Giving Back in D.C. With Azi Miri of The Mayflower Hotel

Azi Miri, The Mayflower Hotel chief concierge, talks day trip destinations, the importance of gratitude and her favorite museums.

You have a long-standing career in hospitality. What attracted you to the industry, and how did you get your start?

I’ve lived in Washington since 1976 and have worked at The Mayflower for 29 years. I started in hospitality at the front desk at The Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C. At the time, there was only one concierge. Whenever she stepped away, I filled in. When she left The Ritz-Carlton, I took over her position and became a full-time concierge. 

What do you love most about being a concierge?

Whenever I see that my guests are truly happy and satisfied, I feel instant gratification. Whenever I receive positive feedback from the recommendations I’ve made or I see my guests smiling, it makes me happy.  

On the other end of the spectrum, what’s the most challenging aspect?

To be a good concierge, you have to have a connection almost everywhere. When I make a new connection, sometimes I send them flowers as a courtesy. Not only do you have to introduce yourself, you also have to maintain relationships with your contacts. 

What’s your proudest moment as a concierge?

My proudest moment was when a family wanted to go to the White House, but same-day tickets were not available at the time. The family had a sick daughter, who only had six months to a year to live, and her only wish was to see The White House. Although they couldn’t stand in line for the tickets, I promised they would have the opportunity to see The White House during their trip to D.C. That day, I woke up at 4 a.m. and stood in line until 8:30 a.m. After, I called the family to let them know I had their tickets. The child was so happy and gave me the biggest hug. It was in that moment that I knew I love what I do, and I do it with my heart.  

30 a.m. to grant a family's wish to visit the White House during their trip to D.C.

You’ve worked all over the city and have had many interesting requests. Which one comes to mind?

When the Obamas stayed at The Mayflower. It was snowing, and I remember going to California Pizza Kitchen for the former first family. From dignitaries to celebrities, you never know who you’ll see on any day. Anything can happen. 

Let’s talk tourism. Where should every first-time visitor go in D.C.? 

My favorite is the National Gallery of Art, but every first-time visitor should visit the Capitol and Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum. If you have access to a car, I highly suggest the Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy campus in Chantilly, Virginia. I also recommend taking a tour of downtown on an Old Town Trolley car. It’s the only trolley that you can hop on to visit Arlington Cemetery

You plan many educational outings for the Washington Area Concierge Association (WACA) inside and outside of the DMV. What day trip destinations would you suggest to a first-time visitor? 

We wanted to learn more about day trip destinations, so I started planning educational tours through WACA. The goal of these outings is for us to learn about different areas so that we can make good suggestions to our guests when they want to explore outside of the city. When you actually see and learn more about an area, you can make recommendations based on first-hand knowledge.

What day trip destination do you like to recommend most?

I recommend visiting the National Aquarium in Baltimore, as it’s not too far. In the fall, I suggest the Shenandoah Valley to see the leaves change. Monticello is one of my favorites, too. There, I recommend Michie Tavern for lunch. Harper’s Ferry is also very relaxing, and Amish Country in Pennsylvania. 

Want to get away from D.C. for the day? For a day of family fun, Miri recommends visiting the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

You’ve traveled all over. What’s your favorite country?

My favorite of course is my own country, Iran. After high school I moved to London, where I had a wonderful time. Whenever I travel to Iran, I take the train to London, which is an hour and a half away. The trip reminds me of my younger days, when my cousin and I explored the downtown area and went to the disco. 

What do you like to do when you travel?

I enjoy going on tours and seeing the city, as well as exploring museums. I love to go shopping, but would rather have an experience because I can always shop and find what I’m looking for in the United States. 

When you’re not working to make sure your guests enjoy their trip to D.C., where can we find you? 

When I’m not working, I enjoy exercising, cooking and relaxing. Other times, you can usually find me watching one my favorite TV shows: “60 Minutes,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Voice,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal.”

 

Irena Laster
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