Butler books Butler history Mixology Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, October 2017, International Institute of Modern Butlers

The Modern Butlers’ Journal

October 2017

In its 13th year of publication

International Institute of Modern Butlers

Teaching Right Mindset, People Skills, & Superior-service Expertise

Message from the Chairman

IIMB Chairman Steven Ferry

It has been a busy year for consulting and training in the private and hospitality sectors around the world, with trainers currently in Mexico, Maldives, and the Caribbean.

Travel these days is never dull: dodging volcanoes, hurricanes, revolutions, terrorist attacks, and plane crashes, each by a day or two. In between, there are the exciting trainings and consults, and visits to myriad countries (I have lost count, but about 50 so far this year).

It occurred to me, while listening to yet another air-hostess briefing on how to buckle a seat belt, that I am now in my 64th year of airplane travel! Some things have improved, most not. Civility, levels of service, and professionalism, have taken a hit: comfort has increased only in terms of lie-flat beds in business and first classes. The planes may be slightly faster, but the delays and lines at the airports today remove that advantage. In terms of stress, whether from nature, politics, security and related threats, or human frailties, there is no comparison with the genteel experience of air travel in earlier days. The only thing that has improved is the reduced cost of travel, making air travel affordable for most.

Letters to the Editor

“Reading all the input from our colleagues in The Butlers Speak, in response to your insightful questions, has made it very refreshing to know that we do not stand alone in this big world of ours. Thanks to you and Modern Butlers, the world is a little smaller today.” PBW

One reader was angered by the “total lack of integrity and respect exhibited by Mr. Burrell for his former employer.” He added this pithy (concise and forcefully expressive) observation:

“A contract between the employer and a butler used to be based on a handshake—a guarantee by both parties to act honourably in all circumstances.

“Post Paul Burrell, the contract is signed on paper by the employer and butler with a shaking hand.” RW

Butlers in the Media

A rather touching advertisement for volunteers to help polish silver was entitled “Find your inner butler.”

This might be taking duty a bit too far as a butler: the reported presence of the ghost of Henry Ford’s butler, whose hackles rise reportedly when tourists litter his ex-employer’s property and he just has to clean up after them.

Not quite so loyal is Mr. Burrell, whose projection onto his employer of his own moroseness and morbidity, portraying her as a troubled soul, may not be based on quite as much knowledge as he professes—quite apart from the fact that he shouldn’t be saying anything at all about the employer in the first place—especially when he receives millions in remuneration for this self-centered/engrossed betrayal of confidence and the profession.

A good interview with a butler who understands the finer points of butling.

Another good interview, this one with a hotel manager of a Four Seasons, who understands that “wowing” guests comes from the caring human touches, not the latest technology.

More on AI (Artifical Intelligence)

Speaking of which, Sir Anthony Seldon, vice chancellor of the University of Buckingham in the U.K., has predicted that teaching will be conducted by robots within a decade. This assumes the development by then of emotionally sensitive machines (that will be as genuine as a three-dollar bill). There would be some benefits of some automation, to be sure, but none that outweigh the best that human teachers have to offer.

The problem is probably best stated as the educational systems of the world have become so degraded over the last century with the substitution of social engineering for actual education, that anything might look better than what we have at the moment—which includes millions of students being drugged instead of educated, while the rest are dumbed down with curricula that only someone with questionable motives could dream up. So yes, maybe robots might look better, but then why bother with humans? Why not just program robots in the flash of a flash-drive download and just end the human race?

The vice chancellor correctly cautioned that “individuals derive a great deal of fulfillment from their jobs and that humans are hard-wired to work,” yet he offers no solution to the prediction by Price Waterhouse Coopers that robots and artificial intelligence could take over 40% of jobs in America by around 2030.

A two-episode British documentary entitled “Hyper Evolution: Rise of the Robots” warns that robots are like an invasive species because of their increasing ability to make conscious decisions and eventually, to out-compete humans. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has similarly raised the alarm about the risks to the human race posed by rapidly advancing AI, as have others.

We still have a way to go, according to Feiyu Xu, head of Lenovo’s AI Lab: the kind of artificial general intelligence needed for a robot butler, remains beyond reach. “A butler serving cocktails won’t be too far away, but a butler who can organise your life, help if you’ve lost something or can change your flights, these kinds of complex capabilities will take a long time [to develop].”

The Wisdom of Butlers Past, Part 5

Another quotation about life for butlers two centuries ago shows that the more things change, the more they remain the same. We still do our best to service employers, some of whom may not be the best of role models, and continue to search for considerate employers who recognize that we, also, are alive.

The author advises we focus on doing our duty despite the slings and arrows of less-desirable employers, because we will be happier in the long run. However, the more modern advice is to be aware that there are a very few anti-social individuals whose goal in life is to push others down; and if the employer is not just having a bad hair day but is routinely of such an ill disposition, one is better off updating the resume and looking for a new position, rather than obliging the person by sinking into apathy.

“Happy are the families where servants study the comfort and welfare of their employers, who in return do the same by them. The kind admonition of an affectionate master or mistress is always to be listened to with respect…. It may be your lot to find a master or mistress who may act unkindly or unjustly towards you…but if you do your duty, you will be more happy in your integrity than your employers can be in their injustice. I would rather be the oppressed than stand in the place of the oppressor….. Patience will be rewarded.”

“Let these considerations stimulate you to truth and faithfulness in your situations through life. You’ll find in the class of society with which you are about to associate, some of the most profligate [recklessly wasteful] of people; that is, in a refined way, if I may be allowed the expression, also some of the most proud and ignorant, glorying in their insolence and profaneness [obscene language and disrespect for religions]. Happily, they are not all so. I know a great number who are held in just esteem and have been honorably rewarded for their fidelity and good conduct.”

Extracted from the 1823 book, The Footman’s Directory and Butler’s Remembrancer, re-published in hardback by Pryor Publications. You may obtain your discounted copy (with free s&h) by emailing the publisher: Mr. Pryor (alan @ and telling him you read about the offer in the Modern Butlers’ Journal.

The Butlers Speak

Finding & Managing Staff, Part 1 of 3

Some insightful solutions to common hiring problems, from those who walk the talk.

1) Have you encountered any issues when looking for good staff? If so, what were they?

“Looking for good staff is trying at the best of times, as what one sees on paper is not what one meets in person: sadly, like so much else, it’s a numbers game.” PBW

“The most challenging issue typically is finding a candidate who is genuinely ready, willing, and able to perform the duties for which they have been hired.  Many will, sadly, say what they think you want to hear, when in fact they are opposed to, or inexperienced in, specific tasks.”  CH

“Most applicants have not worked in a very large residence and are not accustomed to the different types of surfaces to clean such as granite, marble, soap stone, etc., nor have they been exposed to the level of expense associated with furnishings in such a household. Similarly, they are unfamiliar with security measures, such as all exterior doors and entrances being locked at all times, and not opening the front door until we know who is there.” NS

“One of the biggest obstacles to finding top talent in our area of California is the cost of living: The nearest affordable housing is at least an hour’s drive away. Convincing employers to extend a high cost-of-living allowance that would allow staff to rent locally, is a tough sell in most cases. Another problem is that most employers don’t want an employee who must be moved in from out of town: Not only do they express a dissatisfaction with having to pay for moving expenses, but they also do not want to make a commitment to that employee: The freedom to fire without conscience is too important for them.” SA

2. What areas or avenues have proven most fruitful for finding staff? 

“Using recommendations has worked well, as has a local agency that screens potential applicants before we interview them.” NS

“Anyone can be good during an interview, saying the right things, giving the right answers. But the proof is in the pudding as they say: So what I have found to work over the years is to invite the candidate to spend a day with us, paying them for the day, and covering any travel expenses. We offer them lunch with the rest of the team and see how they interact with everyone. It’s a two way street we feel: they see what is expected and we see what they can do.” PBW

“Certain placement agencies are excellent resources, but finding a qualified candidate by word of mouth is not an avenue to be disregarded.” CH

“First and always: word of mouth and networking. It was true before agencies and it’s still true now. But failing that, careful interviewing of agency owners will reveal whether they’re capable of identifying a service mentality, and comprehensive personality assessments / matching of both employee and employer.  Only a handful of agencies nationwide know anything more about their candidates than what is given in the resume. It takes time and perception to handpick your candidates, and then match them to the employer with a reasonable success potential.  An agency worth considering will give a one-year free employee-replacement guarantee.” SA

3. What procedures do you employ for ensuring that the right staff are selected? 

“We do a background check on everyone, as well as a credit check–very important when working at a large residence. Any time we have deviated or made exceptions we’ve experienced unfortunate outcomes. We have learned from these experiences, however, so when we hire new staff, they are hired as an independent contractor. After a year, they are evaluated and we determine whether to hire on the person as an employee. This process has worked very well for us. NS

“By having them spend the day with us, I see them in action.” PBW

“Without question, a paid working trial of three-to-five days has proven the most effective way of ensuring a proper selection. I also put their skills to the test, such as asking them to iron a table linen, prepare a special dish, spot clean a rug, or wax a vehicle.” CH

“We conduct multiple interviews with three pre-qualified candidates. Each interview is conducted under different conditions. One might be a dinner engagement where table manners are subtly scrutinized and driving habits can be observed (you travel to the restaurant together in the candidate’s car.) Another might be lunch with the candidate with a partner/spouse, a best friend, or even a parent as guest. Another might be a leisurely walk about the estate, seeking comments about every aspect of service, loyalty, discretion, and privacy that the candidate holds dear.  In all instances, we make lots of eye contact and observe body language.” SA

Book Review of Serving the Wealthy

Sections on the Role of the Butler and the Principal’s Wines, Part 6 of 12

Dealing with Wine Sensitivity

by Gretchen dePillis

As Serving the Wealthy suggests, it is useful to note the preferences of the principal’s guests. When serving wine, you may note that some guests may experience “headaches” shortly after consuming a glass of wine. Others may have an asthmatic reaction.

Sulfites can trigger an asthma attack in some people, but as commercial wines can contain up to sixty different additives, it may not be easy to discover all the additives used by the vineyard, as most countries only require the listing of “sulfites” on the labels of wine bottles.

For such guests, you may wish to consider a wine from a biodynamic vineyard, and note this information in their guest preferences database.

Next month, we will review how to find the biodynamic vintage that is appropriate for your employer’s guests.

Ms. dePillis is a freelance contributor to the Journal who is based on the West Coast of the United States. She can be reached via depillis @

Creative Corner

KobiGutmanHow to create a Strawberry Flower

by Kobi Gutman

Adding garnish to a plate is a little touch that makes a big difference to the presentation. Here is a quick and easy garnish for a turndown treat, a fruit plate, or even (if covered with chocolate) a treat that can be served on its own.

  1. From about half the height of the strawberry, make a slice down towards the base. Don’t go through but stop
    a little bit before the base. This will create a petal.
  1. Using the knife, gently push the petal out, being careful
    not to break it. You can roll the knife over the tip of the
    petal to add a more realistic effect.

3. Repeat the above two steps to create three more petals.

  1. Make another layer of petals by cutting closer to the top of the strawberry and slicing down to half the height of the strawberry. Each petal in this layer should be located between two petals in the bottom layer – that is, not directly above them.



  1. Place as garnish and serve.

Mr. Gutman is the head butler at a private hotel in Florida and can be reached via the Institute.

Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 26

will be forthcoming in November—Mr. Vargas just returned from a lengthy assignment abroad to assist the very next day with the delivery of his second child, Gala. Our congratulations to both Amer and his wife, Sonia, and best wishes for the future.



Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s President—feel free to contact him via email, AmerVargas @

Consulting the Silver Expert

Cleaning and Polishing Silver, Part 5

Jeff Hermanby Jeffrey Herman

Use the following technique if you are polishing an object without porous components or components that have been sealed with Renaissance wax:

Rinse the object first to remove any pollution that may have settled on the object. These contaminants, which may be more abrasive than the polish you will be using, can actually scratch the silver if rubbed into the surface.

Apply Blitz Silver Shine Polish or Earth Friendly Silver Polish. If you feel it necessary to protect your hands from moisture, use nitrile gloves which contain no ingredients that tarnish silver. Do NOT use latex gloves!

Rub the object in a straight, back-and-forth manner so as to maintain a uniform appearance. Avoid rubbing in a circular motion.

Rinse the sponge regularly, as elements in the tarnish can be very abrasive.

Dried polish can be removed by patting the area with a warm, wet cotton ball or a wet horsehair or natural-boar-bristle brush.

Rinse the object with warm water, and then dry with a Selvyt cloth or cotton dish towel immediately to avoid spotting.

I advise using untreated heavy-weight cotton inspection gloves to avoid finger prints when cleaning and storing freshly cleaned objects.

Note: Flattened cotton-swab heads, with very little silver polish applied, are excellent for cleaning between fork tines.

Wearing nitrile gloves and using a cotton ball with Earth Friendly Silver Polish to remove tarnish from a Paul Revere Beaker

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 @

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.”

Butler history Butler training Training

Passion and Excellent Service in the Mayan Riviera

When you dream about beautiful suites, Mexican flora, a navigable lagoon next to the clear sand and quiet beaches of the Mayan Riviera, together with a passion to truly impress the guests, you are probably dreaming about Rosewood Mayakoba.

Over the month of September we experienced in this property the four seasons, from sunny and hot days on the beach, to warm and cloudy days for sweating in the gym and relaxING in the spa, to rainy days for enjoying a drink and a book at the bar, to chilly nights under the blanket of the stars decorated with a total lunar eclipse of a supermoon. Altogether, a place to  remember always.

And we haven’t yet talked about the superb service every single staff member provides to his or her guests. Upon arrival, a little boat tour to introduce the outdoor facilities is followed by the welcoming butler who is ready to unpack your luggage. You are on holidays. No rush. Your butler encourages you to forget about everything and to start to relish every second whilst he or she takes care of everything. Fancy some action? These are the water activities I suggest you join. Looking for some tranquility and peace of mind? We have these great therapies in the spa or even in your suite. Want to visit an archaeological site nearby? My suggestion is that you fly there and have lunch at a local hacienda.

Rosewood Mayakoba Butlers

The butler is just pampering you, but wait until he provides the unexpected surprise… Once you are wowed, you will never forget.

Congratulations to all the Butler team at Rosewood Mayakoba!

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, October 2015, International Institute of Modern Butlers

 BlueLogo2011web The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 11, issue 10

International Institute of Modern Butlers

IIMB Chairman Steven Ferry The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012Message from the Chairman

At the tail end of a two-month training program at several five-star resorts in the Maldives, I stumbled upon a living legend: a most loquacious and knowledgable general manager at the southern-most island of the Maldives chain, who happened to be the very first hotel butler. He shared many stories, as well as accomplishments, that show that determination and intelligence know no bounds. His name is Mr. Allwyn Drago, and he is from India. When Mr. Oberoi Senior decided to implement butler service in his hotel palaces around the country, he called upon quite a few individuals to be the first butlers; recognizing Mr. Drago as an exceptional gentleman, he made him his personal butler, too.

Mr. Allwyn Drago worked for many years as a butler while earning degrees, even from Cornell, and is currently GM at Shangri-la's successful resort in the Maldives
Mr. Allwyn Drago worked for many years as a butler while earning degrees, even from Cornell, and is currently GM at Shangri-la’s successful resort in the Maldives

Technically, hotel butlers have existed for the last 150 years in a handful of luxury hotels (since the first was founded in London—the Langham—in 1865): each hotel had a butler on staff to service royalty or nobility in order to provide the level of service to which they were accustomed in their own palaces.

It was Mr. Oberoi Senior who took the initiative in modern times to bring butler service to VIP guests. It is gratifying to see that the butlers originally performed quite a few of the services that one would expect of a butler who had been trained properly. The full range of services is greater today, for those trained by the Institute, but this is only to be expected as the profession found its feet and more people offered creative ways of servicing guests.

One point I was able to correct after many years of teaching the wrong information: I had thought the Oberoi chain had implemented butler service in 1982, but it was actually 1986. Which means that other hotels and chains were not far behind in catching on to the notion.


Not All Soaps are Created Equal

Mr. Kobi Gutman continues to work in his free time on creating custom-made soaps for his guests. He plans to produce a short technical manual for the use of butlers who would like to be able to turn this commodity into a “wow” factor with minimal outlay of effort and cost. Stay tuned for more information!




Butlers in the Media

“Butler robots” that are four times more productive than humans, handle cargo in a Hong Kong e-commerce fulfillment center. And a scientist writes about the complexities of creating a robot that can fold clothes, which gives some idea of how much robot butlers have to catch up with us mere hominids. The article opens with some interesting facts, too: “The idea of a robotic servant is a lot older than you probably realize. It doesn’t just go back to the 1960’s cartoon series The Jetsons, whose Rosie the Robot could prepare meals, clean the house, and solve unexpected troubles. As early as the 3rd century BC, the ancient Greek scientist, Philo of Byzantium, built an iconic human-like robot maid that could pour wine when a cup was placed in its hand.”

The news this last month was heavier on real butlers than on robot butlers, which is a pleasant change, although in the case of the remorseful paedophile butler who was busted, the less of that sort of exposure for our profession, the better. The same goes for Mr. Burrell’s continued antics, this time on Celebrity Big Brother: cashing in on his past glory by giving away private details of his former employers. Will he ever get it? Probably not.

One interesting angle on Downton Abbey is how Jim Carter, the actor who pays Carson, the butler in the television series, is asked continually by his fans to be their real-life butler—showing that there is still plenty of demand, or nostalgia at least, for the stiff butler of old. The views Mr. Carter  is reported as expressing in the article show him to be suitably curmudgeonly, so it seems he has immersed himself deeply in his role, and like his fans, is not distinguishing 100% between reality and TV—unless, of course, he was picked for the role precisely because he has a butler mindset!

Danone yoghurt is offering ten winners of a promotional campaign the opportunity to be served by handsome “hunks” who will “undergoing intensive butler training.” My goodness, what a circus society is turning into—again.

Kudos to Mr. Andrew Lowrey of Precise Home Management, who had a good write-up in the Baltimore Style magazine on his life in, and of,  service.

A good article on St Regis butlers—the scope of their services could be improved quite dramatically by doing many more, less high-key but useful and  relevant services than the sabering of champagne bottles.

Another butler school, and another butler who talks too much about his previous employers; but overall, an interesting article and we wish the school well.

And lastly, a well-written article about hotel butlers: “I think about the strange butler-guest relationship that is increasingly being imposed by the hospitality industry. High-end hotels are going gangbusters with butlers, the ultimate luxury service accessory.” But then the writer launches off into the likes of pillow butlers and bath butlers.

What a tangled web we, butler trainers, have weaved in our rush to bring something butler-ish, anything butlerish, to the world of hospitality. And what confused ideas now exist in hotels and the public mind about the nature, scope, and worth of a butler. As mentioned in the message above from the Chairman, butlers originally were bona fide butlers in a few five-star hotels—the Bugatti’s and Royce’s of service staff and mirror images of their private-service counterparts. The mass production of butlers over the last three decades has resulted in stripped-down versions, the great oxymoron of “economy class butlers.”  I understand why the old timers sneer so convincingly about the direction the profession has taken.
The author goes on, “Hotel butlers are moving away from strictly The Remains of the Day roles to increasingly niche duties. Here are some of the more unusual options,” and what ensues is another long list of off-the-wall  “___ Butler” roles, most of which are new to us, too, such as Tie Butler, Doggie Butler, and Cocktail Butler.
As long our profession has a cachet based on superior service style and stays relevant to guest needs and expectations, we will always represent the pinnacle of service and be copied by multiple other services. However, unless we, as trainers, really push to have the qualities of the old style butler, and the fuller range of services that butlers can offer, trained properly; and as long as hotel butlers are given just a few days of training to provide the thinnest possible range of services, just enough to call them “butlers,” then we will not have created a clear niche in the mind of the employer and guest, as to what we are, and our profession will be diluted and redefined ultimately as some hokey gimmick.
We certainly do not want to have that happen on our watch, do we?

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 5

by Amer Vargas 

The Red Eye

“Ever worked behind a bar?”

“My uncle is in the business.”

“Do you know how to make a ‘Red Eye,’ mister … what’s your name?”

“Brian Flanagan.”

Red eye, photographer unknown
The Red Eye, photographer unknown

Today, we pay tribute to one of the film characters who lived once, but never died. After leaving the army and moving back to New York City, the young Brian Flanagan, brilliantly played by Tom Cruise in the 1988 movie, Cocktail, began work as a bartender at nights while studying for a business degree. His initial mediocre work as a bartender turned into a passion under the mentorship of his boss, Doug Coughlin.

This film put the spotlight on the fun and charm of bartending and, more than that, the drinks that are produced when one works with devotion, passion, and a vision.

So, the Red Eye is one of Coughlin’s favorite drinks and which, as he states in the film and many can corroborate in real life, helps to dispel hangovers.

The Red Eye earned its name from the predominant color of the concoction, and the fact that a raw egg is added, looking like a floating eyeball.

The preparation of the cocktail is really simple: frost a highball glass and pour in 1 oz/2.5 cl of Vodka; 12 oz/35 cl of beer; 4 oz/12 cl of tomato juice; and a raw egg. Do not stir, or the egg may break, and it needs to be in one piece so the imbiber can down it in one go. Not recommended for the squeamish, just for the hung-over!

Enjoy your drink…and your movie!

Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s Vice President for Europe and can be contacted via AmerVargas @

Recent Training and Graduates

Graduation for some of the trainees from Veli, Dhigu and Naladhu, three resorts under one leadership—each resort is on its own island and caters to families, honeymooners, and the very wealthy preferring their privacy

Graduation for some of the trainees from Anantara Veli, Dhigu, and Naladhu, in the Maldives. Each resort being on its own island but under one leadership (Minor Hotel Group), and catering respectively to families, honeymooners, and the very wealthy who prefer their privacy. The trainees did very well on their refresher course, as did some trainees fresh out of college and engaging in a corporate-sponsored program to introduce them to the hospitality industry. 50% of the program participants from the prior year stayed on at the resorts, having chosen to pursue their careers in hospitality.

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 18 of 25

by GJ dePillis

Medicinal Roses as Described in Ancient Texts

Roses used to be a staple in apothecaries (Chemists/Drug Stores). Red roses were mentioned in various medicinal texts because it was thought the stronger the fragrance, the more potent the rose oil, and thus healing properties of the roses.

What rose-related medicinal treatments were common?

  • Drinking rose water would stave off a queasy stomach or even prevent vomiting;
  • Rose hip tea, or rose honey, would ease coughing;
  • Topical applications would alleviate joint pains and rheumatism;
  • Rose-scented oils would revive swooning or fainting individuals (I do suspect most of these patients were corseted ladies struggling for oxygen);
  • Fevered patients would find relief;
  • Drinking rose tea, rose water, or rose wine would ease constipation or other digestive problems;
  • When mixed with mint leaves, heated and applied to the chest and stomach, it was thought restful sleep would be encouraged; an ease of breathing would ensue for those who were congested; and an easing of muscle aches and the soothing of an agitated patient would result;
  • Sore throats would be soothed when taking a spoonful of rose honey;
  • Rose oils mixed with lotions would treat skin sores;
  • Mixing rose oil with apple cider vinegar and spearmint leaves would reduce dandruff;
  • Spraying chilled rose-water would refresh a person on hot summer days;
  • Rose petals soaked in white wine for at least two days, then strained, and one goblet-full imbibed would a) diminish a headache, and b) ease the aches associated with wounded gums;
  • Taking the hairy seeds out of the rose hip, mixing them with sugar and hot water, and straining the liquid, would treat diarrhea when the concoction was drunk;
  •  Drying rose-hip pulp and using the powder in the mouth of a colicky infant (experiencing pain from intestinal gas) would calm them.The White Windermere Aushomer rose photo by David Austin Roses

So, next time you are planning to use the roses from the garden, don’t just think of them as decorative elements around the house!

Ms. dePillis is a freelance contributor to the Journal who is based on the West Coast of the United States. She can be reached via depillis at

The White Windermere Aushomer rose
photo by David Austin Roses


Jeff Herman Consulting the Silver Expert

 by Jeffrey Herman

Q: When was stainless first used in table knives?

A: Although American Elwood Haynes discovered stainless steel and patented it in 1919, it wasn’t until 1924 that a stainless steel table-knife blade was invented by an Englishman, Dr. William Herbert Hatfield. It was called 18/8 stainless steel (18% chromium, 8% nickel), an alloy which is still used today. Prior to this development, carbon steel was used, which was then replaced with plated-carbon steel.

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

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.


The Modern Butlers’ Journal, August 2015, International Institute of Modern Butlers

 BlueLogo2011web The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 11, issue 8

International Institute of Modern Butlers

IIMB Chairman Steven Ferry The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012 Message from the Chairman

Concierges have provided service in hotels and properties for centuries. There is a certain kinship between concierges and butlers, not surprisingly, as the word comes ultimately from Latin meaning “fellow slave,” or “serving with.” However, the French phrase “compte des cierges, meaning “Guardian of fixtures,” is a more representative concept—the “Keeper of the keys” in castles and government buildings—hence the two crossed keys of Les Clefs D’Or. Their original duties 800+ years ago in France included managing all the service being delivered in the castles, and so were very close to the duties eventually taken on by butlers. But while butlers rose to managing large households in England and elsewhere, the concierges’ duties narrowed down during the 18th Century, with the advent of international business- and pleasure-travel, to those currently executed in high-end hotels around the world.

Butlers, originating in England, predate concierges, who originated in France, by a century or more. So it is particularly nonsensical that, despite being at it longer, butlers have had zero success in coming together as a profession; whereas concierges have come together since 1929, and more fully, since 1952, to forward their profession as a single, professional body. Perhaps it is a matter of hubris on our part, whereas the concierges have adopted a more professional approach that serves them well in terms of setting and maintaining standards for their 4,000 members in over 50 countries.

I recently asked to see the articles of association of Les Clefs D’Or, and similar literature, and was warmed to note that Les Clefs D’Or has service codes much like ours, and even has a fund to assist colleagues who have fallen on hard times because of serious physical conditions, such as cancer.

The day a Silver Tray (let’s assume that could be the name of a similar International Butler Association) exists to set and raise standards for butlers, and it offers such a fund, we could say that we had finally come of age as a profession, rather than a collection of multiple “Only Ones”—as in “We are the only valid butler organization.”

United we stand, divided we fall.

Butlers in the Media

Butlers are now working on river cruises in Europe (four of Uniworld’s vessels), offering a stripped down version of butler service.

An interesting article about the lengths butlers go to in hotels to service their guests—although the author has taken it upon herself to pronounce that “butlering is a dying art.”

Another White House “butler” engages in a tell-all—when will the White House establish some standards in this area?

Some entrepreneurs have created a company called “Hello Alfred” (referring to Batman’s butler)  that offers “butler service” for $25 a week—the duties basically being running errands and managing small projects for which the clients do not have time. As the company already employs 100 butlers (stay-at-home mums and artists) so far in New York and Boston, they are obviously much in demand by busy executives and no doubt appreciated by those looking to boost their income.

Sandcastle Butler
Sandcastle Butler


If the above is a bit of a stretch, then how about Sandcastle Butlers, the latest hijacking of our profession to boost image? The picture (from the Hertfordshire Mercury) says it all.



Hot on the heels of the Japanese cafe culture with butlers and maids, we now find Glasgow, Scotland offering the same: a cafe with maids and butlers. Used to be a time when one went to a cafe to enjoy a simple coffee and scintillating chat.

Not sure if we have covered the “Stock Butler” before—software that analyzes and rates a person’s stock portfolio.

And no MBJ would be complete without another little look at the rapidly encroaching world of robots as butlers. The first hotel in the world has opened with service almost exclusively carried out by robots—done to save money on wages and downtime, such as days off, and to create “the most efficient hotel in the world.” Um…. Let’s see: “Hospitality,” basic definition being “friendly.”  “Friend” comes from an Indo-European root word meaning “love.” Met any friendly robots recently, ones who express their heartfelt love for you? (Perhaps that should read “programmed love”?). Somewhere, someone, or a lot of someones, are missing the point.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, machines do not have ethics and have no understanding of morals. When asked by a human what was immoral, one AI (Artificial Intelligence) robot said, “The fact that you have a child.” To be sure, in an AI-dominated world, the perpetuation of the human species is neither logical nor necessary.

And while “scientists” are busy trying to make robots human, and humans unnecessary, they are also busy making humans into robots: witness the University of California, Berkeley breakthrough (also reported in the Wall Street Journal) in creating neural dust that is so small, it can be implanted into the cerebral cortex (front of the brain) without the knowledge of the individual and run forever, collecting information and controlling people’s thoughts and emotions (and presumably, ultimately, their actions).

For a sobering look at the future of man versus robot, check out this video: Humans Need not Apply. Life, to some it seems, is just a matter of matter, and humans do not, ultimately matter, in the rush to…what? Efficiency? Again, someone, or a lot of someones, are missing the point of life, it would seem.

The truth is that people either have life in them, or they do not. One will find that those pursuing the “robots are ideal, humans are superfluous” motif are themselves, severely lacking in life/aliveness, and so, naturally, have an affinity for robots.

What can we do about it? Keep beating the drum for humanity, for caring and creative personalized service, for the life that is central to, and vital for, life. One wouldn’t think one would have to say this to humans—not to pull the rug out from under their own feet—not to keep hitting themselves in the face; but the obvious can be completely missed when one has a fixed idea and blinders on, like a carthorse, to keep it moving without questioning.

* NOTE: Parts of this article also appeared in an online blog this month: and in the August 4 edition of HN360, the daily e-newsletter of Hospitality Net.


KnibLetters to the Editor


I was  hired recently as a Household Manager for a family who owns a yacht. I spent last week on the yacht with the family and learned some simple but valuable aspects of shipboard service. My household management training did not include yacht service. Can you direct me to any books, on-line courses, etc. that can teach me the ins and outs of serving on a yacht? RD

Ed: Ms.  Josephine Ive of Australia——( may well be able to assist. She trains in various parts of the world.  A Ms. Alene Keenan of Florida may be pursuing her yacht training plans of two years ago. Might be worth an email to see if she is operational:

Having all the equipment and not being alert enough to use it

A good example of being too focused on equipment to make use of it—the means becoming an end. The same could happen to a butler who, perhaps following the lead of the employers, becomes lost in the trappings of wealth rather than keeping the focus on ensuring employer, family, and guest happiness.

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 3

by Amer Vargas 

Long Island Iced Tea

Today we talk about a very popular concoction all over the world, but especially in the United States, where it was created. This delicious cocktail is favoured by many, including our beloved blue-haired and yellow-skinned Marge Simpson. Yes we are talking about the Long Island Iced Tea.

Interestingly enough, the name is not as descriptive as tea lovers would like. The Long Island Iced Tea has no tea in it at all, although it somehow resembles the taste and colour of a straight iced tea, but with an interesting level of alcohol content. We will see the reason for this below.

But before mixing drinks, a little bit of history: two versions exist for the origin of this particular mix. The first one dates back to the 1920s, when during the Prohibition in the US, a bartender known as “Old Man Bishop” created an alcoholic mix that looked like a non-alcoholic drink; then, Ransom Bishop, his son, perfected the recipe. That drink included whiskey and maple syrup, and different quantities of five liquors, rather than the equal portions of liquor the current cocktail involves.

The other version claims that in 1972, a bartender called Robert “Rosebud” Butt, who worked at the Oak Beach Inn on Long Island, NY, conceived the mix as a participant in a contest to create a mixed drink that included Triple Sec.

The preparation of the Long Island Iced Tea is very simple. It doesn’t require a shaker nor too much of a display to serve it.

Long Island Iced Tea
Long Island Iced Tea

It is served in a highball glass full of ice. Then add: 1.5 cl/0.5 oz each of Tequila, Vodka, White Rum, Gin and Triple Sec, 2.5 cl/0.85 oz of Lemon Juice, 3 cl/1 oz of Gomme Syrup and a dash of Cola. Stir gently to mix all the ingredients, then garnish the drink with a lemon spiral.

The thrill of the Long Island Iced Tea lies in its soft taste, but it requires being served really cold, thereby numbing part of its alcoholic content. The alcohol concentration is approximately 22%, pretty high compared with most other highball cocktails, which explains why it can open the door for even Marge Simpson to tell jokes after having a couple of them.

So, take it easy…and enjoy it!

Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s Vice President for Europe and can be contacted via AmerVargas at

Recent Training and Graduates

The Institute’s trainers were busy again during the month of July, and a number of students graduated successfully from the Hospitality Butler courses delivered on-site by the Institute.

One of these took place in Amanyara, a luxury resort and private residences located in the beautiful islands of Turks & Caicos (that’s in the Caribbean, for those of you who have not heard of this tiny country). Below are photos picturing the two groups of graduates with their trainer, Ms. Monica Ferry. Well done and congratulations to everyone!

Happy graduates and Managers at Amanyara Villas
Happy graduates and Managers at Amanyara Resort



Of Butlers and Roses, Part 16 of 25

by GJ dePillis

More on Tools

Last month, we evaluated two main brands of clippers, the better quality Felco being preferred over the less expensive Fiskar by most Rose Societies. Both are “bypass” clippers, meaning they have one thin blade and one thicker, flat, curved blade, which allows them to cross each other. Pruning requires one hold the clippers one way and when clipping flowers, one holds them differently.

What other tools does the gardener need besides pruning shears?

Felco clippers
Felco clippers



A Felco (#8-size shown here) is good for clipping up to a ½” stem.


A lopper
A lopper


Use loppers if the stem is over ½” thick.



Anvil prunerThe anvil pruner tends to crush the stem rather than slice it clean, so only use it when cutting hard rose wood or tree branches.




Use a small dry wall saw to cut in hard-to-reach places

Drywall saw






A hat for sun protection and a bottle of water to keep oneself hydrated are not tools, but certainly are advised in hotter climates. Likewise, a long-sleeved denim shirt (available at the Temecula Rose Society website) will help avoid pricks and scratches on one’s arms. A foam knee pad will go a long way to decreasing discomfort while pruning low lying areas.

Photos Provided by GJ dePillis. Ms. dePillis is a freelance contributor to the Journal who is based on the West Coast of theUnited States. She can be reached via


Jeff Herman

 Consulting the Silver Expert

 by Jeffrey Herman

Q: I have a set of 1847 Rogers Bros. flatware.  Is it sterling?

A: Unfortunately, it isn’t. The “1847” does not indicate the date the company was founded or a design number. It refers to the date the electroplating process was perfected, after which an extensive line of plated holloware and flatware began to be produced.

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

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.

Butler training

No shoes, great Mr. Fridays

Another visit to beautiful Maldives, this time to train in Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice number 1 worldwide: Gili Lankanfushi.

Surrounded by transparent waters, white sand, beautiful corals and a great variety of sea life, this wonderful property is the perfect landmark for the butler’s cousin, the Mr. Friday, who provides the best of the best of services.

Whilst at the property, this instructor had the opportunity to be wowed by some of the Mr. Fridays, managing to really impress someone who is already used to receiving excellent service. Keep on working that way, my good men (and ladies)!

Mr. Fridays team

In this team, we have all sorts of profiles. Whilst all of the Mr. Fridays are openly service-hearted, it is interesting to note how some members are great kid-carers, whilst others are amazing artists, painters, musicians, or photographers. All together, they are a great mix of personalities that can bring about the ultimate wowing experience.

And so high is the attitude of this staff that the instructor couldn’t leave the property without awarding two International Institute of Modern Butlers Gold Seals, as a recognition to the great job they perform and they keep striving to improve.

To you, Yasir and Gasim, thank you for your amazing work!

Gasim, Mr. Calder, Yasir and Mr. Bahauddeen



The Modern Butlers’ Journal, April 2015, International Institute of Modern Butlers

  BlueLogo2011web The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 11, issue 4

International Institute of Modern Butlers

IIMB Chairman Steven Ferry The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012 Message from the Chairman 

It seems no year is complete without a butler falling foul of unethical behavior in the employer’s home—such as cases reported in Miami and France over the last two years. This one is from South Africa.

“ANC veteran, Mathews Phosa, is locked in an ugly public wrangle with his former butler, who accuses him [Mr. Phosa] of using theft and fraud charges to ‘silence’ him because he has information that could damage the politician’s reputation.”

The butler, Mr. Venter, had resigned and refused to hand over personal information about the employer that he, the butler, had stored on his personal laptop. “It was not like I was going to sell stories to the media; it wouldn’t have been wise for me to speak badly about my former employer. Little did I know that this would be the start of a never-ending nightmare.”

According to the newspaper, “At the heart of the row are Venter’s claims, reported at the weekend, that he saw Phosa writing a document accusing Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza of being an apartheid-era spy.” Whereas, Mr. Phosa claimed he had received the report anonymously and had passed it on to authorities as such. So Premier Mabuza is suing Mr. Phosa, and the butler is caught in the middle.

The butler’s view is that “he was not involved in politics and merely wanted to do what was right.” He also reports that he was intimidated by the politician’s head of security, who told him to move to another city and the cases would go away; and apparently arranged for the butler’s car to be shot at—so the butler is now embroiled in  two criminal cases against this head of security because “My life is in danger.” For his part, the head of security claims the butler “lives in his own little world where he makes up stuff.”

While employed for ten months by Mr. Phosa, the relationship was warm to start but soured after Mr. Venter asked for compassionate leave to travel to Pretoria to visit his dying father. According to Mr. Venter, Mr. Phosa refused, so the butler decided to resign.

Mr. Phosa reports, however, that “I approved his first request for leave. He came back a week later with another request, and I refused. He [Venter] then resigned and offered to serve out his notice, but then said he must leave immediately—so I fired him,” Phosa said.

High drama for a butler who no doubt signed on for what he imagined to be a discreet and genteel profession.

The solution is to disengage from unethical employers—which this butler did, but he did not appear to do so because of the reported unethical act of the employer, which presumably the butler was willing to live with until he suffered a personal upset with the employer. Only then did he beat the drum about the unethical act of the employer. But, if a correct statement of his position, his flexible level of ethics and apparent dishonesty weaken his position.

And in disengaging, he violated one important rule: either disconnect completely (such as returning the files requested by the former employer); or leave with enough information to guarantee that a) any harm coming to your good person would result in their publication/turning over to the former-employer’s enemies; and b) that you have no interest in using the information, for without it, there is no leverage. Alternatively, find a police authority (if possible) that is senior to and out of the influence of the former employer, and so likely to take action to remedy the unethical behavior (and gathering as much hard evidence as possible before leaving).

Armchair advice is easy to dispense, but the above is a viable game plan for anyone finding themselves in such a tricky situation. For the butler, seeing and hearing all, is bound to see or hear something he would rather he had not seen or heard. While he normally keeps his own counsel, there are times when a higher standard of ethics in the butler than the employer must override the generally correct mantra to stay mum. This is a decision we each make according to our own standards and codes, but the situation can be most harrowing, sometimes leading to rash action or inaction. Hence this blueprint for action may prove useful.

Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) of the popular series, Downton Abbey
Dowager* Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) of the popular TV series, Downton Abbey

*Dowager: a widow with a title (or property) derived from her late husband.

The acerbic (sharp and forthright) wit of this character, married to the subtle understanding of the workings of the English class system—within which our profession developed over the centuries—helps put in perspective the development of the traditional, conservative and mute butler persona. The Dowager Countess of Grantham mouths astute witticisms (zingers such as the one above), but also frequently provides comments that betray the dismissive view of others held by those who try hard to maintain the illusion of their own superiority in the absence of any actual production and contribution to others: the idle rich, yes, but also the criminal class, and others, no matter their station in life, who try to put down rather than build up. In actual fact, as Downton Abbey-philes know, the Dowager Countess of Grantham character does care about her own family, at least, and is portrayed as basically a kind person, despite being trapped into forwarding the expectations of her too-fast-disappearing milieu (a person’s social environment).

Butlers in the Media

What do overboots for children (boots to wear over regular shoes when in the snow), a restaurant in Australia,  and a Carpet, Tile, & Grout Cleaning company in Florida all have in common? They are all called The Butler and represent the latest commercial adoption of our profession to advertise superior standards in their own line of work.

And where else are “Butlers” being employed these days for the same reason? At a dentist in Japan, a photo booth in Australia, the public beach in San Diego, the wilds of Scotland (a forest ranger turned “Picnic Butler”), and a “Personal Shopping and Styling Butler” in Hong Kong.

Along the same lines, what MBJ would be complete without some comment on butler robots? We have Sigourney Weaver to thank for wanting a robot butler after starring in new movie called Chappie alongside a police droid reprogrammed to feel and think like a human. Ms. Weaver is looking for a helpful and thoughtful robot at home. “I’m sure you could program a robot to do all kinds of useful things. I think they’re trying to create a butler robot for people, which would be useful. I’d like a cheerful robot, for company. ‘Would you like a cup of tea?’ That’s the kind of robot I would want…that’s my level; not very destructive but lovable.” Hmmm, anyone feel qualified to apply?

The Chairman was interviewed for an article in this in-flight magazine.

Knib Letters to the Editor

We recently completed the first phase of butler training at the largest construction project in the Western Hemisphere—BahaMar Resort and Rosewood at BahaMar—an interesting (and a first) mix of several brands sharing the same property. Some of the letters received after we left show that we are achieving our mission, as laid out on the Institute’s home page:

“In this tradition, the Institute is now focused on a new phase that we see as the future need and direction of the industry: pioneering the nurturing of individuals who can bring about a greater zest for, and appreciation of, life, both in the people they serve and in themselves. This means our training includes the mechanical skills of butling—be they orchestrating a party for 200 or the acquiring, manning, and managing of a large estate. But more importantly, drawing on our backgrounds as counselors and teachers, the training brings about an understanding of people, whether employees, vendors, guests, or employers, and how to make them all work together in their different roles to the benefit of all. Life did not come with a manual: we seek to remedy that lack in the specific sphere of providing service to others.”

“The little training I received [he arrived half way through the training] was truly mind-boggling and life changing. I came in with the mindset of ‘I won’t need much training as I’ve been a butler,’ yet I have learned more in ten days than in two years in the field…. I will truly enjoy your return in October.” DB

“I thought I knew everything I needed to know with regard to Butler Service and was so wrong…. I am forever changed.” DW

“I want to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for all the training and mentoring that I have received over the past three-to-four weeks, which has really transformed my life professionally and personally, sending my life and career path on the up and up.” LH

“The training is so real and true that we have practiced it in our lives and so made us better people, able to deal with different situations that were hard to deal with in the past, and which also will be so useful to apply to our guest for better results. For me personally, I needed this training at this stage of my career, I have waited for it so long and finally I have it, and it is worth it and exceeded my expectations as well as everyone else’s in the team.” MA

“I may have never said this before, but you both have made such a wonderful impact on my life and the opportunities I have embarked upon…I am a butler in all that I do because of you. Thank you!” GB

Soap and Fruit Carvings

We reported earlier on the fruit carvings of one enterprising butler in a boutique, private hotel in Florida, and wanted to share a couple of his fruit carvings:

Turndown fruit amenity for a wedding couple
Turndown fruit amenity for a wedding couple








A turndown amenity for a concert pianist
A turndown amenity for a concert pianist








And here a couple of samples of his soap carvings.









Bear in mind, this butler, whose name is Kobi, did not go to sculpture school or have any outside assistance in making these sculptures, but simply recognized that creativity, driven by caring and directed toward personalization, lie at the heart of superior service. He saw an opportunity with these normally mundane offerings of soap and fruit, that generally are simply presented as nature made them, or cut into smaller pieces (or for soaps, usually in simple, geometric shapes) to create something valuable and noteworthy for the guests. I have seen the same in the Maldives, for instance, where the butlers carve elaborate dhonis (traditional sailing boats) out of coconut shells and fiber for their guests. In fact, we still have some on shelves in our houses in Florida and the Rockies, because the care that went into their creation carries great power.

Kobi offers these pointers for anyone wanting to go down the same road with soap:

“Quite a while ago I bought a large block of special soap that can be melted in the microwave, have color/scent added to it, and be molded back into a soap bar. The good thing about this is that it is soft and very convenient to work with; and secondly, it is perfect to practice carving, as you can simply re-melt it and use it again for a new carving, instead of wasting soap bars when your creation is not up to standards.

For this sculpture of an egret (the white bird), I did use a large chunk of soap, but the bird is not one whole piece: the wings, the beak, and the pedestal were made separately and attached to the body using quite a simple technique that I learned accidentally. Originally, I attempted to use a glue gun to glue the pieces together (as suggested in different references I had read) but the glue wouldn’t stick to the soap directly. What I noticed however, is that when the hot tip of the gun touched the soap, it melted. So I simply began to use the glue gun to melt together the different sections. Simple, effective, and much cleaner than using glue.

It has been quite an interesting journey, I must say. Thank you for your interest in it.”

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

Let’s Talk about Spirits, Part 14

by Amer Vargas 


“Ola amigos!”

After visiting Mexico a few months ago to enquire about Tequila, today we are back to know a little more about one of the most famous coffee liqueurs: Kahlúa.

First produced in 1936, it was named “Kahlúa,” meaning, “House of the Acolhua people” in the Veracruz Nahuatl language spoken before the Spanish Conquest.

Coffee cherries, photo by FCRebelo
Coffee cherries, photo by FCRebelo

It all starts in the Veracruz state (officially the Free and Sovereign State of Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave), where an excellent Arabica coffee is grown. To produce Kahlúa, only really ripe coffee cherries are used. Thus, coffee beans are hand-picked and chosen out of their original red husks to ensure full ripeness.

Then, a process of three rinses removes all undesirable debris from the unroasted coffee beans and then they are air-dried in the sun for about 70 hours. Once dry, a husking machine separates the papery white skin left on the coffee bean and sorts the beans by size, before letting them age for at least six months and then roasting the beans.

Unroasted, lightly roasted and roasted Coffee beans, photo by Falco
Unroasted, lightly roasted and roasted Coffee beans, photo by Falco

The roasting process takes between eight and fifteen minutes. Then, the roasted coffee is cooled in a spinning machine that aerates the beans to speed the cooling process. After quality control of the roasted coffee beans, they are taken into big holding tanks to await grinding. Once the right grind is achieved, the coffee is brewed for about an hour and passed through a large filter to ensure no impurities remain. The coffee is then mixed with a sugarcane spirit mix (96.2% alcohol that is diluted with mineral water and caramel and vanilla added). to give the liqueur its strength (20% alcohol) and final aromas.

Kahlua Bottles, photo by BrianAdler
Kahlua Bottles, photo by BrianAdler

Eight weeks of sitting allow micro-impurities to fall to the bottom of the liqueur, which are then filtered out and the Kahlúa bottled.

The final product has a deep brown color and offers bittersweet coffee beans and roasted chestnut aromas, together with black coffee and sweet butter flavors.




Espresso Martini, photo by Srinivasprapbhu933
Espresso Martini, photo by Srinivasprapbhu933

Kahlúa is one of the main ingredients in many famous cocktails like the Mudslide and the Frozen Mudslide, the B52, the Mind Eraser, and a personal favorite, the White Russian.

Make your choice and… Cheers!


Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s Vice President for Europe and can be contacted via AmerVargas at



Of Butlers and Roses, Part 12 of 20

by GJ dePillis

Thorned Roses as Beautiful Security Guards

Rose Prickles, photo by JJ Harrison
Rose Prickles, photo by JJ Harrison


Roses with thorns are a beautiful way to strengthen perimeters: Curious hikers, amped-up thieves, and cheeky paparazzi will avoid crawling over a fence that also has thorny roses to supplement it, or even a bed of thorny roses without a fence.

In the case of estates with an electric fence, it is recommended that all rose bushes be kept sufficiently clear to avoid a nasty surprise for any gardener taking his metal pruning shears to the fence; he may either electrocute himself; or if the fence be off, damage the fence.

For these reasons, it is advised that you create a rambling rose hedge either just in front or just behind the electric barrier, but always keeping the barrier free from debris and leaving enough room to access both the fence and the rose beds.

Ms. dePillis is a freelance contributor to the Journal who is based on the West Coast of the United States. She can be reached via depillis at

Jeff Herman

 Consulting the Silver Expert

 by Jeffrey Herman


 Lacquers & Renaissance Wax ©

Lacquering silver and silverplate is generally not recommended for a number of reasons:

The result of lacquering
The result of lacquering silver


1. The individual may not properly prepare the object’s surface to accept the lacquer.

2. It’s very difficult to obtain a uniform coating, even when applied by a professional.

3. If the coating is not applied well, it may have streaks and small holes, allowing tarnish to form.

4. Lacquer will eventually yellow and crack, allowing tarnish to form within the fissures and eventually under the protective coating.


Strong solvents must then be used to remove the lacquer and the piece refinished.

renBecause of the above issues, Renaissance wax—an archival micro-crystalline product—is recommended. Renaissance will not yellow or crack and will last for years if handled properly. Renaissance wax is not as durable as lacquer, so the object should be handled with heavyweight, natural cotton jersey inspection gloves, as acid from fingers may eventually remove it.

Since dust can be acidic and eventually wear through the wax, placing your silver in a closed display will help insure that particulate will not fall on the object’s surface. Whether inside or outside a display case, gently wipe the object with a Selvyt cloth or soft cotton cloth every few months. This will keep the wax or silver polish with tarnish protectant from breaking down prematurely.

This piece was polished to remove all tarnish and any micro-etching that resulted from the tarnish.
This piece was polished to remove all tarnish and any micro-etching that resulted from the tarnish.


Renaissance wax should not be used on flatware or other objects that will be used to eat from. When applying Renaissance, do so in small areas at a time (no larger than a 3” square). Buff with a soft cotton cloth, cotton ball, or makeup pad immediately. Overlap each area to insure the entire surface is coated. For more information and photographs, click here.

Jeffrey Herman, ASAS, FIPG

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


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.


The Modern Butlers’ Journal, February 2015, International Institute of Modern Butlers

  BlueLogo2011web The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 11, issue 2

International Institute of Modern Butlers

IIMB Chairman Steven Ferry The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012 Message from the Chairman 

If you have heard the expression, “What the Butler Saw” and wondered what it referred to, its provenance is an acrimonious divorce case between Lord and Lady Colin Campbell of Scotland in 1886. The key to the trial seems to have been whether their butler could have seen Lady Campbell in a compromising position with the Captain of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, through the keyhole of the Campbell’s dining room in London. Although both parties were accused of adultery, the fact that Lady Campbell was not granted the divorce implies that the jury, who were taken to that exact keyhole at 79 Cardogan Street, were able to observe adequately the area of the dining room in question in order to give credence to the butler’s claims. Over the intervening 129 years, the phrase “What the Butler Saw” has became a euphemism for sex and voyeurism, and has been used as the title of various books, movies, etc. with that theme.

From the butler perspective, taking sides in a dispute between a married couple is a long-standing no-no. We are privy to events that normally are private moments, and so are expected to see, hear, and speak nothing in order to be allowed to continue in service, even when we do hear and see plenty. Two court cases, mentioned below, are reminders that we are occasionally (sometimes often) put in a position of having knowledge we would rather not have. How the butler manages such moments is the mark of the true butler as opposed to the gossip or worse.

Butlers in the Media

Here is an interesting article based on a report regarding problems the wealthy are having in staffing their stately homes in England. Candidates just don’t seem to be “loyal, deferential and discreet” anymore. “Recruitment and retention are common problems, while some employees are litigious and ready to sue their boss if they feel their rights are breached. Staffing issues—especially if they ever reach the court—can be extremely costly, in terms of time, personal angst, and money.” The advice given in the report to employers is, “It is vital to keep abreast of any new rules to avoid being sued by disgruntled employees. People are becoming increasingly well-informed about their rights and litigious, especially if they have a high-profile employer.” Further advice is to have the employer sign a Non-disclosure Agreement. But what a sorry state of affairs, betraying a general lack of education on the part of employees, and, no doubt, employers, and falling ethics levels in society.

With the Savoy’s media department working hard to promote the hotel through its butler offerings, the PR department of another hotel in London has added their own good words about the profession in relation to their hotel. The sentiments expressed were on target: for instance, the story of their solving a guest’s problem was telling: “One of the most unusual requests we have ever had was helping a distraught guest to locate her lost wedding ring. After retracing her entire day, we finally found it behind the counter at one of the big pharmacies in Piccadilly Circus.” If there be one thing that guests and employers appreciate the most, it is when a butler takes ownership of, and solves, their pressing problems.

Trying to find a butler on Craig’s list and similar avenues is oxymoronic, but when searching for a butler for venues other than  private service, it might make sense. is advertising an assistant butler position in a governor’s mansion in the US in Virginia at $32-40K. They claim the national average for assistant butlers is 30K….to which we can only reply, “Indeed? How was that figure established?” It seems to have been based on the salaries of all job titles in their database with the word “Assistant” in them, such as “Engineering Project Assistant.” Perhaps we should re-introduce “Logic” into school curriculums; and if there is not enough time for such a subject, then simply use them to replace the “political correctness” classes.

The Bettencourt trial continues in France, with mentions of the butler secretly recording conversations between his employer and her visitors. Across the Atlantic, similar legal actions are in the offing over a Black Book the butler kept on his employer (who was later convicted as a sex offender) and guests and their activities. In both cases, the butlers broke the golden rule about respecting the privacy of employers and their guests.

There are mitigating circumstances, however: In the case of the French butler, he appears to have been loyal to his employer, making the recordings to protect her interests, which he felt were being worked against by unscrupulous visitors. In the case of the American butler, he refused to hand over his book and served time in prison as a result. If the media are to be believed, he kept the book as insurance against his employer turning against him. Does this mean bribery was also occurring? It might have been. But in any event, the butler did not go public with it. However, his continuing to serve his employer in the full knowledge of the employer’s actions means the butler aided and abetted paedophiles by providing them with butler service. Is that really how one wants to summarize one’s life? “I served a paedophile loyally.”

This is yet another example of the central theme of that great book/movie, Remains of the Day, in which butlers are confronted by the notion that they have misplaced their loyalty and are left at the end with nothing of value to show for their life’s work. We would counsel anyone who finds themselves serving people who are unethical, to find another position and resign; and then make known quietly in the butler community, the unethical nature of that household/principal. If no butler were to provide the support of the profession to such people, then they would be rendered less effective in their nefarious dealings and society, and the profession, that much better off. Perhaps a quiet word in the ear of law enforcement at some later stage would allow them to do their jobs, too, for the betterment of one and all.

A new application joins the pantheon of Butler Thises and Thats: the Express Butler—an electronic pass that can be purchased at a theme park in Germany and which allows one to go to the front of the line.


Mature domestic couple/caregivers sought for snowbirds for their Ohio estate. Generous package. Email the Institute with your resumes and any questions.

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

Let’s Talk about Spirits, Part 12

by Amer Vargas 


Today we will visit the United States to learn a little bit about bourbon whiskey (not whisky, which is the English spelling for the Scottish brew).

While there is no reliable information on when bourbon was first produced, written records confirm that it was developed into its present form only in the late 19th century.

The origin of the name bourbon is not clear either. Some claim the name comes from Bourbon Street in New Orleans, whilst another line of history asserts that the name comes from Bourbon County, formerly a part of Virginia State but currently belonging to Kentucky, since that State’s reorganization took place in 1792.

Woodford Reserve Distillery in Kentucky, photo by Skeeze
Woodford Reserve Distillery in Kentucky, photo (c) by Skeeze

So, what is the difference between whisky and bourbon whiskey? Whilst the basic production of both remains the same—a grain mixture that is used to produce a mash that later undergoes fermentation, then double distillation to between 65% and 80% alcohol, before being poured into casks—there are two key elements that differentiate them.

The first is the ingredients: whisky is produced using barley as the main ingredient, while bourbon requires a minimum of a 51% corn, the rest being rye, wheat, and/or malted barley.

The other key difference lies within the aging process: whisky is aged in oak barrels that have been used for aging whisky before, with the casks used several times. Whereas bourbon is aged (usually between 4 and 9 years) in new American white oak barrels, the insides of which are charred with a torch before being filled. The charred wood impregnates the drink with color and aromas that differ significantly from whisky stored in an uncharred barrel.

Jeam Beam aging Bourbon, photo by Bbadgett
Jim Beam aging Bourbon, photo (c) by Badgett

During the aging process, the barrels are kept in warehouses that can be influenced by the outside weather. The climate temperature expands and contracts the wood of the casks, which thereby imparts different types of flavor in the liquor. The hotter the weather, the more the pores of the wood open and impart its flavor. Thus the barrels that are stored on the top floor of the warehouses, where it’s hotter, create a slightly different flavor from those stored on the bottom floor.

After the maturation time, bourbon is taken out of the barrel, is filtered and can be diluted with water to achieve the desired alcohol by volume, commonly 40%; although legally, it can be left at 80% maximum—so-called “barrel proof” bourbon.

United States Federal laws permit the production of bourbon in the US only by following the steps described above.

Bourbon on the rocks, photo by Travellingmcmahans
Bourbon on the rocks, photo (c) by Travellingmcmahans

Distillers can play with the proportions of the ingredients as long a minimum of 51% corn is maintained; they can also decide on the length of time for fermentation and aging, but they cannot omit any of the steps. This point is very important; for example, there is a common misconception that Jack Daniels is a bourbon whiskey, but its production includes an extra step: filtration through maplewood charcoal before being aged in the charred oak barrels—and this extra step means it is not actually a bourbon.

Bourbon is a very versatile drink. It can be taken straight, diluted with water, on the rocks, mixed with soda, or be an ingredient in cocktails like the Manhattan or a version of the Mint Julep—or as with so many alcoholic drinks, it can be used to impart flavor in cooking.

Chocolate Bread Pudding with Bourbon Dulce de Leche, photo by Mary-SiftingFocus
Chocolate Bread Pudding with Bourbon Dulce de Leche, photo by Mary-SiftingFocus

A personal favorite: Chocolate bread pudding with bourbon and dulce de leche sauce. Enjoy!

Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s Vice President for Europe and can be contacted via AmerVargas at


An Enterprising Butler

We have featured the work of this butler in a boutique hotel in Florida, the Fort Harrison, once before, for the little extra touches he puts into common items that are normally simply presented, and which he turns into works of art. He continues to create delicately carved fruits that are themed according to guest interests

Queen Flower1

and has extended his handiwork to the soaps his high-end suite guests receive.


The attention to detail and care for the guest shine through.

ratliff headshotWhen it Comes to Housekeeping

by Professor Richard Ratliff 

The Secret to Housekeeping Success

The most important secret to successful housekeeping is disciplined housekeeping routines. The key words are routines and disciplined. It doesn’t matter whether it is a grand house or a modest home.

One household staff can be trained and diligent, but always hurried and behind; and so the house disorderly, badly maintained, and even unclean. Another household staff may seem calm and dignified, perhaps a little slow, by comparison—but their house is orderly, in excellent repair, and spotless. The difference is very likely to be ad hoc daily assignments vis-à-vis well-established routines.

Routines should include order, cleaning, regular maintenance and immediate repairs. Tasks are best outlined for daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, semi-annual, and annual activities. A written overall schedule would be posted and used, coordinating all the activities.

The primary requirements are (1) that order, cleaning, and maintenance are all covered for the entire house; (2) that these activities follow a regular routine; (3) that time allotments are realistic for thorough and disciplined, but unhurried work; (4) that routines are followed rigorously; and (5), that repairs be made immediately. Housekeeping is a full-time job. If major unexpected tasks demand attention, consider hiring temporary staff or tradesmen, rather than compromise the housekeeping routines.

Specific frequency of different activities is less important than disciplined regularity. One staff may attempt daily dusting, another weekly—depending upon preferences and circumstances. In fact, disciplined weekly dusting may be superior to haphazard and interrupted “daily” dusting; and superior to actual daily dusting if other tasks go undone.

One further point: What is the best vacuum cleaner? Answer: The one that is used.

The result is a more attractive home, a happier employer, and a more contented household staff.

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 10 of 20

by GJ dePillis

Pruning different types of roses

Pruning roses properly is critical to their flourishing, so here are the basic rules.

  • HYBRID TEA ROSE & FLORABUNDA: These roses grow like a bush. Prune established plants down to 5 inches
  • OLD or ENGLISH ROSE: Cut back the height to one third (i.e. cut a three-foot tall bush to one-foot). Then cut back the side shoots to about 4 inches in length and remove dead wood (die back). They should not be pruned too much as the wood grows very slowly.
  • WEEPING STANDARDS: The goal is to have the roses “weep”—meaning have the shoots grow downward. If they grow upward, tie them down into position so they grow down or simply remove (cut off) the shoot to maintain the balance of the plant.
  • SPECIES or MODERN ROSES: These rarely require pruning except to remove dead wood. If it grows too big for the area it is in, try to cut whole branches down to the connecting cane.
  • REPEAT FLOWERING CLIMBING ROSES: Cut back to 4 inches (10cm) any branches that have already held a bloom, then tie the main growth into position so it can “climb up” the supporting structure. Rambling roses require very little pruning and only need to be cut back when they become too large for the area. You can train ramblers to climb a bit. Remove main shoots and cut back side shoots to about 4 inches.
  • GROUND COVER ROSES: Only remove dead wood and trim the borders to keep neat. As a note, most of these varieties are very disease resistant.
  • MINIATURE ROSES: After a few years, cut back the oldest stems and cut back roses which seem to have forgotten to remain “miniature.”
Photo by David Austin Roses
Photo by David Austin Roses

AFTER PRUNING: Remember to “fluff up” the soil with a fork—about 1 or 2 inches deep—to aerate it and remove tiny weeds. Then apply a long term fertilizer. Then, layer some compost or mulch on top. This sequence should give good blooms by summer time.

REMOVE SUCKERS*: Most roses are grafted onto hardy rootstock. This means that suckers which form are from a rose plant that you do not want. For this reason, always cut back sucker shoots. Remember to take off the bark so they don’t come back. Also note that some rose varieties can be mistaken for a sucker (most suckers have groupings of seven leaves to a branch, but so do some roses, such as Albas), so don’t be suckered into an ill-advised spring cleaning.

Until next time, happy pruning!

*A shoot at the base of a plant, especially coming from the root below ground level.

Ms. dePillis is a freelance contributor to the Journal who is based on the West Coast of the United States. She can be reached via depillis at

Jeff Herman

 Consulting the Silver Expert

 by Jeffrey Herman

 Q: Can I add a patina to silver or does it have to be done professionally?

 A: I would advise against anyone other than a silver conservationist performing this application, for these reasons: 1) These chemicals are very toxic; 2), they are difficult to apply and highlight.

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

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.


The Modern Butlers’ Journal, December 2014, International Institute of Modern Butlers

  BlueLogo2011web The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 10, issue 12

International Institute of Modern Butlers

IIMB Chairman Steven Ferry The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012 Message from the Chairman 

A touching example of service mindset came across my lines during the final days of training at Niyama in the Maldives in November. Mrs. Ferry had provided a brief but important first round of training to the staff there a few months earlier, during which they covered the mindset of a butler and related subjects. One of her students, Yoosuf, realized then how many opportunities he had to create special moments for his guests. Two months later, he serviced a family so well that the guests wanted to show their appreciation. The butler declined a tip, so the guests had him take them in a speedboat to his local island, where they donated just under US$250,000 to the school and hospital, and pledged a further million for 2015. It is easy to train those who are passionate about service: all you have to do is show them the path to follow—one of the reasons we always like to train in the Maldives.

The Holiday Season came early for the inhabitants of that tiny island in the Indian Ocean and the tens of thousands of locals who read about the a story in the local newspaper/clicked on the online links. All of us at the Institute wish you a Holiday Season just as rewarding.

The Executives and Staff of the Institute wish you a Happy Holiday Season!

Letters to the Editor

Great article on employee hiring: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Attracting and Keeping Better Employees.  Thank you. TD

Butlers in the Media

An ad is being run for a Deputy Head Butler at an Oxford University college—another venue where butlers have been employed for a long time. Duties relate solely to the provision of food and beverage services.

It came to our attention recently that someone has come up with a “donkey butler”—the feeder of donkeys at a resort that seems to provide these for guests. Equally off the wall is the “shoe butler“—a product designed to absorb the “stench” the creators are absolutely certain all shoe wearers leave behind in their leather shoes. What will challenged marketeers think of next? Does anyone have any other absurd examples of the use of the word “butler?”

Butler Training

A 360-degree photo of a training session—the foot bath ritual offered arriving guests at Niyama after a long flight
A 360-degree photo of a training session—the foot bath & massage offered to arriving guests at Niyama after a long flight

It’s always a pleasure to train in the Maldives, one of the world’s preserves of warm hospitality (and many other desirable features!).

Two resorts brought the Institute back in November for the next round of training, following training provided earlier in the year. They are among the growing number of hoteliers who realize that a butler is not made in a few hours flat: it takes continued education to bring about the persona and skillsets associated with the profession. Neither Rome nor a butler were ever built in one day. We are pleased to be part of this slow-food-equivalent movement.

Working with our partners in China, the Institute provided a few days of training, Western style, to the staff of hotels in two provinces, to augment the training being conducted by the same Chinese partners.

China has been particularly free with the title of “butler” for those trained in just a few days flat. We expect to change that expectation and standard. China did not build its famous wall in a day, either, and it will soon realize that its cohorts of butlers may well take (almost) as much work to hone into something that will stand the test of time.


Baron Shortt

Executive Protection & Security

by Baron James Shortt


 Airport Scare—Thinking Beyond the Herd Mentality


I boarded the train for the airport in Paris at 7:15 am. By 7:20 am the train had stopped because there was someone on the tracks.  The train went back to the nearest station and we were all instructed to disembark. I had boarded the train at a transit hub where there were many options for transport. By the time we had been off-loaded, however, other transit options were no longer available. As my ticket was a one-way fare to the airport, I could not enter the other direction of the tracks without buying a new ticket. To add frustration, the ticket machines only took coins or cards with PIN and Chip, whereas I only carried cash and regular credit cards. So, I hauled my body and bags to a nearby hotel (thank goodness for Google maps and Smart phones!) and the doorman called a cab.  The cab arrived within minutes, but it was an hour later in rush hour traffic that we finally arrived at Roissy Airport’s Terminal T2C.

What greeted me as I exited the cab was a hoard of people coming out of the terminal and a police-erected road block. I paid the cab driver and made my way into the crowd.  I asked some tourists what was happening and they had no idea.  So I polled a few of the flight crews–and one young lady enjoying a smoke outside while she waited for her aircraft told me the whole story. It seems there was an abandoned bag that no one had claimed. The police had ordered the terminal be evacuated while they summoned the bomb squad.  I remarked that this was both somewhat unusual and very disorganized: the people that had just been evacuated were standing right outside the terminal’s glass windows! The young stewardess responded to my comments, after a long and obviously pleasurable drag on her cigarette, that no, this was not unusual at all: it happened once or twice a week.

I took the initiative and attempted to speak to one of the officers. He was not in the mood for questions or conversation.  He was having a very difficult time dealing with the crowd that was not eager to move.  He, and other officers, kept yelling “Get back, move away,” both in English and French.  No other instructions were proffered on where to go, or how far to get back.

Taking in the flight attendant’s comments and the earnest pleading of the officers, I stepped way back, out into the street and well up an exit ramp.  Looking back, I saw a massive concentration of people, both inside the walkway that lead to the terminal and outside it.  Normally, airports are crowded affairs; this density of targets is part of what makes them attractive targets for terrorists.

I can certainly see a traveler losing a bag: we travelers are already over-taxed by all the confusion, too many demands on the brain, too many new and unfamiliar directions and instructions to absorb.  I, too, once left a bag of paperwork after I left a screening – only to have my name paged to retrieve the bag–a red-faced moment for sure.  But it was the interactions of the police and the public that concerned me.  If these bag losses are dry runs to see what happens, it is quite clear what a terrorist can do to increase the damage from setting off a explosive device.  The subtle test of the system, if that is what it was, is grand information for the bad guys who will have no doubt deduced how to improve their injury and death yield from a device, if they so choose. Just herding travelers to the other side of the glass curtain walls insures the glass could (and would) be turned into flying shards of injury and death. As for the police and what they should do differently, I am not sure. Herding “sheep-people” is at best difficult, maddening, and unrewarding.

The solution for the rest of us is, when you are told to walk away by the police, walk far away.  Remove yourself from the concentration of people. Use the “rule of thumb” for danger:  Walk far enough away so that as you look at the scene of danger,  your thumb held out at arm’s length will cover the entire scene.

Baron Shortt is the Executive Director of the IBA

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012Let’s Talk about Spirits, Part 10

by Amer Vargas 


Today we continue in the Far East, this time in Japan, to see how sake is made. Sake is one of the most popular drinks in Japan and it plays a very important role in its culture and tradition.

Sake barrels, photo by Davidgsteadman
Sake barrels, photo by David Steadman

Sake production started more than two thousand years ago and, although many remarkable changes have been made throughout history, the main concept remains the same.

Sake is commonly called rice “wine” but in reality, for the way it is produced, it shares more resemblance with the brewing of beer. Unlike wine, sake, for example, is never aged for more than six months. Also, sake is considered a healthy drink because most of the impurities found in wine are eliminated during the long and complicated production process.

Sake shares ingredients with Shochu, of which we talked recently in the Modern Butlers’ Journal. The most important ingredient, and the one that determines the majority of the brew’s personality, is rice. About 46 different types of rice are used in Japan to produce sake. This may not seem so remarkable, but it is if one consider that there are more than 120,000 different rice varieties in the world. The chosen varieties are generally those with the largest size kernel, for ease of working with it. The first step of the sake production involves “polishing” the grains: milling machines eliminate the outer layers of the rice kernel, leaving only the starch-rich heart. Interestingly enough, ancient sake production required that this polishing process being done by hand, or rather, by mouth: the rice was chewed together with nuts, and the by-product spit into a large tub that would later be used to create sake.

Sake bottles, photo by Coniferconifer
Sake bottles, photo by Coniferconifer

One the rice has been polished, it is then steamed and the second ingredient “koji” (a yellow mold, also known as Aspergillum oryaze) is added. Koji multiplies quickly in the rice and converts the starch into sugar.

The last ingredients in sake production are water (as pure as possible in some cases; but other times desalinated ocean water is used) and yeast. The mineral content of the water will largely determine the overall quality of the final product. This mixture of yeast, rice “hearts,” koji and water is called “mash” and is allowed to ferment for 18 – 35 days at a constant temperature, depending upon the strength and dryness of the sake that is desired.

Sake served in traditional china shots, photo by Kanko
Sake served in traditional china shots, photo by Kanko

After the fermentation, the mash is pressed to separate the liquid from the most solid pieces. Then the liquid is filtered and pasteurized to kill off any unwanted bacteria that could affect the final brew.

Lastly, sake is allowed to age in barrels for a maximum of six months before bottling and selling to the final consumer.

Serve a little sake from your tokkuri (sake bottle) and… kanpai! (Cheers!)

Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s Vice President for Europe and can be contacted via AmerVargas at


Butler Position in Hong Kong—for those who speak Chinese.

An experienced, professional butler/household manager is sought for a small (3 principals) household in Hong Kong. The ideal candidate will be male, preferably of Asian background and must speak either Cantonese or Mandarin Chinese well. You must be passionate about the job and detail-oriented; able to multitask and efficiently organize, coordinate and supervise the other staff in this household (which include a chef, a security guard, 2 nurses, 5 female staff and 2 drivers). Some knowledge and understanding of elderly care is desirable. While the staff will take care of most of the work, you must be able to be hands-on when and where needed to help maintain the high standards of cleanliness and presentation of the 5,000 sq. ft. family home. You will prepare lunch/dinner menus with the chef and must be able to serve formally at table. This is a live-in position. Good remuneration package for the right candidate. Contact the Institute for a more complete job description. Please include your resume/CV, a current photograph and your salary requirements.

Hotel Butler Position in West Hollywood, California

The Petit Ermitage Hotel ( is looking for a “Liaison to Happiness”. The ideal candidate will be someone who can make our guests feel special and extraordinary. As our guests first arrive, we aim to make them feel like they’ve entered a magical world, from check-in to checkout. Being a one of a kind hotel, our atmosphere style is bohemian; a hidden gem in West Hollywood, California. The Liaison to Happiness will escort our guests, arrange their itineraries, assist them with any request in a timely fashion and with a “can do” attitude, deliver amenities and in general, provide excellent customer service. This position offers medical benefits, 2 weeks vacation, sick time, dry-cleaning service for work clothes only. Salary DOE. If you are a US citizen or have a valid work permit for the US and enjoy providing elegant and discreet service that will exceed our guests’ expectations, please contact the Human Resource Manager via email at Evelyn@petitermitage for more information. Include your resume and your salary requirements.

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 8 of 20

by GJ dePillis

A Prickly Question: Evaluating the Right Rose to Grow

Some people are not aware of the abundant choices available when it comes to planting roses (The American Rose Society is a good place to start), and one of the determining factors might be whether or not a rose has thorns.

Mortimer Slacker, (with few prickles), photo by David Austin Roses
Mortimer Slacker, (with few prickles), photo by David Austin Roses

In areas where one might entertain guests, planting roses with minimal prickles (thorns) might well be the smarter option. Near a fence, however, thorny roses may well be just the item to deter potential intruders, while still presenting a beautiful aspect to passers-by.

There are about sixty thornless, heirloom roses. Some are climbers, some are continual bloomers, some are repeat bloomers during the appropriate season, and some only bloom once.

And here is a good list of heirloom roses with enough thorns to warrant regular pruning with thick gloves and sharp shears!

As a note, roses have “prickles,” not “thorns, as commonly supposed. Thorns are actually protruding parts of a stem, cane or trunk. Rose prickles, on the other hand, are simply fused to the outside of the rose stem, which is why they are relatively easy to snap or strip off.

Ms. dePillis is a freelance contributor to the Journal who is based on the West Coast of the United States. She can be reached via depillis at


Jeff HermanConsulting the Silver Expert

by Jeffrey Herman

Q: If I want to bid on a silver piece on an auction site and the piece has some damage, what should I do?

  1. A: If you are considering a silver purchase from an auction site, feel free to e-mail me an image of the object in need of repair and I’ll be happy to e-mail you an estimate.


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


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.


The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July 2014

  BlueLogo2011web The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 10, issue 7

International Institute of Modern Butlers

IIMB Chairman Steven Ferry The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012 Message from the Chairman 

Apologies for the abbreviated Journal this month: being in the middle of the Indian Ocean on a series of idyllic islands for six weeks has much to recommend it, but does have one significant drawback: on the rare occasion when an Apple laptop may suffer a fatal, inconvenient, and premature implosion, taking the hard drive with it, there are no Apple stores on the horizon to render assistance. Having experienced this juxtaposition of events, we regret to report that the files containing Baron James Shortt’s article on security and Mr. Jeffrey Herman’s notes on silver remain safely ensconced on the desktop back in the USA, and we look forward to them both seeing the belated light of day in the next, August issue.

Butlers in the Media

A look at Jobs for the Future, which includes butlers, you’ll be glad to hear.

And right now, apparently dental assistants in Japan can also be butlers, as can luxury movie house attendants, and tent butlers.

Interesting coverage from NPR on butlers, as well as in the Mumbai Mirror (“Bombay” to any colonists still amongst us).

Butler Training

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Institute’s trainers are managing to stay on top of the demand for training, consulting, and placement, and enjoying the challenge. Here Ms. Ferry, the Executive Director, stands with some of the graduating Thakurus at Per Aquum Niyama. Thakurus? Exactly our response when we first heard the word. It has been translated as “Butler” in Diveyi, the language of the Maldivian islands, but actually means “warrior hero.” We do see some parallels!

Butler/Household Manager Sought…

… for a private estate in California

This is a live-out position, with off-site housing provided. It requires hands-on household management and people skills and you’ll also need to be able to fill-in on housekeeping and cooking from time to time. Driving is required, so you must have good driving skills and a valid driving license. Non-US candidates may apply; visa/work permit will be handled by employer. Usual benefits; salary $40-$80K per year, DOE. If you’d like to be considered, send us your current CV/resume with photo, and we will send you a more detailed Job Description.

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012 Let’s Talk about Spirits, Part 5 

by Amer Vargas 

Tequila, Part 1 of 2


Today, we enter the warm lands of Mexico, home to internationally recognized Tequila, which can be enjoyed straight or as part of a delicious cocktail.

Tequila owes its name to the place where it comes from, the city of Tequila in the state of Jalisco. Before the Spanish Conquistadores arrived in Mexico during 1521, the Aztec tribes that resided in the country produced a fermented beverage out of the agave plant. One year, the Spanish brandy failed to arrive from home and the Conquistadors decided to satiate their alcoholic needs by distilling agave plants. Later, around 1600, Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle started the first mass-production of Tequila. The first stages of producing Tequila have remained unchanged since then, due to the hard and irregular nature of the job, so mechanization has not occurred.

Agave Tequilana, photo by Stan Shebs
Agave Tequilana.  Photo by Stan Sheb


The first step in producing Tequila is planting Agave Tequilana Cacti and allowing them to grow for 7-10 years.





Jimador working on a piña with a coa, photo by Mdd4696
Jimador working on a piña with a coa, photo by Mdd46

Then, when the “Jimador” observes the plant is ripe and ready to be harvested, he uses his coa (a curved knife at the end of a long pole) to chop off the leaves and render a clean core that looks like a large pineapple, from which it derives its name: “piña.” Piñas have an average weight of 90 kilograms.



Piñas ready to go into the oven
Piñas ready to go into the oven


Harvesting time is crucial in the production of high-quality Tequilas. If the agave plants are not sufficiently ripe, or if they are overripe, the right carbohydrate levels needed during the fermentation process will be missing.



Piñas in the oven, photo by Stan Shebs
Piñas in the oven, photo by Stan Shebs

The Piñas are next placed into an oven to bake slowly. This is done to convert the starches into sugars. As the plant cooks and softens, it undergoes a shredding or milling process and a juice, “aguamiel” (which means “honey water”, called that because of its high sugar content and overly sweet taste) is released. This aguamiel is then allowed to ferment in large, stainless steel tanks for ten to twelve days, sometimes with the help of extra yeasts to accelerate and better control its progress.

Next comes double (and sometimes even triple) distillation, a process that completely stops the fermentation and increases the alcohol level to a minimum of 55%.

We shall finish the steps of Tequila production in the next issue.

Until then, enjoy some quiet time with a Margarita! Cheers!

Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s Vice President for Europe and can be contacted via AmerVargas at




Of Butlers and Roses, Part 3 of 20

Types of Roses

by GJ dePillis

Let’s review some basic terms describing roses, so you can speak the same language as your gardener.

The AARS (All American Rose Selections) lists these types of roses: Floribunda, Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora, Shrub, Climber, Miniature, and Tree.

  • Shrub: simply a rose bush.
  • A “rose tree” is a rose bush that has been trained and grafted to have extra “branches” at the top so it has a tree shape.
  • Tea rose: Has a single rose on a stem. As can be surmised, these are used for rose hips tea: Take the red berry hips, crush them up and steep in boiling water to make a high vitamin C tea.
  • Hybrid flora: Sports clusters of roses instead of single stems
  • Mini Floribunda: A bush that is quite small and low, with many tiny flowers. Some gardeners use it as ground cover.
  • Grandiflora: Has clusters of flowers
  • Climbing roses: These grow long, horizontal canes (stems) and grow “up” at the center about 18 inches. They should be near a wall or fence where the gardener may spread out the long canes and anchor them to the fence. The goal is to eventually create a blanket of blooms to cover the wall or fence.
Smooth Touch Rose
Smooth Touch Rose, photo by Judy Brower
      • ~ Care: Prune climbing roses every three years. Each cane (stem) needs up to 20 feet of horizontal space. To prune them, in the first year, cut off the first bloom. By the second year, they should grow a couple of roses on that same cane, so prune back to the second bud.
      • ~ Some climbing roses can be formed into a “weeping” shrub and grow well in zones 5 to 9.
      • ~ Noisette: These are very healthy climbing roses with small flowers that bloom in clusters, making them ideal for arches, fences, trellises, gazebos and pillars. The foliage is a glossy light green and has a tendancy to repeatedly bloom throughout the blooming season. They grow well from zones 7 to 10.


  • David Austen: These are shrub roses and are pruned like a tea rose. They bloom 6-7 weeks after pruning.
  • Dr. Griffith Buck Rose: Dr. Buck was a horticulturist at Iowa State University who developed a rose that could survive temperatures as low as -27 degrees Fahrenheit, while being disease resistant as well as repeat bloomers. The collection contains about 90 varieties.
  • Kordes Rose: One of the oldest breeders of roses, they stopped using chemical fungicides in 1990 to create generations of naturally disease-resistant roses.
  • Bourbon: Full rose blooms on a vigorous bush. The blooms are usually very fragrant and flower repeatedly, with a strong bloom in Spring. These grow mostly in zones 6 to 9.
Home, photo by David Austin
Home, photo by David Austin

Stay tuned for more rose types in next month’s issue of the MBJ.


Ms. dePillis is a freelance contributor to the Journal who is based on the West Coast of the United States. She can be reached via depillis at






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.



The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, January 2014

BlueLogo2011web The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 10, issue 1

International Institute of Modern Butlers

IIMB Chairman Steven Ferry The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012 Message from the Chairman 

We would like to offer a “Thank You” and “Farewell” to Ms. Pamela Spruce, who has retired from teaching butlers after many years at the helm of the Australian Butler School. We wish Ms. Spruce well in her new adventures, as well as Mr. Chris Reid, who has taken over the ABS. In Ms. Spruce’s words: “I think we can both be proud of the contribution we have made to the private service industry over the past fifteen-plus  years in the business and trust that younger minds will take what we’ve achieved and build on it with fresh ideas and approaches.”

We were very happy to have stolen a couple of hours with Ms. Spruce (far right) as our paths crossed finally at the airport in Male, Maldives a few months ago—we had been training at resorts just a few miles from each other.














Continuing on the same theme, we would like to thank those who sent in  kind comments on last month’s editorial about keeping work and life upbeat. Perhaps it is fitting that we expand on the message with some comments on the training of butlers today—for while not all trainers are of the caliber of Ms. Spruce, they nonetheless all share a passion for genuinely helping others grow…but a very small minority are not so clear in their intentions, and it is such people I feel it appropriate to discuss in the hope of empowering those they afflict with their training.

As disappointing as life can become sometimes, in truth, it is actually a game where losing or winning are not such dire elements: You lose? No big deal, was the game fun to play? The better games do not require there be losers. And the better players are as happy to win as to lose, as long as the playing was fun and there are plenty more interesting games to play thereafter.

But for some people, the game of life has become desperately serious—they feel so wretched about themselves and others that they have to come out on top, even if it means cheating or hurting others in the process. Being the only recognized player becomes more important than enjoying the game, or taking joy in the contributions of other players, the skills demonstrated by self and others, and the excitement of achieving goals in a cooperative effort.

One may well meet such people when training. A while back, I did. I had left my butler students very excited about the future while I  went to service another client. I returned a few weeks later to complete their training, only to find them all of very low morale and 25% of them having left—and too many of the staff in other departments having left, too.

What had happened?

Another trainer, while claiming repeatedly to be the best trainer in the world, had told all the staff that if they did not do as he/she told them, they would be fired. Everything that they did was, according to this trainer, not good enough and they had been poorly trained;  this opinion was frequently and very loudly made known to them and their colleagues. At the same time, the butlers had been forbidden to practice or use their standard operating procedures from the moment I had left, and instead had been told verbally to perform random, contradictory, and ever-changing procedures. They were punished and shamed in front of others for wrong answers or actions. Tests were rigged for failure.

When two of the butlers rated this trainer’s training poorly in an HR follow-up survey, they were fired. Others just quit rather than face the indignities. And despite never having worked as a butler nor actually training the ones at this location in butler skills, this trainer instructed these butlers to tell guests, when they asked, that they had been trained by him/her.

The managers were unwilling to rein in this individual (because the person apparently represented the owner of the managing company), instead supporting his/her demands and trying to persuade themselves and others that there was nothing that could be done about this individual’s training and management style. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.

Technically, such a being is stuck in the past and fighting some past unknown-to-them-and-everyone-else battle. Life has ceased to be a game, and instead, has become a desperate fight to the finish, where nothing anyone else does can ever be validated as good, and everything is criticized and made nothing of. In a nutshell, other people are completely unimportant and their actions never good enough.

When nothing and nobody are good enough, and therefore dismissed, an individual cuts themselves off from much enjoyment in life—they also happen to share the same mindset as criminals, who are not able truly to enjoy and experience their ill-gotten possessions and who have to insist upon their superiority.

In truth, the best way to control others, including those one is teaching, is with love, affection, two-way communication, trust, and confidence in them—a lesson this person could learn if only they actually cared for their students and were not so sure he/she already knew everything that needed to be known. Teaching can be frustrating, but the trick is to realize that any student who does not “get it” is simply saying, “Teach me in a way I can understand.”

In the years I have been engaged in training and consulting, I have met some strange games being played by a few colleagues (copying others verbatim and then claiming the work/ideas to be their own; training others in the profession without any personal experience in it, etc.), but these are all relatively harmless and make up the giant tapestry of how we as a group pass on skills from generation to generation. Overall, we muddle through and the profession keeps going.

But where an individual specializes in pushing others down, using fear and punishment instead of understanding the dignity, aspirations, decency, and value of each individual they have been charged with educating, then they degrade the game of learning, and the game of life, into an unhappy one. Such people only succeed, they only have power, as long as individuals fail to stand up to them. All the management and staff have to do is to say, “I am sorry, I do not agree with your comments and actions. Please leave.” If the individual won’t, they can simply take whatever (legal) measures are indicated, as such abuses generally violate the laws of the land, quite in addition to any standards of acceptable training in the 21st Century.

“Where there is a will, there is a way,” as the saying goes. But where such individuals have their way, there is no will left in their victims—the life goes out of them, as the under-butler said on his deathbed in Remains of the Day.

I have quite often written about the abuse of people in service and encouraged anyone so abused to move on: we are not yet in a feudal system of service where we work in repressive conditions for little pay and no choice about where we work because the employer owns and controls us like he owns a car or a dog. A case was all over the news this past November of three ladies being coerced into domestic slavery in London for three decades, trapped by their own fear. If they had read one of my books, they might have understood the wicked web being woven by their “employers,” and perhaps acted to free themselves many years earlier.

For if those who abuse are simply left without service, then that cannot be such a bad thing: there are many, many individuals and corporations that provide perfectly good work environments. Being in service means serving from the heart, with passion; when the recipient of such service, or someone claiming to represent them, has lost sight of the fact that life is a fun game in which the server, also, deserves to enjoy life as a fellow player, then the passion is sucked out of the service game and it turns to drudgery and worse.

In this case, I am not encouraging people to move on (it would be silly to leave because of one person in an organization that is otherwise wonderful to be a part of), but to stand together in refusing to cooperate with abusive forms of training—it is not how good butlers or service professionals are made, and not the standard in our profession.

One last point from Emily Post who says in Etiquette, A Guide to Modern Manners, 1922: “Manners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them; manner is personality—the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life.”

Good manners flow naturally from good manner, and from abusive manner flow abuses that continue only as long as the recipients feel obligated to play along.

Happy to hear any comments….

 Letters to the editor

A strange letter perhaps, but a picture speaks a thousand words, as the cliche goes, and one might be forgiven for thinking this use of “butler” is just where the idea belongs.













Butlers in the Media

Apple joins the throng of those trying to move closer to electronic butlers

book review on the life of servants in England over the last two centuries, picking up where E.S. Turner left off in his great book, What the Butler Saw.

A bit of media drama about Downton Abbey and the salaries that butlers can command, and about female butlers—all good trends in terms of recognition for the improving condition of the profession.

Forrest Whitaker, who was recently nominated by the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor for his lead role in The Butler, talks about the training he received for that role.

Perceptions of the Butler (Part 4 of 5)

by GJ dePillis

In past segments of this article, we explored the way a potential employer thinks about a possible candidate.

In this section,  potential employers were asked how their perception of such as a butler’s accent, land of origin, culture, marital status, etc., influenced their hiring decision. Please note that the survey responses are truly held beliefs by the respondents, and are given here because they reflect a certain reality. However, the respondents’ views do not reflect the views of the author, the editor or the Institute.

© 2013 by John dePillis

A.     British: 83% Positive, 17% negative.  Some of the initial impressions of a British butler would be that they were capable, appropriate, and that there would be no language barrier, thereby fostering easier communication between employer and employee.  The negative comments included the feeling that the employee may wish to “slide by” on the notion that the perfect butler was British and use their accent as a way to shirk duties.

B.     French: 16% Positive, 84% negative. Several surveyed felt the French individual would not be dedicated to the job and would be difficult to understand, as well as possibly temperamental.

C.     Italian:  50% Positive, 50% negative (In this case, the negative was because they felt this accent is associated with a chef and not a butler)  Some positive attributes were: they felt an Italian-speaking individual would be trustworthy and stylish.

D.     Jamaican:  33% Positive, 67% negative.    Some positive attributes associated with Jamaican butlers were that they might be polite and easygoing.  However, some employers felt such a person would be not dependable but rather focused on their own pursuits instead of the interests of the employer.

E.      Asian (including butlers from India):   Positive attributes included “diligent” and “hard working.”  Those surveyed felt these employees could be counted upon to attend to detailed work.  Some negative comments included concerns about culture clashes and values.

F.      Hispanic: 35% Positive, 65% negative.   Those with negative concerns were primarily uncertain that a Hispanic individual would be able to master the skill level expected of a butler. Given a choice, they would hire such an individual for a different position at their home, but definitely not as a butler.

G.     American Southern: 70% Positive, 30% negative.   Several employers surveyed felt that this individual would be charming and the accent was received favorably.  Some of those who responded negatively expressed concern that Southern employees might use slang and improper grammar, which could reflect negatively on the employer.

H.     American Bronx:  40% Positive, 60% negative.  Some negative concerns were that this individual would seem too street-wise or tough to represent the refined gentleman’s gentleman that the employer was expecting.  Words used were: opinionated, aggressive, and  arrogant.  Employers would value a butler who possessed varied skills and could “hold their own,” yet want the butler’s façade to express elegance and discretion.  Positives simply stated they would not judge an employee on this accent and would look at their actions, instead.

I.       American Canadian: 85% Positive, 15% negative. Words associated with a Canadian butler were reliable, polite, respectful, and honest.  The few negative comments were simply associated with the desire to hire a US citizen, as opposed to a Canadian citizen.

J.       American West Coast: 90% Positive, 10% negative.  Those with negative comments expressed concern that this applicant would see the job of Butler as a temporary occupation and not take it seriously. The remainder stated such a butler’s accent was not distracting and even welcoming and familiar.

K.      Other: This section allowed the interviewee to suggest an accent and associated assumption of the character of Butler applicant.  Comments included: Russian accents implied the employee would be very strict. Several found an Irish accent pleasant, enjoyable, not stuffy, and capable.

In this next section, the employer was asked to explain if and how their perception of a candidate would vary if a butler candidate were any of the following:

  • Honorably discharged United States veteran: 100% felt very positively about this candidate.
  • Married:  35% said that a married butler would be acceptable as an applicant, but they did not expect to hire the wife in any capacity. 65% felt a married butler would prevent him from travelling with the employer, therefore viewed a married applicant negatively.
  • Single: 100% felt an applicant who was single was preferable, but with some caveats: namely that all personal social activity should occur well away from the employer’s household. There should be no scandal associated with social interactions. Romantic socializing should not include members of the staff or household. Theoretically, should the butler’s personal life be made public, his actions should not reflect negatively on the employer’s household.
  • Gay/Lesbian:  One female respondent said she would prefer a gay male so that she would not be the unintended focus of his potential romantic intentions.  The remainder of respondents stated they were neutral as long as all social interactions took place well away from the employer’s household.  Respondents also felt strongly is that the gay or lesbian butler candidate should not be romantically involved with any other member of the staff or household.  The final condition was that if the butler’s personal life ever became public, it should not reflect negatively on the employer’s household.

Finally, we challenged preconceived notions:

Would you consider a female applicant for the office of butler?  30% stated no; 70% stated yes if she were qualified and was strong enough to lift a sterling silver tea tray.

When you think of a “butler,” what race/nationality comes to mind and why? 90% stated British;  10% stated they couldn’t think of any particular group.

Would you call your butler by first name, last name, or nickname? 65%  said they would call the butler by his first name; 33% said they would ask the butler what he wished to be called; 2% said they would use his last name.

Ms. dePillis is a freelance contributor to the Journal who is based on the West Coast of the United States. She can be reached via depillis at

Hospitality Training

After assisting LVMH further with their Grand Opening at Maison Cheval Blanc Randheli, it was time to spend a few weeks at Anantara Kihava Villas, another splendid private island in the Maldives. The Villa  Hosts put together this short Anantara Graduation video to show some of the training they received. 

Consulting the Silver Expert

by Jeffrey Herman

Q: Some of the gilding has worn off my fish slice, can it be re-plated?

A: Yes, the worn area can be sponge plated and blended into the surrounding gilding.

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

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.