It was Tony Daigle's day off from his job as a concierge at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Denver. But a Ritz-Carlton customer with whom Daigle...

Share story

DENVER — It was Tony Daigle’s day off from his job as a concierge at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Denver. But a Ritz-Carlton customer with whom Daigle had worked the day before wanted Daigle to leave his suburban home, pick up documents for him in downtown Denver and deliver them to an airport south of the city.

Daigle jettisoned his day away from work to help the customer.

“Things like this happen on a daily basis,” Daigle says.

You thought concierges were for directions and restaurant reservations. They’re good for that, but much more.

“Someone needs a pair of tweezers, and you run across the street to 7-Eleven,” says Carolyn Bartels, a concierge at Hotel Teatro in Denver. “There’s no, ‘It’s not my job.’ “

When thousands of journalists, politicians, government workers and tourists descend on Denver for the Democratic National Convention Aug. 25-28, most will stay in hotels. Their days will be frantic. They will live on tight schedules and deal with demanding deadlines, and their needs could verge on kaleidoscopic. And the city’s concierges, most of whom work in more upscale hotels, will become chief helpmates to conventioneers.

Allen Scott, director of guest services at the Denver J.W. Marriott, says hotel administrators have been thinking about ways to serve the media and political VIPs that will bunk at the swank hotel since Denver was named the host city.

The front-of-the-house staff, he says, is getting ready for the onslaught. The best concierges, Scott says, anticipate what guests will want before the guests know it themselves.

“If someone is going to Whole Foods for flowers, we need to find out why,” says Scott. “If it’s for an anniversary, we will take it to the next level, start setting up champagne and other amenities. It’s an important day in their lives. It’s paying attention to the little things.”

It’s also all about connections.

“It’s a matter of knocking on doors,” says Neil Bautista, a concierge at the Ritz-Carlton in Denver. “A woman who wants a certain kind of cosmetic in Singapore when she gets there. I can get on the phone.”

Bautista says he considers networking a big part of the job. When a guest arrives with an unusual or difficult request — tickets to a Broncos game, a tough-to-find cigar, a sack of roasted green chiles — he needs connections, and he wants to immediately know whom he needs to call.

One of the more unusual requests Scott has fielded: A group of guys arrived at the hotel and wanted to go skiing. They didn’t have skis. They didn’t have clothing for skiing. They had no idea where to go skiing. Scott got on the phone and arranged everything.

Bartels has had to arrange a helicopter to take a guest from the Hotel Teatro to Breckenridge. Another time, a group of 12 needed an SUV — quickly — to make a tee time.

To prepare for the DNC, she already has contracted with a nearby salon that will be on call 24 hours a day to deal with guests in need of emergency hairstyling or pedicures. She’s also working with a dry cleaner to provide around-the-clock service.

And she’s stocking up on stuff she thinks might come in handy: men’s belts, cufflinks, Band-Aids, pantyhose.

“We don’t want a VIP to come to us and say, ‘I’m going to the baseball game and I’m taking my 5-year-old and I need sunscreen,’ and for us to be without sunscreen,” she says.