Oyster Q&A: Popping the Question with a Proposal Planner
There's nothing we love more than discovering exclusive services at our favorite hotels. (Why, yes! Foofers and I would love a pawlm reading from your in-house pet psychic!) Though some of these services may be a tad over-the-top, others provide truly unique experiences for their guests -- that can be helpful, too! One of our favorite one-of-a-kind guest services comes by way of the Proposal Planner at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver -- and she's not there for your business meeting. As the only hotel "Engagement Concierge" in Canada, and possibly the world, Kristie Kent is a dream-come-true for any hopeful-grooms needing some help with popping the question.
We recently sat down with Kent, officially called the Fairmont's Special Event, Wedding, and Proposal Planner, to talk everything engagement and wedding-related. Since taking on the prestigious position, Kent has worked alongside her clients to create completely unique experiences by customizing the hotel's proposal packages. Options start at just $200, but can go up to $11,000-plus with options such as the "Rock Star" package, which includes a chauffeur-driven BMW, a jeweler visit with a personal shopper, and a candlelit dinner on the rooftop terrace of the Owner's Suites (a.k.a. the "Rock Star Suite"). The hotel also offers a la carte options for proposals, with romantic amenities such as horse-drawn carriages, private sunset cruises, spa treatments, and more. Check out our interview after the jump.
Q: What is your professional background?
A: I come from a journalism background. I worked [in Public Relations] for Delta Hotels, then worked as their Catering Manager with a focus on weddings and special events. From there I moved over to the Fairmont Royal York as a wedding seller, but I really just wanted to be J.Lo in The Wedding Planner. I ended up moving from Toronto to become the Wedding, Special Events, and Proposal Manager at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, where I’ve been since mid-2011.
Q: Is this service unique to the Fairmont Pacific Rim?
A: There are independent planners, but no other hotels in Canada or anywhere else that we know of have this service. The Royal York is trying to pick it up, but I moved to Vancouver from Toronto because the Fairmont was the only hotel that had this.
Q: What about the setting of the hotel do you find particularly romantic?
A: The location is a definite plus. We’re right on the water with the mountains in the background, and the hotel itself is pretty modern. Younger couples really like the look of the hotel, and it’s one of the newest properties in Vancouver. It’s just gorgeous with the sun setting over the water, especially with Pacific views.
Q: What do you find is the most popular package?
A: All of our packages are custom tailored to the couple, but the Pool Cabana option is a popular model. It’s set in the Pool View Suite, which has a terrace overlooking the pool and the mountains, and has outdoor fireplace. We organize a plane to fly over carrying a banner that says “Will You Marry Me?” and we put the ring inside a glass of champagne, bake it into a cake, or whatever the man (or woman!) wants to do.
Q: Are most of your clients guests of the hotel, or do you get mostly locals?
A: We have a pretty good mixture of people coming from out of town and people from the area. Overall, we’re a really popular wedding spot, too, because we have the Giovane Café, a resort-style spa, and great scenery. We’re actually the third top wedding venue in Canada. I would say most of the people I work with are from Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, or here in Vancouver. But we get a lot clients from China as well.
Q: How long does it usually take to plan a proposal?
A: I can do it in a couple of hours, but I ask for at least a day. Just last month a man called me from Toronto on the 19th who said he was coming to town on the 21st. He wanted the Pool Package, but we only had a day to get everything together and customize it. It actually worked out really well though, and the weather cooperated, but I do ask for more time so we have time to get everything arranged.
Q: What questions help you to get to know your client and what kind of proposal they are looking for?
A: I have a survey I give all my clients when they first contact me. It asks what the woman's favorite flower is, what her favorite color is, what the couple’s song is, everything to help me get to know them as a couple. What I’m trying to do is really get to know the couple so that I can give them the best and most personal experience. I want to know why they want to get married, but I also want to know their story.
Q: What was most elaborate proposal you've ever planned?
A: The Rock Star package is our most extravagant package, which is in our Owner’s Suite. It’s a huge, two-story room, about 2,000 square feet, and $10,000 a night. The room is really perfect for a proposal because it has a beautiful Swarvoski crystal chandelier and 20-foot ceilings -- just really beautiful. And for the proposal, the plane flying overhead seems to be the most ideal element, and we also like to have a quartet band and photographer ready on terrace.
Q: What obstacles do you have to prepare for when setting up a proposal?
A: I once worked with a guy who was so nervous about everything and wasn't sure what was going to happen. He asked me to help him pick out the ring, he asked what he should wear and what he should say. I practiced the whole thing with him a few times, which doesn't usually happen, but this man was very particular. One of the biggest obstacles is just helping calm their nerves when they don’t think it’s going to happen. I haven’t had any experiences yet of someone saying “no,” but most men don’t go into this if they’re unsure.
Q: Because you've never seen a "no," is that a good indicator of a job well done?
A: It's a really great experience to get to provide such a personal service and get to know the couples on this kind of level. You build a great relationship with these men, then eventually the women, who you've already gotten to know in some way through the man. Most of our engagements lead to weddings here at the hotel just because the women get to see the work you do and the men already trust you. It's like you already become a part of their story.
*Photo courtesy of Samantha Geer of the Fairmont Pacific Rim