• Four Top Concierges Share Their Local Secrets

     
    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
     

    Mark Chambers assisting guests.

  • Four Top Concierges Share Their Local Secrets

     
    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
     

    Edie, canine ambassador.

  • Four Top Concierges Share Their Local Secrets

     
    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
     

    Pancakes, crispy on the edges, eggy and spongy in the middle. Nothing beats Pamela’s pancakes!” –Mark Chambers

  • Four Top Concierges Share Their Local Secrets

     
    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
     

    Andys bar is hip and fun.

  • Four Top Concierges Share Their Local Secrets

     
    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
     

    The Speakeasy, Omni William Penn.

  • Four Top Concierges Share Their Local Secrets

     
    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
     

    Nothing says charm like a covered bridge.

  • Four Top Concierges Share Their Local Secrets

     
    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
     

    The pool at Omni Bedford Springs is relaxing and scenic.

  • Four Top Concierges Share Their Local Secrets

     
    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
     

    Falling Water is a must-see.

  • Four Top Concierges Share Their Local Secrets

     
    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
     

    Classic design at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia.

  • Four Top Concierges Share Their Local Secrets

     
    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
     

    Enjoy a run up the steps just like Rocky.

  • Four Top Concierges Share Their Local Secrets

     
    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
     

    High Street on Market has a casual, fun vibe.

Get to know and love your concierge. After all, they are your best resource to what is beyond the hotel walls. No matter the question or request, stop by the desk and it might just make the di erence between a mediocre and a memorable trip. Your concierge will leave a lasting impression, whether it is advice on the most e ective way to get to Heinz Field with 65,000 Steelers fans all going to the same place at the same time, hand-picked recommendations on the city’s best dining and cultural hot spots, or fl owers, champagne and a cello player performing your favorite tune as you enter your suite. As a concierge at Fairmont Pittsburgh with fi rsthand knowledge of the career, I can confi dently say that most guests are intrigued by the work we do. Quite often guests want to know the craziest questions we have been asked or the most outlandish tasks that have been bestowed upon us. PAM+E surveyed several concierges from across the state of Pennsylvania to share their recommendations, interactions and secrets with us.

FAIRMONT PITTSBURGH
CONCIERGE: Mark Chambers

Fairmont Pittsburgh opened its doors in 2010 as Pittsburgh’s first Four Diamond LEED Gold Certified hotel. The 185-roomed property is impressive—with sleek lines, modern décor, ceiling heights towering to 57 feet, luxury amenities such as a 6,000-square-foot health club and spa, Habitat restaurant and Andys Wine Bar. Mark Chambers, Fairmont Pittsburgh’s chef concierge, is the first and only Les Clefs d’Or member USA in Pittsburgh; he is your go-to man when visiting the ‘burgh!

PAM+E: What have you learned over the years about being a concierge?
MC: Never act surprised when you get a request that surprises you. Everyone is different and some people need things that you can’t imagine. Just roll with it. As long as it is legal and doesn’t hurt anyone, “Sure, I can help you with that!”

PAM+E: What service do you provide that guests may not know about?
MC: At our desk we not only take care of guests, but their pets as well, with beds, bowls and more. Additionally, one of my co-workers is a dog! Edie, our canine ambassador (yes, she even has a business card and email), is available for walks with our guests or just a cuddle in the lobby.

PAM+E: Give us a crazy story.
MC: I get this question a lot. It seems daily that we get a request that can be considered outlandish—but the one request I can never forget (and not for lack of trying) was when a guest wanted to rent a gun. Why would anyone want to rent a gun?!

PAM+E: Most memorable guest interaction?
MC: We get a lot of A-list celebrities; it is often that we connect with them on a personal level when they are with us for a long time. Naturally, I can’t go into details, but you can imagine when speaking to someone who makes blockbuster after blockbuster and you are sharing dog pics from your cell phone … that is fun!

PAM+E: Favorite part about living in Pittsburgh?
MC: Pittsburgh is a relatively small city with everything a big city has to offer. Pittsburgh has an amazing art community, food scene, it’s inexpensive and the downtown is alive and thriving. 

PAM+E: Favorite place to have breakfast?
MC: Pamela’s in The Strip District. Pancakes, crispy on the edges, eggy and spongy in the middle. Nothing beats Pamela’s pancakes!

PAM+E: Favorite place to have lunch?
MC: The Strip District; it’s not just one establishment, there are so many from which to choose. There are many sidewalk cafés and restaurants. If one is busy or isn’t serving what you are in the mood for, take two steps to your left and try the next!

PAM+E: Favorite place to have dinner?
MC: Downtown has a lot of really great options. They are hot, trendy and very busy. Finding a table can be a challenge, but like lunch in The Strip, if one is a bust, take two steps to the left. We encourage our guests to come see us at the desk, that way we can find out exactly what they are looking for and we can base our recommendation off their desires.

PAM+E: Favorite hangout for happy hour?
MC: Andys bar in my hotel. It is comfortable, sophisticated and there is jazz almost every night.

PAM+E: Favorite museum?
MC: The Warhol. There is no place like it anywhere. It is a massive collection.

PAM+E: Favorite view of the city?
MC: Mt. Washington. Almost every photo you will ever see of Pittsburgh is from Mt. Washington. It’s the perfect spot for the perfect photo-op or selfie.

PAM+E: Favorite neighborhood?
MC: Shadyside. It’s pedestrian and hip. It’s good for people watching and easy to get to and from.

PAM+E: Recommendation for a rainy day?
MC: Phipps Conservatory and the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History. You can spend more than a day!

PAM+E: Favorite way to spend a spring day in Pittsburgh?
MC: Shadyside and Oakland are great in the spring. The Shadyside business district is a residential neighborhood. I first moved to Shadyside when I arrived in Pittsburgh and I used to love to watch the gardens come up while I was walking around the neighborhood. Shadyside is next to Oakland and there is where you will find spring, in the botanical gardens … it is spectacular!

OMNI WILLIAM PENN HOTEL
CONCIERGE: Paul Kemp

Located in Pittsburgh’s business district, amongst the U.S. Steel Tower, BNY Mellon Center and Allegheny County Court House, is the Omni William Penn Hotel. The AAA Four Diamond Hotel was built in 1916, and since then the 597-room property has undergone a multimillion dollar renovation to maintain and enhance the historical building. Today, the property has 52,000 square feet of meeting space, a fitness center and four dinning outlets on-site: The Terrace Room, the Speakeasy, Palm Court and The Tap Room. When Paul Kemp, a concierge at the Omni William Penn Hotel, isn’t answering his most asked question, “Where are your restrooms,” he is anticipating his next request from an Omni guest.

PAM+E: Give us a crazy story.
PK: A guest came to the desk with a bag of laundry and he said that he needed his laundry back in the morning. Unfortunately, it was too late to utilize our in-house service. I ended up taking his laundry home with me and doing it at my house—even ironing three dress shirts!

PAM+E: Most memorable guest interaction?
PK: A gentleman called and informed me that he and his family would be staying with us over Christmas. When the family checked in on Christmas Eve, they were able to walk into an upgraded suite that I had decorated for the holiday, complete with a tree and several toys. We also arranged to have hot chocolate and cookies delivered to them that evening. The man was taken completely by surprise and expressed his heartfelt gratitude upon check out.

PAM+E: Favorite place to have breakfast?
PK: DeLuca’s Diner in The Strip District.

PAM+E: Favorite place to have dinner?
PK: The Grand Concourse, one of Pittsburgh’s oldest restaurants. The building used to be a train station and what was once the passenger’s waiting room is now the main dining room; it is visually stunning with large marble columns and a huge stained glass window.

PAM+E: Favorite store in Pittsburgh?
PK: S.W. Randall’s—four floors of toys, many of which are vintage.

PAM+E: Favorite tour?
PK: From touring the town on a Segway, a double-decker bus, an amphibious vehicle, a riverboat to a specialized tour like a culinary tour, a brew tour, a ghost tour or one that visits the sites of movies that have been filmed in Pittsburgh, there is a tour for everyone.

PAM+E: Favorite neighborhood?
PK: The Oakland neighborhood; it’s home to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. You’ll also find the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History, Soldiers & Sailor’s Memorial Hall, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Schenley Park, an urban oasis and the second largest green space in the city of Pittsburgh.

PAM+E: Favorite way to spend a spring day in Pittsburgh?
PK: Rent a bike from Golden Triangle Bike Rental and explore one of the many bike trails that run along our three rivers. The Great Allegheny Passage trail takes you all the way to Washington, D.C.!

PAM+E: Most unique aspect of your city?
PK:
The local dialect, which is often referred to as Pittsburghese. We’ll have you speaking like a true yinzer in no time!

OMNI BEDFORD SPRINGS RESORT
CONCIERGE: Kathy Swanger

Two hours from Pittsburgh and three hours from Philadelphia, down winding roads, nestled in the rolling hills and surrounded by flourishing gardens is the Omni Bedford Springs Resort. Whether you are looking to indulge at the 30,000-square-foot spa, The Springs Eternal Spa, take a dip in one of their two pools, hit the green at the championship golf course or rent an off-road vehicle, this National Historic Landmark has something for everyone. Your concierge, Kathy Swanger, would be delighted to show you the best parts of the Omni Bedford Springs Resort.

PAM+E: What service do you provide that guests may not know about?
KS: We show guest rooms to potential guests that walk in if a room is available to show. The Omni Bedford Springs Resort has 216 guest rooms and suites. 

PAM+E: Give us a crazy story.
KS: Someone handed me their puppy as they were walking past me to our restaurant. As I was holding the dog in surprised shock, they hollered over their shoulder that they were going for lunch and would be “right back.” In the meantime, I attached the dog to our stand as I assisted other guests, and the dog ate through his leash.

PAM+E: Most memorable guest interaction?
KS: A guest had us searching for over an hour for a lost bridesmaid dress that was forgotten at home. After it was discovered, the guest was too contrite to tell the bride the truth.

PAM+E: Favorite place to have breakfast?
KS: Birds Nest Café.

PAM+E: Favorite place to have lunch?
KS:
Bad Boyz Bistro.

PAM+E: Favorite place to have dinner?
KS:
Golden Eagle Inn.

PAM+E: Favorite hangout for happy hour?
KS: Jean Bonnet Tavern.

PAM+E: Favorite store in Bedford?
KS: Bedford Candies.

PAM+E: Favorite nearby tour?
KS: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water. 

PAM+E: Favorite museum?
KS: Old Bedford Village—a living history museum that has demonstrations of days gone by.

PAM+E: Favorite view of Bedford?
KS: Our scenic view on our hiking trail.

PAM+E: Favorite way to spend a spring day in Bedford?
KS: Enjoying the shops in downtown Bedford. The town is less than a 2-mile walk from our resort.

PAM+E: Most unique aspect of your area?
KS: Our many covered bridges!

THE RITZ-CARLTON, PHILADELPHIA
CONCIERGE: James Portner

Modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, what was once The Girard Trust is now The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia. The 299-room property exudes luxury in every aspect. The entire lobby is constructed from the same marble that was mined in Italy for Michelangelo’s statue of David, and tranquility is achieved at The Richel D’Ambra Spa & Salon. James Portner, chef concierge and Les Clefs d’Or member USA, has the inside scoop on the Philadelphia experience.

PAM+E: Favorite part about living in Philadelphia?
JP: The walkability factor—it is easy to get around town without a car. The city has great history and culture, dining and arts! Also, it’s affordable and close to NYC, DC, Baltimore and the Jersey Shore.

PAM+E: Favorite part about working at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia?
JP: The great co-workers and this fabulous building. We are currently undergoing a $24 million renewal with a new restaurant, Aqimero, opening in May by Richard Sandoval. 

PAM+E: Give us a crazy story.
JP: I helped set up a wedding here during a blizzard. Their original venue couldn’t open due to the snow, and we made it happen here!

PAM+E: Recommendation for a Philadelphia experience?
JP: Reading Terminal Market, Italian Market and The Big Bus Philadelphia tour.

PAM+E: Favorite place to have breakfast?
JP: High Street on Market.

PAM+E: Favorite place to have lunch?
JP: Parc and Dizenghoff for the best hummus!

PAM+E: Favorite place to have dinner?
JP: Le Virtu, Zahav and Amada.

PAM+E: Favorite hangout for happy hour?
JP: The many beer gardens we have during the spring, summer and fall.

PAM+E: Favorite store in Philadelphia?
JP: Lapstone and Hammer—great men’s lifestyle sh op.

PAM+E: Favorite tour?
JP: Thomas Walker Personal Tours … he is a great private tour guide.

PAM+E: Favorite spots for a view of the city?
JP: You can view the city from the Philadelphia Art Museum Steps (Rocky Steps and the new observation deck at One Liberty Place).

PAM+E: Favorite neighborhood?
JP: Old City for the galleries, shops and architecture.

PAM+E: What spot do you highlight the most for guests on a map?
JP: Rocky Steps, Reading Terminal Market and cheesesteak options.

PAM+E: Favorite way to spend a spring day in Philadelphia?
JP: Walking around Rittenhouse Square and also along the Schuylkill Banks trail.

High-Elevation Service, Spaces and Activities Exceed Expectations

 

Kathryn Dagar-Albarado of Dagar’s Catering expands on 65 years of success in Austin.

 

Tucked inside the first floor lobby of Le Méridien Philadelphia, aMuse has a sleek and sexy style (think a handsome bar, fireplace, chandeliers and black leather seating). Executive chef Jennifer Salhoff creates classic French dishes with a contemporary twist. It may be an intimate space but its cocktail list makes a big impression, especially when presented in smokescented glasses and luxe flasks. Signature cocktails look to a number of leading ladies, including Philadelphia’s own princess, Grace Kelly.