The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 8, issue 8
International Institute of Modern Butlers
Message from the Chairman
Greetings: a longish journal this month, with a new contributor, Ms. Lisa Krohn, from the PA profession; and some good news on the public-image/PR fronts for our profession: Jim Grise was featured in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle and there was more news in the media of butlers doing the usual, as opposed to butlers messing up. And taking direct action to influence the way the media portray our profession, I had the opportunity to train two Hollywood actors this last month on what a butler is, how he or she thinks, and acts, so they could portray their roles faithfully in their respective films. I found both individuals to be very eager to know the truth and look forward to interesting, as well as faithful, portrayals. And my most recent article for the hospitality industry, Creative Strategies for Maintaining Training Quality without Busting the Budget was picked up by several media outlets, showing strong interest in the subject. Information on the upcoming DEMA conference in Los Angeles for private service professions is provided below: consider going if you can; it is not often we have an industry specific convention to attend. In fact, by way of late breaking news, I am seeing if I can change flights and itineraries in order to make it there on the way back Stateside. See you there, perhaps?
Letters to the Editor
When a lady curtsy’s, should she have her hands behind her back, in front, or one in front and one behind? Googling it, I find one source that says to have the hands to the side or to raise the skirt, is considered insulting or at minimum impolite. If the lady is not to have her hands at her sides, perhaps clasped in front is best? What are your thoughts in this regard? FM
Ed: I believe we are running into different conventions in different countries at different times. The curtsy I grew up with in England was hands to side, splaying the dress slightly on each side while bending slightly at both knees, one leg slightly ahead of the other, and bowing slightly with the head. http://www.wikihow.com/Curtsy seems to back this up. If she be wearing trousers…. perhaps the hands in front, as you suggest?
Do the ladies in the readership have anything to offer on this question, this being more properly your domain?
In response to last month’s editorial:
“The showrooming trend extends beyond finding better prices. I often showroom and purchase online, simply because it’s predictably a nicer experience. Online, my name and preferences are always remembered, suggestions for complementary products are made, the checkout is efficient and I’m thanked for my loyalty. Best of all, I receive a follow-up survey of my guest experience. How many local shops would call and ask, “Did we treat you well this morning? How could this have been a better experience?” Precisely, none. Not even luxury retailers would think of doing such a thing. The brick-and-mortar experience often begins as an interruption to someone’s hectic day and ends with that dreadful announcement of your anonymous existence, “Next customer in line” from an attendant staring off into space, barely tolerating another transaction. Human contact is a two-sided coin; it can be gloriously uplifting, or horribly deflating. Most local merchants today seem satisfied with providing the latter. If local merchants wish to survive, they’ll need to become as warm and welcoming as online robots. This may even start a revolution in retailing for the return to gracious, genteel service as the norm. Or, maybe not. The choice will be theirs.” JG
Ed: Very well put indeed, and point well taken. If brick-and-mortar stores do not change, then we will all be the poorer, because I can say that 50% of what I receive from online stores, sight unseen, has to be returned as defective and would never have been bought in the first place had I been able to throw an eyeball over it and kick its tyres/tires, so to speak. I am sure you will agree, given that you showroom at all, while that opportunity still exists.
“I have been traveling fairly extensively for more than forty years to various parts of the world, and I thought I knew how to pack a suitcase. I read your book and looked at a video on You Tube from IIMB on packing with tissue paper. I packed one day, as if I were traveling, left the suitcase in the room overnight, and took out the contents the next day. Everything was ready to wear immediately—no touch up ironing or anything, except for one jacket folded in the alternate way, with a sleeve turned inside out and tucked into the other sleeve. I hung up everything and actually wore the suit with the slightly wrinkled jacket to a function the following day. The wrinkles hung out of the jacket and the suit was perfect. I shall never pack differently!” RR
Butlers in the Media
Move aside, Australian and New Zealand hotel butlers, because we now have cyberbutlers resident in guest iPhones. Looks like a good product — for hotels without butlers, at least.
This hotel was a bit over exuberant in its claims, but it definitely has the right idea: letting guests and the world know where they stand in the Hotel Butler Rating System.
When Jeeves is a She in the Wall Street Journal works on the premise that since 1999, half or more of hotel butlers are female—that datum is based on the words of one hotel manager in Bangkok. This may be true in Thailand, but not elsewhere. However, the points made in the article, about the services lady butlers can perform for female guests that would not generally be entertained with male butlers (in most parts of the world), are well made. The actual figures on female butlers are probably closer to 25%, and frankly, the more the merrier.
Note the photos of a graduation below in the Maldives: 15% of the graduate butlers are ladies.
Congratulations to Mr. Jim Grise, who was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle this month. As he said, “The story by the journalist you referred me to back in March has finally been published. They had a couple of the details mixed up, but a good article in general.” We couldn’t agree more, congratulations!
And finally, not butlers in the media, but something in the media that may well be of interest to them:
Fine dining seems to be passé as luxury hotels (in Chicago, at least, according to the Chicago Tribune) find fewer guests interested, preferring a more comfortable and relaxing ambiance. This is not surprising, as ties and suits disappear from the workplace and Gen X and Y start to predominate in society. In another five years, they will be the majority, and hotels are being forced to respond to the changing perceptions and ideals. There will always be a place for fine dining, no doubt, but it will be increasingly difficult to find. This blog, however, describing an experience at the 5-star/5-diamond Lautrec restaurant in Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa, seems to show that passion rather than stuffiness and concern with being “de rigeur” is a winning approach to fine dining—the writer’s experience mirrors my own while training there a some years ago. I still recall Terry, their lead waiter, with fondness and admiration—the most inspiring waiter I have had the good fortune to be served by among many excellent ones—and the rest of the solicitous team.
Looking ahead, if you are interested in a butler/household manager internship next summer in a private residence in Maine, please make your candidacy known to us here at the Institute.
The Art of Being a Personal Assistant
by Lisa Krohn
Ms. Lisa Krohn is welcomed as a new contributor to the Modern Butlers’ Journal. She has held a series of jobs as a personal assistant, personal organizer, and many such complimentary projects for 25 years, her work taking her to the Oval Office, Hollywood, New York, and five-star hotels. As she says, “The cultural and intellectual diversity may have polarity but the art of service is the same. Our demeanor, stature, integrity, discretion, and lack of ego can be applied to all jobs in service.” Ms. Krohn shares with us, over the next few issues, the most important life lessons she has learned, why they are significant, and how they can be incorporated into one’s work in private service. I had the occasion to quote Ms. Krohn just last week to a particularly harassed PA I was training, who was doing a marvelous job of not following the lesson in this month’s journal, and who, when he began to do so, was surprised to find that he was calmer and clearer of head.
What can you do for yourself as someone in service to be at peak performance all the time?
Cultivate and produce your own life first each day. This may not sound feasible, enjoyable, or even purposeful at first glance. Yet, this is a decisive factor in our being at peak performance for ourselves and all those we serve.
It is my experience that people who have chosen careers in service often find their personal lives in a secondary position to their principal’s. This is in our nature, and on occasion, necessary. For the most part, this neglect takes place in our residences. Our homes are often not well organized or cleaned (this has nothing to do with income). Our bills may not be paid on time, vacations not planned for ourselves in advance. When we have children, we often don’t plan for their futures in the ways we would like and certainly we do not spend quality and or quantity of time with friends and loved ones. Other areas that are often neglected are our health, physically and emotionally, planning for our future, and our passions or interests.
By spending fifteen minutes to one hour in the morning every single day, working on various aspects of our selves and our lives, we can make a profound difference in our performance. This is not about accomplishing all of our tasks and goals each day. It is about the process of taking this time for ourselves so as to shape our well being for the day. By carving out this time for ourselves before we get to work, we will hopefully not be thinking about our own lives and be distracted while at work. By taking care of our selves in these ways, we build self-esteem. Anyone can learn and develop the skills for our jobs. Yet, what sets us apart from others is what comes from inside and that is influenced by how we take care of ourselves. So we need to make some effort to cultivate ourselves and attend to our own lives each day.
Mrs. Ferry has spent the past six weeks training the butlers at the unique Soneva Fushi Resort in the Maldives. As the first luxury hotel in the Maldives, Soneva Fushi set new standards when it introduced butler service to the island nation seventeen years ago. The current team has now been trained to Institute standards, and is well set to take their butler service to a whole new level.
The photos below show the two groups of happy graduates – congratulations to them all!
Soneva Fushi, Group One (at an informal celebration)
Soneva Fushi, Group Two (also an informal celebration)
Cigars, Part VI
Now that we have an idea of how cigars are produced, we can move on to some of the considerations that should be taken into account when confronted with the bewildering profusion of cigars on offer at a tobacconist. Even the most helpful dealer will find it easier to serve you when you know the basics.
For now, let’s assume the cigars are from a reputable dealer, have been stored properly and are free of tobacco beetle. All of these will be covered in detail when we come to the part about storing our own cigars. Since the rules are the same, there is no need to repeat them here.
As we have said, the cigar wrapper (outer leaf, not packaging) is the most visually obvious element to a cigar. While the best leaves are used for wrappers, the quality of the tobacco leaf used for the wrapper will still tell us something about the quality of the whole cigar.
Cigar wrappers come in many shades, varying from light to dark. In all but the very cheapest cigars, these differences arise from the various ways in which the leaf is handled after harvesting, rather than through artificial colouring. While some wrapper colours have more than one name, there are basically 7 main shades and only three words you need remember; Claro, Colorado, and Maduro. Essentially, Claro is light, Colorado is medium and Maduro is dark.
So how do we go from 3 colour names to 7 shades? By making combinations of these words. Colorado-Claro, is a shade between Claro and Colorado, just as Colorado-Maduro is a shade between Colorado and Maduro. To describe the very lightest and darkest shades, we simply repeat the names: Claro-Claro (or double-Claro) and Maduro-Maduro. However, the cigar industry likes to complicate matters, so Claro-Claro is also known as Candella, Colorado-Claro is most often called Natural, and Maduro-Maduro is almost always called Oscuro.
Having fun yet? Claro is also known as American Market Selection (AMS). These leaves are picked immature and dried quickly, retaining a pale green hue from the chlorophyll, from where we derive its fourth name: Jade. These wrappers are no longer as popular as they once were and are now quite rare.
English Market Selection (EMS) leaves are usually Natural or Colorado-Claro wrappers, but can be anything from Claro-Claro to Maduro. They tend to have more flavour than AMS wrappers and cost more because they take longer to produce. In addition, EMS wrappers come with a unique number so that you can trace them back to their source.
Spanish Market Selection may be either Maduro or Oscuro and are among the darkest wrappers, also often being sweet.
Here is a good picture of the 7 major wrapper colours. Observant readers may notice something interesting on the cigar band of the Camacho: It is labelled ‘Triple Maduro.’ Unlike Double-Claro, this is not yet another wrapper colour, but refers to the fact that the wrapper, filler, and binder all consist of Maduro. Camacho was the first brand to bring such a cigar to market and it has received good reviews.
So how do these colours come about? We have already discussed how Claro-Claro is made. As mentioned previously, Colorado-Claro is also called natural, which in itself speaks volumes. Generally, the lighter colours are from shade-grown tobacco, while darker colours are achieved by heating and cooling the tobacco in an enclosed space, so the oils that escape during heating can retreat back into the leaf during cooling. For darker wrappers, this process may be repeated several times.
Wrapper leaves from various parts of the globe are also associated with certain colours due to the traditions surrounding the production of tobacco in those regions. Mexican tobacco is grown in full, hot sun and is usually very dark. Cameroonian wrapper is known for a singular texture, called ‘tooth,’ and commands a high price.
A common misconception is that the wrapper colour is an indication of the strength of the cigar. A wrapper constitutes less than 10% of the tobacco in the cigar and it is entirely possible that a dark wrapper can be paired with mild filler leaf. By mixing various tobaccos, the roller can achieve a complex smoke, as long as the constituent parts are in balance and the flavours complement one another. This is part of the art of fine cigar manufacturing. While there is a tendency by some manufacturers to align the strength of a cigar with the visual representation given by the wrapper, it is best not to make any assumptions.
Good tobacconists are enthusiastic about their products and provided they have the time, are usually a good source of information. Don’t be a ‘tyre-kicker,’ make a few purchases to show your support, and you should soon have access to a wealth of advice and anecdote.
Next month we will look at some of the many cigar shapes and sizes, and also why they exist.
The 2012 DEMA Convention will be held in Los Angeles from September 28-30 and is designed, through workshops and privileged information shared by our speakers & educators, to advance the professional development and resources of all attendees. Speakers will include Teresa Leigh, Charles MacPherson, Bob King, Bonnie Low Kramen, Vickie Sokol Evans, Elise Lewis, David Gonzalez, Katie Vaughn, Marta Perrone, Donna Shannon and many others.
Breakout sessions will occur throughout the convention on subjects such as:
- Conflict resolution with the family
- Agency etiquette & rules of engagement
- Handling divorces/life changes/tragedies with the family
- Work agreements: manager vs. hourly employee
- Resume construction
- Reading body language
- Home Automation & Smart Home Technology
- Garment care 101 & beyond
- Employer & employee boundaries
- Family office interaction & communication with principals
- Establishing structure & boundaries with the family office
- Managing off-the-books employees and the consequences
- What are you liable for as a private service employee?
- Contract negotiation & best practices (employment & vendor)
- Interviewing best practices
- Proper care of luxury linens
- Career fair, with too many agencies participating to list
For only $185.00, this is the must attend event for anyone who is either in the private service industry or considering entering. To learn more about the Convention and how to register go to www.demaconvention.com
Let’s Talk about Wine, Part VIII
by Amer Vargas
One of the most famous regions in the world for wine production is Bordeaux, in the southwest of France. It is also one of the largest—if not the largest—areas to produce so much appreciated libation, no doubt as a result of almost 2,000 years of experience.
The region obtains its name from the city of Bordeaux and faces the Atlantic Ocean. The wine production spreads 100 km (60 miles) around the city located in the biggest estuary in Europe fed by three rivers: the Gironde, and its two tributaries, the Garonne and the Dordogne, which create the ideal setting for growing vineyards and making wine.
Bordeaux is itself divided into three different sub-regions: “the right bank,” situated on the right side of the Dordogne river, in the northern parts of the regions, around the city of Libourne; “Entre-deux-mers” (meaning between two waters is the “island” surrounded by the Dordogne and the Garonne rivers; “the left bank” is located on the left bank of the Garonne river and is where the city of Bordeaux lies.
The major reasons for the exceptional wines produced are the excellent environment and weather conditions: climate is Oceanic, with short and mild winters, hot summers, long autumns, and a high degree of constant humidity caused by the closeness to the ocean and the rivers. On the other hand, the soil is a mix of sand, clay and limestone, very rich in calcium, which ensures an adequate drainage of vineyard roots as well as an appropriate amount of minerals to feed them.
Bordeaux produces all sorts of wines, from regular table wine to be drunk young, to some of the finest (and most expensive) “brews” that mellow in the cellars (Châteaux) for many years and even decades.
Red Bordeaux accounts for almost 90% of wine production in the area. It is traditionally made from a blend of grapes, the most predominant varietals in Bordeaux being Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon; as for whites, Sémillon and Sauvignon are the most cultivated, followed by Muscadelle.
There are up to sixty Bordeaux appellations and the wine styles they represent are categorized into six broad families based on the sub-regions (for red wines) and the sweetness (for whites). Thus:
-Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur AOCs (Appellation d’Origine Controllée [Controlled Origin Appellation]) are fruity red wines with hints of oak to be drunk young (in the case of the regular Bordeaux), and stronger oak tastes in the case of Bordeaux Supérieur.
-Côtes de Bordeaux is a red produced in the outskirts of the region and wines under this category offer an intermediate quality between basic Bordeaux wine and the highest Bordeaux, which makes its pricing moderate.
-Libourne or “Right Bank” wines are brews whose top quality Châteaux blend a 70% Merlot with a 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. The most famous vintners in this area are Saint-Émilion and Pomerol and produce wines with a great fruit concentration and soft tannins.
-Red Graves, Médoc or “Left Bank” wines are typically made by blending 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Merlot with 15% Cabernet Franc. The resulting drink is a full-bodied and very tannic wine.
-Bordeaux Blanc gathers all the dry white wines made throughout the region, often made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc or a blend dominated by S. Blanc and Sémillon, the resulting drink offer oak hints.
-Bordeaux Supérieur Blanc includes sweet white wines that are produced in several locations using Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes.
Under these broad categories, wines can also be labelled under the sub-regions or even the Cháteau, in the case of the best of the best wines. For example, one can talk about a Sauternes, a Puillac, a Margaux or a Lussac-Saint Emilion; or one can talk about Premier (first) Grand Cru Classé, Déuxieme GCC (second)… up until Cinquième GCC (fifth) to mention the most appreciated (hence expensive) wines of Bordeaux. All Grand Crus Classés are related to the most important Châteaux and are best known by the name of the Château itself, as in the case of Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Latour, Cháteau Margaux.
These excellent wines are bottled in straight-sided and high-shouldered bottles with a pronounced punt at the base. The shoulders are also pretty straight, which helps to hold the sediment when old wines require decanting.
To enjoy white Bordeaux, the usual white wine glass best serves the drinker. For red Bordeaux, the ideal stemware involves the “Bordeaux glass” (not exclusively used for Bordeaux wines, but also for all rich and fully flavored wines). The Bordeaux glass involves a broad and tall bowl that helps develop all aromas and tastes to be enjoyed.
You have a lot to choose from in Bordeaux. Enjoy your choice and I invite you to follow us next month in our trip to Italy.
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The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and skills of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resort, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts, & cruise ships around the world.
Category: Assessing butler service, Butler Jobs, Butler training, Cigars, Domestic Service Positions, General Hospitality Industry, Hotel Butler, News, Newsletter, Personal Assistant, Placement/hiring, Training, Travels, Wines
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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