The managing director of the Peninsula in Bev Hills makes it his business to learn a lot about his guests. It could be identifying a favorite soft drink or making sure the front desk can pick out the wife from the mistress (hopefully not in the same visit). When you're a frequent guest paying maybe a grand a night (sometimes more)... well, you don't want to be schleping to the ice machine in your bath robe. All top-end hotels make sure the high-rollers are comfortable, but Kasikci has become a legend for his knowledge and attentiveness. The most pampered guests might even get certificates for Zegna suits or Van Cleef jewelry. What's interesting about Kasikci is how he is both charming and yet unimposing (he once told me that he never confuses his own importance with that of the job he does). The WSJ's Christina Binkley gets a ringside view of Kasikci in action:
He is highly aware of the delicate hierarchy of fashion and symbols of influence, and he looks for small details to tell him what a pair of jeans and a T-shirt can't. In addition to his own research -- the hotel keeps careful records on its guests' tastes, as well as what they spend there -- he has perfected his own branch of semiotics, interpreting signs of wealth and sophistication. He says he doesn't have a fashionista's skill at identifying designers, but he did point out one guest's Charvet shirt and he's a big fan of Hermès. More often, recognizing an influential guest requires putting together the pieces of a puzzle, using both eyes and ears. A woman in good jewels but poor clothes may have recently inherited wealth, he notes.
At the hotel's 8:30 a.m. meeting one recent morning, managers ran through the day's incoming guests, each of whom were paying $475 to $1,300 a night for their room (except for a friend of restaurateur Wolfgang Puck, who rated a discount to $195 as a favor). Among these arrivals were jet-set Sacramento Kings owner Gavin Maloof, a Japanese movie star, and an array of bankers, chief-level executives and their wives. In one case, the entire senior staff carefully noted that a regular guest from Chicago would arrive this trip "with a companion, not the wife." [Film mogul] Harvey Weinstein was coming in for his 250th stay along with his fiancée and their entourage. Each guest's name was called out, and the number of their stays, if frequent. The restaurant had been notified of its coming arrivals, as had the spa. Staff took turns listing special services to be doled out in staccato shorthand: "special flowers," "Fresca in room," "monogram." Pillowcases at the Peninsula come in three tiers -- no monogram, two-letter, or three-letter monograms of the guests' initials. Top dogs get three-letter monograms, which are harder to use with multiple guests.