The marriage proposal is what Mariann Mohos recalls as her most memorable moment. Holding out a small cake on a plate, her suitor knelt down and asked her if she would marry him.
Then he ran away.
But he returned when beckoned. "Ask me again in about 15 years," she told the red-faced 6-year-old.
It was the sweetest moment of her career as a concierge on the Las Vegas Strip.
"I had been working with this large family during their stay," the UNLV alumna said. "One day they were in the concierge lounge for breakfast. The whole table was giggling and people were saying, 'Go ahead. Ask her.'"
Once the father offered to pay him if he would go through with his plan, the shy youngster popped the question.
Mohos, MBA '02, gathered such stories for her book You Want What??? Concierge Tales from the Men and Women Who Make Las Vegas Dreams Come True. Some are from her own experiences at the Paris Hotel & Casino while others were supplied by colleagues.
"You have to love people to be a good concierge," she advised. "It's the kind of thing you can't do well if it's just a job to you. It almost has to be a lifestyle."
While much of a concierge's day can be taken up by routine tasks such as obtaining show tickets or recommending restaurants to clients, Mohos' book shows that there's much more to the job.
Often, it seems, the "more" involves marriage proposals.
Take the case of the man who wanted a gypsy fortuneteller to predict to his intended that she soon would be asked a serious question. No problem. One gypsy fortuneteller.
Or the case of the professional football player who wanted to propose to his girlfriend in a very romantic way, but not being an incurable romantic, needed help. The concierge helped him stage the room, including a trail of rose petals and a ring at the bottom of a champagne glass. She even helped him write the note.
Working as a concierge wasn't Mohos' first career, nor is it likely to be her last.
Soon after graduation the native of Hungary launched a marketing business with a classmate. When it folded, she spent six months in Mexico figuring out what to do next. She remembered a business class presentation by David Hoenemeyer, an executive at what then was Harrah's and now is Caesars Entertainment. That, she decided, would be the company where she could pursue this interest.
Getting a job wasn't easy. Mohos's MBA and and ability to speak four languages made her overqualified for entry-level positions. Yet, she also lacked the hotel management degree that many industry employers seek. Persistence rewarded, she eventually landed the job at the Paris concierge desk.
While her master's degree with its management information systems focus may not have translated exactly into her eventual career, Mohos said the lessons she learned in her business classes proved valuable.
"We learned project management and entrepreneurial skills in my business classes," she said, adding that both came in handy for a concierge.
College also had made her an accomplished multitasker, able to have a conversation with a guest while looking up information, and handling the phone.
The questions run the gamut from best tourist attractions, cultural offerings, and shows on the Las Vegas Strip to restaurants able to handle special requests, helicopter tours, and shopping opportunities. For a good concierge, she said, "It's not always about knowing the answer, but knowing where and how to find it." And any concierge worth her salt keeps a list of contacts who have been helpful in the past and might be willing to assist again.
Is there any limit to the lengths a concierge will go to for a guest?
"The only limit is that we don't do anything that is not legal, moral, or ethical," she said. "Beyond that, everything is possible."
And one thing Mohos learned during her years on the job is that even when you think you've seen everything, you haven't.
Take the case of the Japanese couple who contacted the concierge desk asking for bull testicles.
Had the concierge heard wrong? No, the couple wanted to ship the Japanese delicacy to friends back home.
The conciergecalled a few delis in town without success, then she hit on the idea of contacting a ranch in California. Sure enough, they had testicles available. A total of $11,000 later ($8,000 for the testicles and $3,000 for shipping), the testicles were on their way.
Just another satisfied customer, courtesy of your friendly Las Vegas hotel concierge.