can experience the country in countless ways while being accompanied by Arabic music and various natural phenomena,” shares Raafat. “I had the opportunity recently to visit Beit Sitti, which offers an authentic Arabic cooking lesson and is an amazing way to complete your tour of Amman. You’ll prepare and share a meal together with your travel companions on the terrace – and walk away with some great recipes to recreate at home.”
InterContinental Phuket Resort in Thailand
Sleek, sophisticated and elegant, InterContinental Phuket Resort is a beachside hideaway cocooned by jungle covered hills with heavenly views of the Andaman Sea. As the InterContinental brand’s first property in Phuket, the resort is a visual and architectural showcase rooted in Thai traditions and craftsmanship to bring discerning travelers on a multi-sensory journey that heightens curiosity of the destination.
Chief Concierge Maitree Yaipun, known to guests as Mike, is truly in-the-know when it comes to assisting guests. Not only has Mike worked in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years, but he’s been a member of the prestigious Les Clefs d’Or since 2010. Before joining the team at InterContinental Phuket Resort, Mike served as Chief Concierge for InterContinental Hua Hin Resort. He’s passionate about curating memorable and meaningful experiences for his guests and, to do so, believes in diving into the experience himself – truly spending time in a place, connecting with an owner or speaking to those nearby to understand its story.
“Phuket Island is a paradise for every sort of traveler with its exotic beaches, colorful night markets, delicious seafood and plethora of water activities. With Thailand’s reopening to tourists, we’re excited to curate unexpected and unique experiences for our global guests again, such as securing exclusive access to a certain Phuketian house with a story that dates back more than 100 years,” notes Mike.
ANA InterContinental Tokyo in Japan
ANA InterContinental Tokyo mirrors the rich diversity of the city it has called home for 35 years. The lobby’s dynamic buzz calls to mind Tokyo’s famous street scenes while the hotel’s exceptional culinary experiences reflect the city’s world-class dining reputation. Since its opening, InterContinental Concierge have guided guests in uncovering a new side of the city of Tokyo.
Julian Cole, Chief Concierge, has served as a concierge for more than 15 years, the last three of which have been at ANA InterContinental Tokyo. Before relocating to Tokyo, he spent nearly three years with InterContinental Sydney as Concierge. Julian shares what he enjoys most about being a concierge is the genuine thank you from a guest who has truly enjoyed an experience he’s suggested. Ever the explorer, Julian is always seeking out new places and hidden gems to help guests discover the city.
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“On a nearby rooftop building, there’s a disused helipad that offers stunning views of Tokyo from the 54th floor. It’s completely open to the elements and truly something special,” reveals Julian. “Also, located right next to the hotel is Suntory Hall. It’s considered one of the finest in the world for its acoustics, hosting some of the world’s most famous orchestras. For those lucky enough to be close by, they hold a free under-the-radar concert once a month.”
InterContinental Chongqing Raffles City
Part of Raffles City Chongqing, a new modern landmark from world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie that draws inspiration from the region’s unique terrain and culture to create an image of powerful sails with eight skyscrapers, the year-old InterContinental Chongqing Raffles City is auspiciously located at the confluence of the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers where old and new collide.
Wilson Zhou originally joined InterContinental as a pre-opening concierge at the former InterContinental Chongqing Jiefangbei in 2006. At the start of 2020, he returned to his InterContinental roots joining InterContinental Chongqing Raffles City as Chief Concierge. His goal for every guest is to make their experience so memorable that they will recommend the property to their friends when they return to their own city. “InterContinental Concierge make the first and last impression on guests,” shares Wilson. “In an era when luxury travel is being redefined, speaking to guests with greater depth and breadth gives them deeper understanding as they explore.”
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Wilson says, “Travelers often come to Chongqing looking to taste authentic noodle and hot pot – and what better way to experience this than dining where the locals do. Sitting on the rooftop terrace of Tai Gui Hotpot, in this old residential compound surrounded by skyscrapers in bustling Jiefangbei CBD, offers a juxtaposition of old and new, signature to Chongqing.”
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