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

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 10, issue 12

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

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

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

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

Letters to the Editor

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

Butlers in the Media

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

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

Butler Training

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

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

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

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

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


Baron Shortt

Executive Protection & Security

by Baron James Shortt


 Airport Scare—Thinking Beyond the Herd Mentality


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

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

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

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

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

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

Baron Shortt is the Executive Director of the IBA

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

by Amer Vargas 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Hotel Butler Position in West Hollywood, California

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

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 8 of 20

by GJ dePillis

A Prickly Question: Evaluating the Right Rose to Grow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Jeff HermanConsulting the Silver Expert

by Jeffrey Herman

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

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


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


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