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There’s been a lot written about Hyatt lately, especially with all the changes in the Hyatt elite status program. And oddly enough, much of the blogging about Hyatt and all the changes took place while I was enjoying a stay at a Park Hyatt! So I couldn’t help but think about why I like Hyatt so much and why I bother maintaining elite status. Rather than just adding my voice to the pro or con discussion about the changes and whether maintaining status is worth it, I decided to explore and write about one of my most favorite luxury amenities of Hyatt hotels and especially the Park Hyatt’s: butler service.
My seven night stay at the Hotel Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt in Buenos Aires gave me the perfect opportunity to do this. This was my fifth stay at a Park Hyatt, but in the past, I’d never stayed at one for more than a few days. This stay in Buenos Aires gave me the chance to experience getting to know the butlers, and I sat down with three of the five-team member butlers and had fun, engaging conversations with them about their roles, how they see us (the guests), and other questions of mine they answered. If you’re like me and you enjoy getting to know how hotels operate behind the scenes, you’ll enjoy reading about the butlers!
I remember reading a few years back that butler service at hotels was a growing trend and that the exact functions that butlers provide differ from property to property; but, generally, the job of the butler is to centralize the many functions of a hotel in one resourceful, always available person, or in the case of many Park Hyatt’s, a team of butlers. The butlers become the go-to women and men for requests both large and small. Ask your butler for something and you don’t have to ask again!
Before I get to the questions I posed and the answers I received from the Park Hyatt team, let me say upfront that this team of five women (they do hire men but right now the team is all female) was INCREDIBLE! They were the perfect blend of professional and personal, they had such great attitudes, wonderful senses of humor, pride in their roles, and a genuine understanding of human nature and how to read people/guests so as to ensure the best possible Hyatt hotel experience. And they had the utmost commitment to going above and beyond the call of duty!
I was there for the Academy Awards and planned on watching them. The butler team knew this because I had asked them for help with the TV regarding channels and times of the award show in Buenos Aires. About 30 minutes into the show, my room phone rang. It was the butler. I thought she was calling to ask if everything was OK with the TV channels and watching the award show. She said she was at my door and had something for me. I open the door and there she was with a huge bowl of popcorn for me to enjoy during the show. I ate every last kernel! This is only one example of the many warm gestures from the butler team.
I learned that many butlers receive professional training, either within the hotel chain itself or by studying tourism and international hotel management in college. The butlers I spoke with had also worked in other departments of the hotel including the restaurants, housekeeping, at the front desk, and as concierge. Some of them had worked at other hotels or in hotels overseas.
As in many fields, though, being a great butler is more than just having a degree. It’s more about how you connect with people. They must also possess certain natural character traits in order to excel at their job. They need to be flexible and accommodating to a guest’s needs; capable of dealing with people of all ages and from different cultures; friendly and immaculate in their grooming, and as one would hope, very discreet.
I asked each butler I spoke with the same question, “What do you think makes a good butler?”
- One butler answered, “Being warm in your interactions. You can’t do your job if you really don’t care. Often we’re recovering a situation and making things right. That requires caring about how things turn out.”
- Another butler answered, “Being able to make a connection. Staying organized and following up on requests is key. Being able to make a guest’s life a little easier and more comfortable when they stay at the hotel.”
- A third butler answered, “Loving being of service is key to being a good butler. You can learn anything but you have to love being of service. Being kind and calm helps. If you’re a nervous butler, you make guests nervous.”
They also helped me see that the butler has a panoramic view of the whole hotel. They know everybody who works there and they have to work with all the other departments, not just guest relations. They all liked this variety. Park Hyatt’s are generally smaller boutique hotels. The Park Hyatt in Buenos Aires has 165 rooms and the butlers told me usually about 50% of the rooms have butler service. That’s a lot for a team of 5 to handle, so staying busy is not an issue! In case you’re wondering just who gets butler service, at this hotel the team’s focus was on Diamond / Globalist members, guests there for longer stays, and guests in suites. I would have qualified under all three :))
Even before I got to Buenos Aires, the butler team reached out to me by email introducing themselves and asking me if I had any special needs. I asked the butler team what kinds of special requests people make most often. Upcoming guests let the butler team know about food allergies, if there’s a special occasion, pillow type requests, restaurant/tour reservations needed, special needs for kids and those sorts of things. Who knew I could request popcorn for the academy awards show!
I asked the butlers about their English language skills. I found out that one of the butlers went to a bi-lingual school while the other butlers did not. When they were older, they took it upon themselves through private schools and classes to learn English. They knew they needed to both speak and write English to further their careers in hospitality. This kind of proaction always impresses me.
I wondered what makes for a “difficult” guest. The butlers pointed out that there are different ways to make requests of them. They appreciate when a guest can be respectful without being demanding. I liked this answer because it speaks to the tone with which we, as guests, make our needs known. They told me that I was the perfect guest :) They liked that I made contact with them, enlisted their help for certain things, and didn’t mind when they reached out to me to see if I needed anything. So when your stay at a Park Hyatt includes butler services, do enjoy their help… that’s what they’re there for!
Over the course of my week’s stay, I had so many fun conversations about life as a butler, as well as life in Argentina too. Getting a glimpse into the life of a young professional in Argentina was so interesting to me. They all like to travel, gee, no surprise there! The butlers were more than happy to answer my questions (I’m a really curious person) and I felt so appreciative of their openness and honesty. That was the true amenity!
As a team, the butlers had definitely bonded with one another. They explained to me, that in Argentina, friendship is important and that working at this Hyatt felt like working among family. Without sounding naive, that’s the feeling I got from them as well. As an aside, the concierge team was one of the best I’ve ever experienced, so it wasn’t just the butlers who worked this way.
When I got home, I missed this great group of women. Not the butler service per se (OK, who wouldn’t miss butler attention) but the positive energy that I enjoy being around when people love their work. And I owe the butler team a world of thanks for their time and attention!
So while there may be frustrations with all the Hyatt program changes, I keep reminding myself that I can navigate them because hotel stays like the one I had at the Park Hyatt in Buenos Aires is totally worth it, and I’ve already got my next Park Hyatt stay booked!
What’s your experience with butler service been like, at Hyatt or at any other hotel chain? Is it one of your favorite amenities?