Conrad New York’s Guest Relations Manager, Angela Achunde, is the reason why so many people smile in Battery Park City. She wakes up to the world with clouds in her morning cup of coffee, and vanity is hardly her game. A woman about town, this humble spirit is guaranteed to make you laugh from the belly and is always on the lookout for the newest restaurant in NYC. Angela is extra special to our series this week because she not only handles the general guests of the hotel but is the point person for all of Conrad’s VIP guests, and manages to make sure everyone feels her extraordinary energy. Find out why in our interview below:
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 Angela first?
I am such a New York fanatic that anyone who meets me knows this in an instant. I wanted to live here my whole life, and now that I do, l truly love being a part of it. Dorky, but true. I still listen to Carly Simon’s, “Let the River Run” every morning on the train because it makes me feel really cool and really excited to go to work. Again, dorky, but true. But I know my guests appreciate the passion and enthusiasm I have for them to love New York as much as I do.
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 goes beyond reading Yelp reviews for new places to explore?
Reviews online only go one-way not to mention the choices or rather ‘search results’ can be overwhelming. If you want to ask questions and get a sense of the experience, you have to talk to a person who can point you in the right direction. Plus New Yorkers get a bad rep for being unfriendly, so I like to challenge that label every day.
What is one of the most memorable or even "craziest" requests (that you can share that a client has requested of you personally?
I was a sub-bridesmaid in my guest’s wedding. One of her bridesmaids couldn’t make it, and she wanted to make sure everything looked “even.” I even posed in the funny “bad bridesmaids” picture, and it was hilarious. I still have the picture...
When did you realize that you were really adding value to people's lives and not just during the few days they were staying at your hotel? What was the working moment?
I personally LOVE cards and not a lot of people in the digital age take the time to hand-write notes anymore. So I am always overwhelmed when I receive a thank you note from my guest because I know they took the time to sit down and think of me as I did for them. Whether it was a memorable birthday or someone who stayed with us while their apartment was being renovated, you know that you truly made a difference in their life because they will always have the memory that we made them feel at home and showed we cared. It is true that people will forget what you said or what you did, but will never forget how you made them feel.
What are you anticipating in the fall to share with your clients that they have yet to experience in NYC?
One of my favorite experiences I stumbled upon when I was new to New York was the Winter Village in Bryant Park. I found myself in the middle of Manhattan strolling through the outdoor shops with a cup of hot apple cider and a cinnamon donut in hand. I then saw a couple get engaged on the ice-rink right beside me. It was truly magical, and I always recommend for my guest to check it out. The winter village also opens before Halloween so it’s great for anyone who is eager to begin holiday festivities or may not be in New York during peak holiday season.
Angela is amazing at organizing unforgettable experiences for her guests and is laser sharp in her wit. You’ll only hear Angela say “Oops!” when she’s singing along to her Britney Spears playlist. I haven’t laughed so much from the chat we’ve had in quite a while. Most of you may already know Conrad is one of my favorite places in NYC, and it’s been my pleasure to share with you why she is one of my favorite people in NYC. Be sure to follow me on Instagram for my next feature.
P.S If you haven't already, watch me play Conrad New York here.