Our family returned home from a week long “Staycation” at The Pelican Hill Resort this past Sunday. It’s taken me a few days to figure out how to tie in all of the things I want to write about as it relates to this trip. I realized I can’t do it! This trip requires two posts. So allow me to introduce Post 1 of 2 about our family trip to Pelican Hill (Post 2 of 2 will come in a few days)…
Back to the question at hand: Is Inspirato Concierge service as good as advertised? Does it add significant value to your vacation? Is it helpful or even necessary? In short, the answer is yes, yes, yes, and yes!
Our stay at The Villas at Pelican Hill was our first experience with an actual Inspirato Concierge. The Stein Eriksen Residences had a wonderful concierge, but the Inspirato Concierge experience is something entirely different. Frankly, it’s a level of service and care that I’m not accustomed to. And from reviews I’ve read from other Inspirato members and passholders, I know I am not alone in my thoughts here. So, thank you Inspirato Concierge service (specifically Shelley at Pelican Hill Resort in this case) for all you did to make our trip not just wonderful, but uniquely meaningful.
Here are our TOP FIVE Highlights from having an Inspirato Concierge as part of our vacation experience last week:
1) Arrival and Check-in: This is an oft-overlooked, yet extremely important component of any vacation experience. It sets the tone. It establishes expectations. It either heightens or alleviates concerns. It’s that ever important first impression, or that first taste that lingers on the palate. I.e., It’s a big deal. The Pelican Hill Resort is elegant and grand, yet somehow at the same time, perfectly tasteful and understated in it’s comfortable luxury. Would our arrival and check-in experience be consistent with all of that grandeur?
We arrived at the guard gate to the Villa portion of the resort and were quickly directed to the lobby area of the Villas. There were valets aplenty, doormen, the whole nine yards. The check-in desk was quiet and we were immediately assisted. I mentioned that we were checking in and would like to see Shelley, who was over by the fireplace chatting with some other guests as they watched the Super Bowl pregame show (I knew to ask for Shelley as your Inspirato Concierge reaches out to you weeks prior to your arrival in order to begin making any arrangements that you might need. We’d already emailed back and forth a number of times at this point). The Super Bowl start was about 30 minutes away so we were in a bit of a hurry to get settled in for the game. Shelley walked over to greet us and welcome us to Pelican Hill. She was genuinely happy to see us and made us immediately feel at-ease about our upcoming week and the level of care and service that we’d be receiving. She explained the details of our villa, shared all about the events going on that week at the resort, and offered to arrange any outings, dinner reservations, etc. We knew that we were in good hands. We exhaled. Our guard was down. This was going to be a good week. She then introduced us to our butler who got us all settled into our villa.
This concierge check-in experience is unique to Inspirato. We’ve checked in to dozens of nice hotels. More often than not, it’s a pleasant enough experience. However, it’s not personal. It’s not overly welcoming. The front desk agent really doesn’t seem to care all that much about the entirety of your stay. This is sure not the case with Inspirato Concierge. They are not just checking you in, they are welcoming you as an Inspirato family member and laying the foundation for a level of care and service that will lead to a fantastic vacation. Perhaps that sounds a bit cheesy, but if you’re one of the fortunate ones to have experienced Inspirato Concierge, you know exactly what I’m talking about!
2) Arrival gift/amenity: Admittedly, this is not something I generally pay much attention to or care much about. It often includes some not-so-great fruit or some haphazardly thrown together arrangement of goodies that you may or may not even utilize during your stay. But, here we are arriving on Super Bowl Sunday just before the big game starts. And of course, we arrived with some desperation…running a bit late…with dad (yours truly) pushing everyone to hurry up because we were flirting with an arrival time that would have us miss that precious and all important first kick-off. In our rush, we neglected to purchase and bring along the ever ubiquitous Super Bowl chips and salsa, wings, and whatever else I would have grabbed from the store. We did bring our dinner with us for the night, but that didn’t help fill our snackless void.
Enter the welcome gift amenity. It was not Tostitos and Pace salsa, nor those wings that leave their residue on your finger tips until next football season comes around. Behold, it was a variety of exquisite cheeses, a few different types of crackers, and a delectable mix of fresh fruits (not too mention some imported beers and other drinks stocked for us in the frig). So instead of Coors Light and Tostitos, we poured ourselves glasses of a nice Cab and snacked on cheese, crackers, sliced pears, and grapes. It was perfect. It was not just a thoughtless gift left on the table as a token amenity. It was intentional and purposeful. In this case, we arrived stressed and without snacks. This small gift filled a need that we had and made the first afternoon of our vacation that much more enjoyable.
3) Strep throat: No, this was not some morose amenity provided by our concierge. It turns out this was actually something my oldest daughter happened to bring along with her on our trip. It was a curveball. Everyone is supposed to be healthy and happy on vacation, right? No one is ever supposed to bring along a case of Streptococcal Pharyngitis. But, that was our reality. Our trip included a sick kid, doctor visits, antibiotics, and a bit less activity than originally planned. I know, you’re thinking what in the world does this have to do with Inspirato Concierge service? Well, Shelley would check in on us every day to see if we needed anything at all. I mentioned in our email correspondence that our oldest daughter had Strep and we were dealing with that and so not needing as much help with reservations, bookings, etc. I probably received three messages checking in on my daughter, wishing her well, and offering assistance in any way possible. This level of care and interest is by no means required of destination concierge. Having a sick kid on vacation is no fun. Feeling like someone is paying attention to your family’s vacation situation, even including the impact of a sick family member, is comforting. In some ways, it’s a small thing, not a big deal. Yet, at the same time, every bit of extra care and attention goes a long way when your vacation is not going exactly as you hoped or planned. Thank you Shelley!
4) Wife’s birthday dinner at Andrea: We celebrated my wife’s birthday towards the end of our week at Pelican Hill (thankfully, my daughters Strep throat had subsided by then). I had originally called and reserved a table for us at Javier’s, a very nice Mexican restaurant just down the hill from Pelican at the Crystal Cove Center. We could have gone there and had a good dinner and an enjoyable evening. But, oh what a HUGE difference it made to eat at Andrea, with Shelley making all of the arrangements! The credit for this decision all goes to my wife as, thank goodness, she was feeling like something Italian and wanting to try a place we had yet to experience.
Once we made the decision to dine at Andrea, I called Shelley and she took over from there. It’s amazing how well things went when I got out of the way! She reserved a table for five as my dad (who lives down the street) joined us for our little celebration. None of us had ever dined at Andrea prior to this evening. The host took us to seat us at our table and there, as a centerpiece, was an incredibly beautiful flower arrangement for my wife. This was truly a surprise. Next to the flowers was a bottle of ZD Cabernet. This was a bit less of a surprise as Shelley had asked me via email if there was a particular type of wine we enjoyed with dinner. Even though not entirely surprising, thoughtful touches don’t need not be surprises in order to be thoroughly appreciated. Now, it was not just that the flowers and wine were a kind gesture. Shelley had no idea that these family celebrations are a bit harder these days as my mom is not able to celebrate with us. Mom has been in a Memory Care home for approaching two years. It’s hard that she’s not with us and my wife was especially sensitive to her absence on this evening. Year after year after year, we would celebrate birthdays with both my mom and dad. Her absence at the table is still palpable. These are happy times, but there is some underlying sadness. Beautiful flowers and a really wonderful bottle of red wine were a touch that made us feel attended to and cared for. This may sound a bit trite, but it was actually an important part of our evening’s birthday celebration. We were thankful. My wife LOVED her flowers.
5) Bottle of Veuve Champagne on our last evening: We had three couples over for dinner on the last night of our stay. As my wife and I were rushing to get ready to host our dear friends, our doorbell rang. I opened the door and received a most welcome delivery!
Shelley knew we were entertaining that evening but I had zero expectations of anything. She had offered to make arrangements for us and we had discussed dining options for the group, either eating out or having something brought in. She provided me with wonderful selections for both. We ultimately decided on a fairly simple delivery option for dinner. On this evening, we had plenty of food, plenty of wine, and my buddy Todd was even slinging some specialty cocktails. What we didn’t have was any bubbly! The Veuve delivered on ice remedied our lack of the bubbly. After some time of catching up with one another, we paused, circled up, opened the Veuve, poured eight glasses, and toasted to my wife’s birthday and to some of the best friendships on the planet.
Here’s what Shelley didn’t know in this case: These three guys are my best friends since we were toddlers. I was in a play group with Randy and Jon when we were two years old. Todd moved onto our block a couple doors down from me when we were five (we give him a hard time for joining the squad a bit later in the game). The four of us have maintained our friendship all of these years. We live fairly close to one another but life is crazy. They all have younger kids and quite a few of them. Couple that with busy work lives and the four of us (eight of us as couples) are only able to get together once a year or so. Our situation and our friendship is unique. It’s actually quite extraordinary. On this evening, we were able to raise our glasses and toast to some the longest friendships that any of us are aware of. We’ve been friends for 44 of our 46 years of life! That’s certainly something to raise a glass to! Evenings with good friends that you don’t see often enough pass by way too quickly and leave you longing for more, more conversation, more connection, more catching up on each other’s lives. I guess that’s a good sign and proof of some wonderfully deep friendships.
One of my favorite takeaways from this evening was when we all paused, (there’s usually 3 to 4 loud conversations going on at once) circled up, and raised our glasses to celebrate a lifetime of friendship! The eight of us may not be together again for a number of months, (even though during our goodbyes we always mention not waiting so long until the next time) but I’m so looking forward to raising our glasses once again when that time comes. And depending on our Inspirato Pass scheduling, perhaps it will be at the Pelican Hill Resort Villas! Shelley, keep a bottle of Veuve on ice for us!
So, I leave you with this: Let your concierge spoil you a bit. Utilize them to plan your outings and reserve your dinner tables. Graciously enjoy whatever small gifts may come your way. Those small gestures may prove to have large impacts on your overall vacation experience. And rest easy as your trip with Inspirato approaches, knowing that someone on-site knows you’re coming and they are ready to welcome you like family, doing anything and everything they can to make your vacation especially fabulous!
Happy Travels friends!
And if you’re ready to start enjoying the Inspirato Conciege experience, go get yourself signed up for Inspirato Pass Now!