The Barefoot Butler
Far removed from the swirling turmoil of the world, its political upheavals, financial scandals, and social unrest, Soneva Gili stands as a very small island sanctuary—no bigger than a football field or two, it secrets away 250 staff amongst its shady trees and about 120 guests in less than 50 water villas satelliting around the island. Three gourmet restaurants on the beaches or over the water, including a below-ground wine cellar where eight people can enjoy fine cuisine and vintage wines and savor the chocolates made on the spot; and a spa where glass-covered holes in the floor below the massage tables reveal fish swimming below.
But this discreet elegance and luxury is not what attracts so much as the serenity of the space that pervades from the moment one lands. Shoes are not part of the dress code. Unsustainable living is not part of the agenda either, with organic gardens and greenhouses, water all made on site, and no throw-away plastic or other fast-paced, throw-away culture, please. The Founders of Six Senses have a vision they call SLOW LIFE, which stands for Sustainable, Local, Organic, and Wellness, Learning, Inspiring, and Fun Experiences.
It’s a great way to experience what life and society would be like if there didn’t happen to be a few dedicated to raping whatever they can lay their hands on in life. The number of people who return time and again to this little speck in the Indian Ocean testifies to what a hidden treasure it is. The owners do not advertize, relying mostly on word of mouth and the kind of writing that I am doing right now!
And to top it all off, they have butler service, called “Man (and Lady) Fridays” after Robinson Crusoe’s Man Friday, copies of which are available in each water villa. The Fridays, who are almost all Maldivian, were eager students and fired up to offer the best possible service—with some innovative treats conceived to wow their guests.
So when your boss is wondering where to go for the next getaway, I suggest you suggest this far away place: a twenty-minute private boat trip from the airport.
These hotel and resort butlers are the butler-away-from-home, filling in for the butlers at home for those lucky enough to employ butlers, and giving a taste to those who do not yet have butlers, of what life is like when butlers take care of the minutiae that go into living. As 90% of the uber-wealthy are new money, this seems like a good way to test the waters. These butlers may not have the sophistication of experienced private-service butlers, but they make up for it with their open-heartedness—and the difference is just a matter of degree, really, for in the final analysis, private and hospitality butlers pursue the same goals for the same people.
About the Author (Author Profile)Steven Ferry is chairman of the International Institute of Modern Butlers and the author of bestsellers "Butlers & Household Managers 21st Century Professionals" and "Hotel Butlers, The Great Service Differentiators." He also trains and consults for the profession around the world.
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