Keepers of the Keys
by Laura Kusnyer and Jonathan Zeller, 02/23/2009
Name: Gilmar Scantamburlo
Title: Concierge, W New York – Times Square
Background: Born in Brazil; moved to NYC at 30
Current home: Chelsea ("by the clubs")
On hospitality: "Any time you need anything in New York City, this is the place to call. Gilmar at the W Times Square. Whatever, whenever."
What makes you a great NYC concierge?
I go to all the Broadway shows, visit all the top restaurants and am privileged enough to be one of the first to know what's hot and what's not and pass that along to my guests. I speak five languages, so I can communicate with guests from many cultures and pass on what I learn.
What are some of the hotspots where you send your guests?
If someone's in the mood for more noise and more crowds, I would definitely recommend Marquee and M2 UltraLounge. If you're looking for lounges, there's Pink Elephant and Bungalow 8. It's tougher to get in, but we have connections. I also like Greenhouse, which is environmentally friendly, and Tenjune.
Do you have a personal service mantra?
The W Hotel is all about "whatever/whenever" service. That's our motto. The "W" stands for everything that's wonderful and welcome—whatever wish you have. We answer the phone with "Welcome to the W Times Square. What's your wish?" We deliver everything we can as long as it's legal and ethical. If not, we skip the request. We pretend not to understand what they're saying. [Laughs]
What are the most memorable requests clients have asked of you?
A guy was nervous about proposing to his girlfriend and asked me to find out if she would marry him. I pretended to be very friendly to her, showed her shopping spots and all that, and I showed her a bridal shop. I said, "I think you guys should get married. If he asked, would you say yes?" She hesitated, then said yes. He asked her to marry him that evening. I put out all the rose petals, champagne—the whole thing. It was really special. This guy still sends me letters sometimes—thank-you emails.
There was another occasion when I opened the desk at 6:45am and a guest said, "I gotta be in Albany by 9 o'clock. Can you fly me over there?" I was able to find a helicopter and he made it. Things like that—if you don't love what you're doing, just move on and do something else, because you have to surprise yourself by surprising and helping other people.