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Minute on the Clock – Paul Wingco, The Ritz, London

22 March 2013
Minute on the Clock – Paul Wingco, The Ritz, London

Paul Wingco, luggage porter at the five-star Ritz hotel, is retiring after 25 years' service. He speaks to Katherine Alano about his highlights working at the iconic London hotel

What changes have you seen in your 25 years working at the Ritz?
The facilities of the hotel have changed a lot. When I joined the Ritz some of the rooms did not even have air-conditioning, but the owners have made the hotel look beautiful.

Despite changes in technology, we still have our traditional keys, so we can talk to our guests every day as they return or collect their room keys.

What have been your highlights?
Working with a great team - I look forward to coming into work with the team and my colleagues from other departments; they are all like an extended family to me.
I enjoy guest interaction and have made many friends over the years. I have also appeared in many photos with guests.

What will you miss the most?
The majority of the concierge team has been the same over the past 25 years, so I will miss them. I'll also miss the guests and the food in the staff restaurant.

Who has been the most famous person you have met while at the Ritz?
I am too discreet to divulge information about our current guests, but I will never forget meeting Princess Diana when she visited the hotel. She gave me a £10 tip.

What's the strangest request you've had from a guest?
We have all sorts of requests. When I worked on nights I made a lot of trips to 24-hour shops for our guests. I polish shoes for guests, and must have got quite good as they ask for me by name to do this. I take great pride in doing this the "old-fashioned" way to ensure that our guests have the best shiny shoes in London.

Guest satisfaction is a priority at the Ritz - how do you achieve it?
We - the concierge team - are the first and last members of staff that guests see at the hotel, so I make a point of recognising our guests (you need a good memory for this). I always address guests by their name and make sure I meet with regular guests during their stay so I can say hello to them. My aim has always been to make them feel special and treat them as individuals.

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