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For Las Vegas concierges, no request too crazy

Special to The Los Angeles Times

Where else but in Las Vegas would a con- cierge desk have a guest request a bathtub full of goat's milk (the hotel didn't comply) and another call for a stuffed gorilla to surprise the guest's beloved?

In the city that never blushes, outlandish requests and earnest largesse are the order of the day, every day, dozens of times a day. (Nothing lewd, mind you. If it's not legal, the concierge desk won't do it.)

"We call them 'wow' moments," says Lee Ann Pearce, concierge supervisor at the Wynn Las Vegas, referring to the most challenging and colorful requests. If you can imagine it, the Wynn's 28 concierges have probably heard it. They handle an average of 1,000 calls a day.

What they do

We've listed some of the tasks that concierges routinely perform. Note that some requests, such as charging a cellphone, may include a fee.

* Arrange gifts.* Find a doctor.* Charge your cellphone.* Find a minister.* Arrange for a bodyguard.* Hire a limo.* Charter a private jet.* Reserve front-row seats at shows.* Repair shoes.* Find a tuxedo.* Arrange a tour.* Plan birthday parties.* Map out a hike.

"One woman planned her husband's 40th birthday party out here, from soup to nuts, and she had us buy T-shirts for all the guests, organize the party, get gifts . . . and then five months later, we finally met, and it was great putting the face with the name," Pearce says. "In those kinds of situations, a lot of times you bond with people. They share things with you that you never ever expect them to share, and then later when they show up, it's like meeting up with an old friend."

Sometimes, a concierge desk becomes family by proxy, witnessing at weddings or attending to details of the nuptials that might usually fall to a maid of honor or best man. Or they'll help get a family member to Vegas -- virtually.

To wit: One new mother was planning a business trip to Vegas, Pearce says, and expressed dismay to her husband about leaving the couple's infant. The concerned spouse phoned the concierge and asked the desk to print an e-mailed picture of the baby, have it framed and place it by the mom's bedside, to surprise her. The mother was elated.

At the Hard Rock, where the hip and trendy gravitate, more bizarre requests have crossed the desk, including a request for Oompa Loompas at a party. Yes, they managed to find actors to do this. No, it wasn't anything dirty.

Another strange and memorable request: "One guy called us and ordered a mariachi band to follow him around the casino all night while he gambled," says longtime concierge Esteban Rey.

Did lady luck follow?

"Actually, yes. He did well enough that he had a mariachi band follow him around the next night," Rey says. "He was in town by himself and wanted some companionship. I bet it was a great way to meet people."

On a more poignant note, Pearce from the Wynn tells of someone who truly needed help.

"There was a Japanese lady staying here, and her son had to be taken to the hospital for something, and when she came back to the hotel, she realized that she hadn't gotten the name of the hospital," Pearce recalls. "She'd been really stressed and she didn't speak English, and she had to get back to her son. . . . So we had one of our staff go around to all the different hospitals in town and take pictures of them. Then we let her look at them, and she was able to identify it from the photos. She was able to find her son."

The concierge club Quintessentially, a concierge service, doesn't have an office in Vegas yet (one will open this year), but the L.A. office estimates that 40% of its travel requests involve Vegas. It recently helped reserve the entire Mario Andretti course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for a bachelor party.

Not surprisingly, many requests involve wedding madness. Many Vegas concierges have been asked to find Elvis-impersonator ministers or to arrange elaborate nuptials, but even Rey was blown away when the entire Hard Rock concierge desk became wedding planners to organize one of the most lavish weddings he'd ever heard of.

"I had this couple who were getting married and wanted to do it, like, tomorrow. And they wanted it to be really decadent," Rey recalls. "So it ended up being in the Grand Canyon, and we had to book about six helicopters to fly the guests out. We had to get the cake, the flowers, the photographer, a rabbi -- all of that -- and do it in a day. It was crazy." Apparently, Rey says, the wedding came off without a hitch. "That one was really a challenge," he adds, with a chuckle.

Another time, Rey had guests who wanted to attend Maxim magazine's Hot 100 Party, which is "really hard to get into. I had a contact for that, and I needed to make that happen. We couldn't do that for everybody, but these were very special guests at the Hard Rock."

Two of the quirkiest requests Pearce has had involved a bathtub. One was the goat's-milk bath, she says. The other was when a man called the hotel in advance of a friend's arrival and requested the staff place a duck decoy in his pal's tub so that when he checked into his room, he would find the webbed one floating around.

"The gentleman had the clay duck sent to us, and I guess it was an inside joke. That was pretty funny. . . .

"What I can tell you," Pearce concludes," is that you have . . . to be willing to go the extra mile to get something for somebody, and if you're not like that, this kind of work is going to be very trying for you. And even if it's a really difficult request, you have to treat it like you're fighting for your best friend. Because, as we like to say, we're here to create memories."

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