Alison Bailin Batz • College Times
Hospitality is a massive field.
One of its coolest career paths: being a concierge.
Not only are leaders in this industry the eyes and ears of their respective hotel property, but the ambassadors for their cities and the entire state for guests and residents. They move mountains to make Arizona shine – and to help their guests experience moments of a lifetime.
Here are four unlikely stories on how some of the Valley’s best got their starts:
Remember the Nintendo Power Pad? I loved that thing. It got me into gaming in such a major way. I initially studied computer science as a result. However, I was into the art of designing more than the math and science, especially the complex algorithms and binary codes. I needed something that allowed me to attend classes by day, so I took a night position at a Fairfield Inn in Chandler. After a few months, I was offered an assistant manager position. Even after earning my degree, I couldn’t leave hospitality. I loved it more than the power pad! So, I joined Hotel Valley Ho in 2007 and then the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in 2009. Since, I did it all at some of the biggest and best restaurants and resorts over the past year, then came back to the Princess in 2018 to lead our concierge team, where we do it all from transforming our lagoon into a fishin’ hole for kids to putting on full-scale, multimonth events such as Christmas at the Princess and Summer at the Princess.
Darvá Fields, guest loyalty relations at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
Born in Kansas in the 1960s and raised in New Mexico in the 1970s, I got into banking after high school, which eventually took me to Colorado in the early 1980s. While engaged, my fiancé was transferred to Arizona, so we made our way here in 1987. Though I stayed in banking a few more years, it never fed her soul, so in the late 1980s I enrolled in a travel school, which back before computers trained people on how to handle all areas of travel for individuals and families. This led me to working in the rental car industry, assessing transportation needs. I would make my way back to New Mexico for a family matter, and while there, I noticed a new hotel had gone up called Hyatt Regency Tamaya and applied for a position so I could stay with my mom. I started in housekeeping, actually. There, I paid my dues for nearly a year before earning my first concierge position in 2005. I moved back to Phoenix in 2007, where I found my forever home at the Hyatt.
Tami Henry, lead concierge at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa
Initially, I attended Central Washington University to study business. That is, until one of my sisters and I visited the historic Inn at Death Valley in California for a little vacation. We vowed to come back to the hotel a year later and get jobs there – and we actually did it. We would also venture to the Grand Canyon a few years later, vowing to similarly get jobs up there. I got a sales job at the Grand Canyon National Park Lodges in the early 1980s, eventually serving as the sales manager before heading to the Bay Area to take a position with the Hyatt brand, still in sales. And then I took a 25-year break to raise a family, making Scottsdale our home by the 1990s. In 2009, I got an itch to get back into the hotel industry, but only if it was at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa nearby. Not only was it our neighborhood resort, but I was in constant awe of their seemingly endless list of activities and attractions for families, couples and travelers alike. I started as a barista and within a year transitioned to this role, where I have been since.
Catherine Linamen, concierge and vacation services coordinator at Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, and Villas
I grew up in New Jersey, and worked as a flight attendant in Chicago before getting married to a golf pro who was hired at a country club in Wisconsin in the 1970s. While he served as director of golf, I ran the pro shop and served as a buyer for the club. But, golf is not a year-round business in Wisconsin. So, we began dividing time between Wisconsin and Arizona in the early 1980s. By 1984, I used her golf prowess to earn a position the original Mountain Shadows Resort as a concierge. And though I would still divide my time for several more years, I made a name for myself in the industry, eventually moving to the Scottsdale Plaza Resort in 1989. By 2004, the same year Arizona became my full-time home, I was ready for a new challenge. Hotel Valley Ho was undergoing its multiyear, $80 million makeover, so I joined them as a chef – the term for head in French – concierge in 2005. My approach to the job is quite simple: If the request is difficult, I’ll do it now. If impossible, it will take me a little longer
Judy Kabler, chef concierge, Member Les Clefs d’Or USA at Hotel Valley Ho