Meet the Concierge: Hugo de Castro, Grand Jersey
If you've visited Grand Jersey, you've met Hugo. Part of the hotel's heritage, he's been the concierge at Grand Jersey for 30 years, and the saying is, if Hugo doesn't know the answer, there isn't one.
How does it feel to have so much history with the
hotel? You know, it doesn't feel like 30 years. It's like
I walked in yesterday.
Everyone knows me. I've had a few nicknames over the years, but my favourites have to be 'The Living Legend' or 'The Oracle'. People can't believe that I can remember so many details, but that's just me.
I'm a people person. You couldn't put me in front of a computer. People want that personal touch. You can search for anything on the internet, but to actually have a chat with the right person, and get the most accurate information - that's priceless.
Have I had any strange requests? As a concierge you get left to look after luggage, bags etc, but I don't know how many concierges have been left in charge of a goldfish! One of our clients bought a goldfish, and specified that it had to live in Evian water. So I took care of the goldfish, and kept it in Evian until she came back the following year.
A typical day for a concierge? There's more to it than you'd imagine. For example, picking people up from Jersey airport is one thing, but I've been sent to Gatwick to escort clients over to the island. I even had a request to travel to South Africa to bring one client back, but that was a little too far…
A concierge's job is never done. People talk to you and often they confide in you too. You're a shoulder to cry on. I've had to act as marriage counsellor a few times! Kids seem to love me too. You see them growing up, and before you know it, they're married and they've got kids of their own. I say to them, 'I might have been your babysitter, but I'm too old to babysit your children'!
We like to look after our guests, from the start to the finish of their stay. If our guests are flying home in the evening, and returning to an empty fridge, we'll send them home with a pack of milk, teabags and cheese and crackers, fruit and so on. They're our clients and we feel a duty of care to them. It's the attention to detail that makes a difference. This is why people come back, year after year.
My favourite recommendation? Lunch in France. People never believe it's so easy, but the boat leaves from the harbour in the morning, you can have lunch in St Malo and be back at the hotel in time for dinner. The island of Sark is a paradise for nature-lovers, and just 45 minutes away. When people go home, they say 'we've been to France, we've been to Sark' and they feel they've got so much out of their holiday.
My favourite spot in the hotel would have to be the Champagne Lounge. In the summer, the terrace comes a close second, or up in the Major Pierson suite overlooking the sea. There's nowhere like Grand Jersey.
My secret skill? Believe it or not, I'm often called on to act as a sort of personal shopper. I'll escort the ladies into town, carry the bags, and sit there and say 'it looks absolutely awesome on you' and 'fit for a princess' and they're thrilled. I could even say I enjoy it now…
Hugo de Castro, Head of Concierge at Grand
The Grand Jersey team in 1987. Hugo de Castro is pictured far left.