He was pleasantly surprised when we informed him that he had been referred to us as a ‘charming young man.’ It was admirable of him that he never asked who had described him in that manner.
‘I don’t know about the charming description, but what I can say is that I try to remain professional all the time in all circumstances and give my 100% when at work. I must add that I try to remain always respectful and speak from the heart.’ He paused for a second and then added:‘And I always look into the eyes. Could that be the charming bit?’
This is David Gelabert Rios, a 30-year-old Spanish gentleman who works as Luggage Porter with Corinthia London.
Young and handsome, he is perhaps the right person to meet first when visiting the hotel. Does he consider himself an ambassador of the hotel? He did not bat an eyelid. ‘Most certainly, I am fully aware of that. In fact, I never erase from my mind that this is a great responsibility. I try to live up to it as best I can. I am the face of the hotel at that moment and I start the journey of our guests. Rather awesome, but I love it. It’s a wonderful sensation, knowing that I can help in enhancing even further the excellent name of Corinthia.’
So what would be his main duties? ‘Keeping always in mind my ambassadorial role, I warmly welcome the guests when they arrive at the main door and escort them to the Reception desk. I wait on them and ensure that all their belongings are delivered to the room. If they have arrived by car, I shall also park it for them. Having escorted them to their room, I familiarise them with the main essentials in the room and then ask them if they require anything else. I also acquaint them with the lobby and the service they can receive from there. Additionally, I run some minor errands if required. It is very important that all this is offered in a most respectful but friendly manner, whilst retaining high standards and … offering one big smile.’
Why is a smile so important? ‘ I believe that with a smile one can say a thousand things, which words cannot convey. A smile could at times be a silent equivalent of a long chat. There is a wonderful Chinese proverb which states: use your smile to change the world; don’t let the world change your smile.’
Was this his first job? ‘Absolutely not, I have been working since I was 16. I worked every summer for six years as a lifeguard near my hometown Benidorm, which is a town on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Then I tried my luck as a waiter in several restaurants. When I came to London, I continued working as a waiter in restaurants and was even promoted to supervisor and kept working for some years as part of the management.’
So how did his life-story change? How did he join Corinthia? He smiled broadly. ‘That was an unforgettable experience. I was having dinner with a close friend, and at some point he informed me that Corinthia was hiring new staff. After dinner, I googled information about Corinthia in London and I remember I was in awe. The place looked grand and so professional. I was so worked up inside; this was one of the top hotels in London. I applied and I remember earnestly waiting for a positive response. It was one of the best choices I have ever made. I have never looked back; I always fix my gaze forward.’
From his responses, we would have thought Mr Gelabert Rios was an outgoing person, so we were quite surprised when he confessed he was actually reserved. ‘I believe I’m a really positive person and can face life with determination. I believe everything has a solution even if this is not readily available. I’m also reserved, I believe you can communicate in many other ways than talking; there are energies and connections.’
Did he ever have to assist security because he was suspicious of something? ‘Yes I consider myself also an important eye of the lobby/hotel. In fact, we all need to support each other to ensure that our guests experience service beyond expectations, and this can sometimes mean that we have to covertly operate to ensure a smooth operation for all.’
Surely he had experienced something which he cannot forget. He laughed and for a few seconds, was not sure whether he could relate it. So we coaxed him. “Well, one night a guest asked me to marry her. I was at the main door alone and this lady went out for a cigarette. She asked me for a light and though I am not a smoker I always carry a lighter on me for any possible service. We started talking and after a short time she crossed the street. I kept a close eye on her. I was worried for her since…she must have had a drink too much and was not that steady on her feet. After a few minutes, I escorted her to the entrance again and she was so grateful that at some point she gently asked: Will you marry me?
‘I was shocked and flabbergasted. I gently informed her was I was already married, which was completely untrue, but I thought that would buffer the proposal. The next day she thanked me for looking after her and apologised for being so forthcoming.’
What about guests with special needs? How would he assist? ‘I try to look after them with reserved empathy since many do not like being fussed upon. So I try to stay in the line but also retain a thoughtful forward-thinking attitude.’
Once home, how would he spend his time? ‘First of all, music. I love to play my drums any free minute I have. I just give my all, I vent my feelings and then feel relaxed. But I confess I also like cooking and enjoy following any sport and…why not?… also indulge myself in video games.’
We could tell from the answers that Mr David Gelabert Rios had a special feeling about Corinthia. ‘You are perfectly right,’ he admitted. ‘Sometimes I still don’t fully realise where I’m working. I am still overwhelmed. The personnel here are simply wonderful, colleagues are such a great team and management are warm and professional. I sincerely also feel blessed to have this opportunity to talk to and and serve well-established actors, directors, models, musicians, even presidents or politicians.’ He stopped to gain some breath and then sighed: ‘I am so lucky!’ We couldn’t but smile.
Any plans for the future within Corinthia? ‘I am learning so much in the concierge department. I look forward to nurture and develop even more skills and knowledge in the years to come. I look forward with great confidence and excitement.’
It is so comforting to meet persons like Mr David Gelabert Rios who are enchanted with their job and look forward with enthusiasm to an even deeper involvement within the world of Corinthia.