On a recent visit to Bangkok Thailand, we stayed in a number of hotels at a variety of price points. It was a pair of concierges at the Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit that made all the difference for our entire trip when they came through with an inside connection.
The Concierge Is There For You
Sometimes we forget that the concierge is employed by the hotel to be your direct connection to the city. Their job is to make your trip better, arrange for transportation, tickets, and all of it with very little forward planning.
On one trip to Asia, we had an issue buying plane tickets from the US. Our VPN attempts were thwarted and we reached out to the Grand Hyatt Erawan (Bangkok) concierge weeks in advance of our trip for them to process. They were able to get the tickets for us and charged our credit card (I even got Hyatt points for it!)
We underutilize the concierge staff in most hotel stays, but really shouldn’t.
I had conducted some mild research on Bangkok, a city we know very well, and wanted to get a seat at Gaggan if possible. Prior to arriving in Bangkok, I knew a few things about the restaurant but clearly missed an important detail. I knew the restaurant had won best two Michelin stars, that it was one of the best in the entire world (last year ranked 7th, has topped the Asia Best Restaurant lists several times) and was a take on Indian molecular gastronomy, much like the famed El Bulli in Spain.
I also knew it was closing in about 15 months because the chef, Gaggan wanted to move on and do something new. Bookings would only get harder to secure once the date for closure neared. It was probably now or never.
I didn’t know, however, that the restaurant was already booked solid for at least a month in advance. Same day – same month – reservations are unheard of.
I strolled up to the Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit’s concierge desk and dropped my challenge on poor Dee (pictured below.) Either foolishly or bravely, he accepted the challenge and got to work.
I received a few calls on my cell phone while in Bangkok (my T-mobile coverage was working well) from the hotel. First, they were only able to get a dinner reservation for the following night and asked if we could change our plans. Unfortunately, we could not – we would be in Laos.
Then we received a call that, in fact, they could book get us in that night, but only if we had a party of six to fill the seats. We could handle three of those for them (myself, my daughter and my wife) but coming up with another three seats would be tough.
We had a moment of brilliance, and I reached out to various travel groups to which I belong. I sent out messages to my Hyatt group, Marriott, etc., checking to see if anyone was in the Big Mango and wanted to help us fill a table and snag something difficult to obtain, maybe once in a lifetime. We started to build some interest, we had a couple that thought they might be able to make it work, then the phone rang again.
They achieved the impossible and between Dee and Yo (pictured below with us before we headed off to dinner) they were able to get us a table for just three. The same day. Unreal!
What’s an Appropriate Tip?
Thailand is not really a country of tipping, though we do anyway because sometimes we are just so very American. For this, I was at kind of a loss. What’s an appropriate tip? It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity (at least it likely is for us). I won’t disclose what I left but after we left I am not sure it was enough (very, very American.)
What would you leave if anything?
Have you encountered a concierge that nailed it for you and made all the difference in your trip? Where was it and what were they able to do? Did you tip, if so, how much?