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9 Kinds of Hotel Butlers You Probably Never Knew Existed

March 12, 2014 at 1:28 PM | by | ()

The official definition of a butler is, according to Google, this: "the chief manservant of a house." In other words, Carson from "Downtown Abbey." But in the hotel world, a butler means so much more.

A Hotel Butler, usually found at a luxury hotel, does whatever a guest wants. The butlers go beyond the concierge service and step into personal assistant realm, doings mundane tasks such as unpacking suitcases, arranging car services, ordering room service, and picking clothes up for laundry or dry-cleaning. Alas, hotel butlers are really expensive. Not everyone can have one during their stay, unless they are willing to pay top dollar for the biggest suite in the house.

So luxury hotels came up with a genius way to let everyone experience having a butler on call--by creating specialized butler services. We've rounded up 9 Kinds of Hotel Butlers You Probably Didn't Even Know Existed. And yes, some of these butlers are really reaching. Know of another niche butler service? Tell us in comments below!

1. A TANNING Butler
The Ritz-Carlton South Beach won our hearts, and saved our skin, when they began offering a tanning butler several years ago. We spoke with one of the butlers back in 2010 (the service was introduced around 2007) and his job was pretty much this: "patrol" the pool deck and beach, offering lotion and oil-rubbing services to guests who take their tanning—or sun protection—seriously.

2. A FIRESIDE Butler
Does your room come with a fireplace? If you're staying in a suite at the Taj Boston, you can enlist the services of a Fireside Butler who will advise you on the Firewood menu (there are six different kinds) and then light your fire. Similarly, the Harvest Cottage at The Carneros Inn in Napa Valley has a Fireside Butler to set up the cottage's outdoor fire pit along with some chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers for a s'mores fix. During your stay, call the Fireside Hotline to send up the Fireside Butler.

3. A CAMPING Butler
Yes, there are butlers in the wild. The Camping Butler at the Paws Up Resort isn't like a normal butler but he still makes sure guests get everything they need. He will serve up flapjacks and bacon for breakfast then get to cleaning dishes, arranging activities and stopping by the tents in the evening for turndown service. If we could have a camping butler on call, then we'd might actually go camping.

Guests at The Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver don't have far to look if they forget their perfume or cologne. All they have to do is call the Fragrance Butler who will show up at their door minutes later, carrying a silver tray of gratis fine fragrances. If you don't like what you chose, he'll come back up with other selections. And yes, he's on call 24-7.

The Hyatt Union Square in NYC is now employing an Accessories Butler who operates out of the hotel lobby, offering some of the season's hottest accessories--earrings, necklaces, scarves, hats, belts, cufflinks, you name it--for guests to borrow during their stay. The accessories will be changed up every first of the month and should guests want to buy what they are wearing, a retail location will be provided. (Hmpf. We would think the Accessories Butler could phone in the order instead of making the guest get it on her own.)

The St. Regis New York allows guests to "talk" to their butlers (a standard service for all St. Regis Hotel guests) via a mobile app. Guests can download the E-Butler app prior to arriving at the hotel and then once they check-in, they can start communicating electronically with their butler. See an example of a butler-guest chat above.

7. A BUSINESS Butler
The Plaza New York has butlers for their suite guest but back in 2010, they started offering a Business Butler package which gave guests 30 percent off a suite stay (thus enabling them access to a butler) along with a complimentary suit pressing, 20 percent discount while entertaining clients at the hotel and a complimentary American breakfast. It doesn't look like the package is still available but the butlers are still doing lots of business at The Plaza regardless.

8. A SKI Butler
Any luxury ski resort worth its five-star rating will have a ski butler to help guests with their equipment before and after hitting the slopes. But at the Washington School House in Park City, they use a service actually called Ski Butlers who will come to any location in Park City and fit guests with the needed rental equipment.

9. A BATH Butler: Bath butlers may actually have been the first sort of niche butler service to appear on the hospitality scene. We actually dialed one up back in 2008 at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay and this is what transpired:

Expecting a man in a tuxedo, we were instead met at the door by two female spa employees in black polos who arrived before the promised time (they're available from 8AM to 8PM, but maybe most people pre-schedule their baths in advance -- which would explain why we had to ask for a bath "now," as if it was urgent).

The bath smelled of roses and was lined with rose petals along the rim but it also cost $65 plus an additional $13 service charge. Buying a bottle of really nice bubble bath might just be a better alternative.

Know of another niche butler service? Tell us in comments below!

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