Dubai – MENA Herald: Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) last night presented the ‘UAE Concierge of the Year’ award to Harsha Mannapperuma, a concierge at Jumeirah Emirates Towers, during the closing ceremony gala of the 63rd Les Clefs d’Or UICH International Congress. Selected from over 147 nominees from 49 participating Dubai-based hotels, Mannapperuma accepted the coveted award from Ibrahim Yaqoot, Executive Director, Corporate Support Division at Dubai Tourism, during the event held at Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai.

The decision-making process was a long one, with contestants marked on their performance during mystery shopping sessions, in addition to an extensive quiz to test their knowledge. After passing the preliminary stages, finalists had to prepare a presentation for an independent jury of international concierge experts.

Speaking at the event, Ibrahim Yaqoot, Executive Director – Corporate Support Division at Dubai Tourism, said: “The value of an exceptional concierge is something we prize greatly, and we congratulate both Harsha and all the other winners tonight for being shining examples of the great hospitality offered to visitors in Dubai. We are proud to have hosted these professionals in our city, while also showcasing various aspects of Dubai that cement its position as a leading tourist destination.”

Winners of the competition’s other categories include: Edmund Jao from The Address Dubai Mall for First Class Customer Care; Brian Tevez from Jumeirah Mina A’salam for Outstanding Knowledge of Culture & Heritage; Ela Lanzanas rom Fairmont Dubai for Outstanding Knowledge of Attractions & Events; and Loek Marlonov from Jumeirah Beach Hotel for Outstanding Knowledge of Shopping in Dubai. The winners list was rounded up by Special Jury Award winner Maria Christina Espiritu from Atlantis, the Palm, Outstanding Emirati Concierge Harib Ali Mohamed from Burj Al Arab Jumeirah and Best Head Concierge Felix Owino from Jumeirah Emirates Towers, with the team from Jumeirah Mina A’salam bagging the Best Concierge Team award.

The awards ceremony marked the end of the five-day UICH International Congress, which saw over 700 concierges from all over the world meet in Dubai for the event’s largest gathering to date. Along with taking part in a series of meetings, educational programmes and networking opportunities, attendees also had the chance to experience the very best of what Dubai has to offer.

Participants were invited on a city tour across both land and water that showcased the city’s highlights such as the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab, as well as important cultural and heritage sites such as Bastakiya district and Dubai Creek. The concierges also explored Dubai’s vast desert via a quintessential desert safari through the dunes, followed by an authentic Emirati desert dining experience.

Abey Sam, National President Les Clefs d’Or UAE, said: “This evening has been a fitting end to a fantastic edition of the 63rd Les Clefs d’Or UICH International Congress, and we are confident that the success of this event will be far-reaching in its impact on the hospitality industry in Dubai and the wider UAE.”

Recognised by the crossed golden keys emblem worn on the lapels of their uniforms, Clefs d’Or (Golden Key) Concierges are experts in their field and models of service excellence. The group aims to establish and promote high professional and ethical standards among concierges at hotels around the world, influencing the opinions and decisions of millions of discerning hotel guests. The society of Golden Keys UAE is an affiliate of Clefs d’Or and an association of professional concierges of hotels and resort hotels in the UAE and wider GCC.