Modern Butlers’ Journal
The Institute’s free electronic newsletter promoting service standards and items of interest to professionals in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts and other quality service professions around the world.
- The Modern Butlers’ Journal, volume 12, issue 7, International Institute of Modern Butlers
The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 12, issue 7
International Institute of Modern Butlers
Teaching Right Mindset, People Skills, & Superior-service Expertise
Message from the Chairman
The raw enthusiasm and eagerness for, and attentiveness to, life demonstrated by those passionately engaged in being of service to others, convinces me that the relative few in our profession are rightly regarded with admiration by the many.
Grant Harrold has been generating much media in Australia as he tours the country providing lessons on etiquette. It is refreshing to see a butler who used to be in the service of the British royal family, who understands discretion and loyalty.
This article in the Washington Post lists seven smart phone applications that promise to be one’s “personal butler.” And one restaurant offers “butler service:” a pull-down menu for online ordering that allows diners to customize their dining experience with additional services and products.
Then we have a company that uses eco-friendly products and has decided to call itself The Green Butler.
In Texas, a position is now open for “Doorstep Valet Trash Butler,” whose duties are to pick up trash at an apartment and take it to the dumpster. Qualifications: Driver’s license and pick-up truck. It may be hard to top this when it comes to appropriating the butler monicker.
An article on medical concierges is advertised as “butler services” when it offers no such thing. Real butlers do exist in some hospitals who provide butler services, and these are distinct from the advisory concierge services being described in the article. Similarly confused is the airport butler web site , which talks about butler concierges who provide concierge type services.
Finally, a source that is fairly accurate when it comes to advising on butler salaries.
The digital butler in Rolls Royces has already been let go to join the lines of digital butlers on the dole (receiving unemployment benefits), according to the latest Royce concept car: he has been replaced by Eleanor, who serves not only as a personal assistant but also as the chauffeur.
Buckingham Palace is looking for a Trainee Butler, all training provided and a great start to a career, according to the posting.
If our Egyptian and Indian forebears are anything to go by, then it could also be a great start to one’s death: the burial tombs of four royal butlers who served 3,000-3,500 years ago have just been opened to the public in Egypt.
Then there is the mausoleum built in what is now New Delhi by a Prince for his butler about 600 years ago.
Some bosses do show their appreciation!
Letters to the Editor
Thank you for the last Journal discussion on robot butlers. My opinion is that we should not be too concerned about all this supposed invasion of robot-like “butlers.” Apart from the misleading use of the word “butler,” which is indeed very annoying, no machine will ever be able to reproduce the work of “butlers” as well as the work of any other professional role in any other working organisation. That is because the main quality of butlers is organisational skills. Butlers, as well as all the other roles developing from the butler figure, from household manager to estate manager, manage the resources and the people of one or more properties. Saying that a machine can reproduce the butler’s job is like saying that a robot will reproduce the work of any other organisation manager, director, or executive. Obviously, it cannot. No one expects a company manager’s job to be replaced by robots, so why should anyone expect the contrary when it comes to butlers? The same rationale applies to all private service/ hospitality roles. Dealing with human nature is hard enough already for a human, let alone for a machine.
Even if we want to downsize the role of butlers to performing simple tasks, they are never quite that simple and always require the intervention of human judgment.
The industry is today threatened by other, more contemporary issues, such as the lack of appreciation for professional household management expertise and professionalism; the level of salaries (which lag) far behind the commitment and responsibility involved in a household management career; an over-supply of unskilled, unqualified and unexperienced staff spoiling the market that is reducing the level of salaries; and a number of unprofessional agents who care more about their commissions than the reputation of the industry. GL
Ed: Thank you for the feedback. I wish you were correct about Artificial Intelligence robots not taking over many jobs, including butlers and managers. The programming of dexterity, and even judgement and morals is becoming increasingly sophisticated, as this article shows, but the reality is still far short of the hype, as this article shows. It is a longer-term issue (15 years at least), and our best strategy is to reassert live communication and service as preferable to programmed service, in the eyes of the employers and guests. But if their sense of the value of humanity and live communication and service is eroded to the point where they just want efficient service and see no real benefit from human interaction with all the concomitant (naturally accompanying) foibles and expenses, then we lose the battle. If you think this is not a realistic concern, then I suggest you consider the many elements of human affairs today that defy logic and common sense, which are yet accepted as normal. I agree, there are more pressing concerns for the profession at the moment, but the approaching robot tsunami is of greater concern, even if it be just a ripple in the distance at the moment; we need to seek the high ground now if the profession is to be more than a historical footnote in some Robot Butler’s household manual fifty years from now.
How to Carve an Apple, Part 2, The Use of the Stencil
by Kobi Gutman
Using a stencil makes carving easier, faster, and much more accurate. Although the procedure is quite simple, there are a few points worth mentioning.
The basic procedure
Place three or four copies of your design in a word document, each copy slightly larger than the one before it, and print.
Choose the size that best fits the apple. A design that is too small for the apple will lose its effect.
Cut out that design and tape it on the apple. However, there is a correct way to do this, otherwise the flat paper being taped onto the round apple will result in a distorted image. So when cutting, leave a large margin all around. Then position the paper on the apple and tape it on one side (doesn’t matter which one). Then stretch it from the opposite side and tape that side. The difficulty begins when trying to tape the remaining two sides. This is best solved by pressing the paper against the apple, flattening the image as much as possible, and then folding the margined areas before taping. As the photo shows, the folds and distortions are mainly in the margined areas. The letter ‘C’ is slightly distorted but will not affect the final result because it is easy to compensate for when carving.
As you begin to carve, another issue can present itself with the stencil: the paper becomes wet and so hard to cut through. Two situations can cause the paper to become wet:
a) the apple being stored in a refrigerator in a hot climate, and then being removed and “sweating” due to the difference in temperature. The solution is to remove the apple from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature until it is no longer sweating, before taping the stencil.
b) The juicy flesh of the apple being cut and wetting the stencil. The way to deal with this is to cut the more delicate and intricate parts of the design first, leaving the larger areas of the design until the end, as these can be easily cut even when wet. In this example, my sequence was to start with the eye and the nose areas, then the small white areas in the ear, neck, and back, then the cub’s left ear, then the cub’s outline, and finally, the outline of the ‘C’.
Once done with carving the design, remove the paper and tape, draw the frame, and finish the carving.
Here is the final result—the logo of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, the guest’s favorite team.
Kobi Gutman is the Head Butler at the Fort Harrison Retreat in Florida. He can be contacted via the Institute: enquiries @ modernbutlers.com
Using one’s artistic talents to create little touches for employers or guests is done by butlers around the world. This one from a butler at Per Aquum’s Niyama resort in the Maldives, painted on a bedroom mirror for guests on the last night of their fourth return visit, commemorating a sailing trip they had undertaken on a dhoni, the local craft.
The Institute’s training continues in private estates and resorts around the world, with skills honed and confidence increased for all who attend.
Here are some of the graduates of training conducted this month at Atlantis—The Cove and Royal Towers—on Paradise Island, the Bahamas.
And the photo below shows some of the graduates (mainly butlers, but also other departments) at Niyama in the Maldives.
Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 13
by Amer Vargas
Appletini or Apple Martini
We are skipping James Bond’s favorite cocktail, the Martini, to talk about a classic cocktail whose versatility pleases many drinkers. The apple martini or appletini is the choice of many who appreciate the tangy kick of apple combined with the warmth of the other ingredients in this fruity mix. It has appeared in many TV shows and movies: From JD Dorian in the sitcom Scrubs, to Alan Harper in Two and a Half Men, and even Ted Mosby at How I met your Mother.
Despite being very young as a cocktail—being invented in 1997—it already has many variations. The original recipe seems to have only two ingredients: vodka and apple schnapps, mixed in the shaker with ice, strained in a classic cocktail glass and garnished with an apple slice. But that recipe can be enhanced with different splashes that give an extra kick to it, like with a splash of dry vermouth, a bit of lime juice or even sour mix. Or if you want to give the cocktail an extra tanginess, you can also use a green vodka or change the apple schnapps for Calvados (a liquor made out of the distillation of apple cider).
Whatever your choice may be, enjoy!
Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s President and can be contacted via AmerVargas @ modernbutlers.com
1st Hotel Butler Convention Held in the Dominican Republic
Organized by Mr. Osvaldo Torres Cruz of Hotelería de la Experiencia, attendees from the major hotels with butler service in the Dominican Republic discussed the characteristics and duties of the butler, services offered by the hotel butler, and the relationship with other departments and management, as well as the training required and the qualifications for hiring.
We encourage other countries or regions to hold similar events and help establish and raise standards for the profession.
Of Butlers and Roses, Part 27 of 30
by GJ dePillis, Master Gardener
Miniature Floral Arrangements, Part 1 of 4
As the fog clung to the ground one early morning, I joined floral enthusiasts from across the region for a seminar in the California Botanical Gardens. We had come to learn from Joyce Dean, judge and winning contestant at more floral shows than one can shake a tulip at.
Ms. Dean is a member of the Garden and Floral Arrangers Guild and came armed with seasoned advice and tips on how to take flowers from the garden and arrange them into delightful miniature arrangements, encouraging creativity all the while. She also encouraged us to persuade our groundskeepers to plant varieties that would bloom early, mid-, and late-season so there would be ample supplies for floral arrangements in the house, without having to call upon florists.
We were guided through the techniques of making a three-inch miniature arrangements, as well as an eight-inch designs. Such tiny floral arrangements are perfect “pick me ups” for those convalescing in hospital. Butlers or staff can create them as bedside arrangements for overnight guests, farewell gifts for guests, or for use on each setting at the table, to be taken away by guests as a memento of the evening.
Tools required are very basic: small scissors, toothpick, tweezers, and a small piece of water-soaked floral foam or other system for supporting the flowers, such as straws or “needle pads.”
Any flowers from the garden will work. We used Iris straps (leaves), Horsetail grass (Equisetum), Aurelia and Philodendron leaves. As a standard filler, we had Baby’s breath, Misty white flowers, Ming fern, Electric blue sage, Geranium, Parsley, etc.
In the next articles, I will provide design tips, and mechanical tips.
Until next time; remember to stop and smell the flowers!
Ms. dePillis is a master gardener and freelance contributor to the Journal who is based on the West Coast of the United States. She can be reached via depillis @ gmail.com
by Jeffrey Herman
Q: Why is there a metallic taste when drinking coffee or tea?
A: This is usually caused by a tea or coffee pot with worn plating inside, exposing the base metal underneath. Discontinue using such pots until the interiors have been re-plated.
Mr. Herman continues to offer his services to our readers for any questions you may have about the care of silver. Either call him at (800) 339-0417 (USA) or email jeff AT hermansilver.com
The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.
- The Modern Butlers’ Journal, volume 12, issue 7, International Institute of Modern Butlers July 1, 2016
The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 12, issue 7 International Institute of Modern Butlers Teaching Right Mindset, People Skills, & Superior-service Expertise Message from the Chairman The raw enthusiasm and eagerness for, and attentiveness to, life demonstrated by those passionately engaged in being of service to others, convinces me that the relative few in our profession are rightly regarded with admiration by the many. Housekeeper’s Corner Butlers ...
- The Modern Butlers’ Journal, volume 12, issue 6, International Institute of Modern Butlers May 31, 2016
The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 12, issue 6 International Institute of Modern Butlers Teaching Right Mindset, People Skills, & Superior-service Expertise Message from the Chairman The main item of news in the butler world this month is another example of a butler not following the code of ethics of the profession. In defense of Donald Trump’s former butler, one could say ...
- The Modern Butlers’ Journal, volume 12, issue 5, International Institute of Modern Butlers April 30, 2016
The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 12, issue 5 International Institute of Modern Butlers Teaching Right Mindset, People Skills, & Superior-service Expertise Message from the Chairman Keeping tabs on how butlers are perceived in society (see our column Butlers in the Media over the last several years) has been mainly an exercise in spotting ways that our title has been called upon to confer ...
- The Modern Butlers’ Journal, volume 12, issue 4, International Institute of Modern Butlers April 1, 2016
The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 12, issue 4 International Institute of Modern Butlers Teaching Right Mindset, People Skills, & Superior-service Expertise Message from the Chairman There were two examples this month of butlers talking in public about their employers, which raised some eyebrows amongst those in the profession. The first was an ex-White House butler talking about First Lady Nancy Reagan. Good ...
- The Modern Butlers’ Journal, volume 12, issue 3, International Institute of Modern Butlers February 29, 2016
The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 12, issue 3 International Institute of Modern Butlers Teaching Right Mindset, People Skills, & Superior-service Expertise Message from the Chairman As the story below, about the young butler being sued illustrates, one can sometimes run afoul of house rules for the managing of work-issued credit cards—where the lines are to be drawn. Another example of exactly this trap crossed ...
- The Modern Butlers’ Journal, volume 12, issue 2, International Institute of Modern Butlers February 1, 2016
The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 12, issue 2 International Institute of Modern Butlers Teaching Right Mindset, People Skills, & Superior-service Expertise Message from the Chairman Being in the Moment Professor Albert Einstein reportedly claimed, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Professor Einstein obviously considered it important to have a cluttered desk ...