Andrew Van Der Hoeven was the Canadian nominee at this year’s prestigious Andy Pongco Award. The contest took place at the 63rd UICH – Les Clefs d’Or International Congress in Dubai, UAE, from the 10th to the 15th of April 2016.
We are very proud of Andrew’s participation and how well he represented Les Clefs d’Or Canada. Thank you Andrew and congratulations! This is a great accomplishment that will follow you throughout your concierge career.
The winner of the contest was Harold Exbrayat, from France, who prevailed over 16 other amazing candidates.
We are happy to share with you Andrew’s profile, taken from the «Please meet… » serie from the Les Clefs d’Or Ontario section’s Facebook page:
Please meet Andrew Van Der Hoeven – Chef Concierge – The Westin Ottawa
When you enter the lobby of the chic The Westin Ottawa, the only hotel in the city with a Clefs d’Or concierge, Andrew is probably smiling and talking to a guest, a co-worker or even the lobby dog of the week…*
*In partnership with Ottawa Dog Rescue, The Westin Ottawa is part of the Westin Wags Foster Program and provides a loving and temporary home in the lobby for abandoned, abused or neglected dogs.
Andrew Van Der Hoeven was born and raised in London, Ontario. Andrew’s love of hospitality began early. His aunt would take his siblings and him on overnight trips to Toronto, Ontario, to see all of the great sites, shopping and museums the big city had to offer. They regularly stayed in the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and were always in awe of how the person at the concierge desk knew the answer to all of their questions (especially how to get to the Hockey Hall of Fame!).
It was no surprise then that Andrew decided to study hospitality at Fanshawe College, where he received a diploma in Hotel Management and then went on to complete a post-graduate certificate program in Concierge Services. That was where he first heard about Les Clefs d’Or. He remembers his professors Dale Dolson and Rob McGregor telling their stories about “the amazing things this group of distinguished concierges could accomplish together.”
Shortly after graduating in 2006, Andrew moved to Banff, Alberta, to hone his guest-service skills at the front desk of the Tunnel Mountain Resort. It was there where he was first introduced to the world of “concierging,” as he was often the sole person on the desk providing options to guests looking for exciting things to do.
Within a few months of connecting with a colleague from college, he found himself in Scotland, working at the world-renowned historic hotel – The Westin Turnberry – as a guest service agent. Andrew met his first Clefs d’Or Concierge, David Horne, and learned his true calling in life: what it was like to be professional, courteous, lively and detail oriented. He taught Andrew the importance of always carrying your notebook, always having a smile on your face and always saying yes, even to things that seemed impossible. The wheels were in motion.
After spending a year in Scotland, Andrew moved to Auckland, New Zealand in 2008, where he began the next part of his career as night manager at the newly opened Westin Hotel Lighter Quay. Andrew was lucky enough to work with Nick Steele, the current President of Hotel Concierge Society Les Clefs d’Or New Zealand and Roberto Mendez, also a Clefs d’Or concierge. The hotel was the number-one hotel of choice for local and international celebrities and that’s where Andrew really learned the art of catering to the highest level of VIPs and truly understood the importance of discretion.
After three years in New Zealand, Andrew moved back to Canada and, in 2011, officially became the Chef Concierge at The Westin Ottawa (a property he had actually stayed in on one of his family adventures). Since then, Andrew has been very active in the Ottawa community and is on the board of the hotel’s yearly charitable drives, such as Movember Foundation Canada and Ottawa Dog Rescue. One of his long-term goals is to bring the Clefs d’Or society back to Ottawa, Ontario, so it can have its own chapter re-started and be able to bring the level of customer service in Ottawa to new heights.
Andrew was recently featured in various articles and interviews, including:
His unexpected and incredible journey to Les Clefs d’Or Canada started after contacting past member Jeff Elliott and then Vice-President Carolina Avaria in 2011 for guidance. Andrew became a member of our prestigious association in November 2013 and is currently the only Les Clefs d’Or member in Ottawa. He travels to Toronto six times a year to attend meetings. In July, he helped organize the monthly meeting in his city. He also hosted concierges from local hotels and representatives from Ottawa Tourism to plant the seed to grow a local chapter of Les Clefs d’Or in the National Capital Region.
Andrew is part of the social media committee and he tweets about Ottawa’s events and restaurants. He recently attended the 19e Congrès Panaméricain Les Clefs d’Or in Montreal, Quebec in March 2016 and he will be attending the63rd UICH Les Clefs d’Or World Congress 2016 Dubai, United Arab Emiratesfrom April 10 to 15 as he was recently nominated to represent Canada for the 2016 Andy Pongco award.
The Andy Pongco Award was established at the 55th Les Clefs d’Or International Congress in Denmark in 2008 to honour the memory of Andy Pongco (an international Honorary President), by recognizing and encouraging young members to become active participants in our global network. Andrew will be competing against 17 other hopefuls for the award, who come from a pool of congress newcomers.
Andrew is happily married to his amazing and supportive wife Amber. They live in Ottawa with their dog, Kodos, and cat, Tony.
We are all so proud of that Andrew was selected to represent Canada for this prestigious international award.
Andrew, we wish you the best of luck. Representing our country is already a victory and whatever happens in Dubai, you have already won our hearts with your smile, generosity and extraordinary service.
Q & A with Andrew:
Craziest concierge story? During my first month in the concierge role at The Westin Ottawa, I had to find a non-denominational minister AND a bagpiper for a marriage ceremony my guests wanted to have at the Parliament Buildings while eloping on vacation! With only 6 hours to find everything, it was quite exhilarating!
Celebrity you would love to meet? Stan Lee
Best Memory as a Clefs d’Or member:
The train-ride home after receiving my keys – I could not believe I actually had a pair to wear! I just stared at them for 4 hours!
What’s your hidden talent? Drumming
Favorite place in Ottawa:
Nordik Spa-Nature / Chelsea. The epitome of relaxation and inner peace!
Favorite Meal: Either Pho from Pho Bo Ga 2 (where I proposed to Amber) or charcuterie at Les Fougeres
Biggest Fear: Heights
Biggest Pet Peeve: Being taken advantage of
Favorite word/saying: Of course!
Coffee or Tea: Starbucks “Black Eye” with a tad of skim milk (double shot of espresso filled with True North coffee)
Favorite Pizza Topping: Onions
Favorite TV Show: Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix
Favorite Website: AbsolutePunk and Google
Hobby/Collecting: Comic books. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to check out ComicCon in Dubai, United Arab Emirates! (He did!)
@LesClefsd’OrCAN #TorontoConcierge #travel#TourismToronto @tourismtoronto#yourkeytoeverything #votreclefpourtout#TorontoConcierge #travel #TourismToronto#concierge #ottawatourism 63rd UICH Les Clefs d’Or World Congress 2016 Dubai, United Arab Emirates #GoAndrew #GoCanada #WestinWags#FridayReveal #lesclefsdor2016dubai http://lesclefsdor2016dubai.org/ Les Clefs d’Or Canada – Montréal Les Clefs d’Or CanadaLesClefsd’OrOntario Les Clefs d’Or Canada – Québec BC Les Clefs d’Or Les Clefs d’Or NiagaraAlberta Les Clefs d’Or Les Clefs d’Or Atlantic 2#AndyPongcoInUs
Thank you Xavier Guidis, from the Ontario Region, for the «Please meet…» segment.
In service through friendship,
Public Relations Director
Les Clefs d’Or Canada