Rio Les Clefs d’Or Congress

Rio Baby! A dramatic start to an amazing week in one of the world’s most beautiful cities I recently returned home from the Les Clefs d’Or Pan American Congress in Rio de Janeiro. Originally scheduled for 2020, this was our first in-person meeting in over three years. Over 150 hotel concierges attended, from the US, Canada, Mexico and South America. We are a unique organization, treating each other as family, although we are, to some degree, business competitors. It was not uncommon to hear members refer to the Congress as a “family reunion.” On Thursday, August 25, David (my husband) and I flew from Philadelphia to Sao Paulo with a lengthy layover in Toronto where we toured the city. The drama began Friday morning when my suitcase failed to appear on the carousel. My initial response was to panic, as this was no ordinary trip. In the suitcase was business attire for meetings, casual attire for tour day, and appropriate attire for dinner, including my very first evening gown for the gala. The only clothing in my backpack was a bathing suit, one sundress, and luckily, a pair of flats that I had debated about packing. I filled out the Air Canada claim form and provided the address of the hotel in Rio where I hoped the luggage would be delivered in time for the start of the Congress Sunday evening. After checking into the Intercontinental Sao Paulo, I was able to find a nearby mall to purchase clothing for the next couple of days. Later that afternoon we enjoyed a guided tour of Sao Paulo that was arranged by Renata Farha, Chef Concierge at the hotel (as President of Les Clefs d’Or Brasil, she was the lead organizer for the Congress.) In the evening we had cocktails and a terrific dinner at Bar Astor. Incidentally, Uber prices are incredibly low in Brazil. For most rides, we paid about $2.00!! The drama continued when we arrived at the airport Saturday morning for our short flight from Sao Paulo to Rio, and I couldn’t locate my passport. Luckily, I found it the next morning, but Azul Airlines would not allow us to fly, even with a copy of my passport and my driver’s license. We were able to quickly arrange a wonderful, relaxing taxi ride from Sao Paulo to Rio, enjoying the scenery along the route. After arriving in Rio, we stayed one night at the Emiliano Rio, a beautiful hotel directly on the beach between Ipanema and Copacabana, where we enjoyed a memorable breakfast Sunday morning in their indoor garden. In the afternoon we relaxed by the rooftop infinity pool, and that evening we took another short Uber ride to our dinner at Nosso. There was great news on Sunday afternoon, when we checked into the Sheraton Grand Rio. My suitcase had arrived! The Congress officially opened with a pool party Sunday evening (everyone wore white). On Monday, our business meeting included three excellent speakers: Gabriela OttoHospitality consultant and President of HSMAI BrasilRay Ingleby, CEO Guest Services WorldwideProducer/supplier of high-quality publications for the hotel & leisure industryDr. Bryan Williams Keynote speaker, author, consultant on service excellence, and organizational leadership On Tuesday the entire group toured Rio, stopping at Sugarloaf Mountain and the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. Although it was a cloudy day, the clouds parted for us to have a great view. We even saw monkeys at both sites! After the tour, we enjoyed dinner at one of the famous Brazilian churrascarias (steakhouses). Wednesday morning, I was so happy that Leigh Anne Dolecki was elected as our new President, and all current board members were re-elected for another one-year term. And I was especially grateful that the meetings adjorned early so that we could enjoy “pool time” before our gala dinner that evening. On Thursday morning, I woke up early enough to view an incredible sunrise before the Congress officially ended after breakfast. David and I stayed in Rio an additional two nights at the Praia Ipanema, located directly on the famed beach, where we enjoyed another rooftop infinity pool. That evening, the concierge at the popular Fasano Hotel, arranged for us to have drinks on the rooftop bar at sunset. On Friday we took a tour of Rio with Paschoal, our guide, to the famous painted steps, Escadaria Celaron, in the Santa Teresa neighborhood. We also drove through the Centro area and stopped at the Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading, one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. When we mentioned our hope for sushi that evening (no more meat!) Paschoal recommend Gurume. This may have been our favorite meal of the week. We returned to Sao Paulo on Saturday for our flight back to Philadelphia. With a layover in Montreal, we were able to tour Old Montreal and had coffee and pastries at Le Petit Dep, a perfect French café, and a perfect ending to our trip.

Les Clefs d’ Or Cannes Congress

In March, Fran Nachman, Director of Business and Social Events, attended the international Les Clefs d’ Or Congress in Cannes, France. She even got to walk on the same red carpet used for the film festival. She also traveled to Paris and while there visited Notre Dame two weeks before the tragic fire.

The PACA President Travels to Dubai!

Our PACA President, Fran Nachman, recently traveled to Dubai for the UICH Les Clefs d’Or World Congress meeting. As a member of the Clefs d’Or, Fran brings a wealth of knowledge to our organization and is always on the lookout for opportunities to better her knowledge of the hospitality profession. Fran attended her first national congress in Chicago, followed by Dallas in 2014 for the Leadership Conference. Traveling to an exotic location like Dubai was an exciting way for her to experience her first international congress. While in Dubai, Fran focused on networking learning new skills from both the speakers as well as from the finest concierge in the world. As the Lead Concierge at the Sonesta Hotel and President of the Philadelphia Area Concierge Association, Fran strives to provide the highest level of service to guests (and our city). Fran takes a well deserved walk on the Red Carpet: The concierge take a break from the action with a group photo: