Meet the Caledonian Waldorf Astoria's concierge of 40 years who is believed to be longest serving in Scotland
Thomas Stewart has graciously opened doors for coal men to kings and everyone gets the same welcome from him at the world-famous Caledonian Waldorf Astoria.
Believed to be the longest-serving concierge in Scotland, Thomas, 56, has been a cherished part of the Caledonian experience for more than 20 years.
His role requires the utmost discretion and Thomas never speaks about any of the individual guests he has tended to.
And he has had the highest honour bestowed upon him – being invited to join the Golden Keys Les Clef d’Or in 1990.
Thomas is also the only concierge to have been rewarded for his commitment to the hospitality industry by being awarded the Hit Scotland Global Destination Scholarship in 2014.
Glasgow-born Thomas was coerced by his uncle to join him in the hospitality industry as a bellboy at Gleneagles, in Perthshire. After spending six years learning the ropes, he moved away from hospitality before returning to work for the Savoy group and then at Turnberry in Ayrshire as a concierge.
After spending 40 years in the sector, he says that a lot has changed over the years, from having to keep paper copies of arrival and departure times at the airport, to having the internet at your disposal in an instant.
He said: “With tech evolving, we live in a world where people no longer keep up with their neighbours but they still want a unique experience and a personal recommendation – that is where I come in.
“I often spend time sampling restaurants and experiences; getting clued up on cultural niceties and protocol for different guests and ensuring that I can make their trip as memorable as possible. Sometimes it can take months of preparation to ensure that everything is in place for a guest.”
Of the more bizarre requests he has received from guests, and while maintaining their privacy, he said: “You do get some challenging requests from time to time – for instance once I was asked to prepare a trip for someone to have lunch for a couple of hours on the Isle of Skye – which was a bit tricky considering Skye is normally a full day trip.
“On another occasion I was asked to sneak a high-profile client into a cinema so that they were not followed by photographers. I have also been asked to send an African prince’s car to
Paris on short notice. But the strangest has to be when I was asked to find seven people who would stand in a client’s spot during the Hogmanay celebrations whilst he and his party went for dinner.”
Thomas added: “Being a concierge in such a prestigious property as the Caledonian is such a unique career and it is a pleasure to serve the clientele. Every day is different, you react differently to the requests you have from each guest. I serve a wide range of clients from members of royal households, to presidents and even stars of the stage and screen. It is all about sharing my passion for the city – I am both an ambassador for the Caledonian and the Capital.”
Despite his long service, Thomas made it clear has no plans on retiring from the Hilton where he feels part of a big family.