Want a reservation during prime time at the hottest new restaurant in San Diego? Done. Looking for a discount at the area’s wildly popular zoo? No problem. Need to track down your cell phone that you forgot in an Uber? Consider it found.
As a concierge at Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina for the past 12 years, Alfredo Perez-Jimenez is no stranger to San Diego tourists — and their wants and needs. From arranging transportation to planning bachelorette weekends, it’s all in a day’s work for Alfredo — sometimes even before sunrise.
“It’s all about providing guests an exceptional experience, whether in a big way or a simple act of kindness,” says Alfredo.
Although some travelers see concierges as a dying breed thanks to a smartphone’s ability to put reservation apps and TripAdvisor and Yelp reviews in the palm of your hand, there’s one thing that technology will never be able to compete with: a concierge’s connections. No matter how many apps you download or websites you research, you can’t replace the human touch of a concierge.
Just ask the dozens of guests who have leaned on Alfredo to help plan extravagant ways to propose to their significant others. And we’re not just talking about making a simple dinner reservation.
“A lot of times, they don’t even know where to start, so I provide them with several different ideas – from adventurous to romantic – to ensure it matches their personality,” Alfredo says.
From planning a surprise excursion through the city to transporting an engagement ring to the maître d’ of a restaurant so it can be placed on top of a dessert, he’ll do whatever it takes to give couples a memory they’ll cherish long after the honeymoon period. And he’s got a pretty good track record to back it up.
“I probably feel as relieved as the guest does when their partner says ‘yes,’” Alfredo says with a nervous laugh. “Luckily, everyone always has.”
But it’s not just the exciting milestone moments he’s there for. Alfredo and his fellow team members are always ready to accommodate guests for the occasional less-than-happy moments, like when they realize they’ve left their phone in an Uber or have misplaced their laptop 20 minutes before a big meeting. On one specific occasion, Alfredo said he encountered a defeated guest who had lost his wallet downtown and didn’t have money for dinner.
“I just assured him that tomorrow would be a better day, reached in my pocket and handed him the two $20 bills I had on me,” Alfredo admits. “I didn’t even hesitate. It was just the right thing to do.”
While Alfredo’s character to go above and beyond for guests certainly accounts for his credibility (did we mention he’s won Marriott’s Brilliant Award and has been named Employee of the Month five times?), his knowledge of the city alone will have you putting down your iPhone and heading to his desk. As a San Diego resident for 16 years, Alfredo is well-versed on the ins and outs of America’s Finest City. The resort’s concierge team members are constantly monitoring the openings and closings of restaurants and attractions in the area and always making an effort to get out and try things themselves before sending a guest.
“We at the concierge desk are pretty big foodies. We’re always honest and talk to restaurant managers if their offerings are not up to our guests’ standards,” Alfredo says. “Whether it be for a party of four for a casual get together or a last-minute large group needing a private room, we try to match the party with the best restaurant to meet our guests’ needs.”
In addition to receiving an unbiased opinion — something that’s not always the case when it comes to online reviews — there are other advantages of making a reservation through a concierge. For one, apps like OpenTable may show a restaurant is all booked up, but chances are, a well-respected concierge will know the right person to call and see if an exception can be made.
“I’ll also always request the restaurant’s manager stop by my guests’ table and make sure they’re enjoying everything,” says Alfredo. “It ensures they feel important no matter who else is there dining that night.”
Online reviews and paid ads also have a tendency to make you miss out on the local hole-in-the-wall eateries. Alfredo’s all-time favorite is Mariscos El Pulpo, home to some of the best ceviche and fish tacos in the city. Of course, if flashy and over-the-top is what you’re looking for, he can also guide you in the right direction. Mister A’s, a stunning restaurant on top of a high-rise overlooking the city and waterfront, is his favorite date-night spot that is just a 10-minute drive from the hotel.
When it comes to the attractions in the city, he’s got the inside scoop on the most popular, as well. While you probably don’t need him to convince you to visit nearby San Diego staples such as the USS Midway Museum, San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego, your travel budget will thank you for checking with Alfredo before purchasing tickets to any attraction yourself. Although concierges usually have discounted tickets you can purchase from them directly, Alfredo won’t sell you one if he can get you a better deal elsewhere.
“We’re always price comparing, so if another website is offering a better discount that day, I’ll have guests pull out their phones and show them how to access it,” says Alfredo. “I’ll also recommend they buy a daily pass on the city’s trolley or bus if they’re looking to save a little money, because it’s much cheaper than an Uber or taxi.”
Once guests have hit the city’s mainstream attractions, Alfredo recommends they hike the Gliderport Trail to Black’s Beach for an afternoon of unrivaled beach scenery and views of all the hang gliders. A short trip to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park for postcard-worthy views is essential to end your evening or wrap up your trip in paradise, he says.
Check out Alfredo’s recommendations for yourself! Get an exclusive deal on a San Diego getaway with Vacations by Marriott. We’ll get you one step closer to savoring the sights and sounds of America’s Finest City with special savings.