Where caught up with Milan Koviljac to talk D.C. local secrets and Koviljac's career at the Loews Madison.
Tell me about yourself! How did you get started in the concierge profession?
When I arrived in Washington, D.C. I met several concierges who worked at the Carlton Hotel (now the St. Regis), in addition to some who opened the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C. One of them was Michael High, chief concierge at the Dupont Hotel. Talking and learning from some of the concierge friends I made gave me a huge desire to become a concierge.
My first hotel was Carlyle Suites at Dupont, where I started working in 2000, but my first exclusive concierge job was at the Hamilton Crowne Plaza, part of IHG, affiliated with the Willard InterContinental, where I met Sandor Subert, who is still concierge there. I started working at the Loews Madison Hotel in 2013.
What’s one of D.C.’s best-kept secrets you’d recommend to your guests?
Sundays at the Meridian Hill Park. The best time is through spring and fall, when thousands of locals spread out on its lawns. There’s an amazing mix of all ages, all races and all lifestyles, celebrating through music, dance, sports or just lying around reading. In my opinion, the best parts are the rhythms and dancers around its famous Drum Circle.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of being a concierge?
Such an important, international and expensive city as Washington, D.C. has demanding guests with very high expectations. A true concierge can assist, pamper and meet them. True hoteliers can see the importance of having a well-connected, well-informed and knowledgeable hotel lobby concierge at the guest’s disposal.
For a guest looking for a night on the town or wanting to celebrate a special occasion, what would you recommend?
I personally prefer Eighteenth Street Lounge, a long-running, very “D.C.” lounge, with a mix of sophistication, cosmopolitanism and “cool” with a big “C.” There are rotating and resident DJs, live music, varied and diverse patrons and it’s within close proximity to my hotel. Celebrating a special occasion can also be done in one of many amazing restaurants in D.C.
You’re very active on Instagram, which shows you love taking pictures. If a visitor wants to capture the perfect selfie, where’s the best photo-op in D.C.?
What’s the most unusual request you’ve received from a guest?
This is a tough one...Well, tickets for a U2 concert on the day of the show. A bottle of rare Grgich wine that’s impossible to find in the stores—order it from Sherry's Wine & Spirits. But, honestly, in our profession, there are no unusual requests. Concierges are highly trained to “create the magic,” so any request—easy or challenging—is an opportunity to do so.
What do you love most about D.C.?
Its architectural beauty. Washington’s architecture is stunning and imposing. And although D.C. is conservative on the surface, underneath it is very liberal and open. Also, you can find bicycles everywhere in the city, and I love that! D.C. is a very green city with so many big trees that are old and beautiful.
What do you love most about being a concierge?
The dynamics. I love sharing my knowledge with people in need and I feel excited when I can make a change. Also, when I don’t know something, I am always excited to learn something new.
What stops should be on every visitor’s “bucket list” when they come to the DMV?
Where’s the best spot in the D.C. area to watch the fireworks?
Anywhere by the water, such as the Tidal Basin or Reflecting Pool, the area between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials and the Washington Monument. The backdrop of the fireworks behind the memorials and the monument, reflecting off the water is stunning, and no exclusive rooftop can replace that.