Who knows what’s happening in a city better than a hotel concierge? As the point of contact for hotel guests seeking information or assistance during their stay, they need to be extremely knowledgeable about a great number of things, from where to eat to what is the current hottest play to see to where to get a fabulous blowout. It’s a tough, but rewarding job.
Each month, Inside Vancouver will get to know one of Vancouver’s top concierges, by putting six questions to them. This month, we interview Alex Monetta, Concierge at the recently rebranded Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver Harbourfront (previously known as the Renaissance Vancouver Harbourfront Hotel).
Located in the upscale Coal Harbour neighbourhood, the trendy 442-room boutique hotel offers wide-open views of both the city and waterfront, and personalized service to make guests feel right at home. And we love that it’s dog-friendly, too!
How long have you been a concierge?
I moved to Vancouver from Santiago, Chile, 20 years ago and instantly fell in love with the city. I enjoyed the tourist experience so much, it didn’t take long for me to take a job as a tour guide for VIP Tour Guide Services. Being a multilingual speaker (English, Spanish and Italian) opened many doors for me in the industry, and within five years I landed my position as concierge of the Renaissance Hotel, which has recently been rebranded as the Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver Harbourfront. After 15 years, I can proudly say I am as much a tourist today as I am a concierge; every day is an opportunity to discover something new. I love my job.
What is your favorite part about being a concierge?
The thrill of the unknown. Every day presents a new challenge, and some really keep us on our toes. It’s a very powerful feeling to be able to transform an ordinary travel experience into an extraordinary memory for someone.
Name one service you offer as a concierge that you think makes a guest’s stay all the better?
When we are on a mission to help a guest, it always amazes me what we can achieve. Recently we had a couple staying with us who had lost their house and car keys at Long Beach, Tofino. Through some networking with our friends in the industry, we not only found the keys, but flew them back to YVR, where we picked them up to deliver back to our guests along with a chilled bottle of B.C. wine to celebrate. Sometimes when you just do what you can, you’d be surprised how much that really is.
What is the strangest request you’ve ever had from a guest?
Years ago, we had a guest in from Mexico. He was an avid collector of turtles, and was looking for a very particular species. After making calls to every pet store we could think of, as well as veterinary and customs offices, we managed to find the little guy. But the most amusing surprise was that the gentleman planned to return the turtle home in his jacket pocket.
What is your favourite activity to do in Vancouver?
The Vancouver area has so many incredible things to discover, but my favourite and perhaps most unique, is the free English language meditation class at the International Buddhist Temple in Richmond. They create a very open and accepting atmosphere for what is a fantastic cultural experience, and a true illustration of the unique melding of cultures that is Vancouver.
From there I like to visit Steveston Village where you can buy a fresh salmon directly from the boat it was caught on, and enjoy a glass of the best lemonade in the city from the Village Burgery.
Name three local restaurants that you enjoy dining at:
I would start my dining experience at Tap & Barrel in Coal Harbour, with a cool beer overlooking the most amazing view of the harbour. They have a large selection of beers on tap, including delicious gluten-free beer.
My next stop would be at Chewies, for fresh oysters, fried ‘gator and hush puppies. The service at Chewies is not only professional and friendly, but also very easy on the eyes.
Then for my favorite part… desserts at Mosquito in Gastown! Their mouth-watering desserts and cocktails are the perfect ending for the day!
Thanks Alex for chatting with Inside Vancouver this month!
Follow Lesley on Twitter @lesleyemirza