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The Modern Butlers’ Journal, January 2021, Message from the Chairman

Steven FerryMessage from the Chairman

by Steven Ferry

It is with a sad heart that we report the passing of Dr. Maniku, who’s vision, people- and administrative-skills were largely responsible for making available the beauty of the Maldives to millions of people seeking a respite from the stresses and strains of their everyday lives to experience one of the paradises we are so fortunate to have in this world.

From the pioneering Baros resort where guests and staff roughed it as they started to define tourism in the country almost five decades ago, Dr. Maniku and his family built numerous excellent resorts and even an airline, always remaining exemplary and caring employers for the staff. His last project, The Nautilus, was his dream, and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to help him achieve it—one of the top 3-4 resorts in the world where whatever the guest wanted, he or she received, no hotel rules to stand in the way. That meant, for instance, no restaurant hours and no menus—whatever the guest felt like eating or drinking was provided. Located on a small, private island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, that was quite a promise and a challenge, but Dr. Maniku recognized that if we are truly to pamper guests and make them the entire focus of the service, fully personalized, then anything less would be a compromise, putting the hotel or resort’s interests or difficulties ahead of the guests’ wishes. We saw his vision as the nexus of hospitality and private-service butlers, and training the butlers for The Nautilus became a key goal reached for myself—raising the bar for hotel butler service to the same level as private service.

We thank you, Dr. Maniku, for everything you have done to make the world a better place.

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

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Constant Creativity & Enthusiasm In the Drive to Exceed One’s Own Lofty Expectations

Four- and five-star hotels and resorts around the world number in the hundreds, catering to different markets/publics with different needs and wants. The imperative to make the guest experience so memorable that the guests become repeaters and ambassadors, occupancy runs dizzyingly high and word of mouth sizzles, is one that every new (or existing) General Manager/Managing Director faces; each has a vision, a style of management, a stable of successful actions, and erstwhile colleagues they trust to support their standards and whom they quickly bring in to precipitate success for owners, shareholders, management, staff, and guests alike.

This story is about the dynamic approach of one particular GM who lives the mantra of all service professionals, with a twist: exceeding even one’s own expectations by adopting a mindset that drives a never-ending and highly creative stream of improvements, not just in service quality, but also the guest experience—in a whirlwind of energy that lifts all metrics before it!

At the end of one assignment, Dietmar Koegel (“Didi”) was asked if he wanted to manage Per Aquum’s resort, Niyama, in the Maldives. He was not sure, so he visited the island as a guest for two weeks and discovered a fine resort with issues that were not so much “bads” as a failure to develop potential “goods.” For Didi, the cup is neither half empty nor half full, rather “almost full” all the time; so like an artist assessing a blank canvas, he piled creation upon creation in his mind of how the guest experience and satisfaction could be second to none, as opposed to merely excellent.

Now, 14 months after taking the helm, Niyama’s Trip Advisor ranking has risen from 50th to 12th and their Guest Satisfaction Score as measured by Market Matrix has risen from 88% to 94%. Of Minor Hotel Group’s 136 hotels (at last count), Niyama has risen to #1. Niyama moved from the high 40’s and 4.5-star on TripAdvisor, to #12 and 5*.

How did Didi achieve such results so rapidly in a region where Niyama is one amongst dozens of desirable, high-end island-resorts?

He took immediate action to raise the level of passion in the staff based on his own example, and was not shy of replacing members of senior management who found themselves unable to rise to the occasion.

New hires were sought who had passion: one example was Yoosuf, a butler who was new to hospitality and, following training that inspired him with how many ways there were to wow guests, soon impressed the guests so much that one couple wanted to show their appreciation. When the butler told them he was happy to service them and was not interested in their tip, they had him take them in a speedboat to his local island, where they toured the hospital and school, donated $150,000 on the spot and pledged a further $150,000 for the following year.

As a longer-range target, and to complement the improvements being realized on the people side, Didi immediately pushed through a budget for, and construction of, villas and unique and innovative (for the region) outlets that doubled the former and tripled the latter—by the simple expedient of developing a second adjacent island that, hitherto, had lain fallow.

Didi upgraded from a generic, single island that tried to be all things to all guests, to a two-island concept: Chill for adults and (the new island), Play, for families— with 48 family villas, family restaurants, an ice cream parlor, a cooking school and the largest kid’s club in the country, Explorer, catering to four age groups starting uniquely at just one-year old, designed and run in partnership with Scott Dunn, the top European operator.

Didi then invested in training the staff, with the understanding that Rome was not built in a day, and nor were the skill sets of the staff built with a once-off dog-and-pony show: so he provided daily in-house training for all staff to ensure consistency and polish of all outlets and departments; and backed it up with external training, such as two months of training for the bar staff; monthly wine training; and training and coaching every four months for the butlers (Thakurus, in Divehi, the Maldivian language), especially focusing on soft skills and always leaving the guests happier with each interaction.

Realizing the importance of butlers in making possible more personalized service, he quadrupled their numbers, added more butler services and had all the butler SOPs fine tuned—and importantly, is maintaining the ratio of butlers-to-guests as occupancy increases so the butlers do not drop their level of services from sheer lack of time for each guest.

Moving beyond the usual online booking process, Niyama now has its Online Preference Menu, in which all direct bookings, OTA and TO receive this link [http://www.niyamamaldives-ppm.com] with their reservation confirmation to capture guest preferences and allow Niyama to prepare for their arrival (such as placing fins and diving masks in the villa before arrival, based on the shoe-size information submitted).

Instead of the “usual” guest arrival experience, with welcome messages on the bed written in palm fronds or flowers (nice touches, of course), he looked for ways to “rise above the noise” of his competitors. So now Niyama guests see a welcome message in lipstick on the mirror, bed decorations, and welcome gifts beyond the usual complimentary bottle of champagne or wine, such as a frisbee, mini hand-fan, and mini-speakers, all of which create a sense of expectation in the guests that the rest of the stay will be marked by innovation and attention to myriad details that add up to desirable things to experience and have.

And that is exactly what Didi’s team focuses on delivering.

Knowing that a variety of gustatory delights rate high on the list for most guests, he added three new restaurants: Blue, a Mediterranean restaurant; one of the largest tree-top restaurants in the world—appropriately called Nest—offering Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, and Japanese cuisines; and converting the underwater night club into, appropriately, a seafood restaurant. He hired top cooks for these outlets and then reviewed and aligned the menus based on guest comments. This in addition to the other 6 restaurants and bars, including Tribal, an al-fresco, beachside-by-the-jungle restaurant offering African and South American cuisines that combine local inspiration with global flair; and an authentic ambiance, whether the tall Masai-warrior host, the chefs and wait-staff from different African and South American cultures; the flaming, open fires, hot-rock grills, and Argentinian Asado woks; or the traditional, complimentary (and potent) Dawa (Swahili for medicine) pick-me-up that the bar tender brings to start off the meal in the right spirit. It’s a hands-on experience, as guests muddle their own “medicine” using fresh lime wedges, honey, vodka (refined Dawa), and crushed ice—and take their muddler home as a souvenir. They can also be photographed performing traditional dances around the campfire after the meal with the entire African team, equipped with spears and shields—or posing with the Masai warrior—which photographs are framed and put on their bedside table at turndown the next evening. These touches are genuine from-the-heart fun with Africans steeped in their own culture, not skin-deep, mass touristic, Disneyesque performances. One detail that has proven popular is the African coffee menu, served the traditional way.

Didi with welcoming, multi-lingual African Grey Parrot, and guest, outside Nest
Didi with welcoming, multi-lingual African Grey Parrot outside Nest

A redesigned Chef’s garden, Spice, supplies all restaurants with fresh vegetables, salad items, herbs, etc., in a country that has to import all food items (except fish and coconut!) from Australia, Sri Lanka, and other remote points.

As an example of the creativity, of details being explored beyond the basic level of creativity, the Nest experience includes the sound of exotic birds amongst the Banyan trees and being greeted in your language (English, Russian, & Chinese) by a Macaw and African Grey. The modern, natural multi-level wooden structures include private pods suspended 18-feet above the ground and domed pavilions, all linked by wooden walkways and blending into the jungle.

Beyond the architecture and dining experience, guests can participate by making their own coconut oil, which is bottled in small Niyama bottles for the guests to take home; or cutting sugar cane, using a manual, antique sugar-cane juicer located on a rustic table, and drinking the juice they produce. Or muddling their own curry, starting with a trip through the Chef’s Garden with the chef to select ingredients fresh from the trees, bushes, and plants, listening to the chef describing the different methods for making yellow, red, or green curries, and chatting with the chef afterwards while they make, and then eat, their own curry.

For the all-important name recognition by all employees, Didi introduced “Show me you know me,” based on photos of guests being taken upon arrival and shared daily with all departments—printing each photo and placing it on each departmental board with the appropriate villa number.

In order to ensure guests take advantage of everything they would like to do during their stay, all employees were provided with a pocket leaflet describing all the facilities, and the Thakurus tasked with scheduling each guest’s stay at their earliest convenience. Daily Preference Capture cards were introduced and entered into Opera to be shared with the HODs in the morning, when the Thakurus also provide feedback on each guest’s activities and any glitches.

Guest engagement by ExComm is part of the culture—not in a way that distracts the guests, but which allows them to know that management is interested and there for them: Didi, for instance, rides around the islands on his bicycle with the parrot on the handle bars, and when the parrot is not engaging the guests, Didi is. The ExComm members express little reluctance to participate in the wine tastings with the guests, or joining them on sunset cruises.

Then there is the follow-up and connection via all social media and responding to every guest questionnaire received. Didi initiated the Glitch Report, “Measure what you treasure and manage what you measure,” which tracks the cost of each giveaway to defuse guest complaints, whether upgrades, comp’ed dinners, or vouchers, and uses it to resolve issues that make guests complain and so reduce giveaways.

In terms of outlets and services offered, Niyama now boasts its own, world-class photo studio, complete with wardrobe and hair stylist/make-up artist, which is constantly booked to take photographs of guests in various locales around the islands, or even underwater; the only dive chamber in the country at its diver instruction school; the first Paul Ropp boutique store (Asia’s answer to Armani, with prices to match) in the Indian Ocean, offering only hand- and custom-made, once-off, silk clothing and proving immensely popular with guests (and remunerative for Niyama). The children of guests put on a fashion show to showcase the Ropp clothes made specifically for Niyama; the Coconut Express, where a team member walks around the island harvesting and opening coconuts and offering the milk with straws to guests.

Three initiatives were introduced in the Spa: Pedro Sanchez, celebrity Swiss Hair Stylist, opened a salon; a beauty clinic opened, offering Botox treatment, as well as thread lifting and filler treatment, which combined with Itraceutical, instantly makes a face look younger; specialty Spa practitioners were brought in each month during the high season.

In collaboration with a German radio and TV presenter, Didi is creating the first, worldwide, web-based hotel radio station, starting with a morning show featuring 10 minutes of talk and 50 minutes of music: think interviews with the Chef on “News from the Kitchen;” interviews with the Kids Program Director and with guests about their holiday experience and their favorite activities or dishes; calling in a music request either in house or from overseas (guests can continue to listen after they leave through a link on the Niyama site or an App which is under development).

Daily classical concerts (or live performances by celebrities during the Manager’s complimentary Cocktail Hour) will be covered live at the Dune Bar and moderated by the Radio Master, with all sunbeds facing the sunset and waiters in white gloves serving Roeder, Cristal, Armand de Brigand, and Dom Perignon.

In terms of a sense of place and locale, again, the focus is on guest participation, rather than simply being on the receiving end of engineered experiences—guests are encouraged to contribute their efforts to the local environment by creating their own legacy, collecting corals with Niyama’s Marine Biologist and attaching these to a coated-steel frame and placing them strategically (with their names attached) to build the reefs that are critical to the existence of the island as well as attracting sea life. Soon to come, a Niyama Marine Micro website will provide scads of information on reefs, reef life, and those in particular around Niyama, including quarterly updates on each person’s reef-section growth.

Also in the immediate pipeline: completing a tennis court, a football court, and a mini-golf course; and Bongo Bar, a shack on the surfing beach where a Rastafarian bar tender and young Cuban lady will serve Cuba Libre, Rum cocktails, etc., all to a reggae beat.

If there is one thing that is clear from the Didi modus operandi, it is continuous creativity adding up to a large number of improvements and innovations at every opportunity, driven by passion and high interest—the push to exceed one’s own expectations as a manager—the intention for oneself and the staff to have fun creating memorable and fun experiences for the guests.

The metrics show this to be a winning formula, and one encouraged by, and aligning with, the Per Aquum brand and the Minor Hotel Group’s philosophy—without corporate support, it would be difficult to achieve such innovations and expansion plans so rapidly, which says something about the rapidly growing MHG brand.

 

Originally published in Hotel Business Review

then in Hotel News Resource

and Hotel On-line 

and 4hoteliers

 

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Newsletter

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

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 11, issue 10

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Not All Soaps are Created Equal

Parrot3
Mr. Kobi Gutman continues to work in his free time on creating custom-made soaps for his guests. He plans to produce a short technical manual for the use of butlers who would like to be able to turn this commodity into a “wow” factor with minimal outlay of effort and cost. Stay tuned for more information!

 

 

 

Butlers in the Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 5

by Amer Vargas 

The Red Eye

“Ever worked behind a bar?”

“My uncle is in the business.”

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

“Brian Flanagan.”

Red eye, photographer unknown
The Red Eye, photographer unknown

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your drink…and your movie!

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

Recent Training and Graduates

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

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

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 18 of 25

by GJ dePillis

Medicinal Roses as Described in Ancient Texts

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

What rose-related medicinal treatments were common?

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

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

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

The White Windermere Aushomer rose
photo by David Austin Roses

 

Jeff Herman Consulting the Silver Expert

 by Jeffrey Herman

Q: When was stainless first used in table knives?

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

Mr. Herman continues to offer his services to our readers for any questions you may have about the care of silver. Either call him at (800) 339-0417 (USA) or email jeff at hermansilver.com

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.

Categories
Butler training

No shoes, great Mr. Fridays

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

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

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

Mr. Fridays team

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

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

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

Gasim, Mr. Calder, Yasir and Mr. Bahauddeen

 

Categories
Newsletter

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

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 10, issue 12

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

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

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

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

Letters to the Editor

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

Butlers in the Media

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

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

Butler Training

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

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

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

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

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

 

Baron Shortt

Executive Protection & Security

by Baron James Shortt

 

 Airport Scare—Thinking Beyond the Herd Mentality

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baron Shortt is the Executive Director of the IBA

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

by Amer Vargas 


Sake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Placement

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

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

Hotel Butler Position in West Hollywood, California

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

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 8 of 20

by GJ dePillis

A Prickly Question: Evaluating the Right Rose to Grow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jeff HermanConsulting the Silver Expert

by Jeffrey Herman

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

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

 

Mr. Herman continues to offer his services to our readers for any questions you may have about the care of silver. Either call him at (800) 339-0417 (USA) or email jeff at hermansilver.com

 

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.

Categories
Newsletter

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

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 10, issue 7

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

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

Butlers in the Media

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

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

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

Butler Training

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

Butler/Household Manager Sought…

… for a private estate in California

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

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

by Amer Vargas 

Tequila, Part 1 of 2

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 3 of 20

Types of Roses

by GJ dePillis

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Categories
Newsletter

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 gmail.com

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 hermansilver.com

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.

Categories
Butler training Training

Trabajando descalzo en las Maldivas

Suaves arenas blancas, aguas transparentes como el cristal y una suave brisa del Océano Índico. Cuando los humanos empezaron a hablar sobre el paraíso, estaban realmente pensando en las Maldivas.

Al norte de la capital, Male, se encuentra Kunfunadhoo, una pequeña gran isla “desierta” que alberga Soneva Fushi, un resort concebido para esconderse en sus preciosas villas cubiertas por uno de los más exclusivos y exquisitos servicios de que uno pueda disfrutar.

One of the 1000+ Maldives islands

Puede que no tan desierta. La isla tiene un personal compuesto mayoritariamente por miembros locales que se aseguran de que los huéspedes disfrutan al máximo de su estancia. Ciertamente, el lema del resort es SLOW LIFE (acrónimo en inglés de Sostenible-Local-Orgánico-Bienestar Aprendizaje-Inspiración-Diversión-Experiencias) se puede sentir desde la misma llegada a la propiedad. Soneva Fushi produce parte de su electricidad y recicla la mayor parte de sus deshechos; propone excursiones que hacen al huésped sentirse parte de la cultura maldiva, planta sus propias lechugas y algunas verduras, todo orgánico y sin tratamientos químicos y, desde que el huésped pisa el resort, la cultura de Sin Noticias-Sin Zapatos le sumerge en un estado de relajación que se puede completar en el Spa. Si los huéspedes quieren llevarse algo consigo pueden enrolarse en clases de cocina de diferentes estilos, aprender sobre corales y peces en compañía de la bióloga marina, o hablar con su astrónomo privado sobre estrellas y planetas en el Observatorio (el único en Maldivas). Si esto no fuera lo bastante inspirador, siempre se pueden apuntar a las lecciones de deportes acuáticos o actividades de buceo con tubo o con botella para ver mantas. Definitivamente, ¡un gran cúmulo de experiencias que llevarse a casa!

The Observatory

De vuelta dentro de mis zapatos, deseo lo mejor a todo el equipo de Fridays (un primo cercano del Mayordomo) que hizo de la visita del instructor a Maldivas un encuentro fantástico y memorable.

The Great Fridays!

 

Categories
Newsletter

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 [www.domesticworkers.org]

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

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.

 

Categories
Butler training

The Barefoot Butler

 The Barefoot Butler

Far removed from the swirling turmoil of the world, its political upheavals, financial scandals, and social unrest, Soneva Gili stands as a very small island sanctuary—no bigger than a football field or two, it secrets away 250 staff amongst its shady trees and about 120 guests in less than 50 water villas satelliting around the island. Three gourmet restaurants on the beaches or over the water, including a below-ground wine cellar where eight people can enjoy fine cuisine and vintage wines and savor the chocolates made on the spot; and a spa where glass-covered holes in the floor below the massage tables reveal fish swimming below.

The Private Reserve is the top villa, standing apart from the rest

But this discreet elegance and luxury is not what attracts so much as the serenity of the space that pervades from the moment one lands. Shoes are not part of the dress code. Unsustainable living is not part of the agenda either, with organic gardens and greenhouses, water all made on site, and no throw-away plastic or other fast-paced, throw-away culture, please. The Founders of Six Senses have a vision they call SLOW LIFE, which stands for Sustainable, Local, Organic, and Wellness, Learning, Inspiring, and Fun Experiences.

It’s a great way to experience what life and society would be like if there didn’t happen to be a few dedicated to raping whatever they can lay their hands on in life. The number of people who return time and again to this little speck in the Indian Ocean testifies to what a hidden treasure it is. The owners do not advertize, relying mostly on word of mouth and the kind of writing that I am doing right now!

And to top it all off, they have butler service, called “Man (and Lady) Fridays” after Robinson Crusoe’s Man Friday, copies of which are available in each water villa. The Fridays, who are almost all Maldivian, were eager students and fired up to offer the best possible service—with some innovative treats conceived to wow their guests.

So when your boss is wondering where to go for the next getaway, I suggest you suggest  this far away place: a twenty-minute private boat trip from the airport.

One of the three jettys. There are stand-alone water villas, too
Housekeeping on the way to a villa just before a storm…the rainy season has arrived and is not that rainy
Cruising under my villa in two feet of water
A young shark swims by my villa in one foot of water. There are no records of shark or ray attacks in the lagoon
One of the trainees—not a butler, but the Training Director—coming up to speed on how to butle
Two of the butlers: no plastic smiles here, just fun-loving people.

These hotel and resort butlers are the butler-away-from-home, filling in for the butlers at home for those lucky enough to employ butlers, and giving a taste to those who do not yet have butlers, of what life is like when butlers take care of the minutiae that go into living.  As 90% of the uber-wealthy are new money, this seems like a good way to test the waters. These butlers may not have the sophistication of experienced private-service butlers, but they make up for it with their open-heartedness—and the difference is just a matter of degree, really, for in the final analysis, private and hospitality butlers pursue the same goals for the same people.

A variation of the bath drill. There is something special about lying in a bath and listening to the waves lapping below.
A private sunset cruise in a One-Butler-Powered traditional Dhoni
The tsunami a few years back washed up many dead trees on the island. One handsome specimen is used as the table in the wine cellar, and two have been given a second lease on life as hammock supports
The private “swimming pool” accessed from the bathroom
A typical sunset view from my villa