We reveal what it means to be a Clefs d'Or concierge with the regional director of the Quebec region for Les Clefs d'Or Canada.
Francis Bélanger is a well-known face of the guests who stay at Le Germain Hotel Quebec. Behind the reception desk, he works hard for our guests every day, suggesting good restaurants in Quebec City, booking tours on Île d’Orléans or letting you about the latest exhibition to see at the museum.
You may have noticed that Francis' uniform is decorated with small keys, a sign that he is part of the Les Clefs d'Or association. But do you really know what that means?
We sat down with him to discuss it.
WHAT IS A CLEFS D'OR CONCIERGE?
Someone who has an eye for detail. He ensures that the stay of his guests runs smoothly, from A to Z. He will accompany the guest even before his stay, as well as after his stay. Les Clefs d’Or is an international association with a work ethic and a professionalism whose reputation is undeniable.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CONCIERGE AND A CLEFS D'OR CONCIERGE?
The difference is really just in terms of the goals we give ourselves. You can be a concierge who does not have his keys and be a great concierge. However, a Clefs d'Or concierge will be able to get help from anywhere in their network, which extends not only from coast to coast in Canada, but around the world. With a Clefs d'Or concierge, you also know that the suggestions he gives you will not be a tourist trap. We have rules to follow.
HOW DO YOU BECOME A CLEFS D'OR CONCIERGE?
To be a Clefs d'Or concierge, you must have been in the hotel business for a minimum of 5 years and have been a concierge for at least two years. After the 5 years, you must have attended at least eight of the 12 monthly meetings of your regional committee in a year. After that, the concierge can apply to have his keys. Then there is a three-month process. The member is assessed by other members in addition to passing a written exam. In November, the new members will be presented and approved after a vote of the national committee.
We lose our keys as soon as we are no longer a full-time concierge. A concierge can ask them back again within five years, thus having to redo the process.
IS THAT WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO DO, BECOME A CONCIERGE IN A HOTEL?
I’m a trained massage therapist. I practiced for five years in a few spas in Quebec. The very last place where I was developed a hotel project. The director of operations noticed my interpersonal skills and asked me if I wanted to be a guide in their vineyard, while waiting for a position at the reception. Some time later, the Clefs d'Or concierges came for a familiarization tour and it was there that I discovered them. I did my five years within the hotel industry and, in November 2018, I got my keys. (Francis is now regional director of Quebec for Les Clefs d´Or Canada!)
WHAT ARE YOUR BEST RECOMMENDATIONS IN QUEBEC?
When asked what my favorite place in Quebec is, I always know that it's a trick question! When I am asked this question, I do not really respond according to my preferences, I always question the guest back! I need to know what he is really looking for to make a good recommendation.
But personally, I love Legende restaurant. To taste the terroir, this place is phenomenal. La Planque in Limoilou is my suggestion for an laid back atmosphere and delicious food. The blind menu is really interesting at Rioux et Pettigrew. L’Échaudé is my go-to choice. They have everything! The Matto is one of the best Italians in Quebec.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST OFTEN ASKED ABOUT?
I'm going to be approached a lot for food suggestions, that's for sure. But it depends on the seasons. People ask a lot about walking tours. Quebec is very walkable, I like that the guests can enjoy it. In summer, we organize many gourmet tours to Île d’Orléans. In winter, dog sledding is always a classic.