But, of course, there are limits to the power of a hotel butler.
What should guests avoid asking for?
“With respect to our destination, we have to also be very realistic,” says Addis of the hotel’s location in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “We are located on a very small island without an over-abundance of shops and venues that someone can find in a huge city or another country.” This means guests may need to be flexible about which brands of sunscreen or snacks are available locally, for example, although of course the hotel always tries its best to satisfy every request.
The Maldives is similarly beholden to mother nature—and it can be a bit shocking to learn what some guests expect from staff, particularly when it comes to wildlife. Mr. and Ms. Fridays of Gili Lankanfushi will not, for example, remove a stingray from the water as this interferes with the animal’s natural behavior. Meanwhile, Fadil makes it clear that “anything illegal” is similarly off the table, while at Hotel Arts Barcelona, butlers won’t facilitate arrangements with third party vendors the hotel does not consider trustworthy.
The long and short of it: If something feels out of bounds to ask for, it probably is. In terms of how you make requests, keep in mind that every hotel has their own regulations when it comes to the hours that butlers work, so it’s important to respect at what time of day requests are being made. And, if your butler serves several guests, be considerate of the fact that they may not be available at the drop of a hat every time you need something (but you have time—you’re on vacation, after all).
What makes having a butler so special?
The time and energy saved by delegating tasks to butlers is apparent, but many hotel guests also value the personal connection that’s formed, both with the butler themselves and the destination as a whole. “The butler service offers a highly personalized service and creates an emotional experience for our guests,” Berche says. This is an experience echoed at Gili Lankanfushi—and at both hotels, repeat guests frequently request to have the same butler.
Some guests even ask their Mr. Fridays to join their excursions, the team at Gili Lankanfushi adds. When it comes to finding the balance between friendly and over the line, however, just remember to evaluate whether asking a butler to hang out with you is exploitative in any way, or if they might feel like a paid friend who doesn’t actually want to spend the day snorkeling with your family, unless they can be of clear service.
Do I tip my butler?
This is a direct way to show your appreciation and is always encouraged when working with a personal butler. “A tip is a recognition from the guest to any person who works at the hotel,” says Hotel Arts Barcelona Penthouse Manager Frederico Keim. Whether that’s a butler, housekeeper, waiter, supervisor, or manager, guests are encouraged to acknowledge outstanding service with a tip. The staff at the Mandarin Oriental, Canouan shares a similar perspective, encouraging guests to ask themselves a few questions when considering what kind of gratuity to leave for their butler: Did this person help make my vacation experience incredible? Did this person go the extra mile for me, throughout the stay?
When tipping, 5 percent of the nightly room rate, per day where the butler’s services are used, is considered appropriate. So if you call on your butler for seven days at $1000 per night, you would tip $50 per night, or $350 total.
How else can guests show their butler appreciation?
Financial feedback isn’t the only way to show appreciation for a butler’s service. “It’s appreciated when the guest shares theirs [butler] experience with the management team at Royal Mansour,” Fadil says, especially since a guest’s departure can be an emotional moment. TripAdvisor reviews can also go a long way in appreciating excellent service. “Hospitality is a two-way street,” Addis says. “While we want all of our guests to have the best possible experience while staying on-property with us, we also want our team members to feel valued and proud to represent their place of work.” He believes manners and kindness impact hotel staff a great deal, and that starts with the basics. “There is something to be said about a guest who really gets to know his or her butler’s name.”