recently became the scene of a humorous story told to the Concierge by a fellow colleague in the hospitality business. One hot summer month, a group of sommeliers from the Commonwealth of Independent States were guests of one of the, back then still known as, four wineries in Kaltern. The director of Sales and Marketing of the winery in question, was in charge of the small group of about ten as their guide.
She welcomed the group at the airport and supplied them with brochures and information regarding their stay and the surrounding area. After escorting the group to the hotel for check-in, she led her guests on a tour of the winery, followed by a wine tasting and an aperitif in a local bar. All this followed by a gourmet dinner of regional specialties, prepared by one of South Tyrol’s most famous chefs, and, of course, accompanied by various wines presented by the winery's cellarmaster himself.
After dinner, the group strolled to a bar to enjoy an after dinner drink. One would expect the activities of this evening to be entirely professional and not overindulging, seeing that all participants of the group are experienced tasters of wine and spirits…
At the end of the evening, the lights in the bar were getting lower and lower and the bar staff were eagerly waiting for the group to leave. The group however was not convinced that the night was coming to an end. In time the winery director serving as group leader did convince the, let’s say “tipsy”, group to leave. The director, still sober and 100% professional, led the group back to the hotel on a path through the vineyards, but upon arrival the group changed their mind. It was not time to go to sleep they said, instead, they wanted to go for an after midnight swim in the lake.
The group leader, as professional as she was, didn’t object, organized towels and discretely left the scene, as some of the group's participants at this point in time were rather scantily clad, and since they were supposed to leave for the airport in the morning, she went to get some sleep herself.
At 9:00 AM the bus was waiting to leave. Only the group was nowhere to be found.
A few calls later the bus was almost full with hungover sommeliers. Only one lady was still missing.
She was eventually found sitting at the lake. No, she wasn’t feeding the ducks, but instead she was searching the waters edge completely distraught. The group leader asked her to get on the bus as they had to leave if they were to catch their flight. Crying, the sommelière refused. The previous evening , while swimming in the lake, she had lost her cellphone containing all her contacts. This lady was one of the most respected sommelière in Russia and her smartphone was not backed-up. The numbers on her phone belonged to the who’s who of the Russian upper society. She had lost the numbers of Russian officials, ministers and allegedly, even heads of state. On top of that, she was supposed to organize the wines for a state dinner the next evening.
Naturally quite upset about this loss, the sommelière insisted on calling the fire department and a diving team to look for the cellphone. Only after half an hour she was finally convinced to get on the bus, as the phone was hopelessly lost in the lake.
Just as the bus was about to leave the yard, a hotel employee sprinted across the yard and tried to get the passengers' attention. In his hands was the missing cell phone. To find it he didn’t need the fire department or a team of divers, he didn’t even have to get his toes wet, the phone was found lodged in a space in the bathroom, in between the bathtub and the toilet.
Upon arrival at the airport, when the guest finally boarded the airplane just in time and she was no longer required to look after the group, relief broke out on the group leader’s face.
The Concierge heard this story from the very director for marketing and sales who was responsible for the group, and did not miss the opportunity to visit the lakeside hotel himself. At lunch in the hotel, the Concierge can’t help but remember the story with a smile. In the course of his years as concierge, he had also often been a group leader leaving his guests at the airport, and he, like his colleague in the story, could only breathe a sigh of relief once the plane was finally in the air.