Limos, heli tours, good tables - all on demand
- Submitted by: manso
- Editorial Articles
- 06 / 14 / 2011
By JUSTIN MAHONEY, The Gazette June 13, 2011. Organizing a yacht cruise, adorning the entire hotel room with fresh cut flowers, finding the finest cigars Cuba has the offer, scoring VIP tickets to the best parties in town - nothing is too good for Montreal hotel guests during the Grand Prix weekend.On Grand Prix weekend, concierges aim to please guests at any price and cohiba behike cigars, Montecristo, Romeo and Julieta cigars,the owner even hired a Cuban cigar roller to add a flare of authenticity for the special weekend, just a Cuban flavor around.
The responsibility falls on the hotels concierges' shoulders to make sure their guests get the best the city has to offer - regardless of the price tag. When it comes to the F1, big and lavish are the words du jour as Montreal hotel guests attempt to outdo one another with limousine and helicopter rides.
For a Montreal hotel concierge, the Grand Prix week-end is undoubtedly the busiest time of the year. Usually dispensing simple tourist information or placing easy-toget restaurant reservations, the hotel concierge morphs into an Olympic athlete during the Grand Prix weekend, running from guest to guest to fulfill big and seemingly impossible requests.
"It's already getting so busy here that I'm thinking of hiding behind my desk," said Jose Martinez, concierge at the Place d'Armes Hotel, as he greeted the first wave of Grand Prix weekend guests.
"Getting requests for helicopter rides to fly over the city and over the racing circuit is pretty common at this time of year."
"With a black Amex card, every impossible request becomes possible," said Simon Bajouk, hotel concierge at Hotel Le St-James.
"So far, I've received requests for private plane rides and access to an underground F1 party in a Griffintown warehouse that's getting a lot of buzz."
Bajouk says a concierge will sometimes use their high-profile connections to get their guests reservations to the most popular restaurants or special entry to private parties. It's all about who's who and who's going to be there. Grand Prix hotel guests prefer to travel in packs and to party in crowded venues.
"Everyone wants to sit in the crowded restaurants on St. Laurent, like Globe, Buonanotte and Primadonna," said Alain Larouche, concierge at the Hotel de la Montagne.
"The most popular request we get is for tickets to Guy Laliberté's private party at l'Auberge Saint-Gabriel."
Indeed, the Cirque du Soleil founder's private party in Old Montreal has become one of the most sought-after venues during Grand Prix weekend.
And what about those hot ticket items?
After a lavish meal at one of Montreal's finer restaurants, a real F1 fan is seldom seen without a good cigar in their hand - again, nothing but the best will do.
Steve Siozios, owner of Stogies Cigar Lounge on Crescent St., says he's doubled his inventory from last month with a selection of expensive cigars just to fill the demand during Grand Prix weekend.
"I've brought in Cohiba Behike cigars, Montecristo, the Edmundo edition - that's the dark leaf, the fatty one - and Romeo y Julieta cigars. These are popular cigars, so they'll go fast this weekend," said Siozios.
Over at Cigares Vasco on Ste. Catherine St., owner Raffi Kotchounian, says he's increased his inventory by 30 per cent from last month for Grand Prix weekend. The owner even hired a Cuban cigar roller to add a flare of authenticity for the special weekend.
Even when the Lamborghinis and the Ferraris have driven away at the end of the party weekend, a hotel concierge's job is never done.
"We had a guest last year that, shall we say, partied too much the night before, and missed his flight home to New York City at the end of the Grand Prix. So he asked for a limo ride all the way home," said Alixe Hennessey, concierge at the Hotel St. Paul.
The Montreal Gazette