“Yes we Cannes!” 66th International Les Clefs d’Or Congress

Written by Antione Garandeau, Trump Waikiki Hotel

This is a personal account of my first Les Clefs d’Or International Congress in March of this year in Cannes, France.  The event, hosted in the birthplace of the first-ever International Congress of the Organization, also marked the 90thAnniversary of Les Clefs d’Or France making it an amazingly inspiration and poignant occasion.  

Friday March 22nd, 2019: 2:00PM and I just got off the train station from my hometown after a two and half hour ride. It is a beautiful spring day on the French Riviera also known as the “Cote d’Azur”. Checking in at the Gray d’Albion, one of the hotels hosting the Congress, the excitement is palpable as concierge from around the world are welcomed by the French-based committee who organized the event. Although I am meeting many for the very first time, I instantly feel a connection, as though we are all part of the same special family. The city of Cannes is also excited to welcome us and has installed billboards announcing the Congress which brings an unusual, yet prideful, feeling to many concierge who typically prefer to be humbly discreet.


The evening kicks off with an opening ceremony hosted at the Iconic Hotel Majestic, steps away from the Palais des Festivals. The red carpet is rolled out and electricity is in the air.  The Les Clefs d’Or French delegation showcases their social sophistication, or savoir-faire, making everyone feel welcome and at ease. Dimitri Ruiz, President of Les Clefs d’Or France, gives an enthusiastic opening speech coining the motto for the Congress to come, “Yes We Cannes!”. 


Saturday March 23rd, 2019: 

Starting the day off with a morning assembly for First Time Attendees, such as myself, brings an entire host of introductions from concierge around the work including Alan Grimes of the International Trainee Committee and Pierre Pinchemel, the main archivist of the Head office in Paris.  Pierre has brought with him iconic memorabilia such as past books of Members and old photographs.  The legacy of Les Clefs d’Or truly comes to life and brings me a greater understanding of the underlying theme of the Congress, “No future without a past”.  

In the afternoon we go on a ferry ride to Sainte Marguerite island across from Cannes. This is the island where the so-called “Iron Mask” was imprisoned at “Le Fort Royal” during the 17th century. The weather is beautiful and we can see Cannes as we look back from the island. 


Gregory Tack, a Concierge from the Majestic, points out a house up on the hills above Cannes owned by a very wealthy Emir from the Middle East that apparently planned to build his own private elevator from his house directly to the beach until the city of Cannes denied such an egregious project. All I can see is a beautiful city and I am captivated.  

The afternoon ends with a beach cleanup, a new initiative of Les Clefs d’Or Corporate Social Responsibility. Petitions are being handed out by a local organization to make Sainte Marguerite island classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and I am honored to participate in such a movement. 

Wrapping up an amazing day, we are taken to the Palm Beach Club for an event themed as a “Glittering and Glimmering Night.”



Sunday March 24th, 2019: Education Day

After seven years as a concierge, this is perhaps the one day of congress I was looking forward to the most. I was eager to understand how the profession is evolving on a global scale and what challenges and concerns my fellow Les Clefs d’Or Concierges around the world are experiencing. I am interested to learn that although the Concierge from larger, bustling cities, which contrast my relaxed, tropical one so much, remain equally challenged by their travel savvy guests and our experiences overlap quite often.  It is these unique requests that we all say keep us all challenged and inspired on a daily basis.  Although I envy the ever-changing knowledge that their large cities require of them and their fast-paced life, I am beginning to realize that I am lucky to be able to enjoy the slower-paced, island lifestyle where our year-round traveler season does have its pluses.

The day goes by fast as multiple speakers present everything from “Ted Talk” formats to sharing perspectives on the profession through the eyes of prominent Concierge members. The “Bar Camp” session turns out to be really interesting, highlighting topics such as those below for us to reflect on:

The Key to Leadership–re-thinking my role as a leader

The Key to Excellence–reviewing my understanding of luxury

The Key to Network–re-surging my network

The Key to Respect–re-conquering a respectful co-operation

The Key to Development–innovating my business development

The Key to Personal Growth–re-charging my progressive advancement

The Key to Appearance–re-setting my image/reputation

Quite a bit to digest but a good way to reset and think on how to define the future of the Organization while keeping its roots. 


 “A Night in Provence” followed that evening with an entire alley of typical Provencal restaurants in the backstreets of Cannes was booked entirely for us! 


Monday March 25th: General Assembly and Gala Dinner

As we gather to hear reports on the state of the Organization, I cannot help but notice how impressive of a setting it is! Long tables are arranged on stage to host all the board members and the stakes are high as each Board of Director candidate delivers a passionate speech in hopes of being elected to serve in the illustrious group. 


In the evening, each delegation is divided into their region and I learn that the USA is fortunate to be hosted at the iconic Carlton Intercontinental, the birthplace of the modern day International delegations to Les Clefs d’Or. The night was filled with a great introductions and captivating talks about the significance of this hotel. 


Tuesday March 25th: Excursion day and Gala Night

Of the two choices for excursions, I chose to spend the day in Monaco as I somehow, have never made it to this part of the Riviera despite my childhood here. We visit The Casino de Monte Carlo with architecture definitely influenced by the Napoleon era, including the magnificent Opera Garnier where an eclectic repertoire of artists regularly perform. According to our guide, Elton John himself gave a concert here!


Lunch takes place next door inside Hotel De Paris where famous chef Alain Ducasse recently opened a Mediterranean theme casual restaurant called “Omer.” Once again, we are warmly greeted by a Concierge team member who, is truly an Ambassador of the profession and represents the face of their hotel. I get to take a picture with the Alain Ducasse himself! I am told by a long time Concierge in Paris that he is a longtime Concierge supporter and values the profession so much that he even arranged a phone line direct to his restaurant in Paris that is exclusive to Concierge usage. Impressive. 


In the afternoon we visit the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco which is dedicated to the conservations and explorations of the Oceans overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. 


Finally, as the trip wraps up and the 66thannual Congress comes to an end, what more perfect place to host the final gala then on the red carpet at the Palais des Festivals where every May the Gratin of the movie industry gather for the Cannes Film Festival.  


I go home filled with memories and inspired to share every detail of this unique experience with my fellow Concierge. The trip has made me ever-thankful for the support of those I have worked with dating back to the first day I was given the opportunity to become a Concierge. This experience has taught me that we are able to achieve so much more locally and that we are all connected regardless of where we assist our guests in this world. 

The time honored Les Clefs d’Or legacy must continue because nothing replaces the simple fact that humans have always thrived and advanced by making connections with each other. 

Vive Les Clefs d’Or!

Cheers to Ten Years!


This calendar year, our 10th anniversary year, marks a very exciting time for The Concierge Association of Hawaii in terms of growth, public awareness, and continued support and partnership with our local community as well as with the network of concierge across the United States.  To celebrate this milestone of education, friendship and guest service we returned to the site of our first-ever association meeting, Morton’s Steakhouse at Ala Moana, to host our annual Holiday Gala event.   

Left to Right: Susan Koki, Cameron Frithsen, Danny Higa, Wendy Nagaishi, Nozomi Horiguchi, Miles Kinoshita

Left to Right: Susan Koki, Cameron Frithsen, Danny Higa, Wendy Nagaishi, Nozomi Horiguchi, Miles Kinoshita

Cameron Frithsen, Crystal Nichols, Sarah Oesterling, Griff Stecyk, Lisa Sapp

Cameron Frithsen, Crystal Nichols, Sarah Oesterling, Griff Stecyk, Lisa Sapp

 Current, honorary and past members joined longtime CAH supporters including Buddy Moore & Sherry Ravago of Where Magazine, Miles Kinoshita representing MTK Marketing and Waikiki’s Luxury Row, friends & family as well as Honolulu’s former Mayor and current CEO of The Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association, Mufi Hannemann for an amazing evening.  A custom menu was created by Morton’s for the evening and guests were inspired as Mr. Hannemann shared insight into the current hospitality industry climate as well as spoke to the future vision of HLTA both on Oahu and statewide. 

Left to Right: Mufi Hannemann, CEO of HLTA; Vanessa Greene, President of CAH; Buddy Moore, Group Publisher of Where Magazine

Left to Right: Mufi Hannemann, CEO of HLTA; Vanessa Greene, President of CAH; Buddy Moore, Group Publisher of Where Magazine

On behalf of all of the Association, we would like to extend our sincerest mahalo to Morton’s Steakhouse, Mufi Hannemann, our members (former and present), and all of our ohana that support the Concierge Association of Hawaii. We would not be where we are today without all of your hard work, guidance, and support. Thank you.


A Night At The Museum


January’s Pau Hana had the Concierge Association members joining the 300,000+ visitors a year that step foot in the Honolulu Museum of Art. HoMA, as locals call it, encompasses two museums each with their own restaurants and gift shops, a movie theater, rotating exhibits, an art Institute, and weekly tours of the Shangri La Estate.

On average, visitors to the Honolulu Museum spend about 1.5-2 hours exploring exhibits such as the largest Japanese print collection outside of Japan, Arts of Hawaii and period pieces that together add up to a 50,000 piece collection. And that is just the art! Independent, documentary and international films are shown daily in their Doris Duke theater and you should not miss the opportunity to enjoy the coffee bar, visit the gift shop which is constantly rotating its very unique a local inventory, or have a farm to table lunch in the Museum’s cafe.

Fresh Papaya & Seared Ahi salad

Fresh Papaya & Seared Ahi salad

Salmon with Herb Chimichurri & Farro Salad

Salmon with Herb Chimichurri & Farro Salad

But if Contemporary Art is where your heart is, the Spalding House Museum in the Tantulus neighborhood is calling your name. This gem of a Museum allows visitors to explore not only the gallery but also their grounds and lovely gardens. One of the most hidden secrets is that their cafe offers $40 picnic lunch for two including a basket and a blanket so you can spread out under their ancient Banyan tree. Their gift shop even offers local-made, garden-inspired gifts to highlight the unique property!

Great news is that HoMA now offers a COMPLIMENTARY shuttle between Waikiki and both of their museums Tuesday through Sunday so visitors and locals alike can experience all they have to offer. Also new this year is the option to reserve the Honolulu Museum’s Cafe online and the focus on researching the history of the numerous pieces of Islamic art housed within the galleries of the Doris Duke Shangri La home near Diamond Head.

All said and done, the Honolulu Museum of Art and it’s sister properties have never been easier to visit! It is a must see and The Association could not been more thankful to have been invited.


Our November Tradition: Luxury Row

As many of you know this year marks the 10th Anniversary of The Concierge Association of Hawaii but what you may not know, is that Luxury Row Waikiki has been an avid supporter of The Association and the Concierge profession from the start. From offering meeting space for some of our very first board meetings to organizing an annual event, our partnership with Luxury Row has marked the beginning of the holiday season for our members for years.

Every November The Concierge Association of Hawaii is graciously hosted by Luxury Row Waikiki allowing us to view the upcoming winter lines and the unique items only found in Waikiki that many of our guests flock to Oahu for. Due to the proximity of our islands to Asia and their attraction to world travelers, Waikiki is quickly becoming a high-end shopping destination, with Luxury Row housing many of the most iconic luxury brands.

This year Gucci, Moncler, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, Coach, Chanel and Miu Miu highlighted an event to remember. Members enjoyed in-store tours, insider brand knowledge and a chance to network with the store’s management and personal shoppers. Thank you to Miles Kinoshita, Laurie Akua, and Anthony Gambino for putting together such a great evening; we could not have asked for a better way to kick off another great holiday shopping season for our guests!

The amazing Luxury Row team!

The amazing Luxury Row team!

Members enjoying the evening.

Members enjoying the evening.

October Pau Hana Meeting- Honolulu Coffee Company's Experience Center

This October the Concierge Association of Hawaii was hosted by Honolulu Coffee Company to tour their Experience Center in Waikiki. During our visit we enjoyed a delectable sampling of their savory offerings along with a delicious Cold Brew Moscow Mule. 

Honolulu Coffee Company’s Experience Center is their flagship store within the islands. This location is home to their bakeshop where items are freshly baked and distributed daily to each of the Hawaii stores. This is also where all of Honolulu Coffee Company’s beans are tested for quality, roasted, and packaged for distribution. 

Pop In.png

Prior to distribution, the fresh beans are tested for quality within their climate controlled Cupping Room. Their Cupping Room is also the location where company-wide barista training sessions are held. Once the beans have been given the seal of good quality they are given to their Head Roaster.

Thomas Keisling, Honolulu Coffee Company’s Award Winning Head Roaster, will begin the roasting process by utilizing their cast-iron, 1944 Probat Coffee Roaster, which is a one of kind in the islands. 

Thomas (left) discussing the art and science of coffee roasting.

Thomas (left) discussing the art and science of coffee roasting.

The artwork within the Experience Center reflects the history of coffee’s evolution globally and here in the Islands. To go alongside the artwork, you will find historic equipment that was used throughout time to create the perfect bean. 

Tours are hosted daily at 1PM.

Tours are hosted daily at 1PM.

The Honolulu Coffee Company’s Experience Center offers complimentary 20-minute tours of their facility daily at 1:00 PM. Their tours are a fantastic alternative for guests looking to learn more about the coffee process here in Hawaii without having to rent a car. They even have coffee trees on site and if you’re lucky they will give you a sample cherry to try! Their knowledgeable staff are always willing to assist with any questions you or your guests may have!