What do you call a concierge without a hotel? Emyr Thomas, the founder and force behind Bon Vivant, reckons such a person would be a provider of bespoke lifestyle management services. Hmm … there's a market for that? Guess so. Here's our interview with Emyr, which extends our Ask a Concierge interview series beyond the confines of traditional brick and mortar hotel services.
What is Bon Vivant and how does it compare to the traditional concierge services at a hotel?
Bon Vivant is a bespoke concierge and lifestyle management service, based in London with global coverage. We specialise in the things that you don't have the time, inclination or expertise to do yourself.
What we do is similar to a hotel concierge but with a greater range of services — we will arrange your holidays, recommend and book restaurants and bars all over the world, secure a spot on the guest list at exclusive clubs, source tickets for the theatre and concerts, and advise on a range of lifestyle services.
Members have access to exclusive treatment, complimentary benefits and discounts at top hotels, restaurants, clubs and spas, among many other lifestyle services, saving more than the cost of membership, as well as access to VIP and sold out events. We can also help with the every day tasks to help life run as smoothly as possible.
The biggest difference is that we get to know our clients well and offer them a highly personalised service that we tailor to their specific needs.
How did you come up with your idea for personalised concierge services?
Bon Vivant was started as we saw a gap in the market for providing a more accessible and affordable concierge service that focused on great service as standard. We offer a very personal service, so our clients deal with one person all of the time and we tailor each request to exactly what they want and based on our knowledge of their preferences. We also make sure that we pre-empt any requests and offer them services, experiences or products that they may not have heard about themselves, but we think they would be interested in. These days, it’s all about giving a great level of service with good value for money.
What sort of background do you have to place yourself in a position to advise and arrange your bespoke services?
I have always had a passion for travel, dining and trying new places, and I have been researching and recommending places for friends and their extended network for years. After years of careful planning and developing an excellent network and database, I decided to turn my knowledge of hotels, restaurants, bars and other lifestyle services all over the world into a business venture. My previous business experience has provided me with valuable business skills that I am now applying to something that I am wholly passionate about.
Who is your typical client; how do clients find you; and what are your rates?
Our clients are busy people with insufficient time to manage their own lives and who want to access our expertise and knowledge to help life run more smoothly, while enjoy exclusive treatment and complimentary benefits.
How long have you been in London and how would you rate it as a travel destination?
I have lived in London for nine years and have loved every minute of it — it’s dynamic, vibrant and beautiful. It has such variety to offer — new and exciting restaurants, which open on a weekly basis, world class hotels with real history and character, plenty of parks in which to enjoy the glorious weather and a plethora of cultural activities for every taste.
What’s the most common request asked by your clients?
Each client uses us for different things, but the most common request usually involves restaurants, as it’s the activity that people do most often in their social life — we keep our members informed of all the new openings and the best restaurant for them based on what they like.
Top tips for an ideal day in London?
If you want to be indulgent, I would suggest spa treatments are the Dorchester Spa, which the epitome of Art Deco glamour with a contemporary twist, followed by afternoon tea at Brown’s Hotel or The Langham Hotel. I would then head to the Connaught Bar for one of their signature martinis before ending the day with dinner at the fabulously ornate oyster bar at Scott’s.
For a first time visitor to London, I would recommend walking to the top of Primrose Hill to see the views of London in the distance and walking across Waterloo Bridge is a must – it has the most glorious views of the city in both directions.
For the cultured, I recommend joining ‘Love Art London’ on one of their unique experiences of London’s art world, including a curator's tour of the Museum of Everything, afternoon tea with sculptor Sir Anthony Caro at his studio and a behind the scenes tour of the Bank of England's art collection.
Visit Bon Vivant online at www.bonvivant.co.uk.