INTERNATIONAL HISTORY

With roots dating back to 1929, Les Clefs d’Or was officially founded in France in 1952, as a not-for-profit organisation based on two pillars: Service and Friendship.  

1800s - 1930s

The Early Years

1800s - 1900s

The Caretaker

The commonly used title, especially in France, was ‘Portier’ or ‘Porter’ in English. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the Concierge was, and still is, a title used for the caretaker in a building.

The hotel porter or doorman became the focal point of guest relations and customer service at many luxury hotels. It was during this time that the role of the Concierge was created in the various grand hotels of Paris and Western Europe. This was the first time a role had been specifically created to assist guests with their requirements in unfamiliar cities. The Concierge quickly became a popular and essential service in luxury hotels.

1920s

Origins of present day Les Clefs d’Or

During the mid 1920s there was a group of Concierges from various hotels in Paris (including one from Algeria) who were trying to organise themselves with the guidance of Mr Pierre Quentin from the Hotel Ambassador. The hotel opened in 1928 and played host to a ceremony in the honour of Charles Lindbergh’s cross Atlantic journey in 1927. The following year Paris welcomed landmark hotels like Hotel Lancaster, The Prince de Galles, and the George V.

On 26 October 1929 Mr. Quentin sent an invitation to 20 prominent Concierges throughout Paris to dine at Restaurant Noël Peters in the hopes of strengthening the bond among them. The restaurant was located across the street from his hotel, in the Passage des Princes. With 11 in attendance, this dinner marks the first instance of professional hotel Concierges meeting as a group.

Within 4 weeks the new association was ratified at the first ever General Assembly with more than 75 delegates present. Mr. Pierre Quentin was elected the first President of Les Clefs d’Or on 27 November 1929, a post he held for three years.

1930s

Origins of present day Les Clefs d’Or

Pierre Quentin’s presidency of Les Clefs d’Or was followed by François Dechaume who was elected in 1932 and remained until the war. Mr. Dechaume was among the 11 who created the association. Sadly, there was no activity during the war as all the hotels, especially in Paris, were occupied by the Germans.

Headquarters

1936

The headquarters of Les Clefs d’Or moved to its present location at 12 rue Cambon in Paris.

1940s - 1970

The Evolution and Expansion: Part I

UNION EUROPÉENNE DES PORTIERS DES GRANDS HÔTELS - UEPGH

1946

After World War II

After World War II, Mr. Ferdinand Gillet, originally from Switzerland and the former Vice President to Mr. Dechaume succeeded him as the new president of the organisation. Mr. Gillet started his Concierge career in Paris as a Night Concierge at Hotel du Rhin in 1920.

The origins of present day Les Clefs d’Or as an international organisation has traditionally been credited to him as during his presidency, Ferdinand Gillet travelled extensively throughout Europe to seek and find other hotel Concierges.

1952

The First International Congress

After much communication and several smaller meetings (including the initial multi-national meeting that took place in 1951 in Sierres, Switzerland) the gathering of the first six member sections on the historic date of April 25, 1952 at The Carlton Hotel in Cannes took place. This was the birth of Union Européenne des Portiers des Grands Hôtels “Les Clefs d'Or”, the international network as we know it today and the very first multi-national Congress.

Representatives from the French organisation were joined by prominent concierges from Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Great Britain and Ireland. Belgium and Denmark were observing countries and Spain was an invited guest.

This allowed each country represented to go back and form a formal organisation in their respective regions based on the French model.

The members in Morocco, being a French protectorate at the time, although outside of mainland Europe, were regarded as French members.

1952

Mr. F. Gillet

Mr. F. Gillet from France became the first president of the organisation. Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy and Switzerland became the first member sections.

1955

1957

Austria

Austria joined the organization as member section.

Sweden

Sweden joined the organization as member section.

1960

Ireland and the Netherlands

Ireland (originally with Great Britain) and the Netherlands joined the organization as member sections.

1962

Norway and Spain

Norway and Spain joined the organization as member sections.

1964

Morocco

Morocco joined the organization as a member section.

1965

Greece

Greece joined the organization as a member section.

1968

Mr T. Godde

Mr T. Godde from Germany became the president of the organisation.

1969

Origins of present day Les Clefs d’Or

Mr. O. Wirth from Switzerland became the interim president of the organization after the passing of Mr Godde.

1970 - 1998

The Evolution and Expansion: Part II

UNION EUROPÉENNE DES PORTIERS DES GRANDS HÔTELS - UEPGH

In 1970 in St. Moritz with the addition of Israel, UEPGH Les Clefs d’Or (Union Européenne des Portiers des Grands Hôtels "Les Clefs d'Or") changed its name to UIPGH Les Clefs d’Or (Union Internationale des Portiers des Grands Hôtels "Les Clefs d'Or") to accommodate the organisation to reflect its growth and presence outside of Europe.

St. Moritz

1970

Mr. O. Wirth from Switzerland became the president of the organization.

Mr O. Wirth

1970

El Sr. R. Burdeyron de Gran Bretaña se convirtió en el presidente de la organización. Portugal se incorporó a la organización como sección miembro.

Mr R. Burdeyron

1972

Mr. A. Molero from Spain became the president of the organisation.

Mr A. Molero

1974

The United States of America was accepted and brought with it the first female member concierge – Ms. Holly Stiel from San Francisco.

 

Mr S. Giarola from Italy became the president of the organisation.

Ms. Holly Stiel

1978

1976

Canada

Canada was admitted as the 18th member section and the first country that took UIPGH Les Clefs d’Or to the next continent.


Mr. J. Gillet from France became the president of the organisation.

1980

Finland

Finland joined the organization as member section.

1981

Australia

Australia was accepted as a member section and this paved the way for Asia to join the UIPGH Les Clefs d’Or family.

Hong Kong and Hungary were accepted as a member sections.

 

Mr. J.M. Bautista from Spain became the president of the organisation.

Hong Kong and Hungary

1985

Mr A. Schneider

1982

Mr. A. Schneider from Austria became the president of the organisation.

Singapore was accepted as a member section.

 

Mr. A. Ostertag from Switzerland became the president of the organisation.

Singapore

1986

Luxembourg was accepted as a member section.

 

Mr. A. Damonte from Great Britain became the president of the organisation.

Luxembourg

1988

Romania was accepted as a member section.

Romania

1990

Czech Republic was accepted as a member section.


Mr. W. Freytag from Germany became the president of the organisation.

 Czech Republic

1991

Brazil became the first South American member section.

Brazil

1992

Philippines was accepted as a member section.


Mr A. Lodigiani from Italy became the president of the organisation.

Philippines

1993

New Zealand was accepted as a member section.

New Zealand

1994

Mr T. Facciolo OAM from Australia became the president of the organisation.

Mr T. Facciolo

1995

With the approval of Japan and Malaysia, the total number of member countries became 32.


Mr A. Gunst from Hungary became the president of the organisation.

Japan and Malaysia

1997

1998 - Present

The Evolution and Expansion Part III

UNION INTERNATIONALE DES CONCIERGES D'HÔTELS - UICH

In 1998, the organisation officially became the UICH (Union Internationale des Concierges d'Hôtels "Les Clefs d'Or") to emphasise the word concierge and to further reinforce that the organisation is an association of hotel concierges.

UICH

1998

The newly restructured UICH welcomed its first female president, Mrs Marjorie Silverman from the US section.

Newly restructured UICH

1999

The international expansion of the organisation continued with Russia.

Mr. A. Giacomello from Switzerland became the president of the organisation.

International Expansion

2001

Taiwan and Turkey joined as member sections.

Mr. J.C. Elgaire from France became the president of the organisation.

Taiwan and Turkey

2003

Thailand joined as member section.


Mr D. O’Brien from Ireland became the president of the organisation.

Thailand

2005

Korea joined as member section.

Korea

2006

Mr R. Bastoni from France became the president of the organisation.

France

2008

Argentina became the next member section from South America.

Les Clefs d’Or Award launched as “Andy Pongco Award” to honour the memory Andy Pongco. The award aims to encourage young members to become active participants in our global network and to recognize the elite's of tomorrow’s Les Clefs d’Or Concierge.

The prize for the recipient of the Award is an invitation to the next Les Clefs d’Or International Congress (registration and airfare included). All countries are encouraged to nominate a young member. The candidates will complete an open book written exam on the history of Les Clefs d’Or, geography and general hotel knowledge to assess the skills they use everyday while working at their Concierge Desk and assisting guests. They will write an essays on their interest in the profession and their aspirations. At the congress, the candidate will have an interview with members of the Award Committee. The candidates' personal presentation will play a major part in the final outcome of this friendly contest. Cheng from Chinese Taipei became the first ever recipient of the "Andy Pongco Award."

Argentine

2008

Mr R. Watson from United States of America became the president of the organisation.


Christophe Caron from France (currently member of Great Britain section) became the recipient of the Les Clefs d’Or Award.

United States of America

2009

United Arab Emirates became a member.


Ben Malpass from Great Britain became the recipient of the Les Clefs d’Or Award.

United Arab Emirates

2010

India joined as member section.


Mrs V. Casale from Canada became the second female president of the organisation.


Anabella Peling from Argentina became the recipient of the Les Clefs d’Or Award.

India

2011

Poland joined as member section.


Matthew Wu from Canada became the recipient of the Les Clefs d’Or Award.

Poland

2012

Mr E. Vrettos from Greece became the president of the organisation.


Anna Endrihovskaia from Russia became the recipient of the Les Clefs d’Or Award.

Greece

2013

Qatar and Macau joined as member sections.


James Elliot from Great Britain became the recipient of the Les Clefs d’Or Award.

Qatar and Macau

2014

Mr C. Toomey from Australia became the president of the organisation.

 

Sarah Dandashy from United States of America became the recipient of the Les Clefs d’Or Award.

Australia

2015

Harold Exbrayat from France became the recipient of the Les Clefs d’Or Award.


The associations membership reaches the 4000 mark globally with members in 80 countries and 536 locations.

France

2016

2017

Jessica Gorman from United States of America became the recipient of the Les Clefs d’Or Award.

Mr. S. Thomas from Great Britain became the president of the organisation.

International Congress Host Cities

1952

 

1953

 

1954

 

1955

 

1956

 

1957

 

1958

 

1959

 

1960

 

1961

 

1962

 

1963

 

1964

 

1965

 

1966

 

1967

 

1968

 

1969

 

1970

 

1971

 

1972

 

1973

 

1974

 

 

 

 

Cannes

San Remo

Munich

Marrakesh/Paris

Motreux

Dublin

Brussels/Berlin

London/Lourdes

Amsterdam

Vienna

Copenhagen

Nice

Tangier/Casablanca

Madrid

Geneva

Athens

Brussels

(annulled)

St. Moritz

Dublin

Palma de Majorca

Munich

Tel Aviv

1975

 

1976

 

1977

 

1978

 

1979

 

1980

 

1981

 

1982

 

1983

 

1984

 

1985

 

1986

 

1987

 

1988

 

1989

 

1990

 

1991

 

1992

 

1993

 

1994

 

1995

 

1996

 

 

 

 

 

London

Lisbon

Copenhagen

Vienna

Rome

Monte Carlo

Dublin

Barcelona

Funchal/Madeira

Munich

Sorrento

Tel Aviv

Washington, DC

Budapest

Paris

Gothenberg

Costa del Sol

Tangier/Marrakesh

Singapore

Sydney

Jerusalem

Rome

1997

 

1999

 

2000

 

2001

 

2002

 

2003

 

2004

 

2005

 

2006

 

2007

 

2008

 

2009

 

2010

 

2011

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

2015

 

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

2019

 

 

 

 

Budapest

Prague

Guangzhou

Brussels

Athens

Biarritz

Tangier/Fes

Manila

Washington, DC

Vienna

Copenhagen

Hangzhou

Lisbon

Toronto

London

Queenstown

Kuala Lumpur

Mendoza

Dubai

Berlin

Seoul

Cannes