Sanctuary Concierge World-Class Status
When you seek concierge service at The Sanctuary and happen to be assisted by Kevin McQuade, consider yourself fortunate because you will be served by a concierge who achieves world-class status. But don’t just take our word for it. We have it on authority from the world’s most respected, prestigious organization that recognizes the crème de la crème among all the world’s concierges.
In Wes Anderson’s characteristically eccentric 2014 film The Grand Budapest Hotel, the protagonist, a hotel concierge named Gustave H., escapes from prison after being framed for the murder of a rich local aristocrat. On the lamb, he manages to wriggle out of a succession of hair-raising scrapes with the timely assistance of an elite international fraternity of world-class concierges, The Society of the Crossed Keys.
While Anderson’s film stretches his audience’s suspension of disbelief to near breaking point, one element is based in reality: The Society of the Crossed Keys. In real life, the international organization is known as Les Clefs d’Or – The Gold Keys – more formally the Union Internationale des Concierges d’Hôtels. Belonging to national chapters throughout the world, including the United States, concierges who earn the elite status can be instantly recognized by the fraternity’s emblem: a pair of golden crossed keys worn on each lapel. The symbolism of the keys is straightforward: the concierges bearing the emblem are adept at opening for guests seemingly impassable doors, both figurative or literal.
Les Clefs d’Or by the Numbers
- 4,000 international members
- 665 U.S. members
- 4 South Carolina members
- 5 years minimum experience to qualify
- 2 letters of recommendation from members in good standing
- 3 forms of tests that must be passed
- 200 question written exam
Kevin first became interested in attaining Les Clefs d’Or status when he was serving as concierge at at a hotel situated in a prominent location in downtown Charleston. Some research led him to appeal to Julie Saunders at the famous Four Seasons Washington D.C., who also happened to serve on the board of Les Clef d’Or USA.
“When I reached out, Julie asked, ‘You’re calling from where?’ recalls Kevin. But she admired Kevin’s persistence. Over the coming months she watched him, critiqued him and mentored him. Originally, the institution turned him down. “I was the only concierge at the property,” he says. “Secret shoppers from Les Clefs d’Or would call to test my abilities, but I’d have a long line of guests seeking assistance, so I’d have to ask the shoppers if I could call them back.” Despite this disadvantage, before long he proved his mettle and earned the coveted keys.
Kevin left the profession for awhile, meaning he had to relinquish his keys in accordance with Les Clefs’ strict guidelines. But it seems that concierge was less what he did and was, instead, who he was. When a concierge position opened at The Sanctuary, he leapt at the opportunity. He interviewed with the Director of Rooms, Michael Anderson, who glanced at his references, then did a double take when he noticed Saunder’s name. “I worked with Julie at the Four Seasons,” Anderson remarked.
Before he knew it, Kevin was hired. For once, who you know and maintaining relationships with — two of the most important tools in a concierge’s bag — played in Kevin’s own favor. Kevin took his post behind The Sanctuary’s concierge desk in September of 2019. Immediately, he endeavored to bring the Sanctuary concierge desk the same world-class status he had previously earned. So he began the reinstatement process to regain his golden keys. Happily, Kevin received word in December of 2020 that he had been reinstated in Les Clefs d’Ors.
Kevin’s guiding philosophy for what makes an outstanding concierge ? “When guests approach the concierge desk, they are expecting something besides help booking a dinner reservation or a tee time. They don’t need me for that. They want local insider information that they can’t find through an online search.” So, what does Kevin do in his spare time? Explore. He’s constantly looking for that next hidden gem to turn his guests onto. With 10,000 acres of pristine natural beauty, the wonders of the Lowcountry and proximity to a historical and culinary– and culture-rich coastal city, the possibilities seem endless.