Sept. 5, 2010 - NY Post

Their jobs will hinge on their grades.

Staffers at eight luxury Manhattan buildings are being sent to “Doorman School” at the Waldorf-Astoria in the hope of upgrading their service to an art form.

“Giving good service is a feeling that can be as addictive as eating a piece of chocolate or drinking a fine wine,” said the four-star hotel’s chef concierge, Michael Romei, 51.

The all-day seminars include role-playing with Romei, a 16-year Waldorf veteran. He teaches the doormen — all of whom work at properties owned by the Rockrose Development Corp. — the importance of attitude, appearance, phone and elevator etiquette, and “the proper way to walk in a luxury environment” (briskly, with purpose and the right hand free to shake).

The doormen watch a video that demonstrates 18 different scenarios for the proper way to answer a phone — three rings is the maximum — as well as how to maintain eye contact as one handles irate tenants. The course includes lectures on the history of concierge and the philosophy of “service.”

Many Manhattan buildings market themselves as luxury residences, but their level of service isn’t up to snuff, according to Rockrose brass, who made the training mandatory for staffers.

After the courses, Romei stops by the buildings unannounced to observe his students implementing his lessons and to tweak their performance.

“It’s highly important that you care about your grooming,” said Romei. “A conservative, charcoal gray suit that looks good on almost anyone is the ideal uniform. We talk a lot about clean hands — they’re very visible when you’re working at a desk or writing a note or picking up a phone.”

Ramon Guzman Jr., 36, a doorman at the Tribeca Pointe, where three-bedroom pads rent for $6,300 a month, said the coursework with Romei has changed his phone manners.

“We were taught you have to smile when you answer the phone because it makes your voice more cheerful,” he said.

Guzman was taught to act as the den mother to his tenants, remembering birthdays, awards, hospital stays — and always following up with a note or phone call to “personalize the service you deliver.”

Romei’s pet peeve is telling, rather than suggesting, to guests and tenants where to go.

“If you say, ‘You need to take the elevator to the third-floor fitness center,’ you’re already dictating,” said Romei. “Our rule is that in luxury, guests don’t ‘need’ to do anything.

Instead, we say: ‘Please take the elevator to the third-floor fitness center.”


According to Michael Romei, chef concierge at the Waldorf-Astoria, “the doorman is the command center of his building. He needs to know the following off the top of his head:”

  • How to get to the nearest bridge or tunnel
  • Cab fare to JFK, La Guardia and Newark airports, and how long it takes to get there
  • City landmarks and their visiting hours
  • Best coffee within walking distance
  • Best bagel in the neighborhood
  • Restaurants that have recently opened
  • Nearest bank/ATM
  • Nearest drugstore
  • Nearest dry cleaning



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