WHAT do you do when it’s your first Christmas Day on duty as concierge at London’s very swanky The Ritz Hotel, and a V-VIP guest tells you he has a longing for the salty waters of famed Brighton Beach, but that being mid-winter it’s too cold – and can you be a good chap and fetch a few pails of the stuff for him to plunge into in his room’s bathtub?
In the case of Michael De Cozar you, of course, say, “Yes, sir, of course.”
Now chief concierge and in his 44th year at The Ritz, Michael still remembers it like yesterday.
“One of our porters named Freddie had brought his little Morris Minor motor-car to work that day, so we loaded it up with 25-litre pails and sent him off on the 200km round-trip down to Brighton.
“It took him two-and-three-quarter hours in each direction, and what anyone on the beach on Christmas Day and the middle of winter must have thought at the sight of Freddie in his Ritz uniform, shoes and socks off, pants rolled up and trudging across the pebbles of Brighton fetching pails of seawater, is anyone’s guess!
“The guest later told me he had family in Brighton, and this special bath totally made his Christmas.
“And I still wonder to this day whether our guest added hot water – or did he just slide into his Brighton seawater bath cold after we’d filled it up for him?
“Whatever, he did thank us most effusively later, telling us how wonderful it had made his Christmas Day.”
That’s what you could call ‘Putting On The Ritz’.
There’s almost nothing Mr De Coza wouldn’t do for his guests, even give them the shirt off his back, or at least the shoelace from his show.
I’ll let him tell the tale: “There was an important business meeting being hosted in the hotel and one of the attendees’ shoelaces happened to break.
“He asked me to give him a new lace but it had to be round and jet black to match his shoes.
“So I used my initiative and thought on my feet and literally gave him my shoe lace, which actually matched perfectly.
“It was a talking point at their board meeting, that the head concierge of The Ritz London gave his shoe lace away.
“Could you call that thinking on your feet?”