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Remember that bright red phone that went straight to Batman’s cave, summoning him whenever crime was afoot and a superhero was required? Well, Viceroy Sugar Beach Resort in St. Lucia has one of those. Except it’s not red, necessarily. And it doesn't summon Batman, but rather, your butler.
But this one works from the beach. And if you find yourself in a dire champagne emergency — well, let’s just say that not all heroes wear capes.
We recently spent some time at Sugar Beach, a resort replete with amenities throughout its luxury villas--from infinity plunge pools overlooking the sea below, to full wet bars stocked with local beers and rum. (Also awesome: private terrace views of a spectacular Caribbean sunset flanked on each side by the lush Piton mountains.)
One of our favorites, though, is the handy provision of Firefly mobile phones. The brand is typically treated as a “starter cell” for kids, since the phones are restricted to dialing among a handful of pre-programmed numbers. Sugar Beach, however, cleverly repurposes them as service bells, basically.
The Sunshine Butler's grounds
In America, they have tanning butlers. In the UK, one is fashionably pale, so one has a “sunshine butler”. Or at least, one does when there’s enough sun to merit wearing sunscreen.
Yes, hot on the heels of the biggest heatwave ever (maybe), The Club Hotel & Spa in St Helier, Jersey, has recruited a Sunshine Butler to strut the terraces of the hotel, polishing sunglasses, administering suncream of various strengths, misting one’s face and feet with mineral water, and proffering iced towels and chilled watermelon.
That leaves guests to wallow on their sunloungers by the Mediterranean-style Pool Terrace, take a dip (once adequately creamed) in the pool, or enjoy that cocktail without being irritated by one’s hot and sweaty feet. What more could one need?
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We’ve all had those days while traveling overseas when you can’t quite get the gumption to leave your cozy hotel world and explore the greater world outside. We recently had one of those days while staying at the celeb hangout, Fouquet’s Barrière in Paris (a Luxury Hotels of the World property), and have put together a list of things to do if agoraphobia hits you too.
1) Food glorious food: Fouquet’s has five restaurants and three bars, not too shabby considering the hotel has only 81 rooms. Our favorite places to hang out were at Le Bar Marta, with its black and white 1930s Hollywood glam design and La Petite Maison de Nicole because, heck, if it’s good enough for Jay-Z and Beyoncé, it’s good enough for us. The food at La Petite Maison is best-described as gourmet southern France comfort food. That means Macaroni with Truffles and Provençal Ratatouille. If you go on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday evening you can groove with one of the resident DJs.
2) Shop at the front desk: There is no reason you can’t still shop if you don’t leave the hotel. If you’d like to buy the monogrammed robe you can certainly do that, but you’ll also find five proprietary perfumes, yo-yos, aprons, pencil sets and Panama hats. Some products are on display throughout the lobby, some in your room, and some are found at the front desk.
Three more tips below!
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!
Capella Hotels and Resorts could be considered one of the most luxurious hotel collections in the world.. that you've not yet heard about.
There are only five Capella Hotels in the world right now, with four more in the works. The first few locations opened in Germany, Singapore and Mexico before arriving stateside with the Capella Georgetown. While they don't have quite the name recognition as Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton, Capella Hotels are equally stunning properties with modern and sophisticated, not stuffy, interiors. (Incidentally, Capella was founded by Horst Schulze, the former CEO of Ritz-Carlton.)
But beyond that, Capella has a service that distinguishes them from the rest of the competition--Personal Assistants.
Deciding what to bring on a trip is often a pain, and it seems no matter how much we think about it, there's always something we forget. Hyatt Union Square sympathizes and has just launched ‘The Accessories Butler’, a one-of-a-kind accessories closet for guests, curated by "Fashion & Lifestyle expert" Pamela Pekerman. During their stay, guests of the Hyatt Union Square can borrow from a selection of the season’s hottest accessories - earrings, necklaces, scarves, hats, belts, cufflinks, you name it, ‘The Accessories Butler’ will have it. The butler will stay in the hotel’s lobby, and on the first of every month, feature a new selection of the season’s on-trend accessories. Each item will also be displayed with details, including the retail location where it will be available for purchase.
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In an age where you can remotely check-into a hotel with your smartphone and then use the in-room iPad to order breakfast from room service and tell housekeeping to change your towels, human interaction at hotels seems to be decreasing minute-by-minute every year. Often times, the only time we talk to a hotel employee is at check-in and, if something isn't working in the room.
But luxury hotels still put a premium on face-to-face interaction, thanks to their staff of well-trained concierges, front desk agents, bell men, housekeepers and more, who constantly check to make sure their guests have everything they need. And the uber-luxe hotels keep the constant contact going with their butler service, like the The Lanesborough Hotel in London, where a personal butler is automatically available to every guest who books a room. (The hotel was one of the first hotels to institute private butlers almost 25-years-ago.) Machines can do a lot but can they anticipate your needs like a real-live human butler? Not just yet.
To show how butlers can stay on top of their refined service game as we become increasingly dependent on machines, Daniel Jordaan, Head Butler of The Lanesborough, has shared his 10 Commandments List for hotel butlers.
These rules not only ensure that hotel guests' every need will be met but also offer some valuable insight for anyone working in the hospitality industry, in any position. No smartphone apps needed! We are especially big fans of #2, #3, and #6. (Actually, we're fans of all of them but these really stood out for us.)
Keep reading to see the full list of the 10 Commandments for Hotel Butlers
Like packing before a trip, dismantling your suitcase upon arrival at the hotel is a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand, it's exciting. On the other, it's a pain in the ass and delays the start of your vacation. Which is exactly why it's becoming less common. When we dished about how the hotel rooms of the future might change, the usefulness of a closet was one of the first things called into question.
But what would you say if we told you someone could take care of it for you? That someone unpacking and re-packing your bags was a perk of the hotel? This isn't a mainstream concept (yet?), but we do find it offered at upscale hotels from time to time. We must admit: it seems foreign to us. Do luxury travelers really let someone else unpack and pack their bags?
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With family travel being an ever increasing market these days, hotels are doing the right thing by expanding their services to accommodate younger visitors. We've recently written about a few hotel services designed to keep the kids occupied while you're chilling on your vacation, but we are just bowled over by the St. Regis' commitment to creating a home away from home for families staying at their resorts.
Case in point: the St. Regis, Bali had been seeing a family from the Asia-Pacific region stay for three to five weeks in a two-bedroom villa between Easter and Christmas. The family would settle in, sans the father, who, as a surgeon, travels a lot for work and would always arrive a few days later.
The resort noticed the father's busy schedule and responded by creating personalized programs for the children and even, get this, arranging for their butler to dress up as the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus to deliver gifts!
Our hearts are warmed and we are utterly charmed by the St. Regis for this ... and maybe just a little envious of those lucky kids.
[Photo: St. Regis Hotels]
If scent truly is the strongest evoker of memories, then Rosewood Hotels & Resorts is sure to create some new ones with this “smelly in a good way” addition to their amenities package.
Earlier this year, the luxury hotelier unleashed its Fragrance Butler Program on the world, making one’s travel experience just a wee bit easier and a lot more refined. Nine of its properties – from Vancouver to Jeddah – are currently participating in the program.
Here’s how it works: You’ve just flown from New York to Vancouver – that’s almost 2,500 miles – and you’re feeling rather weary and, let’s just say it, not as fresh as you might like. But you have exactly one hour to check into Rosewood’s Hotel Georgia, get settled, and be at your first engagement. You pretty much have to choose between a decent shower or a decent nap. If you’re like us, a nap always comes first (‘cause hey – how many showers in one day can one person possibly need?).
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A look at the Andaz basket: raspberries and a baguette, what else do you need?
Normally, you'd think a simple picnic in the park would be a more economical undertaking than, say, dinner for two at Asiate (Mandarin Oriental's ritzy 35th-floor restaurant). But you'd be wrong. This summer, two of Manhattan's classiest hotels—Mandarin Oriental and Andaz Fifth Avenue—are offering up separate picnic packages to guests. And with classy baskets and classy food, come classy prices (read: expensive). But then again, this is Manhattan.
So if it's a picnic you're dead set on, great. Now ask yourself is it an Asian-inspired feast, or something more continental—like caviar and blinis—that you're craving?
On the heels of the InterContinental's bodacious new iPad app, we have another luxury hotel brand going above and beyond the call of duty to serve its guests in a high-tech manner--The St. Regis New York, which has just unveiled its own E-Butler program.
The program is actually a mobile app that is available from the iTunes app store for free. Guests can download it prior to arriving at the hotel and then once they arrive, they can start communicating electronically with their butler. See an example of a butler-guest chat above.
The app also features an "Insider's Guide" from New York's various personalities such as Vogue's André Leon Talley, fashion designer Jason Wu, chef Alain Ducasse, architect David Rockwell and the Village Voice's Michael Musto. These folks have all chipped in with their favorite shops, restaurants and city landmarks and the app does a nice job of organizing their picks simply and on Google Maps as well.
And of course, anytime a guest wants to book one of these recommendations, they can do so directly through the E-Butler.