Chief Concierge at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort and a Member of Les Clefs d’Or Australia, Christian Espino was born in Manila and has lived in Macao, Hong Kong and Melbourne. He has been a concierge for 16 years and has worked in hospitality for 23. Here’s a peek into his world, including tips on Gold Coast places to visit.
Best thing about my job is…
I still believe I have the best job in the Gold Coast!
For me, it’s having the opportunity to make a difference for our guests – it can be as little as a casual mention of a milestone. And there’s a huge opportunity to create something truly memorable during their stay.
In my experience, it is the challenge of satisfying and exceeding guest’s expectations.
As guests are of very different backgrounds, cultures and their purpose of visits, we should be able to tailor make and personalise the services required by our guests.
Having said that, these challenges make our job exciting and invigorating – we’re constantly having to stay on top of what’s happening in the area, being culturally award and innovative in our thinking.
What does it mean to be a Member Les Clefs d’Or?
Being accepted to the Les Clefs d’Or and wearing the golden keys is the highest honour a Concierge can achieve in their career.
Aside from having worked in the industry for five consecutive years, an invitee/applicant (‘invitee’ because future applicants are invited by the society to apply but their entry to the society is not guaranteed) must have been in a Chief Concierge position for three consecutive years or have been an Assistant Concierge for three years, working under a Les Clefs d’Or Chief Concierge.
You must provide letters of introduction from two active Les Clefs d’Or members and letters of references from major industry sources.
You have to attend an interview conducted by the Interview Committee of Les Clefs d’Or Australia. It’s a challenging and rewarding process!
How do I become a concierge?
Working in the hospitality industry is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. Passion and genuine interest are crucial components for success.
If you possess those qualities, you are half way there already. Patience, commitment (!), great organisation, high attention to detail, enthusiasm, eagerness to learn and excellent communication skills will be crucial to work in hospitality.
It’s a competitive industry so the commitment and persistence piece is key; and network! Working in hospitality requires you to give a lot of yourself, but the rewards are gratifying.
First impression of InterContinental Sanctuary Cove?
Paradise!!! Tranquil, peaceful, calm and soothing to the soul!
A typical day as Chief Concierge
I start at 06:45am after a handover from overnight manager. I sign out master keys, pager and radio; check arrivals and VIP list.
Then I walk and check lobby area. I have a brief with the bell captain on the day’s activities and movement such as arrivals and departures.
I check emails including handover from previous night’s Concierge and take action on any pending tasks.
I drive around the Resort on a golf buggy to check on anything or anyone that may need attention, be it guests or just general maintenance that needs reporting.
Around 8:30am I take centre stage in the lobby to greet and meet departing and arriving guests.
I love to chat and take the time to speak to our guests to enquire how their stay is and offer any assistance they may require.
The rest of the day is spent taking requests via phone calls and email, assisting guests or giving directions. Each day is different and it depends on operational demands.
I may finish around 5pm and if my day’s work is done earlier I might grab a drink or two with work colleagues or hit some balls at the driving range.
I have a team of close to 20 team members that includes Bell attendants and Concierge plus two supervisors.
Most stressful moment?
While there hasn’t been anything of late, what can be stressful is when our guests do not get the service they expect – although, thankfully this is a rare occasion – particularly from unforeseen circumstances.
The opportunity is it stretches ones’ imagination on how to serve and please our guests.
Staff at the Resort are empowered by our General Manager, Monique Harmer, to resolve any guest issues they may encounter regardless of your role and title.
Just recently, I managed to pull off an engagement proposal on 24 hours’ notice, on a public holiday, with a long list of requests from the guest.
This is the time where good relationships with your network of contacts come to play.
Most common requests you get from guests
Golf bookings; restaurant reservations; giving directions; booking theme park tickets; arranging engagement proposals has been very popular recently; massage bookings; hair appointments and the list goes on…….
Favourite spots in Sanctuary Cove?
The prawn trawler St Omer docks in the Marine Village is definitely a favourite.
I like to grab a kilo of freshly caught large prawns, Moreton Bay bugs, a bottle of sauvignon Blanc from the Village Cellar and sit on the grass whilst enjoying the sunset. Bliss!!
Once you’re in InterContinental Sanctuary Cove, you could literally be anywhere in the world.
It is peaceful and tranquil yet a short walking distance from the Marine Village with an abundant choice of restaurants, cafes and boutique shops for the shopaholic.
To me it’s the epitome of accessible seclusion.
Is there anything you would love to change?
None at all!
Where do you hang out?
Paradise Point esplanade is an awesome spot to chill out.
Restaurants and cafes abound in the area with waterfront views and the esplanade parklands are popular for picnic and barbeques.
Paddle boarding and kayaking is popular here and so is fishing which I also love.
A game of golf at Sanctuary Cove on my day off is something I always look forward to as the scenery is absolutely awesome… if only my game was the same then I’d have a perfect day!!!
Best Gold Coast places to visit?
1-Theme Parks – Aside from the sun, sea and surf, Gold Coast is famous for its theme parks
2-Tamborine Mountain has got it all, stunning views, beer brewery, cheese factory, the Skywalk, macadamia and avocado farms.
3-Rainforest walks at Springbrook, O’Reillys and Tamborine National Park are delightful.
4-Surfers Paradise for iconic beaches, beachfront markets, surf club dining, shopping and surf school.
Best coffee on the Gold Coast?
I personally like Daark Espresso in Musgrave Avenue in Chirn Park. Daark Espresso serves specialty coffee (single origin from Congo is a personal favourite) and fabulous delectable food for breakfast and lunch. A must try is the chorizo potato and herb croquettes with poached eggs. Yummo!
Paradox Coffee Roasters in Surfers Paradise is a true coffee lover’s haven, it’s housed in 4217, the old bus terminal in Surfers Paradise.
Another must-try is Dust Temple in Currumbin Waters. This distinctively unique coffee and espresso bar (Hinge Art Gallery) is certainly a sight to experience!
It houses awesome thought-provoking art pieces partnered with great coffee makes it a memorable experience. Coffee in ecofriendly take away cups is from Fonzie Abbott roasters and cakes of the day are also available.
And, of course, there’s our very own The Fireplace inside InterContinental which has launched the incredible High Coffee.
It’s a first for the region and the espresso martinis are worth the stop!
Best Gold Coast places to eat seafood?
For an overall seafood dining experience, I recommend Oskars on Burleigh where seafood is impeccably fresh and innovatively presented with stunning views to match.
I have never been in a restaurant so close to the sand and water.
Insider tip: A dish which is not on the menu but if you ask the wait staff nicely, surely they would be happy to oblige.
The Oskar prawns, the batter has coconut and macadamia served with curry mayo, is to die for.
Fresh seafood from the Gold Coast fishermen’s coop offers probably the best and freshest seafood in town.
Straight from the sea, to the boat then to the customers is the only way to get the freshest seafood money can buy.
Large eastern king prawns, Balmain bugs, spanner and sand crabs plus squid and octopus are the main catch and can be bought live or cooked. A must visit in the Gold Coast.
Best Gold Coast shopping?
An awesome shopping destination is Pacific Fair. This is a shopper’s paradise and recently relaunched following an extensive refurbishment.
Yes, definitely shopping is your main purpose here but dining in the variety of restaurants cafes and bars is hard to beat. The customer service is second to none as Thomas McIntyre and his team are ready to assist shoppers and tourists at any time.
The shopping complex has its own tourist office and its services include free wifi, mobility and stroller hire, pharmacy and medical services, currency exchange, group tours, luggage storage for overseas visitors and parent’s room in all the restroom facilities in the complex.
A visitor can expect high-end European brands such as Chanel, Ferragamo, Prada and Louis Vuitton and local Australian designer brands as well.