How this elite concierge plans to get his clients first dibs on the Covid vaccine
When the first UK lockdown was announced in April, £25,000-a-year private concierge service Knightsbridge Circle let its clients know that the following three months would be free of charge. What use could it be to its millionaire and billionaire members while they were twiddling their thumbs in their mansions?
A lot, it turns out. Alongside handling the ‘basic’ tasks such as paying heating bills, arranging private chefs and helping with house moves, the service’s round-the-clock staff have been bending over backwards to make sure its clients’ demands are met.
Founder Stuart McNeil is listing the most memorable requests he’s had since April over a Zoom call, which provides an insight into the everyday whims of the super rich.
Highlights include: instantly procuring Peloton bikes (and skipping a six-month waiting list); installing a micro brewery in the home of a client seeking a new hobby; helping a client record a studio album from their house in France - advised via Zoom by the producer Mike Batt, who discovered Katie Melua; arranging same-day Covid-19 tests and subsequent private jets to whizz patrons anywhere from Mykonos to the Maldives; and getting first dibs on the coveted vaccine (whether it’s Oxford, Pfizer or Moderna remains to be decided).
The latter has been the subject of many phone calls over the past few weeks - after all, it is no secret that the ultra high net worth are Covid-cautious. Members of the Circle are granted complimentary access to a 24-hour medical concierge which has facilitated everything from same-day Covid tests to egg freezing and IVF over the course of the year. And as soon as a vaccine is confirmed in the UK, it will be able to start rolling jabs out to its clients.
“While approval of the Pfizer vaccine is making the headlines, there’s still no visibility as to how vaccinations will start. Once this is clear, we can allow our clients to begin booking appointments with our doctors, who will have the vaccine as soon as it’s ready,” says McNeil. “Then I’ll be deciding which of our members need it the soonest medically - which is part of my moral responsibility.
“We’ve already had calls from our clients about it but we have to be led by science and as soon as our private GPs advise us, we will start reaching out to the people who really need it the most. For example, if I had a client with a 95-year-old grandmother, we’d provide it to her as soon as possible.”
In normal times requests are no less extreme: Knightsbridge Circle claims to be able to procure Hermès Birkin bags in a matter of hours when the official waiting list is two years; arrange singing lessons with Alicia Keys and backstage drinks with Lady Gaga in Las Vegas (McNeil tells me the star even gave the man in question a kiss on the lips).
A favourite of McNeil’s was the Queen’s 90th birthday at Windsor Castle. “We had tables for the event and one client was staying at Cliveden and had a lot of American guests who loved Downton Abbey. He wanted to do something fun for them, so we arranged for Jim Carter, who plays Mr Carson, to come to the drinks reception in character and costume. He was really good fun and the client gave £20,000 to one of his charities.”
And then there was a request for a lunch date with Pope Francis. “That took a long time to organise logistically, and our client made a very nice donation to the Vatican,” McNeil says. “The Pope was very welcoming and spent lots of time with them.”
2021 is a big year for Knightsbridge Circle, which plans to open a Monaco office in April and another in Miami in November. The new offices will follow the same model as in London: 50 ‘invite only’ slots at £25,000 per year, served by personal managers on a 24/7 basis. No manager will be assigned more than five clients, which is the highest staff-to-client ratio in the world for a concierge service.
While for some, venturing abroad feels risky right now, McNeil tells me his clients, many of whom are multiple home owners, have been jetting off left, right and centre. “At the moment, we have more members in the Maldives and Dubai than in Europe,” he says. “People stopped travelling in April, and then at the beginning of July we got very busy in Saint Tropez, Mykonos and Ibiza, and they haven’t stopped moving since.”
For those with the means to afford it, there’s perhaps never been a more logical time to seek out a private concierge. “We’ll do anything that’s legal and morally correct,” says McNeil. “Our clients have personal assistants and household staff, but we join the dots between lifestyle, travel and now health.”
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