Victor Baraya, Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney’s Head of Concierge, has been at the hotel for 20 years, even before the hotel had opened its doors! Although, a lot can change in 20 years, so we thought we would sit down with him and one of our porters, Fadhel Bin Asril. Fadhel has been with us for 15 years, so together, they have a lot of experience between them! We thought we’d ask them about their time here and how it has changed over the years.
Victor, when did you first join Radisson Blu and what made you apply?
Victor: I was working as a Chief Concierge at Hotel Swissotel in Sydney. In May 2000, I received a call from the Radisson Blu. I came in to meet the Manager and was offered a job on the spot!
What is your favourite Sydney site to recommend?
Victor: The Opera House is a Sydney landmark and one of the world’s finest works of Architecture. Of course, Circular Quay is known for award-winning restaurants, entertainment and harbour views. The Rocks, for its vibrant cafes and markets surrounded by historic buildings and passageways. The Blue Mountains are a natural wonder and easily accessible, with waterfalls, hiking trails and even offers a glimpse into our city’s mining history.
What is something about Sydney that a lot of people don’t know? Any secret must-do sites?
Victor: Suez Canal Lane in The Rocks – built in the 1840s, this 1-Metre wide lane was once a hotspot for old gangs to congregate and initiate havoc to anyone daring enough to pass through. Now it stands as a historic reminder of Old Sydney and remains one of the few untouched areas of the city.
There is also a small Pharaoh’s Needle erected on the corner of York street and Jamison Street.
Favourite memory at Radisson Blu?
Victor: I do have fond memories of hosting and assisting some of our recent former Prime Ministers. One year, we were also privileged to have professional cricket teams from around the world stay at the hotel for one of their matches.
Fadhel: My favourite memory is when Radisson Blu was part of the G20 Summit Meeting in Sydney in 2014. The Canadian Prime Minister stayed at our hotel!
Fadhel, what does a day in the life in Concierge look like for you?
Fadhel: It’s very exciting, I can meet people from all over the world. I get to deal with all different types of guests each day, and I’ve learnt how to communicate with different types of people and [I assist with] whatever their needs may be.
Victor, where did your nickname, ‘The Godfather’ come from?
Victor: The nickname “The Godfather” was given to me by the members of the Golden Keys network “Les Clefs d’Or”. I am the founder of Golden Keys Australia and am currently the oldest Chief concierge still working. I am very proud to say that I am in my 50th year as a Concierge.
What would you be doing if you weren’t Chief Concierge?
Victor: I could see myself as being a Steam Train driver!
What have been your career highlights since the year 2000?
Victor: I have had the amazing opportunity to work with and mentor the new generation of Concierge. Over the years I have seen my team grow and receive multiple accolades. This will always be one of my greatest rewards.
Fadhel, What has changed in the Concierge space over the past 15-20 years?
Fadhel: The internet has helped the Concierge team immensely, especially as a source of information for our guests. This has also seen the rise of online booking platforms, with restaurant bookings now able to be made without a phone! You couldn’t do this 20 years ago.
We have also updated our systems, such as Opera, which easily allows the Concierge team to access detailed information about our guests and their requirements. It has made our job a whole lot easier!
Our Concierge team has many tenured members, who have incredible knowledge of Sydney and the perfect suggestions to add on your next stay with us. Luggage help? No problem. Need to book tickets or a restaurant reservation? Done. Don’t hesitate to ask them for any assistance you may need, the team is always happy to help!
For more Radisson Blu Stories, visit https://www.radissonblugifts.com/blustories/