HALIFAX — James Robar knows exactly what led him to his job as a concierge, a job he loves.
“Sheer luck,” he said.
As a young man, Robar moved from Bridgewater, N.S., to Halifax with no clear idea of what he wanted to do with his life. After some service industry jobs, he went back home and took a two-year hospitality course.
“Then I came back to the city and started at the bottom, working in laundry, housekeeping, banquets, you name it, just to get my foot in the door,” said Robar, who has been at the Radisson Suites Hotel for almost 12 years.
As a concierge, Robar said his job description is to “do anything that is needed” for guests.
“The thing that comes to mind that I do the most is making reservations for dinner,” he said. “I would have some pull that way because I have the contacts. (Restaurants) know who James at the Radisson is; they know how much business I bring their way so they will squeeze somebody in and make room for a table.”
“We had a guest that was checking out and her luggage was accidentally put in the wrong vehicle. Another group of people were here for a golf tournament and they had all their luggage piled in the corner. They were loading up vans and grabbed this lady’s luggage by mistake.”
“I knew who the guests were and how to contact them in the van. They were on their way to Moncton (N.B.), but I caught them before they hit Truro, got them to stop at a hotel there and drop off the bag. The guest who lost her bag was on her way to P.E.I., so she was able to pick up her bag in Truro.”
Robar’s devotion to guests of the hotel is such that he recently won the right to wear a badge of gold keys on his lapels, emblematic of membership in Les Clefs d’Or (Golden Keys).
The organization has 3,000 members in more than 30 countries, mostly working at four- or five-star hotels.
Some high-end hotels hire only Clefs d’Or members for their concierge staff.