Confessions of a concierge - Nathaly Fafard

She calls herself a purveyor of happiness. Others swear she’s a magic genie because she can achieve the impossible, all in the service of putting smiles on people’s faces. Either way, Nathaly Fafard is able to grant wish after wish in her role as concierge at the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, a five-star hotel on René-Lévesque Boulevard.

A member of Les Clefs d’Or, the prestigious association of a select group of chef concierges working in major hotels around the world, Nathaly has been employed by The Queen Elizabeth hotel for 14 years. Previously, she worked as a flight attendant, another profession that prioritizes customer service, except that it’s in the performance of her current duties that the sky’s now the limit for Nathaly.

Many are the examples she could cite. Like the time a Scottish client who had come to Montreal for a funeral needed to get his hands on a tartan (Gaelic textile consisting of a pattern of woven horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colours).

“There were none to be found,” said Nathaly. “After tapping out all my resources, I finally called the Royal 22e Régiment in desperation. I was so insistent, they finally interrupted the colonel in the middle of a meeting. There was also that time that a woman asked me to find her a hot-air balloon so that she could scatter the ashes of her mother in the sky above Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. I was able to find one, which made it possible for the woman to respect her mother’s final wishes.”

Nathaly likes to tell the story about a little boy who loved blue balloons. She filled an empty room to the brim with blue balloons: 150 to be exact! “You should have seen his face when he walked in the door. He was blown away!”

But madame la concierge doesn’t only make wishes come true; she also offers hotel patrons recommendations on restos and shops. Here are a few of her suggestions:

Restos: Bouillon Bilk (1595 Saint-Laurent Boulevard), especially for their rib steak with avocado; the Greek restaurant Ikanos (112 McGill Street), known for their grilled octopus on a bed of lentils; and for those with a sweet tooth, the Rustique Pie Kitchen (4615 Notre-Dame Street West) for their mouthwatering country-style pies and decadent Wunderbar dessert.

A favourite boutique: Le Dressing (3773 Saint-Laurent Blvd.), where shoppers will find high quality used clothing and accessories at affordable prices.