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Concierge Chat

Mary Ann Aboo, Chief Concierge of Island Shangri-La Hong Kong

For twelve years as the Chief Concierge of Island Shangri-La Hong Kong, Mary Ann Aboo defines her role to create a warm-hearty concierge team.
 
 
 
CL: How did you start your career?
 
Mary Ann: I was a flight attendant before entering this industry.  I was feeling exhausted from the frequent travels and woke up at nights asking myself, ‘where am I?’ I knew then it was time for me to go home for good. I joined Island Shangri-La as concierge here till now for 12 years.
 
 
CL: Do you think your flight attendant experience is helpful for being a good concierge?
 
Mary Ann: Absolutely. I am able to make use of my flight attendant experience to communicate effectively with guests and provide quality services to fulfil their needs. 
 
 
CL: How do you see Hong Kong as the city as a tourist attraction during these years?
 
Mary Ann: Hong Kong is a well-known fast-paced city where you constantly find new attractions or new buildings replacing the old ones. Nonetheless, there are places or sights that are still able to withstand the tests of time.  This creates an amazing picture blending the old and the new. I feel amazed to see the fast and the slow pace of life can co-exists in the same community, such as Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan and Soho in Central – they are only blocks away but you see such a diversity of lifestyles there. 
 
 
CL: How do you see role of female concierge in this industry?
 
Mary Ann: I think my role is to establish a balance in the concierge team. Our team, like other hotels, are composed mainly of male concierges. They are efficient in providing expedite services and solutions to guests’ urgent needs and requests, but sometimes female’s meticulous nature is a great complement to help others in finding the right solution.  Furthermore, my role can help ease their stresses by giving positive motivation to boost their spirits and create a working environment.
 
 
CL: What is your most memorable experience so far?
 
Mary Ann: We once helped a middle-aged couple to find a tomb of their grandparents’ stillbirth baby. They only knew it is located at a cemetery in Happy Valley with no information of its exact location. We contacted the government bureau and found that the tomb was located at a certain section in the Hong Kong Cemetery. Though the couple did not requested this, but our team decided to search the tomb for them.  It took us three days by rotating our team to search after work.  My colleague was too happy when she found the tomb and burst her cheer into tears.  I can’t even explain the satisfaction – but we accomplish what looks like a mission impossible!
 
Mary Ann Recommends
Favourite local Hong Kong food:  
Hong Kong style egg tart at cha chaan teng. 
 
Hidden Gem that guests must see or do in Hong Kong:
Tai O.  It is an escapade from the metropolis and allows travellers to slow down their pace to see another side of Hong Kong.
 
A souvenir that represents Hong Kong:
Sweetheart cake or “wife cake” – a real local Cantonese pastry. 
 
Hong Kong in two days:
Day 1:  Take a cultural stroll at Sheung Wan: from dried seafood market to Man Mo Temple and Hollywood Road, you get to see parts of old Hong Kong. You can either walk to Soho for some  hip and trendy cuisines, or you can extend the old Hong Kong walk from Upper Lascar Row (Cat Street) heading West to Kennedy Town.
Day 2:  A cultural street shopping at Fa Yuen Street and Ladies Market in Mong Kok. Some of these products can only be find in Hong Kong. I will remind them to bargain for the best prices!
 

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