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

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 11, issue 12

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

I came across an article recently that we had missed three years ago: What the Butler Did, The super-rich are paying a fortune to re-create a model of domestic service that never really existed. The author references examples of butler indiscretions and ask, “Why would anyone employ a butler if he can’t be relied on not to commit indiscretion?” Good question!

He then goes on to talk about butlers murdering their employers (but is unaware of the example immediately below of Mr. Hall).

Next, he discusses how British butlers in reality were drawn from the lower classes, and not from the middle or upper classes, as is promoted by the character of Jeeves (a valet rather than a butler). This used to be true, but is not today, even if it mattered.

The author claims that butlers have never been the soul of discretion and today, are only so because they are paid so much.

Overall, quite a jaundiced and inaccurate view of the profession and motivations of butlers, other than the few exceptions from which the author draws his conclusions.

As with all professions, butlers have to respond to changing demographics, realities, tools, environments, and employer/market demands—including diversifying from serving just in private service, and serving employers from countries other than England or Europe.

At the same time, we have to retain what is central to the profession and resist the temptation to respond to demands by the uneducated to cut corners, lower standards, or redefine the profession for whatever reasons.

We are muddling our way through in a turbulent world, and overall, deserve a better report card than that afforded by this article!

We wish you a Happy Holiday Season, for those who celebrate it, and a successful month for those who do not.

Butlers in the Media

An extraordinary tale of skulduggery by a 20th century con man and petty thief in England, Archibald Thomson Hall, who pretended to be a butler and from that position, stole from his employers and ended up murdering five people, including two of his employers. Only one of his employers, a Lady Hudson, was sharp enough to spot him as a fraud, firing him. The rest could have used some  understanding of not only butlers, but Man in general, because they fell for the smooth talking and failed to spot the real nature of Hall.

Just one example this month of a product or service riding on the coat tails of our profession: A “towel butler” — being a dumb valet for towels.

An article canvassing several cruise-line butlers on the services they offer, showing a step-up in services offered in the absence of butlers in the crew, and which could be improved even further.

Continuing our promotion last year of an internship opportunity at Blenheim Palace, this article featuring the head butler there, Mr. Stephen Duckett, will be good news for future internship candidates.

An interesting article on the use of information to customize and make convenient the lives of those we serve, which the author correctly identifies as a basic butler characteristic. She points out that the modern trend of collecting personal information and then bombarding the person with ads, or worse, is not a luxury characteristic nor a quality experience for the individual being served.  “We should look for the future of luxury in its past. The world of old luxury involved an actual person delivering impeccable service, and modern luxury should take a cue. This means making the “last mile” as human as possible. The ultimate luxury of both the past and the future is human interaction and all the professional secrecy that goes with it.” Google take note.

Which leads us to the latest of the Chairman’s articles, Would You Like Your Service Today Live or Programmed, Madam? part 1 being published initially by Hotel Business Review magazine in November.

Another one of the Chairman’s articles was also published in November, Love and the New Age of Service, in the International Luxury Hotel Association’s magazine, Luxury Hoteliers.

Kobi soapThis little fellow is another hand-made soap creation customized to the guest by Mr. Gutman, head butler at the Fort Harrison Retreat in Florida. Each advance in his technique and materiel brings him closer to sharing his knowledge and providing a simple way of bringing a smile to the guest’s or employer’s world.

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

Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 7

by Amer Vargas 

The Strange Story of the Orange Whip

“Who wants an Orange Whip? Orange Whip? Orange Whip? Three Orange Whips!”

Today, we pay tribute to the great (and big) John Candy for his part in the 1980 musical comedy film, The Blues Brothers, where he plays the role of Burton Mercer, a parole officer to Jake (one of the Blues brothers).

When Mercer raids a Blues Brothers concert to arrest Jake, he allows the brothers to complete the concert before making the arrest;  so he sits with two state troopers and offers them, and then orders, an Orange Whip.

Where did this vignette come from? The father of the costume designer on the movie film set was the Director of Sales at the Orange Whip Corporation and requested that the director have the drink mentioned in the movie. The director told John Candy of this request, who improvised the whole scene in the movie. This scene made the Orange Whip a classic among both drinks & film aficionados, but not in the way planned by the Orange Whip Corporation.Orange Whip

The Orange Whip that we know today is actually a sweet cocktail that is very easy to make, as all ingredients are mixed in the blender to create a frothy texture and then poured into a Highball or Collins glass filled with ice (or similar). The ingredients and proportions are: 4 oz of orange juice, 2 oz of cream, 1 oz of vodka and 1 oz of rum.

However, Officer Mercer was not referring to this alcoholic beverage when he requested Orange Whip in the movie, but to the Orange Whip Corporation’s non-alcoholic, effervescent orange-flavored beverage that existed in the ’80s and which has since disappeared from the market.  While the movie scene catapulted the alcoholic version into prominence, it did not achieve long-term success for the soda version, it seems.

December is here and with it, the time for good wishes for everyone. So, grab your cocktail (or Crush or Fanta, today’s closest versions of the original Orange Whip), play The Blues Brothers, and enjoy the music…

Happy holiday season!

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

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 20 of 25

by GJ dePillis

How to Make the Cut (continued)

Last month, we discussed the proper way to cut a stem or rose cane (stems). This article will provides more details on the proper way to prune.

  • SecateursRemember to hold the secateurs/clippers with the sharp, flat blade (guillotine) below the smaller blade when making a cut;
  • Cut a stem at a 45-degree angle, with the lower part (heel) of the cut toward the inside center of the plant and the top part (toe) toward the outside of the bush;
  • Do not trim too close to the bud: The heel of the cut should be at the same level as the bud, meaning the toe of the cut will be about ½” – ¼” above the bud;
  • With a thick tool and measurements in the 1/4”, one might wonder which blade is positioned where; it is simple: the curved blade should be positioned at the toe of the cut, ½” above the bud, on the outer side of the bush/stem;
  • Remove skinny and dead canes, as well as those that cross or rub against each other. Rubbing canes can suffer from “friction sores,” which run the risk of becoming infected and so invite insects to lay eggs, or a disease to enter  the plant. For this reason, once you have removed a crossing branch that has already caused a sore, you may want to seal it with a drop of Elmer’s Glue—which can be done equally for any cut made on a stem—to discourage insects from boring inside the stem. Each cane should be strong enough to carry the weight of the bloom, or it will sag;
  • If the cut is not clean (bits of the bark pull off in your clippers, creating a ragged or jagged edge), then sharpen your tool—torn bark is a sign of a dull tool;
  • Trim a hybrid tea shrub bush to about 18-24” off the ground;
  • Dead head (remove the old bloom of) a rose on a stem and cut the stem back to an outward facing bud if that bud is part of a 5 to 7 leaf cluster;
  • If you see a sucker (a root emerging as a separate plant), cut it off under the soil, at the root that started the shoot. New strong canes can form above any graft line (where a cane has been grafted to a root);
  • Look for the graft line at the base of the rose bush and trim all canes starting to shoot from it. You don’t want the hardy root-stock to grow, or it will deplete the energy the plant needs for the top part (above the graft line) to bloom;
  • When cutting a “bud union joint” (where four or more branches come out of the same joint) cut flush (flat) against the joint. Sealing it with Elmer’s white glue will prevent it from growing back.
  • To grow a rose from a cutting, clip the cutting to an established “shoulder bud” and put that cutting in the ground. Ensure the stem you cut off is long enough to have at least three bud bumps above the ground.

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: What is weighted sterling?

A: Weighted sterling simply means sterling that has had heavier, base materials added within its form. There are two types of weighted sterling: structurally-weighted (for structural stability throughout) and stability-weighted (so they won’t tip over). Some objects do not require structural or stability weighting, but may be weighted for other reasons, such as the removable leather-covered lead bottom of a cigarette box.

Structurally-weighted objects have been made since the late 19th century. They are generally marked “Weighted,” indicating they have pitch or plaster throughout hollow areas. This may include steel-reinforced candelabra arms that would sag if not supported. The rolled rims may be the only exception to any reinforcement. Weighted creamers and sugar bowls, for example, would be easily dented if not filled. Candlesticks weighing one pound may weigh less than one-tenth their weight in actual sterling content when empty. Structurally-weighted objects, sometimes made with sterling as thin as .003″ (thinner than 20-pound copy paper), has been used to save on the cost of the precious metal.

Stability-weighted objects are normally taller or broader pieces that require weighted bases so they won’t tip over. They are generally more valuable, since they are made of sterling thick enough to support themselves without any filler. The bases can be filled with pitch, plaster, or lead, and have been produced for centuries.

More on weighted sterling can be found here.

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 Mixology Newsletter

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

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 11, 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 

In the last Journal, I touched upon the subject of robots: “If I speak untruths, then roll on the great wave of “butler robots” that science is striving so hard to create for us—a mechanistic and ordered society where mankind is an impediment to be tolerated in part. For surely, these robots will win the day: their knowledge will be as firmly fixed as the software engineers who write their code; and they, indeed, unless we change our understandings and skill levels, will be superior to those annoying, fussy, and fickle hominid butlers who used to strut their stuff until the mid-21st Century.”

That editorial was timely, in that five more articles on the same subject appeared in the last month; One predicting massive social unrest as the drive to increase efficiency and lower costs will see robots taking over “low-wage” jobs in multiple industries (presumably the next step after, and even better than, Chinese laborers); the claim is that only 10% of jobs that can be automated have been so far. An Australian study predicts 40% of jobs will be lost by humans and taken over by robots in the next 10-15 years. Robots are already taking the place of humans as waitresses and hoteliers in Asia.

Wilson, the volleyball companion for Tom Hanks in tThe Castaway
Wilson, the volleyball companion for Tom Hanks in The Castaway

Accountants and telemarketing roles are most at risk, while people who do more creative jobs are less likely to be put out of work by machines. An Oxford University study predicted  that Personal Care Aides, for instance, have a 73.6 chance of being automated. But if your position requires you to come up with clever solutions, to help others personally, and to negotiate, then there is less likelihood that your position can or will be automated. All of which aligns with earlier MBJ editorials: certain aspects of butler jobs can be done by robots, but the position of a live butler handling real people is safe in human hands for the simple reason that most humans like to communicate and deal with real people—there is only so much a robot can do to interact with feeling, intelligence, and compassion. As much as one programs emotions and feelings into a robot, the fact is that they are faked and about as satisfactory to a human as the basketball was to Tom Hanks in the movie, The Castaway.

Tesla founder, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking are warning about the unintended consequences stemming from the blind pursuit of AI technology by corporate and military interests. While this may pose a danger to the human race, the article entitled, Doctor, Butler & Bodyguard: UntitledMeet the Futuristic Robot that Does It All throws down the gauntlet or writes plainly on the wall in the Butler’s Pantry. ThePartner (photo on right) mimics human movements. Says the creator, “We printed ThePartner on my home 3-D printer, using open-source code. We used recycled parts, like an old curtain rod and toy tractor wheels for the ‘legs.’ Next, we started controlling the robot’s movement using microcontrollers.” In other words, if some hobbyists can do that, then imagine what Google’s and others’ billions being invested in Artificial Intelligence are going to create in the decades ahead.

All of which is to say that any butler manager who is alive and focused on service, rather than being a symbol, will have no trouble keeping his or her job.

Butlers in the Media

Bin Butler

Butlers as a concept keep being used to elevate the banal into something special, such as the Beach Butler service in California that provides a “dedicated butler to setup a beach chair, table and umbrella at a designated time and location, deliver tanning products, chilled beverages and food so that clients will never have to leave their towel. When ready to leave, we do the clean up, so you don’t have to.”

Then we have the Bike Butler—a stand for a bicycle. And let’s not forget Reiner, the Bin Butler in Berlin, pictured on the right. And if you happen to want someone to deliver groceries in Australia, then you may want to contact The Grocery Butler.

Here is one that is a bit more on target—possibly even being a butler: the Marina Butler at a Kempinski hotel in Bodrum, Turkey, who welcomes visitors sailing into the marina with a bottle of champagne on arrival, or arranges lunch, watersports, spa treatments or private catering on the yacht if they were to call ahead.

There is now an Assistant service called Alfred (as in Batman’s butler) for time-crunched Boston and New York executives who need help with groceries, laundry pick-up, etc.

And how about The Black Butler—a musical related to Japanese manga and anime sub-culture that perplexes the editor, but some Japanese seem to enjoy the self-conscious, un-butlerish posing and posturing that seems to be a trademark of the genre.

Lastly, an article about whether a Russian butler assassinated the Indian Prime Minister in 1966.

KnibLetters to the Editor

“I have been in the service industry for a little over nine years; I started as a busser with my company when I was sixteen years old and moved my way up to eventually becoming the Head Butler for the resort. When we first began the butler program back in February of 2014, Mr. Ferry came to our resort and taught me how to be a proper butler. During the course he showed me that there is a scale or gradation of emotions, which I had never seen before. I immediately became intrigued by it and saw the importance of learning and using this tool, how critical it is to the service industry, let alone the butler world.
“I began to use the scale on my family and team members. One example was a team member who clearly had a tone of anger; everyday he would come up to me to complain about something. One day, when he came up to me, I switched my tone to boredom towards his reason of complaining; he almost immediately came up the scale. Another example of using the scale was with a guest who is known to be angry and yell about any issue she encounters. During the orientation of her villa, she found an issue and went into a rage. Using the scale, I switched my tone to antagonism towards the issue, and she quickly became disinterested. The emotional scale is the one tool that I believe any member of the service industry should know and learn to use. Not a day goes by in my life that I don’t use it. It has helped me become the butler that I am.” JY.
Ed’s note: Mr. Yalda is a good example of the Modern Butler in the hotel environment: He lives his life to the full, and that means, when on the job (which is close to 24/7/365, because he loves it so) as Head Butler at Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas, he focuses completely on taking ownership of his guest(s) and making their lives memorable and flow smoothly. As a result, they show their appreciation: which, when it involves comments, fuels his passion; and when it happens to involve tips, means he can afford and enjoy driving the fastest car on the road (one of his  passions). What goes around, comes around, and what Mr. Yalda puts out is a creativity and support for all those he meets, to make their lives better.


More Little Butler Touches—Soap Carvings 

From Mr. Kobi in Florida

From Mr. Kobi in Florida

Kobe soap


The exclusive Dorado Beach Ritz Carlton Reserve in Puerto Rico is looking for butlers (Embajadors). They will train anyone qualifying (must be a US-citizen or Green Card Holder), who has a minimum of one year experience as a Hotel, Cruise, or Condo Butler, or two years in the Hospitality industry (hotels/restaurants, or Cruise lines). For more information, please send request and your current CV/resume to the head butler Mr. Arora (Paawan.Arora at

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

Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 2

by Amer Vargas 

The Manhattan

Today we will look at one of the most famous cocktails worldwide, considered by the International Bartenders Association to be a classic that all barmen (and butlers) worth their salt, should know.

The Manhattan cocktail seems to have its origins some time in the mid-nineteenth century in the New York region, where it became a very fashionable drink and the trend spread across the US to Hollywood stars, who made it even more popular in movies as the choice drink for handsome main characters.

It is also known that people from the island of Föhr, in the north-west of Germany, immigrated during the nineteenth century to New York and learned about the drink; they developed a real liking for it and took it back home—which explains why today, the mix is commonly available in most cafe’s and restaurants on the island.

Manhattan cocktail, photo by Naotake Murayama
Manhattan cocktail, photo by Naotake Murayama

The preparation of the Manhattan cocktail is really simple: it involves rye whiskey (the most common variation available in nineteenth century New York), red vermouth, bitters and maraschino cherry.

Pour the following over a lot of ice (cubes) in a shaker: 5cl/1.7oz of American rye whisky (although these days, it is common to see it prepared with Bourbon or Canadian whisky), 2cl/0.65oz of red vermouth and one or two dashes of bitters. In the old days, it was said it should only be stirred, but nowadays it is also acceptable to shake it. Strain in a chilled cocktail glass and finish with a maraschino cherry (which must be dried first, so as not to over-sweeten the mix).

As is always the case, the quality of the ingredients determine the quality of the final drink. This will not only be detectable on the palate, but may also be obvious to the eye: if you use poor quality ingredients and shake the mix, a little foam or froth will form that will spoil the look of the drink. Whether shaken or stirred, in all cases, the final Manhattan should be transparent with a caramel color.

And that is the straight Manhattan. Variations exist to please everybody: the Dry Manhattan replaces the red vermouth with a dry vermouth; the Perfect Manhattan replaces the red vermouth with equal parts of dry vermouth and red vermouth  (1cl/0,33oz of each); the Brandy Manhattan uses Brandy instead of whisky; the Cuban Manhattan is like a Perfect Manhattan—remember, with both red and dry vermouth—but uses a dark Cuban rum instead of whisky; and finally, the Tijuana Manhattan replaces the whisky with añejo (aged) Tequila.

Make your choice and sip along…Cheers!

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

Recent Training and Graduates

Nizuc graduation

Cancun in Mexico has a fairly recent addition, Nizuc Resort and Spa, which has several world-class restaurants, one of the top Spas in the world, and a butler service that is serious about expanding into the full range of services. Mr. Ferry recently trained there and is pictured here with all the graduates.

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 15 of 20

by GJ dePillis

The Right Tool for the Job

Why do gardners need good clippers for roses when it is time to prune back branches or clip roses for a vase ?  Can’t they just use anything that cuts?  No. The reason is because a clean cut is needed. Any squashing or crimping of the stem damages it and shortens the life of the rose when it is placed in a vase.

When just starting out, you may want to use the cheaper, Chinese made Fiskar clippers.  But then, again, you may not! Felco is the better quality, Swiss-made brand, costing $50-60 USD and promoted on most Rose Society pages — in part because it also acts as a wire cutter (there is a notch in the blade for this purpose).  Felco invented the more ergonomic “rotating handle”that rolls in the hand when opening and closing the clippers, thereby easing tension in the hands when doing a lot of clipping.

The Felco offers a USA-made holster to keep the shears on a belt and comes with a key to take it apart, clean it, sharpen and reassemble it.

Tool shed SeaWorld San Diego-2Tool shed SeaWorld San Diego-1Tool shed SeaWorld San Diego-3

The pictures above show typical gardening tools, as seen at Sea World, San Diego. Remember that, unless you live in a very dry climate, blades do rust if left outside and should always be kept clean and stored in a shed.

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: Does silica gel serve the same purpose as 3M Anti-Tarnish strips, or should I use both?

A: The strips absorb tarnish-producing pollutants; the gel controls the humidity that contributes to the acceleration of tarnish. I always advise using both.

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, September 2014

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 10, issue 9

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

As the plethora (large amount) of articles quoted below on the introduction of a robot butler by some hotels shows (in distinction from robots that are merely called “robot butlers” but employed in limited capacities in other industries/professions), we can see that the process of automating our particular service has already begun—impacting the hospitality arena first. As we have pointed out in recent editorials and articles, however, there is something that no machine has even been able to offer, nor will ever been able to offer, Hal and R2D2 notwithstanding, and that is life. Which is one reason the Institute has changed its focus from teaching only the mechanical skills of the butler, to bringing service providers and levels to life with an increase in understanding of minor matters such as understanding the mind and motivations, life itself, and developing (appropriate) relationships that reinforce what is good about the old-style butler and do away with those elements that belong to earlier centuries.

This encroachment of robot butlers into hospitality is a limited first step, and should serve as a warning shot across the bows that formulaic service by flesh-and-blood butlers takes on the color of robotic butlers and will one day be performed by them as less expensive, easier to manage, more consistent, etc.

On a similar note, the article in the New York Times on 17 August lays bare another encroachment on related professions, whereby luxury services provided formerly by professional chauffeurs, chefs, and PA’s are available to citizens through their smart phone applications—and being provided by an army of low-paid amateurs. It’s good for Wall Street, it seems, and for those “on-demand employers” who would like, or need, to save money.  We should expect to see similar under-cutting marketplaces developing in the butler/household manager profession, such as Craig’s List. This is not a market limited to the less-well-off potential employer (for whom it is obviously a boon [something that is helpful]): We first became aware of this a couple of years ago when a wealthy client was discovered to be advertising on Craig’s List for an Estate Manager. In the time frames after these candidates would, predictably, not work out, she would ask for assistance from the Institute in finding personnel. We, of course, provided well-qualified candidates, but it seemed that the prospect of finding someone for half the price kept being too tempting.

A butler is not a poodle to be paraded across the salons of society—he is a dynamic individual filling a vital role for those who can afford his or her services to manage the minutiae and big picture that are required in supporting their lifestyle, so the principals can focus on those things they would rather be doing, or love to do. As such, the butler should be an intelligent and compassionate individual, capable of managing the spectrum of humanity as well as the complexities of today’s products and systems—he should be supported as one would support anything that was vital to one’s own success.  
Where a butler hangs onto the two-dimensional cut-out of the stiff and formal butler performing the same tricks in the same manner as he has for hundreds of years, he is in danger of being superseded by robot butlers programmed to perform his same duties with the same level of engagement. There is no benefit to be gained from trying to out-robot a robot; we are much better focused in our profession on demonstrating the one thing that no programmer can ever imbue into their creations: life itself. It is the life and understanding of live beings that people look for in relationships. Granted, there are some principals who have become so swamped in materialism that they do not seek life elsewhere, and prefer to deal with robots as the ideal servant; but as the movie The Cast Away showed, most people crave real, live people, with all their idiosyncrasies, all their demands and problems, to simply talking to matter devoid of emotions, self-determinism, life.
So how does one come alive as a butler? That’s something those who attend our training are discovering.

Letters to the Editor

Well done [on the last issue]! I am always amazed at the different skills and services that are connected to the word “Butler.” Goes to show that the Butler is widely considered as the top practitioner in his area of expertise. Still, I prefer to think of a Butler as the top private-service expert. WL

Ed: Thank you and understood. Butlers in venues other than the private estate, where properly trained, perform a valuable function in extending butler service beyond the home for those with their own butlers, and exposes those who do not have butlers, to the benefits of that service and perhaps giving them ideas to hire their own butler.  As with everything, where the venue does not engage in properly hiring and training their butlers, then the service is a parody and of no benefit to anyone in the long term.

Working with you has been a delight. You have a first-class organization that truly embodies the principles of service. MM

I want to thank you for taking the time to explain these matters so thoroughly, it has been such a pleasure and a learning experience working with you. TE

Butlers in the Media

Focusing this month on the new hotel butler robot, called “Botlr,” being employed now by Starwood’s over 100 Aloft Hotels. “A.L.O. [pronounced “el-oh.”] isn’t meant to replace the hotel’s staff and talent, instead it’s meant to help with the more menial tasks so the staff will have more time for face-to-face interaction with customers.”

Personal Assistants are also having their domain eroded by apps: “These days, most of life’s basic tasks can be solved through a single tap of an app. The only remaining compelling reason to have full-time personal assistance is as a status symbol, or for help with tasks that require more trust and security than a remote labor pool can provide.” Other apps (beyond Siri, Cortana, and Google Everywhere) add to the clamor for digital-based solutions rather than human service professionals, such as Humin, and Uber, Munchery, Jarvis, Fancy Hands, and Sprig, all of which steer work away from chauffeurs, PAs, Concierges, and even Chefs and into the hands of either digital programs or amateur service providers coordinated by new middlemen agencies.

For more articles, click here: 1, 2, 3, 4.

See this article for an interesting view of AI (artificial intelligence) and the encroachment of robots into the workforce, from which we quote:

“In the always-expanding world of technology, each generation of humans is witness to new gadgets and services that supplant earlier versions of gadgets and services, eventually leading to job losses in key industries. They point to automobile and other manufacturing, where technology and robotics have replaced millions of jobs over the past century. Robots and AI threaten to make even some kinds of skilled work obsolete (e.g., legal clerks),” said Tom Standage, digital editor of The Economist. “This will displace people into service roles, and the income gap between skilled workers whose jobs cannot be automated and everyone else will widen. This is a recipe for instability.”

While this short article highlights the fact that job losses always follow AI, it also suggests that service industries would provide work for real people. Yet it seems that even this sector is starting to see job losses and certainly a change from the idea of being skilled and stably employed to being a semi-skilled and poorly remunerated contract worker.

The remedy? Bank on pushback from humans who still know they are humans and appreciate the joy of interaction and recognition that comes with live communication and terminals. And who are wealthy enough to afford professional and anticipatory service that truly manages their lives, rather than having to do it oneself through electronic gadgetry and robots. In the same way, there will be pushback against the smartphones, tablets, laptops and whatever else we can expect in the future—Dick Tracey style watches—that have killed human interaction and communication skills.


Butler Training

This month, we have provided training in Rosewood’s Jumby Bay in the West Indies and The Langham in Boston. As always, it is a pleasure to work with professionals focused on providing the highest levels of service, whether in private service or hospitality, and even in the corporate world. A recent meeting with the President of a company showed a kindred spirit who recognized that the kind of solicitous attention given by butlers was the definitive way to build trust and relations with clients.

Baron Shortt

Executive Protection & Security

by Baron James Shortt

 Traveling in the United States

When setting up travel within the United States, I look at all of the cities and States we will be visiting and call up and speak to the different law-enforcement departments there. They have been uniformly appreciative of the outreach and offered services ranging from free increased patrols in our area, or, for a fee, either uniformed or plain clothes officers to join the team in the local area. At a minimum, they alert all of the officers on duty to our schedule, so if a call of suspicious behavior comes in, they are ready and able to check. The American populace generally has no problem calling a local police department if they see anything suspicious or out of order.

Unlike traveling to Mexico and Venezuela, where the police are part of the problem, the police in the United States have been excellent in their assistance with the “Gray Men.”

We try not to travel with any weapons. The laws are specific from state to state and location to location. As I mentioned in a previous post, a concealed-carry permit for New York State and New York City, does not allow you to carry a weapon in any of the NY Port Authority controlled areas. It’s all too confusing and opens the door for a foreigner—meaning anyone from out of state, let alone out of the country—to make a mistake.

Traveling around certain cities can be very difficult. What can take 5 minutes at 2:00 AM may take an hour during rush hour. It is often best to look at maps and congestion travel times ahead of time, work out the time demands of your charge, and then share  those travel times with your charge. Sometimes walking is the best and quickest way to travel.

Mass transit is another efficient, but decidedly less glamorous way to travel. Subways in New York, trollies in Portland, CTA in Chicago or the Washington DC Metro are all excellent systems. In these cities, all mass transit is quicker during rush hour than private cars. But it also presents a certain challenge to move a team through the various turnstiles in a coordinated fashion. Day- or week-use passes should be purchased in advance to cover the times and days of travel. Dealing with crowded travel venues is more difficult and requires a bit of pre-travel choreography so you can be prepared to, on entering stations, shove the entire team’s way onto the right railcar and then ensure everyone alights at the right stop at the right time. It is also worth the effort to scout the trains to figure out which cars are the least used, so a team of people can enter and exit with as little fuss as possible; as well as to scout stations to know which entrances and exits present the best choices.

America is a large country with significant regional differences. Language and culture differ from north to south and east to west. People love their politics and sports and home towns. The cliché that Americans do not travel belies the facts that now, over 40% of Americans have passports and the educated regularly travel overseas. The impact of Latin American and Asian immigration shows a changing face to America. Yet even after one generation, while their looks may be not European, their thinking and approach to life is decidedly American. You cannot tell by looking at anyone in the country who is an American and who is not an American. It is a fascinating place to visit and travel.

Baron Shortt is the Executive Director of the IBA


Butler/Household Manager sought for a private estate in Southern California

This is a live-out position for US citizens or Green Card holders wanting a long-term position (with off-site housing provided) that requires hands-on household management and people skills. Needs to be willing and able to fill-in on housekeeping and (basic) cooking from time to time. Some driving required, so you must have good driving skills and a valid driving license. Ideal entry position, especially for housemen wanting to move up to household manager/estate manager positions — employers are willing to provide training/ongoing training. 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.

Here is an interesting perception of butlers and a first as far as we know, of butlers being sought to work in retail stores—in this case, a bespoke tailor in London looking for “the presence and diplomacy of a professional Butler” to look after their very notable customers. Kudos to management for recognizing the qualities of a butler and the value of their service style to customers (who invariably have butlers).

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012Let’s Talk about Spirits, Part 7

by Amer Vargas 

After enjoying the passion and games of the world cup for soccer in Brazil, it might be timely  to learn a bit about what is considered that country’s national spirit: cachaça.

Cachaça Reserva 51, photo by Bruno Dulcetti
Cachaça Reserva 51, photo by Bruno Dulcetti

Cachaça (pronounced kaSHAsa), is a distilled spirit made from sugar cane. Depending on the definition we use, Cachaça is sometimes considered to be rum, although the straight description of rum defines the drink as a spirit derived from the distillation of molasses, a by-product of sugar cane. The fact that Cachaça comes straight from sugar cane juice distillation provides it with a fruitier and fresher aroma, with vegetal notes and a subtle sweet taste.

After South Korean soju and Russian vodka, Cachaça is one of the most consumed spirits in the world. Between 2005 and 2009 alone, production increased 400% and exports increased in its main markets, Germany and USA, while entering new markets by virtue of the wide spread popularity of the Caipirinha cocktail—as well as the versatility of the spirit to mix well with other drinks.

The history of Cachaça began during the first half of the 16th century, when Portuguese colonizers first switched sugar production from Madeira Island to Brazil, and then transported the pot stills that were used to make aguardente de canna,  resulting in the production of  Cachaça.

Largest wooden barrel of cachaça in the world at the Ypióca's Museum of Cachaça in Maranguape, Ceará, Brazil
Largest wooden barrel of cachaça in the world at the Ypióca’s Museum of Cachaça in Maranguape, Ceará, Brazil

As with most spirits, the production of Cachaça is both an art and a science. There are five main types of sugar cane used to produce Cachaça, chosen according to sugar content and ease of fermentation of the juice. Within 36 hours of harvesting, the canes are milled to separate the juice from the “bagasse”: solid wastes later used as fuel for the pot stills. The juice undergoes fermentation after the addition of drinking water, corn meal and rice bran. The sugar cane wine is kept in tanks for about 24 hours before being moved to the pot stills, where it is then distilled.

Distillation is followed by a light filtration to provide clarity, transparency, and brightness to the drink. Some producers bottle the drink immediately after filtration; others let the drink age for 1 – 3 years, although some Cachaças are aged for up to 15 years. As with all such aging, the process is designed to  improve the aromas and flavors. When ageing is done in oak barrels, some colour and aromas from the wood will flavor the drink, whereas other woods, such as jequitibá or peanut, do not confer color but do give Cachaça a delicious taste.

To conclude with some trivia: with Brazil being what it is–a vast country, and with Cachaça being loved as it is and produced all over the country, there are more than two thousand words in the Brazilian language to refer to the drink. The creation of so many aliases comes from a time when its consumption was banned, and so the Brazilians developed a wide range of euphemisms and code words to refer to it, such as abre-coraçao (heart opener), agua-benta (holy water), bafo de tigre (tiger breath), and limpa olhos (eye-wash).

This butler is meeting with some friends for some now-famous Caipirinha and batucada (percussive Brazilian music)!

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

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 5 of 20

Rose Types, Again

by GJ dePillis

Last time, we reviewed the different types of roses. At some point, you may need to replace old dead plants or may want to revamp the entire look of the estate. Before you have a discussion with your gardening team, it is best to fully understand each of the rose types available. This is not a comprehensive list, but simply reviews the most popular rose types currently on the market.

Pat Austin, by David Austin Roses
Pat Austin, by David Austin Roses

Earth Kind: This company prides itself on rose research. Horticultural specialists created the brand name, together with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, which is part of Texas A&M. These roses are tested for landscape performance, disease resistance, insect tolerance and growth in a variety of soil types (from acid soils to alkaline clay soils). These rarely require pesticide use. Earth Kind are trying to create a rose requiring minimal maintenance (only pruning and slow release fertilizing, so the nitrogen doesn’t burn the rose).

China:  These roses are usually smaller with dense, twiggy foliage. Most are disease resistant and can be used as hedges and border plants. These are best for warmer climates from zones 7 to 11.

Floribunda:  These roses grow in clusters and have an excellent repeat bloom. They grow well in zones 6 to 9.

Grandifloria:  These are large bushes with large flowers on long stems. Mostly there will be single roses on long stems, but you will also see multiple flowers on a single stem. These grow well in zones 5 to 9. (Carried by or 800-256 ROSE (7673).)

Gertrude Jeckle, by David Austin
Gertrude Jeckle, by David Austin

Hybrid Musk: These roses bloom in arching clusters and are good climbers for small spaces. They also tolerate more shade than most other roses and are hardy from zones 6 to 9.

Hybrid tea: These roses have strong, but not necessarily long, stems. They make very good cut flowers for vases and are usually very fragrant. Some tea roses are thornless and some have many thorns. They grow from zones 5 to 9 mostly, but some varieties can grow in warm climates, such as zone 11.

Heritage Old roses: These roses grow differently than tea roses. The wood on the rose grows very slowly, so you don’t want to prune these back as drastically as you would a tea rose.  For Heritage roses, simply prune off old blooms and only prune these AFTER they bloom.

Knock Out Roses: This brand  is known for long lasting bloom, but the blossoms do not look like traditional roses. Some flowers only have five petals. Double Knock Outs have several full petals. They are known for hardy repeat-flowering throughout the growing season.

Drift roses: These are ground cover roses. This brand focuses on disease resistant miniatures which do well in colder climates. (Carried by or 800-256 ROSE (7673).)

Miniature Roses: These are dwarf roses and generally grow no taller than two feet tall (24”). Micro-mini are used for low ground cover and generally grow from 8” to 18” tall. These are most often used in hanging baskets, container pots, or as ground cover to fill empty spots in the landscape, as borders, etc. The mini rose is growing in popularity and is hardy in zones 5 to 10, but some up to zone 11.

Thornless Rose: There is a brand of thornless roses called “smooth touch” roses. Also there are some heritage and David Austin roses which are thornless.

  • David Austin’s Zephirine Drouhin is a breed from 1868. It has about 30 petals and is a good arbor rose. David Austin has a few other near thornless roses, which we will expand upon in upcoming articles. Most of the David Austin thornless roses are reddish to light pink.
  • Smooth Touch roses have been selected from thousands of rose bushes, encouraging the growth of the naturally thornless (90% thorn free) roses . These are available at most Lowe’s Home Improvement centers, as well as  or 760-721-7079
Jude the Obscure, by David Austin Roses
Jude the Obscure, by David Austin Roses

Butlers, please ask your gardeners to mark which types of roses your grounds have, so you can tell the difference and can inspect them at the proper time.

You are now familiar with most of the common rose types available on the market and to be found in all climate zones. Later on in this series, we will interview and investigate a couple of unique breeders for some insight into their roses.

Next in our series, we will cover how to maintain roses. This will be important for you to know what tools to buy, how those tools should be maintainted, and what schedule you can expect your gardening team to maintain.

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 one remove gilding on sterling flatware?

A: Yes. Many collectors want to remove vermeil (gilding) from sterling flatware. When I do so, I typically patinate the pieces and give them a light buffing for an entirely new look.

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, June 2014

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 10, issue 6

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

One of the traditional duties of the butler, which has fallen by the wayside for the simple reason that it is no longer required in our age of digital communications and improved technology, is the ironing of newspapers. Two reasons are typically given for why this was done in the first place, neither of them correct. If you send in the real reason, we’ll pick out of a bowler hat one name from all correct responses received and send the winner a free copy of his or her choice of either Butlers and Household Managers, 21st Century Professionals (in English, Spanish, Italian, or Russian) or Hotel Butlers, The Great Service Differentiators (in either Spanish or English).

But I digress: the reason I am discussing newspapers is to suggest that we all have enough challenges in our lives running households in today’s society, or seeing to guest/passenger needs for butlers operating in hotels, resorts, airplanes, yachts etc., without taking on the burdens of the world as forced upon us by, and reported in, newspapers, TV and online news channels, etc.

In the old days, newspapers were the only way in which news was reported, and you might be pleasantly surprised to know that mayhem and murders were reported simply as brief facts in a couple of short lines on the back page. Until Mr. Hearst introduced the dubious practice of “yellow journalism” to America and the world about 120 years ago, news was focused on a measured relay of the facts. I don’t have to paint the picture of the various news media today, but suffice to say, if you invited a person to your home who behaved like the ravingly bombastic and agenda-ridden news media does today, we would ask them to leave rather promptly! Yet in this day and age, we do invite them in, often many times a day, day after day.

So my suggestion is: try cutting out all bad news bearers, using whatever medium, from your life for a week, and write down how doing so impacted your life and outlook. Then watch and read the news again for a week and note down how that impacted your life. Compare the two sets of notes, and go with what you feel most benefitted you personally and your performance on the job and in life.

What brought this on? Simply a list that someone compiled of newspaper headlines that, while being recognizably ridiculous, nevertheless betray the same regard that almost almost all media outlets and their owners demonstrably hold for the intelligence of their readership/viewers. Plus the fact that most discussed a negative take on life events. Bear in mind, the average size of font used for the actual headlines was 244, not the 12 point of this Journal.

















“MAN WITH 8 DUIs (Driving under the influence [of Alcohol]) BLAMES DRINKING PROBLEM”





“RANGERS GET WHIFF OF COLON” (A baseball player)


I’d be interested in the result of your little experiment, if you’d care to share.

Butlers in the Media

Finally, commercial airlines are bringing the expected level of luxury to the skies with the launch of three-cabin suites offering butler service. Thank you Etihad! The Institute has been beating the drum about this for over five years.

A very interesting article on how Starwood has approached serving those we typically service.

Paul Burrell continues to make himself right via the media for breaking the unwritten (and written) code of the butler. Sad business: he was wrongly accused initially, but instead of taking the high road and restoring his situation financially by all the opportunities that providence throws our way by doing so, he decided to break the golden rule as the best solution for himself and his family: Ethics is those decisions and actions one takes that most benefit the majority of the individuals impacted by the situation and one’s planned actions to be taken. The situation Mr. Burrell found himself in involved many more players than just himself and his family, no matter how important they indeed are. One other point: Mr. Burrell claims that those objecting to his book have not even read it and so are not qualified to judge (a point that normally is valid), for they are missing the fact that he writes about them with “love.” In this, he is missing the point: to state the obvious, nobody should be reading about their private affairs in the media when that information has been collected by somebody who had been brought into the sanctity of the home to serve those being reported on; for the understanding upon which they were invited in includes a trust that their confidences would not be betrayed. Private Service 101/Basics, Mr. Burrell.

Hazards of the profession, it seems—a fellow employee going postal.

A Reuters article on butlers in Italy quotes a gentleman who looks down his nose at other butlers because they did not, as he did, learn the trade by working his way up. He has a point, in that some aspiring butlers may be a few bricks shy of a load when it comes to making the grade; they may lack the necessary apprenticeship to make it via a butler school; and certainly, the butler profession is a lifelong learning experience, as there is so much to discover and improve upon in all the different areas of expertise upon which our profession touches, that rare indeed is the man or woman who can say, “I have now arrived as a fully fledged and competent butler.” But to out-of-hand dismiss anyone wanting to join the profession by attending a school and jumping in the deep end, is to dismiss the practical way that anyone learns any profession today; and also, to dismiss hundreds of potentially intelligent and effective butlers who are quite capable of serving others well. Maybe they would fall on their faces when trying to service those who are well used to experienced butlers, but why assign them such positions straight out of the gate? Let them work up to it after years of experience—a concept the gentleman in question no doubt can agree with. I understand the desire to maintain standards, but this old “pecking order” game of self-importance based on some imagined edge (such as one’s employer’s high title meaning one sits above those serving those of lower rank at the servant’s table at meals) is just a little bit old.

Yet again the butler is drawn upon as the quintessential role when it comes to superb service; and once again, it is in reference to the up and coming skillsets of robots serving hominids.

Baron Shortt

Executive Protection & Security

by Baron James Shortt

“Sorry About That, Boss”

This is the last thing you say before you are out of work.  This is also about the only thing that could be said by those at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas and Prince Harry’ s personal security teams (after Prince Harry was photographed in his suite in a compromising situation)–”Sorry.”

Most of our clients have more money and more power than they know what to do with—and that is fine by me.  It is our job not only to protect their lives and skin, but also their reputations and wallets, so they can keep their money and their power and continue to employ us.

Who took the photos? Why was a cell phone camera anywhere near this man?  All guests could easily have been searched as they entered—it is not like they were wearing much, and their bags could have been searched, too—not just by hand but also with a simple wand. Didn’t bring a metal detection wand? Borrow one from a local agency or buy one at WAL-MART—they only cost $90-$250!

What else is the same size as a cell phone camera? A .22 Derringer, up to 3 shots; a .45 Liberator, 1 shot; a .45 Intimidator from puzzle pieces; knives of all sorts, including titanium ones that most metal detectors miss; a grenade disguised as a cell phone; street drugs and poisons; a pack of genuine Marlboro’s and other deadly things.

This was a red-cheeked moment for a young man, but two big black eyes for the his personal security team and the Wynn security team.

What to do in similar situations?

1. Assemble some gear

• A Faraday Bag, safety pins and tags: Bag all of the cell phones and cameras in a Faraday Bag and give guests a safety pin with a number corresponding to their items.  Cost for Faraday Bags between $50 and $200; safety pins and numbers, deminimus.

• Hand wand, top of the line, $250.00

• Spy camera finder, which also finds sniper scopes, $80.00

2. Set up the safety zone and perimeter and search those entering and exiting.  Also set up a mobile perimeter: grey men and women in appropriate attire mixing with the crowd.  Yep, in swimsuits and having fun all while still watching those around your charge.

3. Pack up lots of good manners and rehearse how to intervene to stop all of the situations that can occur and how to stop offenders—even if they mean no malice.

4. Clear cameras and goodies as people leave.

I am sure the person who had a picture of Harry in the pink made a small fortune by selling the rights to the picture.  Even those who had no malice aforethought can be tempted to sell pictures or information when the price is high enough. We are all human and subject to the pressures of economics. 

Mr. Baron Shortt is the Executive Director of the IBA

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012 Let’s Talk about Spirits, Part 4 

by Amer Vargas 


Today we are in Greece enjoying one of its characteristic spirits, Ouzo.

Plomariou Ouzo, photo by Jack Newton
Plomariou Ouzo, photo by Jack Newton

Ouzo is a clear-as-water transparent drink with more than two centuries of history, thought to have its origins in the tsipouro drink first made by monks in a monastery on Mount Athos, located about one hundred kilometers from Thessaliniki, during the 14th century. These monks wanted to make use of pomace (the residue left after grapes are pressed) instead of discarding it. Thus, they left the mass of pomace to ferment for a few days and then proceeded to distill it several times. The resulting drink had a 40 to 45% average alcohol content.

Following in this tradition, Nikolaos Katsaros opened a distillery in the 19th Century that still produces the famous Tyrnavou Ouzo.

The word “Ouzo” has a peculiar possible origin, coming from the Italian Uso Massalia” (“for use in Marseille”), which was stamped on the best silkworm cocoons that were being exported from Thessaly to the French city during the 19th century. One day, the Ottoman Greek consulate physician Anastas Bey, impressed by the wonderful taste of local tsipouro, exclaimed: “This is uso Massalia, my Friends”—meaning it was of superior quality. Over time, this anecdote spread until that sort of tsipouro gradually became referred to as “iso” or “ouzo”. Another possible origin of the word hails from neighbouring Turkey, where grapes were called uzum in medieval times.

Nowadays, ouzo is produced out of 96% alcohol rectified spirit either from pomace or from wine. Flavorings (which include anethole, anise, cinnamon, coriander, cloves and star anise) are added to the copper still before distillation and help to produce ouzo of 96% alcohol by volume that receives the name of Ouzo Yeast. This brew is then distilled one more time before finally being diluted with either distilled or spring water (for the finest quality Ouzo), or with rectified spirit to finish the production of the drink, leaving it at the typical 40% alcohol content.

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

 Of Butlers and Roses, Part 2 of 20

First Plantings – Preparing to Welcome your New Plant

by GJ dePillis

Wollerton Old Hall, photo by David Austin Roses
Wollerton Old Hall, photo by David Austin Roses


Choose The Spot

Decide on where to plant the rose bush. If replacing a bush that is to be retired because of disease, either replace the soil or plant the new one elsewhere.




Bear Root Roses, photo by David Austin Roses
Bear Root Roses, photo by David Austin Roses

Ordering the Plant

Support local nurseries where they offer high-quality stock and the required variety. If ordering a bare-root rose, ask the breeder when the best time would be to plant for your area. If ordering container roses, of course, planting at any time of the year should be possible.

Preparing the Soil

Prepare the soil before the arrival of the roses by digging a hole about 1 ft (30 cm) deep. Break up the sub-soil to ensure good drainage. Add well-decomposed compost (or rose planting soil from your local nursery) and mix with the top soil.

Planting Day

I like to fill the hole with water before placing the rose into it. If planting container roses, roll the pot on the ground to loosen the sides. With gloved hands, carefully shake the plant out of the pot. Shake off excess dirt from the pot and place into the water-filled hole, then add the soil.

Diagram by David Austin Roses
Diagram by David Austin Roses


Plant bare root roses by spreading out the roots and covering up the main stem in soil.

Establish the Roots

Deep watering the roses may be necessary once a week for a couple months until  fresh leaves can be seen to grow. Once this occurs, the plant can be placed on a regular watering regime.

Refrain from pruning freshly planted roses for about a year, instead allowing the roots to establish themselves.

In our next section, we will cover the different types of roses. Until next time, happy planting!

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: How should I go about insuring my employer’s silver when I need to ship it for repair?

A: Your employer’s homeowner’s insurance may state the value of the piece and whether it is covered off premises.  If the policy is not that specific, try the following:

  1. Identify the object: Coffee pot, sardine server, caviar server, etc.
  2. Identify the country in which it was created;
  3. Identify the maker: Gorham, Tiffany, Georg Jensen, Arthur J. Stone, Paul Storr, etc.;
  4. If you cannot identify the maker, go here;
  5. Identify the metal standard: Sterling, .925, coin, standard, 800, 840, EPNS (Electro Plated Nickel Silver), etc.
  6. Type the above information into your browser’s search window and see if your piece is found.

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, 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.


The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, January, 2013

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 9, 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 

With the very welcome increased interest of late in butlers by the media and amongst the newly wealthy in various countries, my wish is that those who help deliver on the promise in the year ahead, focus on communicating the standards inherent in our profession, and avoid the ever-present effort to deliver abbreviated versions in response to clients applying their usual modus operandi of “getting a good deal” simply because they do not yet understand the true nature of butling and so end up “buying themselves short.” Maintaining our standards, if I might state the obvious, is a win-win for everyone, and I’d like to see everyone winning as we move into a new year full of hope.

Butlers in the Media

Aljazeera carries an article on how graduates fresh out of butler school are being used to train prospective butlers in China, where private service butlers can expect to make 20K a year for very long hours. European butlers are in demand as status symbols but do not stay long because of the working conditions and cultural differences, and a lack of ability to do their jobs properly in the absence of the Chinese language skills necessary to manage the rest of the staff.

The BBC, on the other hand, reported that China and Russia are both experiencing a demand by their wealthy for British butlers commanding $150,000 and up. The demand in China is being met in part by six new training schools, which have been opened in China by a British recruitment agency.

CNN reports on the publication of a survey of over 2,000 domestic workers in the US—mostly immigrants and holding lower positions—who work long hours for less than minimum wage, etc.  Apparently, “The Fair Labor Standards Act, which guarantees minimum wage, overtime and sick- and vacation pay, does not apply to domestic workers.” Butlers and household managers are rarely treated in this way, but one would hope that in the households they supervise, the staff are not so treated. For more information, see National Domestic Workers Alliance []

As reported in multiple media, the Pope pardoned his ex-butler after he mis-used his position of trust to steal documents and leak privileged information. He was banished from the Vatican, but is receiving assistance to find a new position and house, and to start his life anew. “This is a paternal gesture toward someone with whom the Pope for many years shared his daily life,” according to the Vatican Secretariat of State.

According to the book Plutocrats: The Rise of the Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, the top 10% of American households in terms of household income makes $150,000 and up—butlers themselves in many cases qualify for this category.

750,000 Americans are in the top 1%, having a household income of just under half a million dollars: such households cannot generally afford to employ a butler or household manager—but can afford housemen and other household staff. 70% of these families made their money in the past decade, almost half of them being entrepreneurs—meaning that the background of seven-in-ten rich households is not one of wealth and luxury, and therefore their exposure to butlers–and the lifestyle they make possible–has been mainly through the media and word of mouth. So this is not an optimal market for our profession.

Around 150,000 Americans have a household income of $4 million and over, and so are more likely to be able to afford to hire a butler.


Congratulations to General Manager, Mr. Iain McCormack, and the staff of Gili Lankanfushi in the Maldives, who were just declared the winner at the World’s Leading Luxury Resort and World’s Leading Villa Resort & Spa at the World Travel Awards Grand Final 2012. Their Mr. Fridays (butlers) were trained extensively by the Institute during October 2011.

A Creative Idea for Turndown 

Whether in a private estate or luxury resort, turndown amenities are a small way the butler can add to the guest (and employer) experience. Hats off to Mr. Kobi Gutman for a new twist that is bringing about many happy guests at the private Fort Harrison hotel in Florida, where he services the top suites. He actually carves these himself, not based on any earlier training or skills, but learning as he goes. Most simply utilize a red apple, and are tailor made either to the calendar (such as Halloween or July 4) or more often, to the individual receiving the amenity (like a Ferrari enthusiast). A smattering of his “works” are provided below—including one Mona Lisa, perhaps for an art aficionado?
































A Useful Resource

Congratulations to Ms. Fiona Cameron-Williams for her release of her Gentleman’s Gentleman application for the iPhone/iPad. We have not tested it yet, and look forward to some feedback from anyone who has or will.

Cigars, Part XI

frankmitchell The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012by Frank Mitchell 

Maintaining a Humidor

When talking about maintaining a humidor, the two most important things to discuss are temperature and humidity. One sees the term Relative Humidity (RH) used quite commonly, though many people do not understand what the term means.

‘Relative’ and the fact that RH is expressed as a percentage, indicates a ratio. In simple terms, it is the amount of water vapour in a volume of air expressed as a percentage of the maximum amount of water vapour that volume of air could hold at that temperature. How much this maximum is depends on the temperature; so RH is a function of both moisture content and temperature. By itself, RH does not indicate the actual moisture content in the air, since saturation point occurs at different temperatures.

Some cigar enthusiasts scoff at the need to concern themselves with the temperature. Unless you store your cigars in a temperature-controlled environment or live in a very mild climate, I believe the temperature must be taken into account. This is because a given amount of water vapour, in a given volume of air, will have a differing RH% depending on the temperature.

The ideal environment in which to store cigars is a relative humidity of 70% at 70◦F (21.1◦C). 

The below table will show that as the temperature rises, the humidity must fall. Conversely, as the temperature drops, the humidity must rise. Care must be taken not to deviate too far from the ideal, otherwise you will end up with soggy cigars or cigars which will which have lost their aromatic oils.

Reviving Dry Cigars

Don’t! It is that simple. When a cigar loses moisture, it is losing aromatic oils into a dry humidor. When the humidor is opened, these oils are lost into the atmosphere. This should not happen in a well-maintained humidor that is checked daily. Dry cigars will have lost flavour and are harsh to smoke. Re-humidifying cigars means replacing the lost aromatic oils with water. The result is always a loss of flavour and aroma.

You may research how to re-humidify cigars if you are ever given any and want to rescue them for your own consumption, but hotels that sell re-humidified cigars to guests are ripping them off. Nor should a butler serving in a private estate offer such cigars to the principal’s guests—experienced smokers will know that what you have given them is sub-standard.

Recent Graduates

Mr. Raoul Gonzales trains butlers on the Norwegian Cruise Line Vessel Dawn. He is one of the Norwegian Cruise Line’s butlers who was trained last year by the Institute to then train his fellow butlers on the hard skills of butling on a cruise ship. Here Mr. Gonzales is shown taking them through their paces on synchronized service.

Once NCL has completed the training evolution, they will offer more services throughout their fleet for their high-end guests, than any other cruise line.

 The PA’s Corner

By Bonnie Low-Kramen

How I Learned to Speak Up

When is the tall one going to talk?” This is what actress Olympia Dukakis used to ask other staff members at the Whole Theatre where I was the Public Relations Director before I became her Personal Assistant. I was 29 years old, it was 1986, and Olympia was my employer and mentor. We then went on to work together for 25 years.

In private service, we know that communication issues can make or break us—to learn to confront people and situations positively is a skill that builds leaders in our profession. Employers also have a fear of speaking up and there are ways that we can help them—silence is not (always) the answer.

I had so many reasons for not speaking my mind. I think these are the same reasons why many private service professionals don’t say what they know should be said and there is much suffering in silence. It’s the fear factor. The fear factor cannot be underestimated when it comes to the problem of staffers speaking up to anyone, but especially to colleagues and employers. I understand what it feels like to be mute in the face of a situation that needs to be confronted.

The fear was about appearing stupid, ill-informed, or unprepared, even though I was none of those things. There was fear of being wrong, making a mistake, and losing my job. The fear had to do with the possible reactions of fellow staffers such as: “What are you trying to pull? Are you trying to make me look bad? Are you angling for my job? Do you think you’re smarter than me? Do you think you’re better than me?”

My lack of confidence was known to me and now, Olympia, my employer, saw it in high-def and I didn’t like it. I threw myself into my job and worked hard to do it well. I took the risk to give her my opinions, and she valued what I had to say. I began finding my voice. What helped the most though was having Olympia Dukakis as a role model.

Here’s an example of what I mean. The theater director and I had already been coordinating press interviews for several weeks, all of which had progressed without any problems. Then, in front of the entire staff, he called me a “liar” and the room instantly became quiet. I was horrified at the injustice and the public humiliation. Olympia said to the director, “You must be mistaken. I know that would never happen with Bonnie. Let’s talk about this later.” And we did deal with it later. The director was a serial bully who enjoyed the power trip. The thing about bullies is that they are threatening and powerful until directly confronted. Then they shrink away and unfortunately, choose someone else to bully. Try it. Look a person straight in the eye and firmly say, “I won’t be spoken to that way” and mean it. Watch what happens.

Olympia stood up for me. She spoke up and plainly stated what needed to be said. Another time I recounted a contentious conversation I had on her behalf, and Olympia’s outraged reaction was, “You will not be spoken to like that. Don’t take it from her.” And I didn’t.

Finding my voice had everything to do with witnessing role models use theirs. Finding the words that work for you in challenging situations will work magic for your career.

I learned from Olympia that it is important to speak up and say the hard things in a way that people can hear. Time and again I witnessed the relief in the room when Olympia said the thing that everyone was thinking but no one wanted to say. In most cases, I witnessed how speaking up makes things better and the elephant in the room disappears.

Now I say the hard things, too. The trick is to not wait until little problems escalate into a big one. I would be lying if I said I am now totally comfortable speaking up, but I do it and I have become much better at it. I encourage my students to do it, too, and they excitedly tell me of the positive results. Practice definitely makes it easier.

For instance, when the producer became emotional and verbally abusive to me on the phone and I tried to speak, he cut me off.  After several attempts, I calmly and firmly said, “If you will let me speak without interrupting me, I can help solve this problem. If not, I’m hanging up.” He stopped talking and we did our work.

Speaking up builds self-confidence, self-esteem, self-respect, and respect from others.

It feels like a risk. Do it anyway. I have found my voice. I learned the hard way that suffering in silence makes things worse, not better and only prolongs the inevitable in both work and in life. Life is too short.

Resources to Find Your Magic Words

Speaking Your Mind in 101 Difficult Situations by Don Gabor

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson

Editor Note: Ms. Low-Kramen also provides workshops on this topic, the next one being Jan 19-20 in California.


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

by Amer Vargas 

New Zealand Wines

Today we fly to New Zealand in the Southern Pacific Ocean to appreciate some of the world’s newest and finest wines. New Zealand is one of the few southern hemisphere countries to produce fine wines. Compared to its northern counterparts, New Zealand shares the same latitude degrees as France and Spain, which may give an idea of the sort of favorable climate for their vineyards. Many varietals (mostly imported) benefit from the maritime climate, with long sunshine hours and sea-breeze-cooled nights.

Wine history in New Zealand began after a fashion two centuries ago when British residents devoted some time to developing drinks much consumed in their home country—their favoring of beer and other spirits, however, delayed the real blossoming of wine making until the late 1960s, when a series of historic changes ultimately led to the planting of vines in lands that had been qualified previously as marginal pasture.

New Zealand produces unique white wines, 50% being Sauvignon Blancs, as well as Chardonnays and Rieslings. These wines are notable for their purity, vibrancy and intensity: The fruit undergoing a long ripening as a result of cool temperatures, which allows flavors to develop while retaining a fresh acidity. There are 10 major wine growing regions, the most important being Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay.

Cabernet-Merlot from Hawke’s Bay, photo by Salman Javed

New Zealand’s most grown red varietal is Pinot Noir, with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon also being important. Lately, Shiraz/Syrah is also being grown on previously cultivated land.

The country’s Sauvignon Blanc is widely recognized for its pungent and intense taste and its crisp acidity, which makes it easy to match with raw vegetables and salads. The Chardonnays offer a concentrated citrus and tropical fruit flavor combined with some refined minerals—and since they can yield all sort of body, they can be paired with a wide range of food, from fish and other seafood dishes such as shellfish, to poultry and citrus or vinaigrette dressed salads.

As for the reds, they are mostly full-bodied, which helps enhance medium-to-strong flavored cheeses, game and red meats.

Last, but not least, there is an excellent production of high-quality sparkling wines, following the Méthode Traditionelle (traditional method used to make Champagne).

I raise my sparkling Pelorus to this wonderful New Year that promises to be as excellent as my drink!

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The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and skills of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resort,  spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts, & cruise ships around the world.


Butler training Training

Service in Asia

I had the particular pleasure of experiencing service levels in Taipei, Taiwan, as well as Phuket, Thailand, recently, and wanted to comment on them.


The staff I trained at Regent Taipei, the premier hotel on the island, were all university graduates, very intelligent, wanting to understand rather than learn by rote, very solicitous, and very professional in their mindset, approach, attitude, and  behaviour. In a way, I found them as a group at the pinnacle of both Western and Eastern cultures and service standards. While every hotel has some individuals of this caliber, what impressed me was how every individual was of this standard. Part and parcel of this focus on professionalism was that there were zero politics and cliques, so that they always worked as a team within and between departments.

The MBJ includes some photographs of these stars. I include just one here of the Senior VP of Operations for the Regent chain, Peter Finamore, and his family, who were kind enough to take me to  Taipei Palace Museum, which has many high-quality Chinese artifacts, as well as a special exhibition of Cartier jewelry. The statue is probably of Confucius.

Taipei is a vibrant city with swarms of kamikaze scooterheads swarming through the street,  friendly people, and much to see. Definitely worth a visit, and I recommend using Regent Taipei, with its array of luxury stores and wide variety of quality restaurants, as your base.




In Phuket, the staff of the soon-to-be opened Regent Phuket Panwa Bay were not as professional in terms of behaviors: innocent and excited would be closer to the reality—but if there be any culture that can surpass even the group dynamic of the team in Taipei, it is the complete teamwork that the Phuket individuals exhibited. It came across as the sheer excitement of being with and helping other people, honestly caring for others and their welfare. I really hope that the coming ASEAN (Asian common market) does not prompt  the Thai people to drop their wonderful friendliness and gentleness or allow it to be changed or pushed aside by workers coming in from China and Vietnam, etc., who may exhibit a more driven work-ethic while lacking the same friendliness and view of life as one constant mutual party—surely one of the reasons tourists come to Thailand.

Some of the butler-team graduates hamming it up at their graduation party—the hotel was still not open, so their party was a bit bare bones—but that didn’t stop them having fun.


Published Articles

Butler Service Today Five Leading Hotels Share their Secret

Why have butler service in a hotel? In the cases canvassed, there were two basic reasons: either because the hotel owners conceived they had the best property in the world/on the PGA tour/etc. and they believed the corollary on the service side could only be supplied by the addition of butlers. Or because they wanted to give their most important guests such a level of service.  The five hotels participating in this article have provided guests with this butler service for the last 6-16 years, building the desired reputation and reaping the rewards. Contrasting this with hotels that have signed onto the butler concept and then disbanded the service, it is obvious that butler departments are not always guaranteed success.

How did they do it, those who succeeded?

First of all, by overcoming the obstacles they met on the way, starting with launching the service. In the case of the iconic Burj al Arab in Dubai, the problem was finding qualified staff in a country that did not have many locals to draw upon. When you have to man a department of something like 160 butlers, it is easy to see why this would be a challenge. In the end they sourced their staff from about 100 countries. Falling Rock in Pennsylvania, a privately held resort designed in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright and boasting a challenging Pete Dye-designed golf course, also provides 24-hour butler service to its 42 rooms and suites. Their main challenge, being on a huge estate in the countryside far from any cities, was likewise recruiting butlers, which they resolved by targeting regional colleges and universities.

Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe did not have such issues, but struggled with the more prosaic problem of making their pantries flow sufficiently to keep up with the demand for butler services. In the ideally situated Seven Stars Galleria in Milan, their challenge was being able to deliver the same level of service required in a private estate, while being in a hotel environment. This resolved with a perception shift that each room or suite was a single house with the most important guest in it. One of these hotels also mentioned justifying a large payroll as a challenge, which they overcame by providing the expected level of service with concomitant guest satisfaction. They all also hired experts to train their staff, rather than trying to fudge the training by in-house solutions not based on the butler model.

Ongoing challenges have related, for Burj al Arab, to their butlers leaving after two years—not because of dissatisfaction, but because, having worked at the hotel, they became valued commodities in the West, as well as their home countries. The solution was hiring mature butlers, providing better pay and living conditions, allowing the butlers to multi-task, and of course, promoting internally so there was a career path worth pursuing.

At Harrah’s, lack of consistency was resolved by having pictures of each set-up, from morning breakfast to elaborate dinner tables and everything in between.

Similarly, the other hotels found they needed to continue the focus on training in order to maintain standards. In the case of Falling Rock, the initial training was sufficiently strong and effective that they were able to continue annual training in-house. Their ongoing challenges have been “the stress of striving for our 5th star so we can be one of the top 25 resort hotels in the world [they achieved 5 Diamond from AAA soon after opening and have maintained it since, and have been awarded 4 Star the last two years by Forbes/Mobil], and keeping the team motivated during incredible busy times.” Team-building and venting sessions have apparently helped keep the team motivated.

In Seven Stars Galleria, the most challenging aspect of the head butler’s work is making sure the guests are satisfied from the moment they arrive at the hotel, as many stay for just one night. This is resolved by empowering the butlers to deal with whatever comes up so that the guest is always given superb service and treated as the most important person.

What’s So Special About Butler Service?

Given that butler service is superior, and that part of it can be attributed to the attitude/mindset and communication skills of the butler, what do butlers actually do en suite to service guests. The key is actually in the phrase “en suite,” because that is the niche that hotel butlers open up for hotels as lines of service to guests. Until butlers arrived on the scene in hotels three decades ago, there was very little hotels could do for guests in their suite, other than clean them, provide amenities occasionally, and room service. Those hotels who have successful butler service list the following actions they can perform to wow their guests or merely make their stay more fun/convenient/pleasurable/tailor made to their needs, etc.

Preparing the suite for arrivals, welcoming with a beverage and hot/chilled towelette; touring the guest; unpacking (and later packing) their suitcases so they can go about their business or vacation straight away; concierge service and being a continue source of information during the stay; helping with IT and business/personal secretary requests; running a bath, usually with all sorts of trimmings from caviar and champagne to less exotic fare; checking-in and –out; promoting hotel facilities (and upselling); wardrobe management, laundry, pressing and shoe shine (Falling Rock provides golf spike detailing!); providing room amenities; replenishing the private bar; providing F&B functions from simple food delivery to serving and clearing multi-course meals (in larger suites) and organizing and managing a wide range of parties; escorting to any and all appointments on-and off-property; personal shopping and personal assistance; wake-up service; and most importantly, anticipating guest needs or dealing with their requests if not anticipated. There are other services that can be delivered, but none of the five hotels questioned offer them.

Compare this to hotels without butler service, where one checks into an empty room and talks through the phone to front desk, and occasionally has food delivered: traveling is a lonely business, so butlers putting the mansion-away-from-the-mansion back into the equation certainly adds value to a hotel’s offering. Think orchestrating wedding proposals; floating-gazebo dinners; tracking down long-lost relatives and arranging the reunion; training a guest on sabering a champagne bottle so he could impress his fiancee; replicating elements of a guest’s home in their suite; the more mundane five-hour drives to deliver lost items and smoothly handling medical emergencies—these are the above-and-beyond the normal hotel stay that butlers make possible.

Which is probably why guests tend to rave about their experience at these hotels, with “nearly 100% exceptional feedback from our guests,” as one GM raved in turn, and comments like “the best service they have received in all their travels,” as one head butler reports.

The media have similarly trumpeted the wonders of these hotels and their butler service: Butlers, like Rolls Royces and Bentleys, super-yachts and private jets, symbolize the ultimate in the striving for and enjoyment of superior service, possessions, and lifestyles. They contain several of the ingredients that the press typically salivates over.

The one fly in the ointment for butlers is that mystery-guest-certifying organizations like Forbes/Mobil, AA, AAA, RAC, Leading Hotels of the World have yet to catch up with the phenomenon of butlers, even though they exist with a wide range of service offerings in something like 400 hotels around the world. As one representative explained to the author in Spring of 2010, they do not want to penalize hotels without butler service by having butler criteria. There is an easy way to resolve this, using the criteria established by the International Institute of Modern Butlers and offered freely to these organizations to incorporate into their own where butler service is offered.

Butler service is the way of the future in a world where even the wealthy (and why not) are demanding maximum bang for their buck—service levels to justify the high rack rates demanded in luxury hotels. And by the way, with various hotels straining beyond the five-star rating in an effort to reflect the service they actually do deliver, it might be time to come up with 6-star and maybe even 7-star ratings to reflect hotels and resorts with butler services, private infinity pools, and so forth.

Which brings up another point, while on the subject of these organizations: the ratings have become sufficiently confusing between competing systems in a global environment—and with knock-offs and self-assignments occurring—that the ratings have lost meaning or usefulness to the consumer in some part. One whole country (which shall remain anonymous) adds two stars to their actual level as a marketing gimmick. At the International Hotel Conference held in Venice during October, 2010, panelists referred to hotels by such terms as luxury, upscale, mid-upscale etc., in their attempts to define hotels. It’s off-subject for this article, but worth exploring and resolving, perhaps, as we move increasingly into a global marketplace.

Other benefits of butlers in these hotels are the ability to personalize service based on an ever-accumulating database of guest preferences (a long-standing butler tool), provide a single point of contact for guests who takes ownership of any problems and removes worry and chores from the guest experience; and the development of a relationship that encourages repeat visits, with guests requesting the same butler.

Butler service has justified high or higher rack rates in these hotels (at a time when occupancy is up and profits and rev par down in the rest of the country, Falling Rock has enjoyed increased rack rates 5 out of the 6 years since they opened). The number one reason guests at Burj al Arab return is because of their butler service. Burj al Arab enjoys 35% repeat guests, Seven Stars Galleria and Falling Rock experience 40%.

Internal Perceptions

Not to paint butlers as super heroes, they are generally simply dedicated and service-oriented individuals, but is that how other employees view them?

Not in all hotels, for sure, where the butlers didn’t get what a butler really is and so earned the opprobrium (harsh criticism or censure) of their colleagues. Possible conflicts and areas of jealousy were avoided in these hotels, however, by understanding that this new beast, the butler, was an unknown quantity in hospitality, a recent entrant. So efforts were made to increase the understanding of the other departments of what a butler is, why they are of value to the hotel and thus to all its employees, and, also how they enhance, not cut across, staff income streams. In additino to meetings and briefings, two hotels employed cross-exposure/training to increase understanding and so acceptance. The result has been respect, mutual respect and the building of long-term relationships that add up to real teamwork and thus excellent service.

One hotel among these five, however, is fighting an uphill battle probably because they did not start off on the right foot—finding it difficult to make other departments accept their role in servicing guests. Their current effort to salvage the situation is to be as helpful as possibile to other departments in their servicing of guests.

How about the perception of the butler department by the butlers in these hotels? With an industry churn of about 31% per annum, Harrah’s has experienced zero churn over the last three years; Falling Rock 20%; Burj al Arab 14-18% until the Front Office merged with them, at which time the numbers increased to 25%, the same rate as the hotel where there is friction between the butlers and other departments. Whichever way you cut it, butler departments, when well run, have lower churn than the industry as a whole. Maybe this comes about because “there is no greater feeling when, as a butler, you can provide a service to a guest who has it all and still impress them.” and “Exceeding the guests’ expectations is the biggest reward we could hope and strive for” and “I am convinced the hotel butler role is the best guest-experience- maker a hotel can have.” In summary, “Our guests come to our hotel for our rating and our reviews, but they come back because of our service and our staff.”

From the management side, a GM who recognizes the value of butlers says: “the butler profession will continue to grow in the coming years. However, a butler staff is definitely a huge investment: wage scales increase, training is a huge investment, and amenities normally increase in cost when a butler program is implemented.”

Then there is the hotel where the butlers are struggling, even while earning a reputation for the service they provide: the friction between butler and other departments traces back to the manager’s perception of butler service, “not seeing or understanding the link between the butler and guest satisfaction and loyalty, and the butler’s role in differentiating the property in the local marketplace”—a bit like a farmer using a Rolls Royce to haul hay”.

Where do Butlers Belong?

The hotels participating all agreed that all five star/diamond hotels needed to offer butler service if they expect to provide top-level service; one even suggested that some four-star hotels should also offer butler service. Why? The wow factor and what it does for word of mouth, repeat visits, occupancy, rev par, and the bottom line.

For those wanting to establish butler service, all hotels agree that experienced butlers should be hired if possibile, certainly managers, and those with a passion to serve; train them repeatedly; and focus on attention to detail, especially in compiling and following guest preference databases (which makes anticipation possibile).

Butlers are still relatively new to the hospitality industry, which is behaving a bit like it is reaching puberty on the subject: all angst and knobbly knees about how to proceed…which makes these five hotels early developers and good role models for those following close behind. If service is the name of the game, then added service opportunities seem to be a no-brainer. Certainly, more and more guests will feel this way, the more they experience the ideal.

This article was also published by,,,,, International Hotel and Restaurant Association (, HSMAI Europe, and

Published Articles

Brand Butler: Infusing the Butler into Hotel Brands

Butlers first began to appear in hotels a quarter of a century ago. However, they have been in service for a millennium and have become synonymous with the highest level of service to employers and guests alike. How butlers reached such giddy heights is not the subject of this article, but how their standards of service are being recognized and adopted as the most important consumer trend in 2010 is what you will find in the following few paragraphs. High-end hospitality providers and those who care to provide superior service will recognize their own standards being validated, and it is to them this article is dedicated.

Despite national media attention, the Ritz Carlton South Beach has had a perennial problem keeping its “Tanning Butlers” over the past seven years that it has offered this service: modeling agencies keep snapping them up.

Hotels interested in attracting the wealthier set have been creative for the last two decades in leveraging the cachet (prestige) of the butler: nanny butler, fireplace butler, technology butler, pool butler, dog butler, and maybe you have others to add. All positions characterized by the offering of a narrowly defined service that has nothing to do with butlers, but the implication being that the same level of service is provided.

At the same time, the International Institute of Modern Butlers, as the guardian, so to speak, of the standards of butling, has been busy decrying this dilution of the butler name into a commercial opportunity. The Institute offered the Hotel Butler Rating system precisely to differentiate the serious efforts of hotels with real butler service from these “wannabes,” so that guests would be clear on the degree of butler service being offered by any hotel they planned to visit.

The irony, however, is that the Institute has also reached beyond the narrow confines of its own profession, and even its cousin, the hospitality industry, with a persistent, and some might say unwelcome, drum beat over the last six years: the need to export the mindset of the butler to all service industries (any business or organization, large or small, whether government bureaucracy, hospital, airline or hotel staffs, etc.)—wherever one person provides another with a product or service—as the biggest-return strategy for improving the service experience and loyalty of clients, guests, customers, patients, etc.

A case of wanting to have one’s cake and eat it, too?

The Butler Goes Mainstream

Perhaps; certainly of a conflicted message of “brand name protection versus promulgation of what the brand stands for.” Fortunately, helped bring into focus and so resolve these unaligned positions in its April 2010 issue, identifying the most important trend in the consumer world to be Brand Butler.’s hundreds of trend watchers in 120 countries actually recognized this emerging trend back in 2007 (when they coined Brand Butler).

How do they define Brand Butler, why is it so important to the corporate and hospitality world, and how does it manifest in, and relate to, the hospitality industry specifically?

Brand Butler is a brand that is brand new and a thousand years in the making. It is the recognition that increasingly, brands are morphing into offering services that assist consumers/clients/guests, rather than the old model of selling them a lifestyle and identity. This translates into less “guff” (the promotion of reverential, soft-focus utopias) and a return to more down-to-earth relationships and practical service offerings. It is the recognition that the butler mindset includes valuable traits in the mind of the consumer, and so of any service or product provider: a high understanding of the client/consumer/guest/patient, a high degree of respect and liking (even for unlikable individuals), and a superior ability to communicate. It is a tried and proven path to the solicitous (showing interest or concern) service that has highlighted as being the missing ingredient, or the next big breakthrough, in servicing customers, consumers, guests, patients, et al.

In the words of

With consumers looking increasingly for control, for convenience, for assistance, and yes, to be cared for (both offline and online), brands need to shift their product development and advertising prowess to brand-consistent services (and an accompanying butlering mindset) that assist consumers in making the most of their daily lives. For brands, this means that there are now endless creative and cost-effective ways to deliver on this need for assistance, for butlers….

“It has never been more important to turn your brand into a service. Jaded, time-poor, pragmatic consumers yearn for service and care…. Basically, if you’re going to embrace one big consumer trend this year, please let it be Brand Butlers… we believe that now is the time to go all-out on ‘serving is the new selling.’”

As a side note, one could ask “why Brand Butler and not Brand Concierge, as concierge is another term that has been adopted by other industries as a flattering descriptor. For instance, Westin introduced Running Concierges a couple of years ago to accompany guests walking around the city. Apart from the obvious alliterative advantage, we can only suggest that butlers have been around longer than concierges and so come more readily to mind when talking of solicitous service.

Looking for Brand Consistency

When talks of “butler mindset,” however, one may wonder exactly what that is in the corporate world, and hospitality in particular, over and above finding ways to assist the client, customer, guest, or patient “consumer.”

If one simply create applications, policies, and SOPs for employees to implement (such as Adidas’ Tokyo store where customers can use showers, locker rooms, attend workshops, and even design their own shoes or rent running gear), then one may well still be falling short, because the butler mindset is not an app, policy or SOP, but a mindset (that is obviously best supported by apps, policies, and SOPs that are aligned with and reinforce the mindset). A mindset can design something to reflect that mindset, but it requires a mind to have a mindset, and that, in Adidas’ case, would be not just the designer of the services offered, but also the front-line employees providing the services.

In other words, the app developers and managers need to understand and adopt the mindset, in order to then create the apps and SOPs; and beyond that, customer service employees in each company need to understand and adopt the mindset in order to apply the procedures that have been conceived with the butler mindset in mind, and so bring about brand consistency. Which is to say, the trend does not just impact product development and advertising, as outlined by, but also the actual service provided when it is person-to-person.

Otherwise, launching Brand Butler as a brand strategy may well result in confused ideas, SOPs, product and service offering design at the front end, and poor service at the back end for lack of extending the Brand Butler concept through to customer service—and therefore a lack of brand consistency that jaded customers will reject as care without soul or passion.

The main challenge in achieving this brand consistency is translating the butler mindset into practice drills, role-playing, and one-on-one procedures that bring about the required mindset and smooth communication skills upon which genuine service is predicated.

For more information on this trend, and examples of services major brands are providing in their pursuit of Brand Butler, see

The latest (mid-May) example of Brand Butler that came across my desk(top screen) is Monkey Butlers. The mind boggles, but the nod to butlers comes from Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers For The Disabled, which trains South American Capuchin monkeys, at a cost of $45,000 a head, to help amputees and paralyzed soldiers from the Afghan and Iraqi wars. The vets shine a laser pen at an item and the monkey butler will fetch it (or switch it on, for instance, in the case of a light switch; or open it, in the case of a peanut butter jar, etc.). Assistance on a practical level with an exclamation point.

Hitching onto the Brand Butler Star in Hospitality

Leisure services already see this Brand Butler service-over-sales approach, in such as Ski Butlers (in ten locations across the US), who are front-runners in ski services in the country.

Another recent application of Brand Butler comes from the venerable Lanesborough in Knightsbridge, London, one of the first adopters of real butlers in hotels, which initiated its Picnic Butler in May, 2010 to deliver the “ultimate hassle free picnic” at $400 a pop to “cash-rich, time-poor picnickers.” This, at first blush, would seem to weaken the status of their “Butler Butler,” but it need not. The Picnic Butler lays out the picnic in Hyde Park with crystal glasses, china, rugs, and cloth napkins, serves champagne and dishes such as Cornish poached lobster with Beluga mayonnaise, balotine of truffled foie gras, and Cropwell bishop stilton trifle with pear marmalade and oatmeal sable.

This bright and mouth-watering idea, most probably conceived over some beers by marketing rather than within the bowels of the Lanesborough kitchens, is something they are selling; but it is also, given the solicitous execution (more than the use of the word “butler”) of the service, a Brand Butler-oriented move designed for its particular guest list.

Le Richemond in Switzerland, likewise, recently instituted a “Watch Butler” to indulge the horological aficionados amongst its guests.

Each of these brands elected to use the word “butler” in their newly created titles…a tendency peculiar to hotels in the main. Do we now need to add a suffix to each hotel title: “Receptionist Butler,” “Valet Butler,” “Housekeeping Butler,” etc. in order to signify that we are serious about Brand Butler?

No need to answer this question. It is the actual service that counts, not assertions of service embedded in titles. This issue, however, might well be the next windmill toward which the Institute will tilt its lance.

In the final analysis, not all hotels can afford to, or will find it appropriate to its guest lists, to field a butler department. But they cannot afford to miss out on the Brand Butler trend with the rest of its employees. A genuinely caring mindset is part of the butler mindset, but there is a lot more to understanding and adopting the butler mindset. It is not something that occurs with a few days of ongoing training. But any attention to the subject helps.

Does Brand Butler represent a long stretch for hotels? Not high-end ones, where the effort is always to find something that will make the guest experience more pleasant and desirable. There is the butler in everyone in hospitality—the honesty, the creativity, the caring, the social graces, the phlegmatic (calm disposition); it is rare to find someone with all these qualities who is able to keep them turned on day in, day out, despite all the reasons not to; and rarer still to find the entire team like this. All of which reinforces the value of the butler mindset, and the skills to achieve it, in its various manifestations to hotels and resorts around the world.

Butlers, however, having been at it longer than hotels, may be able to offer pointers to reinforce the existing push.

Copyright © Steven Ferry 2010 All Rights Reserved

This article also appeared in the July 2010 issue of

Butler training Published Articles

Ask Not What The Butler Did But What He Could Do For You

The Hotel Butler – Recognizing the Value Butlers Bring to the Bottom Line!

We all know the cliche, but what was it the butler did? Sometimes in movies or board games, he was the one the police wanted to question further. In the hotel environment, the butler can be a failed experiment or a service facility that keeps high-rack occupancy rates at 100%.

Where he fails, it is because he is cast in (frankly) degrading-to-the-profession roles such as “bath butler,” “fireplace butler, “technology butler,” “baby butler” (who provides rocking chairs and watches children), “dog butler,” “ski butler,” and “beach butler.” The idea being that anything that offers superior service in some small area is called “a butler” in an effort to siphon some of the prestige of the profession.

At least when the term valet was extended to “dumb valet,” that furniture item upon which one lays out clothing for the following day, there was no pretence that this was the real item. Fortunately for the profession, the public were not fooled or taken in by these “dumb butlers” and the practice has faded relatively rapidly before it could sour the public mind on the concept of butlers. And fortunately so for the butlers working in top hotels around the world, who do justice to the profession, and the hotel managements who have recognized the value butlers bring to the bottom line and the repute of their establishments.

In an industry that is completely premised on the idea of service, and in which service is a key differentiator, it’s a no-brainer to institute butler service. Butlers have always represented the pinnacle in service quality. After the initial required training, the running of a butler service is not much more expensive to provide than regular service, yet it allows rack rates to be raised and creates a loyal following of repeat visitors, as well as enhancing word of mouth and thus new business that make the investment very sound.

Once management has decided to institute butler service, the next question is: how to bring it about.

The first step is to bring on board the most service-minded of your employees to undergo training. The second: Bring in one of the handful of butler trainers who can train hotel butlers (as distinct from butlers in private residence, as the hotel environment is very different and requires fewer and different skills than the traditional butler).

In putting together a training program, it is important to know the four main elements that hotel butler trainees and hotel butler programs need in order to succeed.

First of all, there are the mechanical actions, the skills that butlers need, such as how to clean shoes, how to greet guests, tour them around their suite, how to arrange events for their stay, etc.

Then there is knowing and adopting the psyche or mindset of the butler. It is a truism that in order to do something effectively and with conviction, one has to be able to be the role that one is playing fully. Unless a butler has this as a starting point, he or she will never be able to carry off the role convincingly or handle guests and even fellow staff with the aplomb that makes butlers such quintessential service professionals.

This is why the training has to include the history, rationale, characteristics and communication skills of the traditional butler, and enough drilling-in of these elements so that when the novice butler is faced with a tricky or embarrassing situation, he or she is not left tongue-tied, upsetting guests, or proving that he is not the smooth, low-key character that guests expect in their butlers.

Thirdly, having covered the theory and done copious drills on applying the skills in a classroom environment, the trainer needs to move out with the butlers and expose them gradiently to guests in the actual areas they will be providing butler service. By gradient is meant the trainees using each other and then senior staff as guest guinea pigs, and then servicing known-to-be-easy guests, and then VIPs and known-to-be-difficult guests. The trainer should correct them on an internship or apprenticeship basis until the trainees can confidently do their duties.

Finally, for training to be practical and workable, it needs to tie the general actions of butling into the specific hotel environment in which they are being instituted. This means the trainer has to work with hotel management and butler trainees to adapt existing SOPs (standard operating procedures) and propose new ones that align with existing SOPs. These SOPs would be developed during the training and then drilled and corrected and used during the apprenticeship period and then fine-tuned. The result would be a butler manual that would be referred to regularly, and used to train new staff to be butlers‹as the program will probably expand and there will always be some attrition.

The end result of the whole program as outlined above is generally employees with high morale who competently carry out their duties, wowing guests and resulting, as stated before, in 100% occupancy, a very high rate of return visits, and the opportunity to increase rack rates while enjoying stellar word of mouth.

Perhaps it would be better to ask then, not what the butler did, but what he (or she) could do for you.

The above article was published in the May/June 2005 of Spa Magazine, as well as in Hotel On Line,, Airline News Resource and in Polish in the publication