We are delighted to share the news that Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club's Head Concierge, Joe McGinn has been entered into 'The Society of Golden Keys of Great Britain'. He was presented with his exclusive Golden Key lapel badges, crafted by Swiss jeweller Bucherer, on Friday 8th February.
What is The Society of Golden Keys?
The society was established by Head Hall Porters of leading London Hotels in 1952, closely resembling the already established society in France, Les Clefs d’Or (The Golden Keys). There are now 45 similar organisations around the world, which make up L’Union Internationale des Concierges d’Hotels (UICH).
Why is it special?
This offers wonderful international networking opportunities and open communication between concierge and porters with Membership of The Keys, providing a wonderful source of knowledge to members who are then able to provide a greater service to guests.
To become a member is no easy feat. There are various requirements before a member of a hotel's concierge (must be specifically hotel concierge) can apply to be part of the society. The application process itself is then quite rigorous, ensuring that those who become members are truly dedicated and passionate.
Applicants must have a minimum of five years as a hotel concierge.
They must be proposed by two members of the society who have been a member for at least three years.
The applicant is then interviewed and tested by a senior panel.
Once an applicants knowledge, experience and integrity have been ascertained, their application is presented to the entire Membership for approval.
Q&A with Joe:
When did you first learn about the Society of Golden Keys?
I first came into contact with Clefs D’or members when I started at Ashdown Park in 2007. My first week was spent training with Aidan Smith (then Deputy Head Concierge – now Front of House Manager) and I remember one of the first questions I asked him was about the gold lapel pins he was wearing. As I found out more out about the society it became a 'key' ambition to become a member and obtain my Golden Keys!
Why is being a member important to you?
By becoming a member of the society, I am upholding tradition at Ashdown Park. To my knowledge I am the fourth Head Concierge to have the Golden Keys, following on from Rodd Atkinson, Marc Sitch and of course Aidan Smith.
Due to the strict entry requirements and interview with the committee, it is a form of validation and recognition in my chosen profession.
Of course, getting the Keys is by no means the end of it. Attending the monthly meetings and building up a network of friends and contacts is what it is really all about.
Being one of only two other Clefs D’or members in Sussex - David Roby at our sister hotel, The Grand Eastbourne being the other - is an absolute honour in itself. I hope that not only my team but other concierges in the area will also aim to follow suit.
What do you love about working as Concierge?
Concierge is not a 'normal' job and I love that. There aren’t many people that have the view from their office windows that I have. The friendship and support from team members is something of a family unit, which you rarely find anywhere.
What I really love is that every day is varied and the people you meet, from all over the world and walks of life is just fantastic. One day we might welcome a sports team, or a family having a get together; the next your helping a happy couple who are having THE day of their life. As concierge, you get to hear amazing stories and help make a difference - enhancing wonderful experiences and life long treasured memories.
How did you come to join the Ashdown Park concierge family?
My first steps on this path were more of an unexpected stumble, to be honest. I had just turned 17 a month earlier and initially, I had been planning on going to music college. “Real-Life” intervened and I needed to find a job.
Whilst trawling through the Friday- AD I stumbled on a tiny advert that simply said “Hall Porter wanted for a country house hotel on the Ashdown Forest” and a phone number. I must have made a good impression as within 48 hours of making that call I started my first shift, I've never looked back!
What is it you love about Ashdown Park specifically?
As I mentioned earlier I consider Ashdown Park home from home and my team are my extended family. Working in any department of the hotel, you find there is this family attitude.
There aren’t many people that have the view from their office windows that I have, the friendship and support from team members and colleagues or as varied a day-to-day job role as we have as concierges.
A word from Ben Booker, Ashdown Park General Manager
"I am thrilled that Joe has gained his Golden Keys and been recognised by his peers across the industry for his dedication and commitment to our guests. The concierge team are an essential part of the Ashdown Park experience and Joe has a true passion for leading and developing his team to ensure they WOW our clients at all times. Nominating Joe was clearly an easy decision and a natural step in his chosen career."
If you are feeling inspired by Joe and would like to further your career in hospitality at Ashdown Park, or our amazing sister hotels please explore current opportunities, CLICK HERE.
Presentation photograph on 8th February by Andrius Petrucenia.