History

Les Clefs d'Or (The Golden Keys)

Officially registered as U.I.C.H (Union Internationale des Concierge d'Hotel).

Les Clefs d'Or is an international network of men and women with common interests and goals. They have their own mystique, a combination of their expertise sources of inside information, intelligence and communication. The Organization is non-political, non-religious and definitely not a trade union of any sort but is based on friendship between members to assist international travellers and tourist.

 

The first such association saw the light of day on 6th Oct 1929 when 11 Concierges from the grand hotels of Paris realized that they could operate more effectively as a team than individually. If they could join forces, they felt, they could make their services more indispensable. The two oldest associations are the French and the Swedes. The Dutch chapter was founded in 1937 and other countries associations date from about the same time. Many were the result of the depression in the late twenties and early thirties. The associations were allied to help each other on unemployment, illness and adversities. There was however, no real sign of any intentional cooperation until after WW II.

On 25th April 1952, delegates from nine countries met in Cannes to hold the first congress and created L'Union Europeene des Portiers des Grands Hotel (UEPGH). Its craetion was made possible by Ferdinand Gillet, the Chef Concierge then of Hotel Scribe in Paris, the industry knows him as the 'Father of Les Clefs d'Or'.

The second congress was held in San Remo, Italy in Dec 1953, this saw the creation of the journal 'Revue Europeene' and the adoption of the society's insignia and badge, the Golden Keys. This congress held yearly in different member countries has become a major feature in the Concierge calendar as avenue to renew and make new contacts and share their experiences and ideas.

15th November 1972 at the 20th Int'l Congress in Mallorca, Spain UEPGH was changed to UIPGH, Union Internationale des Portiers des Grandes Hotels, thus making the Society of the Golden Keys a worldwide organization. The Singapore chapter was formally accepted as the 24th member country at the 34th International Congress in Tel Aviv in 1986, making it the first Asian member. On December 4th 1993, the Singapore Chapter hosted the 41 International Congress.

Today the Society's membership encompasses over 35 countries with over 5000 members.

The national chapters are self-governing with their respective Presidents and Committees, elected each or every 2 years depending on their individual constitutions. The international Association communicates through a bi-lingual review published quarterly and members gather at an annual world congress held in a different country. The Association publishes a Worldwide Members' list every two years listing names and contacts of all Les Clefs d'Or members.

The Singapore Chapter holds a monthly EXCO meeting and a bi-monthly General meeting as well as an Annual General Meeting with every alternating year being an election year. Key News, a Les Clefs d'Or Singapore publication, is published 3 times a year and we have over 120 members in 8 Asian Countries.

The aim of Les Clefs d'Or is to help improve and maintain the quality of service provided in by the concierge staff in their hotels and to ensure that this little appreciated profession is given the recognition it deserves. Whilst encouraging friendship and solidarity among its members, Les Clefs d'Or also teaches them to continually improve their professional skills.

Members are expected to be presentable, courteous, helpful, knowledgeable and experienced, preferably multi lingual. Knowing how to advise guests and having the ability to cooperate and work alongside management for the benefit of hotel guests.

Les Clefs d'Or symbolizes welcome smiles, dedication and its members play an important part in the total success of international travel.

A Chronology of Important events of Les Clefs d'Or Singapore

1970s In Singapore, the 'little know profession' - the concierge - can be traced back to former Singapura Forum and Goodwood Park hotel where the position was called 'Head Hall Porter', a little still widely used in the United Kingdom. The Mandarin Singapore already has its own Guest Services Manager, and the title Chef Concierge was introduced only a few years ago.
1980 The profession was re-introduced at the Orchard Hotel with Mr Zainal Abidin, as the concierge, Mr Zainal is now with TCS. ' The Golden Keys' was introduced to Singapore through two Swiss trainees at the Orchard Hotel, where Jerry Soh was working as Assistant Manager.
1981 Jerry moved to The Pavilion Inter-Continental (The Regent Singapore today) as Chef Concierge. After the opening of the hotel, Jerry wrote to Monsieur Gerard Thiault, Chef Concierge of the Plaza Athenee. Paris (Secretary General of Union Internationale des Portiers des Grands Hotels (UIPGH) who referred Jerry's application to Mr Andre Damonte (then President f the Society of Golden Keys of Great Britain & the Commonwealth), Mr Les Nicol (the Britain & the Commonwealth) responded. Several letters later, Jerry was accepted as a member of The Golden Keys of Great Britain & the Commonwealth in November 11, 1982, the first from Singapore.

Shortly thereafter, Peter Silas (The Pavilion Inter-Continental) became the next Singaporean to wear the 'Golden Keys'. A year after the opening of The Pavilion Inter-Continental, Jerry joined Le Meridien Singapore as Chef Concierge.
1983 In July, Michael Wilson (the Executive Concierge at the Shangri-La Hong Kong) visited Singapore. In October, Stan Willis (Head Hall Porter of The Dorchester, London and Hon. Secretary of the Godlen Keys of Great Britain) was in town to present Jackie Wu his 'Keys' at a dinner hosted by Manager of the Mandarin Singapore.

Later that year, Harry Chen (the Assistant Guest Services Manager of The Mandarin Singapore) received his 'Keys'.
1984 In January, the 'Magic and inspiration of the little known profession' was transferred to Jerry through Monsieur Claude Lominet, then concierge of Le Meridien Etoile, Paris, during his two weeks visit to Singapore for the opening of Le Meridien Singapore.

Later in the year when Hong Kong was given recognisation as a national chapter of Union Internationals des Portiers de Grand Hotel, the four Singaporean members (Jerry, Peter, Jackie, Harry) were reassigned to the Hong Kong section.

In December, Jerry traveled to Europe where he participated in the 32nd International Congress of UIPGH (January 1985) as an observer. The one-week Congress was an eye-opener. After the Congress, Jerry spent a month at the Le Meridien Etoile under the tutelage of Mr Claude Lominet and his team in Paris.

So inspired by his attachment in Paris, the home of Les Clefs d'Or, Jerry to Singapore with the idea of forming a local chapter.

Frankie Lim (Le Meridien Singapore) and Ahmad Patel (Hotel Pan Pacific, Jakarta, Indonesia) received their 'Keys'.
1985 In December, Jerry went to work for Sheraton Towers Singapore where he worked with Brian Wieder (Chef Concierge). Around that time, William Tan and Michael Wo (both Pan Pacific Hotel) joined the small 'Keys' family.
1986 In June, Jerry put together the first draft of the statutes to apply for des Portiers des Grands Hotels. In November, Jerry joined The Oriental Singapore as Chef Concierge. In December 1986, Singapore was officially accepted as the 24th country of UIPGH at the 34th International Congress in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The Founding Committee consisted of: President Jerry Soh (The Oriental Singapore); Vice President: Peter Silas (Pavilion Inter-Continental); Secretary: William Tan (Pan Pacific Hotel); Treasurer: Harry Chen (The Mandarin Singapore); Committee Members: Brian Wieder (Sheraton Towers Singapore), Frankie Lim (Le Meridien Singapore), Jackie Wu (The Westin Stamford & Plaza), Michael Wo (Pan Pacific Hotel), William Seck (Sheraton Towers Singapore) and Ahmad Patel (Sari pan Pacific, Indonesia).
1987 With the 'Golden Keys' in hand, Jerry went on to open many doors, converting Guest Services Managers, Assistant Manager, etc from hotel to hotel. He also actively lectured at SHATEC on the little known profession. The team in Singapore played host to many visiting concierges from around the world, most notably a group of 10 top concierges from London in February 1987.

Because the industry was getting very competitive with many new hotels entering the market 'service' became a measure of excellence. This emphasis on service highlighted the advantage of the concierge and many hotels soon created concierge positions.
1989 Jerry Soh was appointed Area Director, Asia. UIPGH at the 37th International Congress in Paris, putting him in charge of membership in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.
1990 1st Asian Concierge Seminar (25 June - 1 July 1990, Singapore), 62 participants from 10 Asian countries attended the one-week seminar at The Oriental, Singapore. Speakers included Mr Andre Namonte and Mr Tony Facciolo, OAM.

1st Manila Concierge Seminar (18-21 November 1990, Manila, the Philippines). Co-organised by Les Clefs d'Or Singapore, it featured Jerry Soh as Guest Speaker.
1993 41st International Congress UIPGH (4 - 10 December 1993, Singapore). 550 delegates from over 35 countries participated in the first ever Congress in Asia. A symposium was introduced, a first in UIPGH's 41 year history. The symposium was so well-received, it became a permanent feature of subsequent congresses.
1994 First National Congress & Seminar of Les Clefs d'Or Philippines (26 November - 2 December 1994, Manila, the Philippines), Jerry Soh was a Guest Speaker.

Key News, the official newsletter of Les Clefs d'Or Singapore was published.
1995 Workshop/Seminar: The Challenge of Change (27 - 29 July 1995, Singapore), 36 participants from eight countries attended this leadership workshop/seminar held at The Beaufort Singapore.

Concierge Society of Bangkok, Thailand. Les Clefs d'Or Singapore assisted in the formation of the Concierge Society of Bangkok. The Chairman was Khun Chaurong Siewsutha (The Oriental Bangkok) and the Vice President was Khun Sompol Yamapat (The Dusit Tharil).

24-hour Swimathon Fund Raising for Canossaville Children's Home. The Society participated in the 24-hour Simation to raise funds for Canossaville Children's Home organized by Holiday Inn Park View.

Seminar: Key to Hospitality (8 - 9 September, 1995, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). Over 50 participants attended this first ever seminar for concierges at The Regent Kuala Lumpur. Les Clefs d'Or Singapore was co-organiser and Jerry Soh was the Guest Speaker.

Terry Fox Run. The Society participated in the Terry Fox Run 1995 to help raise funds for cancer research.

The Concierge Association of Malaysia. Les Clefs d'Or Singapore assisted in the formation of the Concierge Society of Malaysia. The Chairman is Mr Timonthy Gan (The Regent Kuala Lumpur).

Indonesia Hotel Concierge (IHCA). Les Clefs d'Or Singapore assisted in the formation of the IHCA. The Chairman is Mr Hasnal Bakri (Dai-Ichi Hotel Jakarta).
1997 Les Clefs d'Or Singapore and Hong Kong would co-sponsor and nominate Les Clefs d'Or at the 44th International Congress (Rome, Italy, January 1997). Les Clefs d'Or Singapore assisted with the drafting of its constitution and submission of application.

Opening of International Concierge Institute Singapore.
1999 Junior Concierge Course was launched, in line, to train new concierges in the industry. It was a two-day event in Sentosa Island where Associate Members, Mr Jerry Soh and SHATEC trainers were invited to show the ropes of the different service trades.
2000 The inaugural Concierge of the Year came to light. This competition was jointly organized by Les Clefs d'Or Singapore and SHATEC. 19 contestants from local hotels participated in this exclusive competition. Six finalists were selected and Steven Tham from Conrad Centennial Singapore won the award. The Down Syndrome Association of Singapore was the adopted charity in the Gala Night of the award. This competition will be held once every two years and the winner will also earn a trip to attend the International Concierge Congress.
2001 The first Asian Congress - Keys to Excellence Workshop was organized in August where Singapore proudly hosted 250 concierges from Malaysia, Taiwan, China, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Brunei, Australia and as far as Canada. The congress was held over a three-day educational get-together. Les Clefs d'Or Singapore invited a reputable trainer from MDIS to conduct the lectures and several General Managers in the region to share their views on the concierge profession.
2002

Concierge of the Year Award 2002. The 2nd Concierge of the Year Award taken place at the Conrad Centennial Singapore jointly organized by Les Clefs d'Or Singapore and SHATEC with the aims to raise funds in aid of 'The School Pocket Money Fund' participated by 15 contestants from all major hotels and six finalists were selected. The competition won by Serene Toh of the Four Seasons Hotel . Her prize, a fully sponsored trip to the 50th International Congress of Les Clefs d'Or - UICH in Biarritz, France in 2003.

Indonesia Hotel Concierge (IHCA) Jakarta Workshop 2002. Les Clefs d'Or Singapore assisted IHCA organized a 3 days 2 night workshop from 4-6 October, 2002 at the Sari Pan Pacific Hotel Jakarta. Keynote address by Mr. Luther Barrum from the Tourism and Foreign Cooperation of Indonesia. 80 participants from Singapore and Indonesia concierges and front office personnel on the Introduction on the Concierge Profession and Les Clefs d'Or ,UICH.

2003

Honorary International Member - UICH. Both Mr. Mohamed Ismail Hussain - MD of Globus Executive Holidays Pte.Ltd. and Mr. Eric Teoh - MD of Golf Tours Singapore were officially accepted as an Honorary International Member of the UICH at the world congress in Biarritz, France.

Visit to Cambodia, Phnom Penh. Launch of The Society of Golden Keys, Cambodia an invitation of Raffles International. From 25-28 March, 2003 to showcase Les Clefs d'Or UICH. More than 30 guests, including Hotel general Managers, Front Office Managers and Concierges of various hotels in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Guest of Honour is Mr. Pak Sokhom, Director, Marketing & Promotions Department of Ministry of Tourism.

15th Annual General Meeting 2003. In the midst of the SARS outbreak, Les Clefs d'Or Singapore took the challenge to celebrates her 17th Birthday and 15th AGM at Genting Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia with families on the 18th of April, 2003 with 84 delegates.

Visit to Seoul, South Korea. Les Clefs d'Or Singapore invited to the 1 st Annual General Meeting held at the The Ritz Carlton Seoul on 20th May, 2003. More than 35 society members and associates attended this inaugural event.

2004

16th Annual General Meeting and election of new Executive Committee was held on 16th May at M Hotel Singapore.

Les Clefs d’Or participated in the Terry Fox Run on 19th September. A total of 40 members and their families registered for the charity run held at Sentosa Island.

2005

President, Gregory Tan together with Honorary Secretary, Kamisah Rahim attended the 52nd International Congress in Manila, Philippines from 22nd to 27th February. This was Gregory debut role as the society President in an International Congress and his presence was widely received by the International Board Members as well as other International members.

Les Clefs d’Or Singapore PR Officer: Ali Alsagoff (Four Seasons Hotel Singapore) won 'Tourism Host of the Year: Hotel' in 19th Tourism Awards (1st March) organized by Singapore Tourism Board. Second member to win the prestigious award after Kamisah Rahim (Goodwood Park Hotel Singapore) in the year 2000. The award was a testament and recognition for Les Clefs d’Or concierges who act as graceful and resourceful hosts to hotel guests in their daily work.

Online Key News made its debut in the revamped Les Clefs d’Or Singapore website. Moving towards the future, the EXCO made a bold decision to make the quarterly issue online as it can reach out to a wider audience, web surfers around the world.

17th Annual General Meeting was held at Sofitel Palm Resort in Johore Bahru, Malaysia on 21st & 22nd May. A two days weekend stay event.

Les Clefs d’Or Singapore joined forces with ARDE: Assoc.of Rooms Division Executives, Association of Housekeepers, Hospitality Purchasing Association, Food & Beverage Managers Association and Chefs Association to form the Hospitality Alliance on 9th March. The aim of the Hospitality Alliance is to provide strong networking opportunities as well as exchanging valuable information. A signing ceremony was held at Conrad Centennial attended by EXCO members and Honorary members.

Gregory Tan and Mohd Salleh attended the Board of Directors Meeting at Copenhagen, Denmark from 30th June to 3rd July.

Asian Congress organized by the Indonesian Chapter and was held in Bali from 29th September to 2nd October. Total of 28 Full, Adherent and Associate Members from Singapore attended.

Les Clefs d’Or participated in the Terry Fox Run on 18th September. A total of 48 Full, Adherent and Associate Members and their families registered for the charity run.

PR Officer, Ali Alsagoff was featured in GEMS (Go the Extra Mile for Service) campaign in October. GEMS was a nation wide campaign by the government to encourage service sectors professionals to go the distance in executing their daily task.

Article on Les Clefs d’Or Singapore was featured in November/January issue of Hospitality Asia magazine.

In order to create awareness of the Concierge profession amongst the hotel students in Singapore, Les Clefs d’Or extended assistance to SHATEC by meeting up with SHATEC students for series of interviews.

The Concierge team of Four Seasons Hotel Singapore was featured in "Moneymind" : Channel News Asia.

2006

President, Gregory Tan , & PR Officer, Ali Alsagoff attended the International Congress in Washington USA from 10th to 16th January. Les Clefs d'Or Singapore proposed to UICH Board members for the successful launch of Les Clefs d'Or Korea .

Les Clefs d'Or Singapore welcomed another country to be under its umbrella. Abdul Rahman Abdullah (Assistant Front Office Manager, The Empire Hotel & Country Club) has been accepted as an Adherent Member. He will also be the Country Representative for Brunei .

Pocket Maps (personalised maps specially produced by Les Clefs d'Or Singapore ) were launched. A big hit among participating hotels as well their hotel guests due to its size and exclusivity to participating members' hotels.

Les Clefs d'Or was represented by several EXCO Members on 25th April for the “Hospitality Alliance Singapore and Singapore Workforce Development Agency Official Signing Ceremony Memorandum of Understanding ” during Food and Hotel Asia 2006. The Guest of Honour for this signing was Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry.

Les Clefs d'Or held its 18th Annual General Meeting on 7th July with the election of a new Executive Committee for the term 2006-2008. This was followed by the 20th Anniversary dinner at the Legends Fort Canning Park , and performance at Crazy Horse Paris . The Guest of Honour was Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Mr S. Iswaran. To commemorate the event, the organizing committee came up with a special 20th Anniversary logo: 1986 - 2006, 20 years of Service Through Friendship.

Redesigned Les Clefs d'Or Singapore website was launched. Featuring the special society 20th Anniversary logo as the intro followed by Les Clefs d'Or Singapore logo as the background for every page making it exclusive and one of its kind. The new website also features useful URL links that helps any site visitor to get know Singapore better as well as helping Concierge s in their daily work.

A talk on Concierge profession was held in Ngee Ann Polytechnic on 20th December. It was attended by Mr Gregory Tan , Mr Ian Tan and Mr Mark Lim .

2007

President, Gregory Tan was featured in WDA: Career Supplement in 8 Days magazine, January issue

President, Gregory Tan attended the International Congress in Vienna, Austria from 22nd till 26th March.

President: Gregory Tan , Honorary Secretary: Wang Shu Yea h, EXCO member: Eddy Tan and full member: Doris Lim were featured in ‘Cuisine & Wine' magazine

19th Annual General Meeting was held at Panorama Regency in Batam , Indonesia on 28th & 29th July.

Junior Concierge Training 2007 was reintroduced and held at Sofitel Palm Resort at Johore Bahru , Malaysia on 18th & 19th August. A 2 days residential course.

2008

20th Annual General Meeting and the election of a new Executive Committee was held on 15th May at Parkroyal at Beach Road.

2nd Networking Night was held after the Annual General Meeting at Raffles Hotel.

Gregory Tan was invited by Stephen Fernandez, Country Representative in India, to attend the 1st Annual General Meeting and Key Presentation.

In September, the society unveiled the new logo and started a gradual process of changing all its collaterals.

In October, Les Clefs d’Or Singapore started on some training programmes for its members.

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