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Confessions of an Aspen Concierge

the editors | June 4, 2019 | Lifestyle

In most places, these anecdotes might seem out of place, but in Aspen, it is just daily business making people happy or, at least, managing their expectations. One local concierge anonymously dishes on some of their most only-in-Aspen moments, and here are our favorites.

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Commercial Can Be a Doozy
On one occasion, a woman came down to the concierge desk and asked to book a ride to her plane and to send a bellman to grab her clothes. She explained she had to leave earlier than she had planned and was in a hurry. Minutes later, she walked by with a bellman with a cart carrying clothes on hangers and several high-end retail outlet shopping bags filled with belongings. Naturally, we had booked a car to the local private jet terminal. Everything made sense up until this point.

And then we got a call from the private limo company that had tried to drop her off at the private jet terminal. Turns out she was catching a commercial flight and had never taken one before. She wasn’t aware that there aren’t places to hang all your clothes, and that shopping bags can’t be checked as luggage.

Dinner Time
In most cities, making a dinner reservation at 7:30pm is apparently a normal thing to do. In Aspen, it is next to impossible, especially over the holidays, because the restaurants must manage their assets (seats) to generate the most possible income when demand far exceeds supply. Reservations generally start at 6:30pm or earlier, and 8:30pm or later, and concierge will book these a month in advance to manage guest expectations.

One time, I had an unrelenting guest who explained to me my insufficient ability to make a dinner reservation for them at the requested time of 7:30pm—at an extremely popular restaurant, that night, over the holidays. They were making a public scene to shame me into working harder for them.

I tried to explain the 6:30/8:30 limit imposed on everyone in Aspen. The guest looked at me with the wry grin of someone who had just checkmated their opponent. “Please then, explain to me what is happening in the restaurant at 7:30. Are they just sitting there empty? You are an idiot.” They knew they had backed me into an inescapable logical corner.

“No, sir. The guests who have reservations at 6:30 are eating their dinner,” I said.

The guest, swallowing hard, said, “Well, that’s what I want to do. Obviously.”

“Of course,” I said. “I’ll see if they have anything available for you at 6:30pm. I apologize for my misunderstanding.”

Secret tip: It it sometimes possible to make reservations at 7:30 during high season if you’re willing to pay a non-refundable $500 fee one month in advance to hold the table from 6:30 on. Who said money can’t buy happiness?

Four-Legged Friends
Aspen is well-known for its Western vibe, with pictures of happy people on horses and dog sled adventures. Sometimes, we have requests from guests who assume that horses and dogs are a common means of transport.

It’s hard to explain that having a dog sled pick them up at the airport to take them to the hotel would be... difficult. But it’s happened.

Sometimes, we even have to explain the difference between the two.

A Russian family once complained to me that their dog sled ride didn’t seem to have the same number of dogs as the pictures of dog-sledding had suggested. Meanwhile, my colleague next to me was apologizing to a family that was never picked up for their sleigh ride. After a confusing conversation, I figured out that the Russian family had not gone dog-sledding; they had boarded the other guests’ horse carriage that was waiting in front to take them on a sleigh ride. The Russians had done the entire adventure thinking it was their dog sled ride. Fortunately, the family whose sleigh ride was stolen from them thought it was one of the funniest things they had heard and were happy to reschedule.



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Photography by: Simarik/istockphoto.com