Mick Jagger Needs a Chef. Paris Needs a Villa

Mick Jagger Needs a Chef. Paris Needs a Villa

Ibiza fixer for the rich and famous, no challenge is too big or too small for British born concierge expert Serena Cook

When Serena Cook closed her London café and decided to follow a friend to Ibiza for a summer in 2001, it was hard to imagine she would soon be seeing her name printed at the top of every tourist guidebook and international A-list tome, placing her at the forefront of the island’s pulsating VIP world as head of Ibiza’s most deliciously sorted luxury concierge.

A hippie at heart with a network of chefs, drivers, DJs, beauticians, masseurs and more just a phone call away, Serena first fell in love with the charismatic, untouched north of the island on a trip she took during her university days.

Her career, however, kick-started at the fresh age of 20, when she owned a restaurant in Bogota before fleeing the bombs to London to run Oliver Peyton’s The Atlantic Coast.

I’d been going to the island for holiday a couple of times already, but it wasn’t until I followed a friend there in 2001 that my love affair with Ibiza seriously took off,” she said. “It was the north of the island I was most attracted to; the quieter, more protected part of Ibiza. My friend had three houses there she needed managed, and that’s how my career in events began. At first, I was more of a ‘point of contact’ for residents and visitors on the island than an actual events organizer, so my business grew much more organically that anything else: me at the end of the phone working as a fixer for those who needed me.”

When Serena set up Deliciously Sorted in Ibiza in 2001, the party island was a very different place to the wild and vibrant touristy hotspot it is known as today – with no business of concierge even existing at the time.

She explained: “One very striking difference was that most roads and villas weren’t even paved back then, and the wealth of supplies was nowhere near as substantial as it is now. They did not have the same facilities as in London; Ibiza was a bit of a rough diamond and people needed reassurance, they needed someone to translate for them and were generally in need of more ‘hand holding’. Today, supplies have improved drastically and people have become members of the global concierge service. The Spanish attitude has definitely become more European as well with the growth of tourism and visitors on the island are more demanding than ever.

Let’s face it: organising events for some of the world’s greatest is no job for the faint hearted, requiring a great deal of managerial skills and a vast network of contacts constantly at hand, ready to respond to each and every sudden demand from the island’s high-class clientele.

For Serena, both check boxes have been happily ticked.

She said: “I don’t think anyone has particularly influenced the way I work, despite always having a great support system around me; everything I know in terms of how to behave and how to organize myself when running a business I have learnt on my own from my own experiences. Having a great team is extremely important, if not the most important aspect of it all. For instance, I have been working with the same production guy for ten years now, so I know exactly what to expect from him and vice versa, and the same applies to some of my caterers. My team is amazing and I couldn’t do without them – it may sound a little cheesy but I really think I’ve got the ‘dream team’ by my side.”

Serena goes on to stress the importance of building contacts within the industry: “Without a shadow of doubt, having a solid network of people in the business always ready to lend a hand is definitely key to a successful career start (and finish). Your contacts rely on you so gaining their trust is essential – I often find people doing me favors in return because they know I’m their first point of contact on the island and I’ll do everything I can to help them out when they need me.”

Having organized big and small events of all types for a range of different clients, Serena puts all her faith in the people she works with, and is a firm believer that improvement comes first and foremost through experience.

The best thing about my career so far is recognizing that I started a business out of nothing. It just developed on its own with time. My production guy has been with me since the very start, he always knew exactly what to do and when the level of production is so good then you find that the technical side of things slowly comes together as well, along with everything else. You learn as you go along.”

With a growing concierge service that employed an average of 250 people (both temporary and permanent) over the course of the past summer - including office staff, chefs, engineers and cleaners - it is no wonder the company post is always jam-packed with CVs from candidates applying from all corners of the world.
Luckily, Serena knows exactly what to look for in her ideal employee – tenacity being top of the list.

For me, tenacity is most attractive, although typically I would be able to understand whether or not you are right for the job within the first week of work depending on the way you come across to me. You need to have an obvious passion for the job but also a willingness to rolls your sleeves up when it comes to the not so glamorous aspects of your work – office tasks for instance involve a lot of administration and running around. The strap line on CVs is also important because the candidate only has about four or five adjectives to describe themselves, and so you are really able to see the get up and go they have. Lastly, but most importantly, they need to be able to speak Spanish, and ideally know Ibiza and the culture of the island.”

Getting internships, however, is recommended by employers in most industries, and Serena is no different: “Starting off with an internship is always good, because it gives the candidate a chance to learn more about the job and it gives employers an opportunity to understand whether or not the person is right for the role. Two of my best employees started off as interns; they both worked extremely hard and have now become invaluable members of my team.”

Aspiring concierge managers will be glad to know that holding a degree in events is not essential when trying to break into the business.

Serena said: “I’m always surprised when I hear you can do degrees in events and event management at universities today, because I really don’t think it’s necessary to be good at the job. You have to be extremely organized, yes, a quick thinker and you must have a logical brain. But all this you can learn from experience.”

Serena herself is a vivid example that the right determination and a belief in your abilities alone make a good enough recipe for success, whatever your career objectives.

Most importantly, as Serena advises, never settle on a ‘no’.

She continued: “I’ve always taken the attitude of saying yes, I can do this, and then stepping back and finding the best solution to actually do it. I believe this is as important as having the determination to go out and do it, because in events or similar industries you need to be able to never take no as an answer and believe that you can do whatever you want to. At the end of the day, if you are a resourceful type of person, you can just about accomplish anything you set your mind to.”

Travelling and being surrounded by many different people each day is what makes a career in events so exciting, Serena explained.

Nevertheless, she underlined, it can get unbelievably stressful and you need to be able to take things with a positive attitude at all times.

I think what really helps me is that I am a very relaxed person; I rarely panic and people are always very surprised by how calm I come across when dealing with very stressful situations. Being able to manage your stress at work is extremely important because it also helps to gain other people’s respect.”

As Deliciously Sorted enters its eleventh year in business, the company’s future is looking brighter than ever for Serena, who is now planning to open a satellite office in Minorca to expand her services as well as launching a hotel right here, on the grounds of her beloved island.

She concluded: “I am a hippy at heart, so in my free time I want to be in Ibiza and spend time in the countryside. At the end of the day, even when I’m facilitating for the rich and famous, I want to enjoy the island and my time here for as long as I can.”

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22 Nov, 2015 donate a car
It's going to be ending of mine day, except
before finish I am reading this enormous post to improve my experience.
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