Cape Town concierge Yusuf Jinoo stumbled across the profession by chance. After leaving the bed manufacturing industry where he worked for over 20 years, Jinoo was on the lookout for a new challenge.
When a friend suggested that he look into the tourism industry, he was skeptical at first but decided to give it a chance.
The 52-year-old, who currently works at the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, started as a meet and greet official at the airport for a luxury hotel before becoming a concierge.
His career as a concierge spans over 10 years, and the father of two has received his fair share of outlandish and quirky requests over the years.
He shares some with us:
Clinton Moodley (CM): Yusuf, you have been a hotel concierge for 10 years having worked at some of the most prestigious hotels in Cape Town. Can you shed some light on what the job of a concierge entails?
Yusuf Jinoo (YJ): I get asked this a lot. I ensure that guests have the best time at the hotel and cater to their every need. This can be anything from booking a tour, reserving a table at a restaurant to planning proposals.
CM: Proposals, now I am intrigued.
YJ: I remember planning a proposal for a Nigerian couple in 2011. The guest wanted it to be extra special for his girlfriend. He proposed on a helicopter near Cape Point. In the days leading to the proposal, I organised the rings, photographer, the meals, the champagne and roses. The couple did not wed in South Africa, but I do know that they are happily married.
CM: That must have been fun. What is the strangest thing someone asked you when they visited South Africa?
YJ: There’s so many. Where do I start? Many people ask me how Table Mountain, which they refer to as Table Top, was created flat. Others expect to see wild animals as soon as they jump off the plane and ask why they did not see any. Despite the strange questions, I am happy to answer them.
CM: Has there been any unusual requests?
YJ: A guest once asked me if the cable car would wait while they enjoyed a 5-star dinner at the edge of Table Mountain. I had to politely tell them that they could not have dinner at the edge as it was prohibited. I also informed them of the closing times and the consequences of not taking the last cable car of the day.
CM: And the outrageous requests?
YJ: A couple wanted to hire a helicopter to see some of Cape Town’s attractions. The couple desired to do as many excursions on that day. They wanted to travel by helicopter from the waterfront to see the sharks, dolphins, whales and other sea life while seated in the helicopter. The guest also hoped to see the Big 5 at a game reserve. The couple cancelled their plans when I told him the day excursion would cost around R100 000.
Other guests usually ask what they should wear when they swim with dolphins (which is an activity that is not on offer in Cape Town) and where they can purchase their hotel room bed.