Home' micenet eMag : micenet August 2016 Contents TOP FIVE | JILL VARLEY
DANNY COOK, FREELANCE BUTLER
AND PRIVATE DRIVER
ASHLEIGH MACDONALD - CHIEF
CONCIERGE AT CROWN TOWERS
1 It was in March 2011 - the start of the Arab Spring uprising. My boss asked me to find
someone to get his yacht out of Tunisia. I knew the boat, spoke some French and have
worked on charter yachts in the Med, so I volunteered. The challenges were dealing
with corrupt officials, dodgy yard managers and replacing missing documentation. Two
weeks on we put the boat back in the water, found a reliable crew and sailed it to Golfe
Juan in the French Riviera.
2 In the early 90s I worked as a cook/steward on a small yacht on the east coast of the
USA. The owner had an ‘appetite’ and a revolving bedroom door. My job was to keep
the champagne flowing, forensically clean the cabin/interior after each visit and get
everyone’s name right!
3 I was once asked to install an 800kg fossilised wooden table onto a six metre high
balcony. It was both extremely expensive and fragile so I treated every move like it was
my last! I built a heavy duty dolly out of a pallet and iron casters to move it five metres
where a crane lifted it safely into position.
4 Some years ago, whilst on board a yacht in Miami, the Turkish owner and his family
paid a surprise visit and wanted to dine out on crab that night. I queued at the famous
Joes Stone Crab restaurant for three hours, but they still couldn’t guarantee a table for
12. When his plane landed I diverted them all to the boat where we arranged a banquet
of everything imaginable in takeaway crab.
5 During the 1st Americas Cup Challenge in Auckland, I was on board a yacht
chartered by the organisers. The Prada yacht had won the Louis Vuitton Cup and the
Commodore wanted the 30 Italian guests who were to join us, to have espresso on
demand. We didn’t have an espresso machine on board and needed a commercial one.
I found a local roaster who lent me his cupping machine, which didn’t need to be
plumbed into the galley. The Italians were thrilled to have great espresso on board.
And you thought all we did all day was answer the front door and make cups of tea....
1 A guest requested to land his private jet, an Airbus A380, at Essendon Airport. Due to its
overwhelming size, the runway was too small. With little notice to arrange an alternative,
we contacted Melbourne Airport and rented a private hanger for the landing and gained
special permission to allow his driver to meet the plane.
2 A celebrity band requested that we arrange an in-room shopping experience from a
selection of luxury retailers in Melbourne. We contacted each retailer to convince them to
bring a rack of their latest lines to be shown in a room full of their competitors. We
managed to get 15 retailers into a Crown Villa together allowing the guests to shop without
having to leave their hotel floor.
3 A guest and their family wanted to see Australian wildlife during their stay, but they did
not want to leave their hotel room. The Crown concierge team contacted a registered
wildlife handler and arranged to have a wombat and koala brought into the hotel. The team
lamented that trying to keep the wombat from eating the $10,000 couch was a challenging
4 During the stay of a well-known celebrity couple, we were asked to arrange a surprise
“Medieval-themed” birthday party. To do this we viewed spaces with the guest, decided on
a location, escorted them to costume shops, tried on costumes and selected outfits for
each of the F&B staff, sourced thrones and medieval themed cutlery and goblets to bring
the medieval theme to life.
5 A guest requested an “Amazing Race” style wedding proposal, incorporating locations all
around Melbourne and finishing in a hotel room with a diamond ring on the bed. The guest
listed the places that were special to them and why. We then had to think up clues. The team
contacted each venue to place envelopes in appropriate locations. The final clue was left with
the concierge team. When the woman made it to the concierge desk, the team escorted her
up to find the ring before her partner came in to surprise her. m
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