Everyone on the 37th floor of Two Liberty Place is smiling.
They are being exquisitely polite, enunciating every syllable, and smiling, and they do this because it is part of the job when you are the five-star staff of an ultra-luxe condominium complex with the slogan "A life designed around you." But also because the 37th floor of Two Liberty Place smells like warm chocolate-chip cookies and is gorgeous and has fat, leather couches and spotless floor-to-ceiling windows through which, on a clear day, you can practically see Scotland.
Someday, perhaps even before all 90 residences on the top 20 floors of this diamond-topped skyscraper at 16th and Chestnut Streets are occupied, the polished staff might feel less sparkly.
For unlike the current sunshiny business of welcoming a few newcomers to their multimillion-dollar dream homes, the long-term job of tending to a full house of needs is bound to involve its prickly moments.
In the meantime, there is a happy imbalance of service providers to service requesters. The first 20 residents of the Residences at Two Liberty have not only the world at their feet, but also a complete, eager-to-please staff at their beck and call.
Four concierges provide round-the-clock care and cossetting. On request, they deal with the cable guys, make dinner reservations, obtain theater tickets, have someone fetch groceries - and then load the fridge. They make appointments with the on-site personal trainer and yoga instructor, and the rest of the health and wellness staff whose services aren't included in the monthly condo fees that run 89 cents per square foot. (The smallest available unit is 1,150 square feet and runs about $1 million. The penthouse, 7,250 square feet, can be yours for $15 million.)
Sessions with the nutrition counselor, which may include instructional trips to the supermarket and cooking lessons, run between $225 and $425 a month. The communal Mercedes and driver, however, are available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. at no extra cost.
The building provides massage-therapy rooms and a space for pet grooming and day care. These services, though, are outsourced with the help of the concierges, who also locate and schedule house cleaners, fashion consultants, manicurists, aestheticians and, next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in new neighbor Mort Wernik's place, a Miele appliance expert to give a group tutorial on how to operate the washer, dryer, dishwasher, oven and built-in coffee maker.
"We like to say our owners are hotel guests, but they never have to leave," says Jamie Cooperstein, the bright, lithe, hyper-organized young woman who at only 26 serves as senior concierge. "And who wouldn't want to live at a luxury hotel?"
Especially with views like these. To the east, for example, you can look over Billy Penn's shoulder, follow tankers that look from up here like toy boats on the Delaware, past the Etch-A-Sketch grids of Camden's streets and on into the tufted green suburbs of Cherry Hill and beyond.
Within a year, there will be a full complement of neighbors, including Richie Sambora, Bon Jovi's guitarist, and Tom Knox, the businessman who ran for mayor last year.
But for now, the lack of company works nicely for Michael Beautyman, who set up house on the 40th floor in early April.
A health-care attorney, world-class athlete and divorced father of two from Flourtown, Beautyman is still decorating. Last week, he asked the Residences' driver to take him around the city in search of a sofa.
No hunting through Macy's for a floor model. No flipping through Pottery Barn catalogs, or testing the springs on a garage-sale special.
The driver took him from store to store.
"I was looking for a sectional large enough to go in the living room. Something oatmeal-colored and I wanted it to be low so that it didn't obscure the views - which are spectacular. But I didn't want it modern, because those tend to be hard and I like them soft," he says.
"Not easy to find."
The service, he says, "saved an enormous amount of time."
Later, Beautyman was informed that the Residences prefer that one use the driver for only a single destination at a time.
"But that day no one else wanted the car," he says. "In a matter of weeks, when more residents move in, it might not be that way."
So, did he find the couch?
"No. I found three possibilities. More important, I found an interior decorator at Mitchell Gold who's helping me."
On Wednesday, Beautyman used the building's personal assistants again.
While he was in a meeting at Second and Market Streets, Cooperstein was at her desk, organizing a reception he wants to hold in August.
An international tennis champion, Beautyman is hosting a team from France who will be competing in a three-day match at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.
"We will be arranging their transport from the airport," Cooperstein explains. "The welcome reception will be held here." Here, on the 37th floor, where among the amenities - saunas, steam rooms, endless pool, fitness center and lounge - is a media room with poker tables and a 50-inch HDTV. That space can be converted for an intimate catered affair.
She dials caterers and leaves voice mail. Between calls, she gets word from the front desk that a delivery truck has just pulled up.
She punches in the extension for Ezedin Saif, one of the doormen. "Hi Eze! Can you please come up immediately? There's a bed arriving from Duxana."
Minutes later, the uniformed Saif appears. Cooperstein opens a locked box in a closet and hands him the key to the condo. "Thank you so much," she says, smiling.
"No problem!" he says, and leaves to let the delivery men in, wait for them to set up the bed, and then lock up when they're done.
Cooperstein grew up in Broomall. Her father is a dentist in Collingdale and the softball coach at Franklin and Marshall College. Her mother is a special education teacher. Cooperstein studied journalism at the College of New Jersey, but after working at a local television station, found the coverage too negative.
"I was seeing how many news stories were being passed up that weren't just about shootings and robberies. I had to find a career that promoted the positive things about Philadelphia."
When she was young, her family took regular trips to see Broadway plays in New York, and she learned to appreciate a hotel concierge. The Rittenhouse Hotel gave her her first hospitality job and taught her most of what she now knows about providing impeccable service. She is completing a master's degree in tourism and hospitality management at Temple University, writing her thesis on how the smoking ban has increased customer satisfaction in hotels.
One of the caterers returns her call.
"Hi, Michael," she says. "Do you have a pen and paper? I have a lot of details to go over with you. . . . Our time frame is approximately 7 to 9 p.m. I'm looking for your creative input. . . . I thought it might be nice to have Philadelphia delicacies. Something like cheesesteak spring rolls, have it be high-end, of course."
Later, she explains that she isn't sure how Beautyman feels about presenting his guests with Philadelphia cuisine. "He smiled when I suggested it, but I don't know if he smiled because he really liked the idea. So we're going to present him with another, traditional option as well."
Once Beautyman makes his decision, she says, "the rest will fall back in my lap."
"That's us. We're the fall-back-in-our-lappers," says Charles Johnson, the concierge on the 3-to-11 shift, who has just arrived.
Johnson, 37, the son of a salesman and a computer programmer in South Philadelphia, studied communications at Temple. Seven years ago, he was a workers' comp analyst out on a lunch break when he struck up a random conversation with a woman.
Turns out, she was the human resources director at the Ritz-Carlton.
"I was discovered!" he says. "Like Lana Turner in the drugstore." The woman had him fill out an application, and soon Johnson was in training to become a concierge.
The job, he says, required him to become an expert on restaurants, theater and entertainment all over the city.
"You know what else I've learned? That even people of means don't always want Le Bec Fin. Everyone isn't Mrs. Astor. Or, even if you are, sometimes you just want a cheesesteak."
The phone rings. "Good afternoon. Concierge service," he says. "Mr. Beautyman? Are you still in need of the car? All right. Where should I have Curtis pick you up?"
At 5 p.m., Dr. Marsha Silberstein stops by. Silberstein, an anesthesiologist who now runs a consulting firm and is studying to be a rabbi, moved into the building at the end of March with her husband, Stephen, a neurologist at Thomas Jefferson Hospital.
The transition from their large house at Fourth and Spruce was complicated, she says, and the Residences staff was enormously helpful. "They took deliveries and coordinated workmen. With the two of us working, it's virtually impossible to be here for the carpenters and the painters."
Since she and her husband put in long days and random hours, she says, their domestic logistics have always been challenging. When her children were young, they had live-in help. And even now that they are in their early 60s, and have only their golden retriever, Quincy, to care for, she says, there is still too much to do. They have no intention of retiring, and are looking forward to having a staff to take their laundry to the cleaners, sign for packages and make sure milk and eggs are in the refrigerator when they return from a business trip or vacation.
"Basically," she says, "I've needed a wife for a long time."
Recently, they used the concierge to help get tickets to the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Art Museum and had the driver take them. "Not having to worry about parking is huge, and driving in Center City is just not fun."
That night, she was meeting one of her sons for dinner.
Would she be needing Charles to make reservations?
"I don't think so," she said, smiling. "We're going to Ruby Tuesday's."