Officially registered as "U.I.C.H" (Union Internationale des Concierges d’Hôtels), "Les Clefs d’Or" is an international network of men and women with common interests and goals. They have their own mystique, a combination of their expertise sources of inside information, intelligence and communication. The Organization is non-political, non-religious and definitely not a trade union of any sort but is based on friendship between members to assist the hotel guests.
The first such association saw the light of day on the 6th of October 1929 when Pierre Quentin, Concierge at Hotel Ambassador in Paris and ten other Concierges from grand hotels of Paris realized that they could operate more effectively as a team than individually. If they could join forces, they felt that they could make their services more useful and indispensable. The Founder General Assembly took place on the 27th of November 1929 and saw more than one hundred members joining. The two oldest associations are the French and the Swedes. The Dutch chapter was founded in 1937 and other countries associations date from about the same time. Many were the result of the depression in the late twenties and early thirties. The associations were allied to help each other on unemployment, illness and adversities. There was however, no real sign of any intentional cooperation until after WWII.
On April 25, 1952, delegates from nine countries met in Cannes to hold the first congress and created "U.E.P.G.H." - L’Union Europene des Portiers des Grands Hotels. Its creation was made possible by Ferdinand Gillet, the Concierge at Hotel Scribe in Paris, and the industry recognises in him the “Father” of “Les Clefs d’Or”.
The nine countries - founders were: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland & Great Britain.
And more countries joined the Union:
- In 1956 — Norway
- In 1957 — Austria & Neterlands
- In 1964 — Morocco
- In 1965 — Greece
On November 15, 1972 at the 20th International Congress in Mallorca, Spain, "U.E.P.G.H." was changed to "U.I.P.G.H." - Union Internationale des Portiers des Grandes Hotels, making the Society of the Golden Keys a worldwide organization. By the 1972 the Union included 16 countries.
- 1970 — Israel
- 1976 — Canada
- 1978 — United States of AmericaСША
- 1980 — Australia
- 1985 — Hong-Kong & Hungary
- 1986 — Singapore
- 1988 — Luxembourg
- 1990 — Romania
- 1991 — Brazil & Czech Republic
- 1993 — Philippines
- 1994 — New Zealand
On the 18th of January 1995 at the 42nd International Congress which was held in Sydney (Australia), "U.I.P.G.H." was changed into "U.I.C.O." - Union Internationale des Clefs d’Or and grew more with next countries:
- 1996 — China & Mexico
- 1997 — Japan & Malaysia
- 2000 — Russia
- 2003 — Turkey
- 2005 — Thailand
- 2006 — Korea
Today the name of the society is "U.I.C.H." (Union Internationale des Concierges d’Hôtels) "Les Clefs d’Or". The word "Concierge" appears in the name as a way to strengthen the brand-name recognition of U.I.C.H. as a society of professional hotel concierges.