Newsletter Steven Ferry

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, September 2018, Butlers In the Media

Steven FerryButlers in the Media

by Steven Ferry

When I was working as a butler, I installed remote front doorbells under tables at strategic locations so the principals could call me discreetly when they needed anything. That was the modern and less-obvious version of hand bells that were sometimes used to summons the butler, or bells on pulley systems that were used to communicate in large houses whenever a principal or guest needed someone to come to their room. Fast forward 30 years and we find “Butler bells” being used in restaurants and some hotels to summons waiters, the signal going not to a bell in the kitchen, let us say, but to a wristwatch worn by the employee.

Town and Country magazine tried to settle the debate about the difference between a butler and a household manager that was stirred up by Gwyneth Paltrow when she insisted she had a house manager, not a butler. Unfortunately, the magazine writer asked an American agency for their take on the difference, and she received an incorrect definition for the butler. Anyone looking at the cliched role of the butler in Downton Abbey could see that the definition is incorrect. Americans do not understand what butlers are, and particularly, butler administrators, who have the same responsibilities (and more) as Household or Estate(s) Managers. The fact that Americans have a certain restricted view of butlers is merely a reflection of how they use butlers. But it does not make it correct. What is true is that butlers and household managers do have different backgrounds and styles of service, but in essence, they are kissing cousins.

An interesting new resource in the butler training world, with a focus on that theme central to the profession: wines!

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.