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Concierges Try To Anticipate Residents' Needs, Make Them Feel Secure

June 27, 2014

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By Elizabeth Montgomery

Picture this: Shopping till you drop, then having your car brought to you without the hassle of schlepping through the parking lot. And, oh yes, you can ask for a wake-up call the next morning while you’re at it.

No, it’s not some shopaholic’s fevered dream; such concierge services are one of the perks offered these days by luxury residential developments.

Peace of mind is one of the pluses these services are selling. “(Concierges) make me feel safe,” said Sam Luedke, a three-month resident of the Mayfair in Midtown. “I particularly like the security they help provide.”

Myra McElhaney, who has lived in the Oaks at Buckhead for two-plus years, said having someone you can trust to enter your home and take care of things is another advantage. She said having a concierge is “the perfect combination of living alone yet having someone there all the time!”

Concierges also help coordinate special events, book appointments, and hold and deliver packages. With a file of housekeepers, dog walkers and dry cleaners, a concierge can provide most services a resident might need.

David Jones lives primarily in California, but also has a residence at the W Hotel in downtown Atlanta. “We call on the concierge for things from arranging for our place to be cleaned (to) changing light bulbs, and dry cleaning,” he said.

Jones praised his concierge for taking care of a car delivered to his Atlanta home and arranging his wife’s 50th birthday party. The concierge also has arranged for groceries to be delivered to his home before his arrival from the airport — of course, the concierge arranged for his transportation, as well.

Concierges are “known for our international network as well,” said Alice Bouman, hotel manager of the Four Seasons Hotel. She remembered when a guest wanted an item from Bali and the hotel’s concierge took care of it.

OliverMcMillan, developer of Buckhead Atlanta, has signed up Concierge Services of Atlanta to provide safe, secure service to the 370 residential units and lifestyle center in the new retail and office district.

Buckhead Atlanta’s retail and restaurant tenants won’t open their doors until this fall, but Penny Morriss, a 17-year concierge veteran and owner-president of the concierge service, already has begun to plan out the services her staff will provide.

Kathleen Beamish, concierge for 5,800 tenants at SunTrust Plaza, is approaching her 15th year with Concierge Services of Atlanta. Beamish’s services include calling caterers for business meetings, vacation planning, ordering gifts and arranging vendor set-ups in the cafeteria.

“I help (tenants) with anything that makes their life easier,” Beamish said.

While Beamish was talking, one of OutKast’s upcoming Atlanta shows had just gone on sale, and tenants frequently came into her office asking for tickets. The concierge firm has a ticket service that holds a number of tickets just for tenants and residents.

Donna Hearn, concierge for the 156 units at One Vinings Mountain, was a teacher for 31 years. She got started working as a concierge during the summer before deciding to do it full time.

“I really like my job and I love to make the residents happy,” she said.

Sitting at a desk in the lobby of the condominiums, Hearn worked nonstop answering phones, entering packages into the system and retrieving dry cleaning for residents. With key fob in hand, Hearn checked in dog walkers and personal trainers, escorting them to the secured elevators.

“You really have to be a caregiver; if they ask it, it will be done,” Hearn said. She takes pride in her job, going the extra mile watering plants inside residents’ homes and cranking up cars when they are out of town.

It takes a special person to be a concierge, said Hearn, who works with two other concierges to provide 24-hour service. “You have to have patience, positive attitude and great people skills.”