Chatting with Sanam was pure joy! She is extremely funny and witty, and her delivery brings you into her world as if you’re best friends catching up over a cocktail. She even shares her hilarious inner dialog of the countless NYC moments of her day to day on her Instagram. Sanam is also a talented photographer and has quite the knack for capturing the brilliance of the human experience. The Royal Treatments wouldn’t have the same meaning if Sanam were not in NYC at The Lotte New York Palace Hotel.
What would you say is a secret to your formula of bringing the magic that comes with your role? If I were a visitor in NYC, why would I call Sanam first?
I think that you have to really love this city in order to share it in it's best light with your guests. When I'm describing places or activities, I'm trying to paint a picture for their imagination to light up. People come here looking for something they won't get elsewhere. NY automatically makes a person feel special, and I want to make sure that they have a unique experience that they can talk about forever. I want my guests to love this city, so I'll do whatever I can to make sure they leave feeling that way.
What’s a good piece of travel advice you can give to a traveler or even a local, who may not be in the habit of seeking a concierge’s expertise that go beyond seeking Yelp reviews for new places to explore?
I often tell guests to trust their Concierge, and trust that we are listening to their needs and desires. We simply know this city better than anyone else by the virtue of being local New Yorkers. It's our business to know better than everyone else. People are now accustomed to doing a lot of their own research, but they really don't know what they're looking for. That can be overwhelming, and I only ask that they take a deep breath and simply trust. And frankly, the more pressure you put on NY to be perfect for you, the less she'll try. She's very vindictive.
What is one of the most memorable or even "craziest requests (that you can share) a client has requested of you?
Recently a guest asked if he could be picked up by helicopter off our rooftop and dropped off directly at Arthur Ashe Stadium for the US Open. Negative, ghost rider!
When did you realize that you were really adding value to people's lives, not just while they were staying at your hotel? What was the working moment?
Being a concierge is more than simply being a guide of sorts. You are the person that people get to know, and they share their likes and life stories with you, and give you a glimpse into who they are. That can often be really fun and engaging, other times it can be daunting and emotional. Two of the most important experiences as a concierge for me were these:
1. A guest was having an anxiety attack, and at the time I haven't experienced one so I didn't know how to handle it. We had interacted before and she was a totally cool, normal mom on a business trip. But she wasn't well and asked that sit with her for a minute. A minute turned into an hour and I just sang to her until she fell asleep. I didn't see her again after that. But she left me a note that I still have thanking me for seeing her through that moment.
2. Working with a guest for a couple of months before their arrival from North Carolina so that they could get married. Gay Marriage had just passed in NY and they were headed up to City Hall to celebrate. My friend and colleague was one of our Bellman at the time (he now tours with American Authors as a guitarist), and we arranged to have him set up on the balcony of their room for when they arrived, to serenade their song to them. I received the loveliest card from them about a month later, and I was very lucky to have been apart of their celebration.