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04 August 2008

The Art of the Concierge

Whenever we give a talk to people in the food business, the first thing we try to explain is The Blink Moment.
What is TBM? It's the 2-3 seconds you have in which to capture, calm and control the customer who has just walked into your restaurant, hotel, shop, whatever.
Screw up TBM, and you will have a difficult customer. Get it right, and the customer eats out of the palm of your hand.
There are many people in Irish food and hospitality who practice the Blink to perfection but, until we got to The Heritage in Killenard, we had never come across anyone who practised the Blink to perfection Before You Even Get In The Door.
The Heritage has several concierges, and they are masters of the art. The Art of The Blink Moment. The Art of The Concierge.
To appreciate what this means, consider what you normally understand when you talk about a concierge. Usually, it's a stuffy, old, over dressed guy who basically wants to shake you down for a tip just for opening the car door or hailing a taxi.
If you don't drop him the old pourboire, then next time he sees you he will ignore you completely.
In The Heritage, the team of concierges are the finest, most accommodating, most helpful we have ever encountered, anywhere in the world.
They know your name the minute you arrive. They know what you want even before you know it, and they know how to make it happen. They are fountains of knowledge for directions, local attractions, local specialities, arcane lore, and good jokes.
Of course, this is no real surprise. The Heritage has Donagh Daven as general manager, and Mr Davern is the best. The amazing thing is, he can get everyone in this great big complex to also be their best, from the kitchen – Robbie Webster in the restaurant kitchen, whom many will recall from Ballynahinch Castle, is firing out superb food – to the staff in the bar, to the housekeepers and the girls on reception, are all on top of their game.
But the concierges – we mention Declan, Finbarr and Dougie, simply because they were working the shifts on our last visit – take this excellence to a whole new level, to the level of Art. It is a joy to behold.