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M14 | Friday, March 13, 2015 THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.

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When the Sunshine State’s well-heeled seek exclusive entrée — from movie star dinners to private masked balls — they call on their concierge

By Jeryl Brunner

There’s a famous quote — “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” Just the same, though, belonging to such a club can result in considerable perks — some even career-making. The tricky part is getting in.  That’s when some club-member aspirants turn to their personal, well-connected concierge.

Take the case of a 20-something heiress and aspiring actress whose high-net-worth family regularly works with Victoria Hoffman, the founder and CEO of Miami based Concierge & Events by Victoria. The actress / heiress longed to embrace all things Hollywood and meet as many power players as she could.

But how does one penetrate this epicenter of a world filled with heli-skiing actors, directors and producers who make deals over dinner in private mansions?

The heiress turned to Hoffman, her trusted concierge.  Because of Hoffman, this budding actress landed an invitation to an intimate wine-tasting dinner held for a blockbuster movie star. Not only did the heiress get to mingle with the actor, she also got to go out with the group after. She was given the kind of insider access that is nearly impossible to get without the right connections.

The “star encounter” is just one kind of beyond-the-velvet-rope experience that Hoffman’s clients have grown to expect — at a cost running anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000. Meanwhile, for the price of home ownership, similar services can extend to owners of some of South Florida’s high-end condominiums.  Several offer a bespoke, high-level concierge unit: Turnberry Ocean Club has a full-time multilingual concierge service. And the concierge mantra at Old Palm Golf Club? If there’s something he can do for you, consider it done.

“In this world of private wealth, it’s not enough to just give a client entry to an event,” says Hoffman, who worked in film and TV more than 16 years, giving her a vast database of contacts. “It’s taking it that one step further — doing something more insider and special.”

Special in Hoffman’s world can mean accompanying a famous oceanographer on an expedition to Antarctica; playing touch football with a pro football Hall of Famer, followed by dinner; meeting a celebrity designer at his or her fashion show or having the designer act as a personal shopper for the day.

The experiences Hoffman offers can be as big as the imagination allows. “I’m an adventure-seeker myself,” says Hoffman, who will soon launch the new company, LuxePass (as in, passport to luxury). Her criteria are often, “What would be on my bucket list?”

Hoffman has even arranged for music-loving clients to go into a studio with a recording star while he writes and records. She’s also opened doors into impossible to- penetrate couture fashion shows in Paris. And during Art Basel, her clients can visit collectors’ homes and get up close with priceless paintings not publicly shown.

Hoffman’s offerings even extend to the unusual. She has arranged helicopter excursions to Florida’s Okeechobee area to hunt wild boar, followed by dinner (of said boar) at a private ranch. She can send people to Tuscany for truffle hunting. She’s commissioned designers to outfit clients with one-of-a-kind period costumes for private masked balls in 15th-century Venice palaces.

Francis V. Cuttita, a prominent New York real estate attorney who represents celebrities, models, professional athletes, CEOs and high-net-worth individuals in commercial and residential real estate transactions, believes concierge services are now a necessity, rather than a luxury, for condo owners. Because of his clients’ busy schedules, Cuttita sees a strong demand for world-class, hotel-type services and amenities.

“Convenience is everything, and a concierge service only adds to the value of a condo,” Cuttita says.  Typically, the concierge service expense is included in the monthly condominium common charges, he notes, adding, “Our discerning buyers consider concierge services a must-have in a luxury condo building, especially given the demanding schedules of owners who typically own multiple residences. We are seeing a rise in concierge condominium services offered in luxury markets likeMiami.”

“People buying real estate in new buildings like to know that there is complete and total service at their beck and call,” Hoffman says.

As for Hoffman’s personal practice, the challenges continue to grow. Reports Hoffman, “People say, ‘What’s the next big thing you can do for me?’”

Jeryl Brunner is a New York City-based author and journalist who covers entertainment, travel and lifestyle.

Original WSJ article here

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