Although there is some debate about the origins of the word “concierge”, it most likely comes from the French compte des cierges, or “account of candles”. The person who oversaw illuminating grand palaces with candles, prior to the modern era, had the keys to every room and knew what was happening when and where. This person who had to keep account of the candles became known as the compte des cierges, later evolving into the word concierge.
Fast forward to the early 20th Century when grand hotels took the place of royal palaces, and concierges used their skill of knowing where and when things were happening to direct hotel guests and oftentimes provide a confidential ear. The father of the modern concierge is widely recognized as Ferdinand Gillet, chef concierge at Hotel Scribe in Paris who founded Les Clefs d’Or in 1929.
From its origins in France, Les Clefs d’Or expanded its reach in 1952 when the first international congress took place at the Carlton hotel in Cannes on April 25 of that year. Six European countries formed a union that would eventually grow to the 44 nations from around the world that are members today.
The concierge profession made its debut in the United States in 1974, when Thomas Wolfe opened the first concierge desk at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, California. From those humble beginnings, the number of US concierges grew. The United States became a member of Les Clefs d’Or in 1978 and Holly Stiel was admitted as the first female concierge.
The Los Angeles Concierge Association was founded in the mid 1980’s. Fred Anderson, concierge at the Sheraton Premier Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, was our first president. Significant events in LACA history include hosting the 1996 national congress of Les Clefs d’Or USA. In 2015 and 2018 the LACA hosted the California Concierge Symposium. We welcomed presidents of local concierge associations from around the nation to the Leadership Summit, held in conjunction with our hospitality expo and our very first talent show, all in 2018.
Our charitable endeavors range from helping build houses for Habitat for Humanity, to organizing silent auctions to raise funds for the Make a Wish Foundation, to participating in the L.A. AIDS Walk.
In March of 2020, the hospitality industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our members, including partners and sponsors, were suddenly without work. All in-person events ceased and the LACA responded by conducting virtual meetings online. We are living through unprecedented times and we continue to look to each other for support as we live our motto “In Service Through Friendship”.