Following on from A Week in the life of a chauffeur – Day 2. Find out how David gets on with todays bespoke tasks. He is out on the road again and ready to serve.
This morning I wake up at 05:00H, again probably because I have trained my body to function on 5 hours sleep.
I have a small home gym in my garage, and I spent 40 minutes on cardio and some weights as I have a long day ahead in the car with no real opportunity to do any exercise.
A day trip out to Oxfordshire
My Clients are staying at a very exclusive hotel in Knightsbridge and their pick-up time is 08:00H. Timing is not ideal as I need to get out to Bicester. I will need to drive through West London in rush hour and the last thing my Clients want is to spend precious time in traffic. The route I have planned to get to Bicester is considerably longer in terms of mileage, but it will avoid much of the traffic. Many chauffeurs would not do this as the journey will cost more because in fuel, but for me it is more important that my Clients start their journey smoothly. The first 10 minutes of any journey really dictates the tone for the day and it is so vital that the day starts well.
I pull up to the hotel and chat with Steve, the head concierge and ask him about my Clients.
Again this is a small detail but the more insight I can get on my Clients the better, it can be anything from the couple are crazy about the Royal Family to one of the Clients is a famous chef in California and really craves privacy.
Steve tells me that the Clients are a young Chinese couple who seem very much in love, but nothing more.
I send an SMS to the Clients letting them know I am outside and about five minutes later Mr Kim appears without his partner. “Oh no!” I think immediately, have the couple had a row or is she ill? My mind races with all the possibilities and how this could impact on the day I have carefully planned out.
I greet Mr Kim with a traditional namaste, and he responds in kind and then tells me he plans to propose to his girlfriend over lunch and wants the occasion to be romantic and memorable. Although I am a big fan of Bicester Village, I am not sure that proposing to your girlfriend in a retail village is the most romantic gesture.
Mr Kim wants my advice and recommendations for the day. I tell him I had booked a table at a beautiful country house restaurant for their lunch, however I ask him to leave it with me, and I will try to come up with some suggestions that we can discuss when we arrive at the village. There he may have a few moments away from his girlfriend.
So now I have about 2 and a half hours to come up with ideas for Mr Kim and how to make his proposal truly memorable. His girlfriend appears and I give Mr Kim a conspiratorial wink and open the car for the couple.
The S-Class purrs into action as we pull out of the hotel and head towards the picturesque Berkshire countryside. My challenge now is that I need to create a beautiful experience for my Clients, but I am driving and so cannot even make any calls to start planning and investigating options for Mr Kim.
My brain goes into overdrive as I mentally try to re-plan the day for the Clients. As I mentioned, chauffeurs need to develop good relationships with concierges, and also Maître d’s. There are many beautiful hotels and restaurants in that particular area and my brother happens to be married to the maître d for one of the most romantic and famous hotels locally.
The journey is uneventful, and as we drive I switch into ‘chauffeur-guide’ mode and share with the Clients little known facts about the region. We pass by the exit for Oxford and I tell them about how Christ Church College has had no less than 13 prime ministers as well as being home to the world smallest Cathedral.
We arrive around 10:30 at Bicester and park in the VIP parking, only a few steps away from the village. Discreetly I advise Mr Kim that I have a plan of sorts but will need sometime to organise the fine details. Mr Kim and I arrange to have a call in 30 minutes, and we agree to head off in 3 hours for lunch.
As soon as the Clients are out of view, I pull out my mobile phone and call the Maître d at le Belmond aux Quatre Saisons. I explain the situation and organise a private dining experience with a harpist for lunch, plus champagne and roses (it may sound corny but in my experience most women love flowers).
I call the country house hotel I had originally booked and express my apologies and cancel the reservation. I then call Mr Kim to discuss the Belmond option, which my Client informs me sounds perfect. Mr Kim asks me to organise a huge bouquet of flowers to give his partner, his budget is £200.00 and so I am fairly sure I will be able to organise this for him, even in only a 2 hour window.
I ring the office and advise them of the day’s developments and the office organise the flowers for me to collect from the closest florist.
Flowers collected and secured safely in the boot I am back in the VIP parking ready for Mr Kim and his partner to arrive, and I get into RTO mode.
I glimpse the personal shopper assigned to the couple struggling with an array of bags from the Haute couture boutiques in the Village which we carefully place in the boot. It’s a tight squeeze and I take extra care to ensure that the beautiful bouquet of flowers is untouched. The hotel is only 20 minutes away and we weave through the pretty villages and market towns and arrive just after 13:45H. I pull up to the elegant manor house and escort Mr Kim and his wife to the hotel entrance where they are met by the Maitre D.
le Belmond aux Quatre Saisons
I know the couple will be at least 2 hours and so I use this time to go to a local supermarket to buy a card and bottle of champagne for them – it is not every day I get to help plan a proposal and I feel privileged that Mr Kim has entrusted this with me.
At around 17:00H the couple, now fiancé and fiancée emerge from the Hotel. Clearly, they have had an amazing experience, and they are walking hand in hand towards the car. The flowers I procured for Mr Kim are on the front seat (as agreed with Mr Kim) and I hand them to him discreetly along with my congratulations card and bottle of champagne.
The drive back to Knightsbridge is filled with laughter, phone calls to friends and family as the couple share their happy news.
I drop the couple off at 20:00H, a full 12 hours since I first picked them up and I realise I need to eat! I park up and hurriedly seek out the Tupperware boxes I prepared early and tuck into my long overdue lunch before I start my final drive of the day ….
At home , I follow my usual car sanitisation routine before going inside to check over my emails and plan for the following day, which at the moment looks quite quiet, just a couple of Gatwick airport runs, one at 9am and the other at 19:00H. Traffic is always an issue around Gatwick, the slip road to the airport is constantly being repaired and resurfaced and this can cause a delay of hours. I plan my routes for tomorrow, including my plan B route and then head to bed.