Letters to the Editor Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, March 2021, Letters to the Editor


Letters to the Editor

“Good morning, what a fun day when the newsletter arrives, it always includes fantastic information. Thank you for keeping the reading public abreast of all the good and not so good (SABA) literature. In actuality, I love a whistleblower who has the courage and integrity to stand for many people in a similar situation. Your new photograph as well as your beautiful wife are a really pleasant addition. The newsletter is one of my favorite things to read. It always delivers knowledge, humor, and I always learn something new. What a talented group of professionals!
“Everything is fine here, I just started my next semester of college. Only 36 credits to go-I have 12 credits this semester and the school has already been talking to me about getting my MBA. I made the Dean’s list and had a great review from a client at work (Miraval Berkshires)—one of many I was told by the HR department. My years of private service have paid off!
“Thank you again, for everyone’s superior work ethic and the fact that you have the courage to make a stand for what is right. Oh, the Butlers in the Media made me laugh, maybe that robotic arm comes with a harness so I can put it on and have an extra arm to help me with Spring cleaning.” DS—an Estate Manager who has taken time off to complete her MBA and is paying her way by applying her butler skills part time at an upscale hotel.

Ed: Thanks for all the great news about how you are wow’ing the socks off your customers and tutors alike—feels good, doesn’t it? It would be further uplifting to see the other accolades that HR has received about you, wouldn’t it—or were they all verbal? Good idea to fit in the MBA if you can—I suppose there is nothing stopping you if you want it, right? Thanks for all the validations, glad the journal is still a good read for you. Yes, that photo was taken in the gardens of a large winery near Stellenbosch in South Africa. I thought it time I updated my physog* as the earlier photo was years old! I had to laugh at your idea of harnessing that robotic arm for household chores—what a great idea. You could also serve multiple people at once behind the bar and really get their attention, making Tom Cruise look like a rank amateur!

*Psysog definition: a slang word for the face

“My name is Jeremy Walter and I have been a subscriber to the Modern Butlers’ Journal for many years (judging by my email archive, since 2008!). It is always with eager interest that I read each issue. The butler profession has always been a source of limitless fascination to me. A butler’s dependability, efficiency, and altruistic selfless service are aspirations that I strive for in my current position in a law firm. I hope this isn’t gauche or improper, but I wanted to share, as a photographer, my gallery of butler images. I began uploading photos to stock photography websites in 2019, and to my splendid surprise, my butler images have been the most popular of all my work. Indeed, if one searches for “Butler” on, one of my images is right at the top! Alas, I may never be a proper butler, but I’m excited that my artwork is being used by others to advertise the noble art of your esteemed profession.”

Editor: Visit Mr. Walker’s gallery on Adobe Gallery here: and on Shutterstock Gallery here: 

Editor’s Note: Because the revelations about SABA are most disconcerting to many in the profession, quite a people wrote in about this subject. We publish a selection of that correspondence here:

“I read the email from the former student of SABA and was amazed and horrified at the same time: Amazed that a so-called butler school could act so unprofessionally and horrified by the content of the email. Then looking at the (Carte Blanche) video of Newton Cross sitting there so smugly batting away pertinent questions with such an open face and confident manner. We in the hospitality industry pride ourselves in being able to read people but I have to say I have no idea where he is coming from—it must be that he is such an egomaniac that he believes that he has done nothing wrong. l now see him and those around him in a completely different light and will assist in anyway that I can to help students/clients not fall into the hands of such people.” The principal of a butler school who, like two others, does not wish to be identified and thus intimidated by SABA.

“Applause to everyone standing up against SABA, and once again to Ms. Yang who had the courage to start this and support everyone following. Ms. Yang has spent a small fortune up to date on legal fees and is still pushing hard. I graduated from the previous South African Butler School (as did Newton Cross), worked in several stately homes domestically as well as internationally over the past 17 years as a Butler, Property and Estate Manager; I’ve trained fellow hoteliers at several 5 star Hotel groups. When a position was advertised in Cape Town (another of SABA’s falsely advertised positions to lure students to do their course for their own financial gain), I was told my training (again, same as Newton’s – in fact we graduated 4 or so months apart) and years of international experience as well as international renowned accreditation from the International Institute for Modern Butlers, International Butlers Academy and others, was not acceptable or sufficient according to Newton and Braam. SABA is the only institution I have came across that clearly advertise “SABA certification only to apply.” With more experience and training than the whole of SABA’s “trainers” combined, I was advised to redo their course… I have no words…
In the end, SABA is stealing and cheating, misleading and fraudulent, preventing trained and educated people from earning a living and scamming what little the rest have. Our industry is about uplifting, training, confidence, honesty, integrity and serving, again everything SABA is against, Students are our core of the future, and not to be belittled.” AJS

Ed: Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with SABA, which provides a valuable inside look at the true nature of their enterprise. I believe the previous owner of SABA would be rolling over in his grave if he knew what had become of his life’s work. Your comment at the end is spot on—students ARE the core of our future and should not be belittled—as I had heard had happened to you when SABA wrote rather peevishly and with as little dignity as they could muster in a Google review that you “served cows with silver plate,” whatever that means. I apologize on behalf of the profession that you had to experience such a poor example from those who are meant to be setting an example—and as I understand it, I apologize that you reportedly were blacklisted in South Africa by SABA and had to leave the profession several years ago as you were unable to find work. Thanks also for the accolades for Ms. Lin, well deserved.

“…SABA promised all students would be given the opportunity to be employed, but weeks and months after coming back home, most of the students, including myself, didn’t hear back from them…most of our students with poor backgrounds went to SABA for a better life/ opportunity but are now unemployed with their certificates at home.” A graduate who had private service experience before attending SABA

“I have been following the actions of the Institute with the other butler school, and sadly this is one of the reasons I diversified into other things…some agencies and schools fall short of delivering as their interest is in themselves.” PR

Ed: Indeed, there are people who consider themselves experts when factually they have very little experience in the profession, and then there are those that are outright criminal. The rest of us in the industry just have to stand up and police our peers, no one else will do it for us. Thankfully over time, the more professional schools tend to survive, the others tend to disappear just because ours is a small word and word does spread. But in the meantime, the bad actors can cause a lot of damage and that is why 8 (and counting) of the better butler schools are taking action.

“We have been following your latest newsletters and are greatly concerned at the misleading, false reporting and lies that you are spreading. Attached, please see our response to your latest newsletter. Kindly refrain from any reporting on SABA without consulting or contact us directly for a fair answer to any of your questions. We ask that you remove or adjust these newsletters since December 2020 within the next few days. 
Please respond to this email that you will act accordingly and refrain from reporting incorrect information without contacting myself or my team directly. Also, please send proof that you have either removed or adjusted your newsletters by close of business Thursday 18th of February 2021. Failing to do so SABA will instruct our attorneys to take appropriate legal action. We would appreciate your co-operation and trust you will do the right thing.” NC
Ed: I thank you for reaching out with your letter to the editor. It benefits nobody to have incorrect information spread so I am very happy to work with your lawyers—please have them contact me. I will be able to demonstrate to them conclusively that your four pages of complaint just received vary from the simple twisting of facts in order to present a false picture, to the frankly delusional. I have feedback from the others involved in various cases you cite that show this to be the case; and you forget that I was involved in one of these so know what actually happened; it is a marvel what a tangled web of confusion you weave to wiggle your way out of any semblance of responsibility for your actions.
If however, you find yourself able to present facts that do paint a true picture of events, I would be happy to issue corrections or publish these in the interest of fairness to you. But do not assume I can be browbeaten into silence like those who rely on your for placement that is still not forthcoming.
This is more fairness than you have accorded the many students whose heart-rending stories we have been publishing over the last few months. In the United States, we have something called the Bill of Rights, which guarantees freedom of speech, so please do not ask us to prevent them from expressing their experiences where you only attacked and threatened them when they tried appealing to your sense of fairness and ethics first—or in the upcoming court case. I believe South Africa has an expectation of the same general human right, and it would be a pleasant surprise if you were to regard your fellow South Africans as deserving of this and other rights.
Rest assured, also, that if their facts turn out to be incorrect in the court case, we will be happy to publish the truth, but it does not take a court case for anyone with two brain cells to rub together, to see what the truth might be, hence my insistence on seeking the truth. I am not closed to the idea that you are capable of telling the truth, so please do start to send it our way and we will be happy to present it.

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.