When hearing a front desk employee greet a savvily dressed guest, it’s hard not to wonder, “who is that?” and lunge for a newspaper, cross-referencing to see if it might be a celebrity. It’s no secret that the Pfister is one of the hotels of distinction for sports and entertainment stars of all kinds. Now, I’m the sort of oblivious person who could sit down next to Harrison Ford and not realize it, saying something like, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Harrison Ford?” and embarrassing myself. (Though rumor has it that even Charlie Chaplin lost a Chaplin lookalike contest.)
Of course, there are a few major reasons that the easily-recognized stay at the Pfister.
The first is discretion. The employees are solidly respectful of the privacy of celebrity guests. They don’t reveal names and they don’t gossip. Now, one of the concierges may regale you with a charming anecdote of a musician joining one of the pianists in the lobby bar for a tune, but it’s the sort of thing you hear once it has passed into legend. And it’s always something that anyone who happened to be there that night would have witnessed. They can assure celebrities a private place to stay: one where they can relax within their room as well as in the public areas, without being bothered.
Another reason is that the fans in Milwaukee also happen to be awfully polite. They don’t hang around outside doors with memorabilia to get autographed, or lurk in the lobby with a camera phone at the ready. It’s not that they don’t want to gush over a favorite musician or meet an idolized athlete, but they’re just subtle about it. For example, I did happen to be in the lobby one evening when a world-famous athlete came through. A lone gentleman who’d been waiting at the bar for quite some time very quietly, politely approached the athlete. His body language and voice were all deference and respect. He was hoping to get a jersey signed for his ailing father who adored this particular sportsman. The jersey was autographed graciously and the two went their separate ways.
But, the truth is, the biggest reason I never know whether or not a guest is famous is not because of my own inability to recognize them, but that the Pfister treats everyone like a celebrity.
And while I wouldn’t mind having a casual drink with one of my favorite actors or get serenaded by one of my favorite musicians, the most wonderful and memorable interactions I’ve had since May have been with regular people who pass underneath the Pfister’s signature red canopy, and the employees who make them all feel so special.