Preferred Hotel Group Members Reinvent Butler Service To Support the Needs of the 21st Century Traveler
CHICAGO | Modern travel can be challenging, maximizing a luxury hotel experience shouldn’t be. In an effort to provide guests with a distinctively memorable getaway, members of Preferred Hotels® & Resorts and Preferred Boutique have refined the notion of butler service, seamlessly updating it for 2007.
Though guests may be initially reluctant to request assistance, they quickly realize how the service significantly enhances their stay in a number of different ways. Canvassing a cross section of Preferred Hotels & Resorts and Preferred Boutique members, butlers at The Lanesborough in London, The Cloister at Sea Island Resorts, Georgia, Peter Island Resort in the Virgin Islands, Sandy Lane in Barbados and Villa Premiere Hotel & Spa in Puerto Vallarta prove to be seasoned experts ready to cater to the traveler’s every need.
The Virtual Butler
Not long ago, the butler-guest interaction was personal and on-site only. Today, guests can “activate” butler service both within and outside of the hotel, greatly expanding the utility of their role. Rarely does a traveler leave home today without a cell phone, lap top or PDA. Therefore, each of the 23 butlers at The Lanesborough, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, are equipped with wireless hand-held devices, allowing guests to email their personal butlers from any location. In fact, these insider experts are becoming an essential resource for business travelers – not just those on holiday. For example, a traveler delayed in a meeting can email a dinner reservation change while a leisure guest out for a day of shopping can request theatre tickets on a whim and receive confirmation by return email within minutes.
In the hotel, The Lanesborough’s butlers are available at the push of a button 24-hours a day. Guests quickly realize that these talented and resourceful professionals exist to serve as personal assistants, fulfilling every wish – provided that it is legal!
“A guest arrived on an early morning flight from Australia and her luggage did not make it to London with her,” recalled Head Butler Sean Davoren who oversees The Lanesborough’s butler staff. “She had a dinner engagement at Buckingham Palace that evening and was a little distressed, to say the least,” he recalled. “I arranged for a number of Sloane Street boutiques to deliver a selection of dresses to the hotel for our guest to choose from. We had a seam mistress on standby, jewelry delivered from Graft, and all of the necessary accessories to make her the belle of the ball.”
“Jeeves” is a Lady
The Cloister at Sea Island’s head butler eschews the “Jeeves” stereotype in appearance only. Petite in stature, Head Butler Fiona Cameron-Williams ably commands a staff of 49, the largest butler staff in North America. She’s quick to point out that one third of The Cloister’s butlers are women. Available 24 hours a day, the staff make it their mission to do the “heavy lifting” for guests on vacation. Tasks range from drawing a soothing bath to pressing a guest’s clothes to satisfying a late-night craving for ice cream. Guests are encouraged to utilize the services provided by Fiona and her staff even if they have never used a butler in the past.
“No request is considered too big an effort,” said Cameron-Williams. “We view butler service at The Cloister not merely as a job but as a dedicated occupation.”
A member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, The Cloister makes every attempt to pair guests with butlers most suited to their needs. Pairings are based on an initial phone call made to the guest prior to arrival by a member of Cloister Guest Relations; it is an integral part of personalizing service for each guest. The call identifies guest preferences in terms of services that might be needed, desired meals, resort activities, personal interests and language spoken. The Cloister’s butler staff speaks 11 languages including English, Spanish, French, German, Swiss German, Arabic, Hindi, Indonesian, Lebanese, Nepalese, and Tagalog. Each butler is certified through the Modern Butlers Institute, a program which awarded The Cloister the United States’ first-ever “5-Butler” rating, the organization’s highest designation.
The Tropical Butler
Even while vacationing in the British Virgin Islands no wish goes unfulfilled as butler service at Peter Island Resort, a member of Preferred Boutique, measures up to its sumptuous accommodations, impeccable service and panoramic views. Edoardo Rossi, Peter Island’s full-time villa manager is dedicated to providing a hands-on, personalized approach to service, tailored to suit the specific needs and desires of each guest. Rossi oversees a fulltime staff that includes a valet, chef, housekeeper and groundsman. A 24-hour private chauffeured vehicle is on standby for guests opting for a jaunt around the island. For a grand entrance to the resort, Rossi will reserve the resort’s private helicopter at the guest’s request.
Guests staying in The Villa at Sandy Lane, a Preferred Hotels & Resorts member in Barbados, are appointed their own personal Villa Coordinator to ensure that no detail is overlooked during their stay. A coordinator contacts guests prior to arrival to discuss any special needs they may have during their stay. Additional duties include valet services, packing, unpacking, shoeshine, pressing, baby sitting, planning and coordinating private barbecues, island tours and much more.
It is no secret that luxury travel is increasingly complex with a myriad of options for each traveler that takes time and energy to evaluate and utilize. Butlers streamline luxury travel by translating preferences of each guest across a number of experiences. For example, butlers at the Villa Premiere Hotel & Spa, a Preferred Boutique member in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, have one purpose: to ensure each guest’s stay is memorable. Upon check-in, guests are greeted with a full menu of their services. At the touch of a “Butler Button” on their telephones, guests can be assisted with any need from their pillow selection from the hotel’s Pillow Menu, to reservations at the hotel’s Oxygen Bar to reconfirmation of flights.
Universal among butlers is the desire to serve in a useful and relevant way. Savvy travelers to butler-staffed Preferred Hotel Group properties are pleased to say “the butler did it.”
ABOUT PREFERRED HOTEL GROUP | Preferred Hotel Group is a global leader in the hospitality industry. This creative, cutting-edge company is designed for a new era in travel – an era in which travelers embrace the individuality of distinctive hotels and resorts, yet desire a consistent commitment to excellence. The four brands of Preferred Hotel Group represent a collection of the finest hotels in the world and include Preferred Hotels® & Resorts, (www.preferredhotels.com); Preferred Boutique (www.preferredboutique.com); Summit Hotels & Resorts (www.summithotels.com); and Sterling Hotels (www.sterlinghotels.com). Learn more at www.preferredhotelgroup.com.
Gina Galatro/Laura Mooney
Middleton & Gendron, Inc.
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