The High-End Concierge Making The Dreams Of 'Sydney's Crazy Rich Asians' Come True
For Karim Gharbi, there's no such thing as a request that is too outrageous.
Once, Gharbi and his team at The VIP Sydney were tasked with shutting down the Harbour Bridge and setting up a private dinner for a group -- complete with a chandelier dangling over the setting.
"Instead of saying no, we offered them a better alternative,"Gharbi told 10 daily.
The high-end concierge spent 18 years in the hospitality industry, and after dealing with numerous celebrity clients, saw a niche in the market.
"There was space to deliver a personalised service looking after them. A mixture between a butler, VIP host and travel agent," he explained.
Concierge companies exist all over the world, but for Gharbi the emphasis is on the personalised, "hands-on" approach. He explained that he had just come back from a three week trip to the U.S. with a "big Russian client".
"She doesn't talk to anyone but me," he said in a matter-of-fact way, "24/7, I manage the chefs, the drivers. Everything. She won't even come out of a private jest unless she sees me there.
"They deal with one person instead of dealing with 50."
His unique job, and his high-end clientele, is what made him the perfect central figure to 'Sydney's Crazy Rich Asians', a show that looks at just a small sample of those that rely on Gharbi's services.
The series follows a real estate mogul, a former beauty queen, a yacht king and a softly spoken charity princess as they go about their regular days throwing fashion shows for dogs, taking private swimming lessons with views of the harbour or simply going on blind dates... renting the entirety of the Sydney Opera House's Bennelong restaurant to do so.
The show has a massive heart behind it, even when the yacht king takes Gharbi aside to ask him to deliver a stack of burgers -- while they're sailing around the harbour.
"That was one of the least glamorous requests, frankly," Gharbi said with a laugh. There's nothing quite like his assistant Jenny, bouncing on a tiny speedboat holding a silver platter stacked with burgers.
"We had to make it stylish," he said -- admitting that he demanded the burgers be paid for in cash, to hide the paper trail that they had ever stepped inside a Macca's.
"We didn't want any proof of purchase!"
During the pilot, it's clear that money is no object and for Gharbi, it's often not even part of the discussion when he's tasked with creating an experience for his clients.
"They don't tell us how much budget they have. Often we don't discuss it until they see the invoice," he said.
"The only limit to the imagination is budget. In these cases, they have so much of it, and the one thing that's missing [from their lives] are experiences, experiences no one else can have. That makes them happy, and if they're happy? They're happy to pay for it, whatever the price."
When asked if money is the answer to every question Gharbi quickly responded:
"Not to health, or love -- not to true love. Excluding that, yes."
With psychics on speed dials, or chartering private planes full of the best wine from across Australia to Hong Kong in time for a dinner party, Gharbi and his team are dedicated to delivering on their promises to their clients.
He says 'Sydney's Crazy Rich Asians' isn't just a parade of wealth flaunted in the faces of viewers.
"More than anything it's an inspiring show that shows if you want to live a certain lifestyle... you can work hard for it," he said.
"Everyone has a chance. I didn't know anyone when I first came to this country 22 years ago, and now my job is based on relationships."
Those relationships and the professional reputation Gharbi and his team have is partly how he managed to convince the cast of characters in 'Sydney's Crazy Rich Asians' to appear.
"They don't need the money -- they wanted to use the opportunity and exposure to help their charities and show a different side to the Asian culture," he said.
"There are a few of them on standby that could jump on board, this is just the beginning," he teased.
'Sydney's Crazy Rich Asian's kicks off 'Pilot Week' on Sunday, September 8 at 9pm on Network 10 and WIN Networks.
Featured image: Network 10.