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Concierge services prove there's nothing money can't buy


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Strawberry-milk baths at 3 a.m. Excursions to the North Pole to watch the Northern Lights. Indiana Jones-style adventures in ancient ruins.

As outlandish as these requests seem, concierge services in the city and abroad have been built in the past decade on fulfilling just such demands for their wealthy clientele.

Since the economy crashed, however, the affluent have toned down the lavish desires that powered the industry, forcing companies to offer value over opulence.

“We’re still in that mode where people try to get the most value, rather than the most extravagant,” said Stacey Gordon, a spokeswoman for Quintessentially. “People just aren’t planning the big events anymore.”

Quintessentially is one of a handful of high-end concierge services in the city, which also is home to Red Butler, Willow Club and Luxury Attaché.

You buy a membership and are given a number of “requests,” which you cash in for services from the company. Membership prices vary from about $90 a month for Red Butler’s most basic plan, to $45,000 a year for Quintessentially’s high-end services.

In most cases, you cover the cost for the actual service or item, which can range from practical to lavish.

Red Butler, for example, can manage dinner reservations or vacation research, but also has arranged a cross-country private jet and a VIP tour of the San Diego Zoo for a wedding proposal.

Company owners said that while members have become more frugal during the economic downturn, membership hasn’t decreased.

“[Members] continue to spend, but we find it’s less frequent, and only when there’s a great deal,” said Chris Sterling of Red Butler.

Jennifer Bezoza, 37, of Gramercy, said Red Butler saves her money and time by finding cost-cutting deals, such as special rates for group dinners or helping plan for international travel.

“It’s hard to imagine not having that support now, because it’s very easy to just send off an e-mail and things are just handled,” she said.

And Gordon said that whatever the economy looks like, there will always be a need.

“We’re not flying caviar across the country in a private jet,” she added. “We’re flying In-N-Out burgers commercially.”


Lavish requests from New Yorkers:

— A scaled-down replica of a family’s home for their cats
— Finding a house that could fit a 48-foot yacht indoors
— Arranging a private meeting with designer Michael Kors during Fashion Week
— Find someone to build a “bat cave” behind a library door in one member’s home

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