Faces of The Victorian Quarter
John Coleman – Concierge at The Metropole Hotel
The Metropole is one of the many hotels within the ‘Quarter’ and is now part of the Trigon Hotels group. It opened its doors in 1897 and became a staple of Cork culture, soon known as the ‘Met’ to locals. It boasts some of the most beautiful architecture Cork has to offer and its inside décor adds to the Victorian vibe. A downturn in visitors due to the troubles of Northern Ireland in 1969 sparked an idea to generate a turnaround, that idea became the now renowned Cork Jazz Festival. The festival is globally known and draws thousands of visitors each year to the city. The hotel has recently seen a massive boost of investment with plans to refurbish the rooms and extend the hotel. With the bar and restaurant having already been brought up to date, the Metropole is no doubt on course to becoming one of the best hotels in the country. The Metropole currently boats a 4-star status and has recently received many awards, which is testament to the brilliant work that is on-going among the team there.
Job of the Concierge:
John Coleman is the Head Concierge of The Metropole Hotel here at the Victorian Quarter and has been for the past two years. John’s job as a concierge comprises of many aspects, but all focused around the one objective; that is to make sure that each guest’s stay is as good as can possibly be and to exceed their expectations of service. John adds a personal touch to how one experiences the Metropole and indeed the ‘Quarter’. John helps guests plan their visit to Cork with the best knowledge of all events and attractions the city has to offer. From booking tours, reserving restaurants or just simple directions John does it all at The Metropole. The team at The Victorian Quarter got the privilege to sit down with John and ask him about his life working in the ‘Quarter’.
John spent almost 15 years within event management from weddings, to corporate events and parties. He always had the dream of being involved in the hospitality sector and more specifically within guest relations. John tells us that he considers himself to be extremely lucky to be in the position he is in due to that changing social culture around hotels, he is glad that The Metropole restored the classic concierge that would have existed in most hotels not that long ago. This is also tying in with the Victorian aura.
John tell us about a story of two visitors who happened to be visiting Cork but staying in another hotel over the Jazz Weekend. It didn’t bother John that these people weren’t guests of the Metropole as he went above and beyond to help them while in the Metropole bar. He sourced two tickets to an event happening in the hotel that night for the couple and they ended up returning on many occasions. John says that they keep in touch and often send cards for holidays such as Christmas. This personalised experience is what sets the Metropole apart to many hotels in the city in John’s opinion. Although its main purpose is a hotel, they are there to sell food, drink and events also.
We asked John what the most exciting part of his job was, and he said that it’s the unknown of the job is what makes it exciting. Every day is different as concierge at the Metropole. John meets different people from different backgrounds, from all over the globe on a daily basis and hears unique stories and requests all the time. He has been asked to help in things from as little as organising tickets to a show in the Everyman to helping a soon-to-be groom to propose. This willingness to go beyond the call of duty to entertain each guest’s needs is what John loves to do. He says he’ll stay all night if he must make sure everything is perfect for the guests at The Metropole.
John referred to the team at the Metropole as one big family. From the top down, everybody helps out. There is a huge team atmosphere within the hotel, and everyone works along side each other to make sure the duties of the hotel are carried out efficiently and up to standard. There is a great positivity within the hotel that passes onto guests, knowing that they’re entering an enjoyable atmosphere. John tells us that last year during the snow, himself and a key stakeholder within the hotel helped shovel the snow off the footpath to make it safer for guests and pedestrians. This goes to show the strength of the team atmosphere within the hotel, that people take the initiative to take on tasks themselves when there is an issue. John stressed the term ‘team’, and that it is one of the biggest factors of working in the Metropole Hotel. The hotel keeps to a mantra known as the 3P’s; Passion, Pursuit and Perfection. This is adhered to by all staff in ensuring quality within the hotel.
John’s Views on the ‘Quarter’:
We asked John about his favourite time of the year to be working within the Quarter. John told us that he loves Christmas time as the buzz around the place is second to none. The atmosphere among the bustling bars and restaurants with families, couples and business parties out enjoying the special time of year. The panto season is also John’s favourite event within the area for all the same reasons. The homely atmosphere within The Victorian Quarter at Christmas time is immense in Johns view. As the street traders come together as one big family themselves and enjoy the atmosphere here. With many traders going above and beyond to decorate the area for the festive season including lighting and trees, really emphasises the homely Christmas feels. This, in Johns view is why the Quarter is so popular at Christmas time among families and couples. John also enjoys the Jazz weekend, although a lot busier and a different atmosphere it brings huge footfall to the area and he says its great to see all the businesses doing well.
When asked what his favourite thing about the Quarter was, he told us that the variety of places to shop, eat and drink is the best thing. You could get everything you need within the Victorian Quarter and there is plenty of options. ‘In recent years it has changed its image as just a place to go to eat and drink to becoming a vibrant hub of alternative shopping’. He enjoys the fact that the businesses within the quarter are privately owned rather than MNC’s. Although MNC’s bring their own benefits, having an area with privately run businesses gives customers an alternative to other parts of the city and makes it more personal. John says if he could bring one type of shop to the Quarter it would be a florist. He would like to see a bit of colour brought to the street by a unique florist where he could then shop for customers who plan on staying in the Metropole for special events such as weddings, birthdays and anniversaries etc.
John was very complimentary towards the on-going road works in the area. He told us that the workers have been very co-operative with his requests and inquiries. He says that the new Mary Elms bridge is going to be fabulous for the Quarter as well as the City making it more accessible to get to and from the centre of the city to the heart of the Quarter. It is also going to make it more appealing to guests who stay at the Metropole as well as locals to shop and stay within the Quarter for their entertainment and shopping needs. John hopes that the strengths among the businesses and people within the Quarter continue to grow as it creates great positivity in the area. The co-operation among the different business owners to develop the area is great and a huge benefit that isn’t seen in many places. John would also love to see the street revamped with some decorations making the area more pleasing to guests and visitors, with some trees, lighting and flowers in the area as the developments continue for this part of the city.