A Helping Hand In Spain

Published on 25/03/2008 in Expat Life

Concierge in SpainWhen I first heard about Club Concierge Europe, my initial impression was that it was a lifestyle management company for busy high fliers or even those that have enough money to pretend to be too busy to organise their own dental appointments. I really couldn’t conceive how the average expat in Spain could justify the luxury of concierge services unless, of course, they are part of the Marbella jet set.

Having discussed the services with Liz Rodriguez, and now that I have a better understanding of just what it is all about, I feel quite guilty about the preconceived ideas that I had and ashamed of my inverted snobbery. In fact, I now realise that this was just the kind of service that we needed four years ago when we moved out on a tight budget with our two year old twins in tow. Let me explain why.

From our own experience, no amount of planning could have prepared us for the unforeseen that occurred during our first year in Spain. We were new to it all and other expats just don’t have the time or interest in taking you by the hand and explaining how the system works. Because of this we muddled through the best way that we could which, in effect, caused us to literally waste money that we could ill afford and time that was of the essence when trying to establish a new business. Just one of the issues that we could have used a helping hand would have been getting our children into nursery.

The education department in our local town hall said that there were no places so we took their word. We had no idea that the correct way to go about it was to contact the guardaria (nursery) direct. Instead we trawled the coast at a 30 kilometre radius from where we were living and ended up putting them into a nursery that was at least a twenty five minute drive away at a cost of nearly one thousand euros per month that we hadn’t budgeted for. If only Liz had been about in those days as she states “I have enrolled my son personally into nursery after searching over 15 nurseries and testing them out – searched for a suitable school for a moving 14 year old when time is crucial and international schools are so expensive – without the language skills what is the teenager to do?!”

In fact, including the enrolment fees, one month’s cost of the nursery fees and the petrol getting there and back every day would have covered the Platinum year’s membership with Club Concierge. As far as families are concerned, it doesn’t end there as Liz has personal experience of pregnancy and child birth in Spain so can provide the necessary support for mothers embarking on the journey in a foreign country. Once the baby is born and you fancy a night out they can organise it “From tickets to the local theatre and restaurant reservations to sourcing the right babysitter giving you peace of mind to actually enjoy the evening without niggling worry.”

If you are concerned about how the move to Spain will affect your pets, fear not since Liz has gone so far as tasting a range of Spanish dog foods on the market to find a Winalot equivalent. She is also committed to finding her clients the best deals and will do extensive research in order to ensure it. One example is a case involving the relocation of a horse from London to Marbella and finding affordable stables at the bargain price of 270 euros per month without compromising on quality of the horse’s welfare.

Club Concierge Europe are the first to know of anything that is going on and can put you in touch with any groups of individuals that may have a common interest from swimming clubs to walking or reading groups. Whatever your age group Club Concierge Europe can cater for everyone.

Even if you do not plan to reside permanently in Spain and you keep a property to let, Club Concierge Europe offer an invaluable service as they can arrange plumbers, decorators, delivery of furniture, phone line installation etc pretty much anything that you cannot do as work and other commitments do not always permit us to take off every time something goes wrong in Spain.

In total they have nearly 600 members in Spain, of all ages and backgrounds that are enjoying the membership best suited to their needs. I believe that the service is reasonably priced and from my own experience I am convinced that anyone joining whilst planning their moving to Spain or once they have moved will certainly be relieved that they joined once the reality of living in Spain kicks in. These are the memberships on offer:

Silver membership £125 per annum (195 euros) - the directory enquiries

The member still benefits from the many services on offer including:

Restaurant locator, night life locator, ticket hotline: concert, theatre and opera. Sporting events, party planning advice, domestic services located (cleaners, plumbers, gardeners, electricians, dog walkers, window cleaners, childcare), entertainers located, flowers ordered, information service, internet research, ideas on special occasions. Where’s your nearest and what's hot and what's not in Europe.

Gold membership £495 per annum (800 euros) – the booking service

Hotel reservations, spa days, hire cars booked, travel assistance, holidays booked, translation service, discounted golf tees, restaurant bookings, nightclub guest list, ticket hotline: concert, theatre and opera. Sporting events, party planning advice, domestic services arranged (cleaners, plumbers, gardeners, electricians, dog walkers, window cleaners, childcare), entertainers booked, flowers ordered, information service, internet research, ideas on special occasions.

Where’s your nearest and what's hot and what's not in Europe.

Platinum membership £995 per annum (1500 euros) – the personal assistant

The ultimate personal assistant 24/7. No task is too big or too small. We can assist your assistant alleviating their time to get on with some of the more important tasks for you or we can be your virtual personal assistant taking care of all the things you do/don’t want to. From property management to sourcing that special gift for a loved one.  We are what you need us to be.

I am particularly drawn to the mini directory service which is very affordable at the price of a couple of meals out with drinks. I cannot be the only person who has wasted hours and money on directory enquiry calls trying to find phone numbers. It can be very frustrating especially when you do find numbers but you don’t know if you can trust their level of service since they haven’t been recommended. As Liz puts it “Scouring through the SUR in English or local magazines is time consuming and you are not guaranteed to find a quality service provider. So our directory enquiries membership for only 54 cents a day (195 euros per year) was born and is the most invaluable for anyone new to the coast or time deprived to source the number themselves”

Having gone through the worst of settling in Spain and trying to grips with everything from healthcare to trying to run an internet business without a phone line I can really appreciate the benefit of the service that Club Concierge Europe provides. If it was us starting all over again and knowing what we know now, we would definitely subscribe to the platinum service as far back as making the decision to move in Spain. We could have made much quicker progress during the settling in period and saved ourselves a lot of money and hassle which could have been avoided had we had the right guidance from those in the know.

Club Concierge Europe will advise people to select the service that suits them best. Liz states “The platinum for sure is a full membership and best used at the beginning of a move or during the buying process – the Silver can be used as a holiday or for someone who lives in Spain but is still not 100% sure of where everything is or just prefers to not muddle through and the directory is for anyone who needs phone numbers to things in general – after all we all need help sometimes but don’t always know how to find it.”


 

Written by: Susan Pedalino

About the author:

Women In Spain




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