By Jacqueline Hallstead
In June 1978, Jacqueline Hallstead was hired by Burton Cohen, President of the Desert Inn Hotel, to establish the first concierge department in Las Vegas, NV.
At the time, the concept of concierge was new to the United States. Only those visitors to Las Vegas who had also travelled in Europe, where the profession was flourishing, knew the value of a concierge. It was only one year before, in 1977, that a committee of concierges in San Fransisco petitioned Les Clefs d’Or International to establish a US chapter. Les Clefs d’Or (The Keys of Gold) identify the best concierge in the world.
During her ten years as concierge at the Desert Inn Hotel, Jacqueline’s European customers frequently asked why she, their favorite concierge, did not wear Les Clefs d’Or on her lapel. Jacqueline eventually travelled to San Fransisco with letters of recommendation and other documentation of her exemplary work to meet with the members of Les Clefs d’Or USA. With their support and sponsorship, she became a member in 1989.
Jacqueline attended her first Les Clefs d’Or Congress in 1990, where she met then-President of Les Clefs d’Or, USA, Marjorie Silverman. Marjorie impressed upon Jacqueline the importance of establishing a local concierge association in Las Vegas, where few individuals had joined the profession, and even fewer had the distinction of Les Clefs d’Or membership. Through a local association, Jacqueline could promote the growth of the profession, set high standards for ethics, principals, and education, and prepare concierge for membership in Les Clefs d’Or.
Immediately following the congress, Jacqueline arranged the first informal gathering of what would become the Southern Nevada Hotel Concierge Association at the Desert Inn Hotel. After holding several meetings and reviewing the bylaws of other cities’ associations, Jacqueline collaborated with Michelle Bell of the Rio Suites Hotel to draft the original SNHCA bylaws.
The Southern Nevada Hotel Concierge Association was named with the intent of keeping the association open to Las Vegas’ neighboring areas, in the hope that the concierge profession would expand beyond city limits. Although Las Vegas is known more for resorts and casinos than hotels, this language is in keeping with the standards of Les Clefs d’Or, USA, preparing SNHCA members to earn that professional distinction.
Following recommendations from officers of Les Clefs d’Or and other local concierge associations, Jacqueline chose not to hold an office in SNHCA in favor of acting as a mentor and encouraging others to join the board. She appointed Michelle Bell as the interim president until formal elections could be held in June of 1991.
The original SNHCA logo was designed by Kathleen Smith, an artist and former concierge at the Desert Inn. The same logo, with minor changes, remains in use today.