Go to guys for the rich and famous

Last updated 05:00 01/04/2014

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If you're after an Aston Martin, a luxury watch, an expensive Italian suit, a swanky holiday or even a mansion, Will Roberts is your go-to man.

The founder of Australia's Alsaker Lifestyle Management is a facilitator, able to make things happen for his wealthy clients.

And if your wish is for the type of experiences and itineraries that only obscene amounts of money can buy, then maybe you need "VIP concierge" Michael James in your speed-dial.

Roberts was previously the national sales and customer service manager for a VIP transport company, driving around the likes of Leonardo Dicaprio and Linkin Park and dealing with the specialised needs of high-end clients such as company CEOS.

"I discovered that service in Australia was somewhat lacking across a wide range of industries," he says. "Just because you buy something expensive, doesn't mean you are going to get a high level of service."

For a $15,000 (NZ$16,000) membership fee (there's also a service fee available) Roberts will hit the shops on your behalf, making sure the level of service is beyond expectations.

"We are in discussions at the moment with Ferrari about flying clients to Maranello, Italy and having them meet the person who is actually going to build the car for them," he says.

And when a particularly well-heeled client had an urge to go to the Superbowl last February, Roberts was able to swing a couple of tickets with just six days to go. Ditto when it came to arranging a luxury golfing holiday to Hawaii.

"The guy had his tee-off time arranged before he even stepped on the plane," says Roberts. We had him picked up by limo, driven to the airport, and accommodation arranged in a five-star hotel."

Roberts is currently shopping around for a client who is looking for a home and farm in Bowral, in the NSW Southern Highlands. "I have a budget of around $10 million (NZ$10.7m)," he says.

Last New Year's Eve is a night Michael James won't forget in a hurry, after he was invited by the Russian billionaire in his charge to join him and his wealthy entourage in downing $500 (NZ$533) bottles of Cristal champagne at a prominent Sydney nightclub. "I took it a little too far, but when a Russian alpha-male tells you to join him, you don't say no," James admits.

It's all in a night's work for the founder of Bespoke Concierge, a $2000-a-day (NZ$2133) provider of elite services to visiting movers and shakers. He started out five years ago planning lavish itineraries, and has graduated to hosting the well-heeled 24-7.

A recent client was the executive chairman of a global automotive manufacturer and his wife. "People like this don't want to go to the hotel concierge," James says. "They don't want to be told there's not a table at Tetsuya's; if they want a table at Tetsuya's at Friday at 8pm, you go over there and you get them one. It's my job to make things happen."

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Another client flew in with his wife on a private jet from the US. James organised for them what he calls the "Sydney triathlon" - see the harbour via helicopter, which then lands on a luxury cruiser, which in turn moors at a superyacht marina where a Rolls-Royce is waiting to take the client to see the famed Bondi Beach.

James says partying is part of the job for a VIP concierge. "There's times when athletes fly in from around the world and I am looking after them day and night. I've very rarely not been included if I've hosted somebody for the day."

Money is typically no object for James' clients - some will think nothing of dropping $500,000 (NZ$533,000) on a 10-day Australian holiday.

"We're talking about only a handful of these people in Sydney or Melbourne at any one time," James says. "In Sydney they usually stay at the Park Hyatt because of the views and the privacy. The penthouse suite at the Darling (Star Casino) is another popular choice."

The aforementioned Russian - whose net worth is $1.4 billion (NZ$1.5b)- thought nothing of spending $12,000 (NZ$12,800) on a table at a popular Circular Quay restaurant to get a view of the new year's fireworks.

"These guys were crazy," James says. "The view wasn't quite good enough, so the Russian hands me $10,000 (NZ$10,700) in US notes to get a different table set up 30 metres from the water. He says I can have his other table if I want to, including all I can eat and drink. Unfortunately I had other plans, but I still ended up with him later on."

One of the biggest challenges of the job, according to James, is picking up on the energy of the client within the first 30 seconds.

"You have to be a chameleon based on the energy somebody is giving you. You've got to be trustworthy, you've got to be their mate and you've got to be able to get shit done."

- FFX Aus

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