“Merci beaucoup et au revoir, Gerard.”

Some people in an industry are considered legends, somehow known by everyone in the sector.  Sir Terence Conran, Sir Rocco Forte, Stuart Rose, Lord Alan Sugar for example.

Within the concierge world, it is difficult to stand out in this way, as there are so many amazingly talented professionals working desks across London, the UK and the World.  However, it seems everyone knows the name Gerard Daverat.  Having come to the UK from his native Bayonne, south west France in the 70’s, he worked his way from a night porter at the Kensington Gardens Hotel and via various posts headed to the Hyde Park Hotel (now the Mandarin Oriental) in the 90’s, becoming Head Concierge there until his retirement just a few short years ago. 

It seems amazing to me that we never actually worked together; Gerard’s number two at the time, Matt, wanted to bring us on board, but Gerard, in his typically honest and respectful manner, took time to explain to me why this would not happen.  

“Darren, my current supplier has done nothing wrong, and I am very loyal to my suppliers and partners.  I understand that Matt would like us to be working together, and if my supplier does let us down, you will be working with me.  If they do  not, you won’t.  When I retire, which will not be too long now, Matt will be free to begin new relationships of his own, but until then, I’m afraid you have to respect my loyalty.”

Indeed I did respect Gerard greatly, and his attitude to his current supplier is one I would hope my clients would have towards us.  The irony is that Gerard and I enjoyed a really rather wonderful and cordial relationship (like he enjoyed with so many others), and after his retirement he confided that he really would have liked to work with us!  But as a concierge and as a man, I had great admiration for Gerard.

When news came through that Gerard was facing down cancer some 4 years ago, and that it was unlikely to be a battle he could win, it brought much sadness to the whole concierge fraternity, and beyond to suppliers like ourselves.  Despite his struggles Gerard would still be at social occasions and meetings, still looking amazingly well, keeping his “joie de vivre” throughout.  It took a long time, but sadly, Gerard finally lost his battle on 26th June this year, leaving behind a grieving family, and an enormous group of friends, colleagues and associates, all feeling a mighty loss.

Due to Covid restrictions, there was of course a limit on the funeral numbers, but I was proud to join some 20-30 Les Clef’s D’Or concierge in forming a ‘guard of honour’ as Gerard was taken from the church service to begin his final journey to the crematorium.  It was truly moving to see the respect with which Gerard was held amongst his peers, and the raw emotion brought about by the impact he had on their lives and careers.  It was indeed a truly humbling experience. 

In a time when the hospitality industry faces challenges like never before, it is comforting to know that so many of the professionals in that industry have learned so much from Gerard, and his influence and guidance over so many years will help them to meet those challenges now and in the future.  When you really think about what the word “hospitality” means, you realise that Gerard had done so all his life.  Merci beaucoup et au revoir, Gerard.

– Darren Winter