Spa Butlers: Adding Value to Spas and Hotels Alike
By Steven Ferry Chairman, International Institute of Modern Butlers | October 28, 2008
Imagine you are, as one guest noted, returning to your hotel suite looking like a scrubbed vegetable and feeling anything from exhausted to exhilarated to even nauseous. You are about to run into the one key flaw inherent in every spa experience: it ends the moment a guest leaves the spa to return to his or her suite. The way to make a guest's experience a complete one, and offer a total immersion in the "get away from it all" relaxation and rejuvenation, is to form a joint venture between the spa and butler programs. Simply put, make the butler service an extension of the spa experience, wherein spa-trained butlers provide their usual high-end service on the hotel side, but with the added knowledge and techniques that enable the spa environment to continue in the guest's own suite.
Does this mean that the butler will roll up his sleeves and stretch, massage and pluck the guest? Not at all: but put yourself in the shoes of the guest. If you have ever been pampered and prodded, sweated and doused, this should not be too difficult. When the doors of the spa swing shut behind you and you make your way to your suite, you re-enter a world that runs on different agreements. People rush around, lost in thought, and not up to speed on your own serene/mellow/invigorated world. You open the door to your suite and it is, well, flat and empty and definitely not that interested in your new state.
Guests may even experience a catharsis or detoxification as a result of their spa experience. How reassuring or safe would an empty suite be, with butlers at the end of the telephone line who know nothing of your condition or how to assist.
Now imagine a butler who knows how guests can react to their spa experience and how to assist them with understanding and empathy. It would create quite an impact on guests. Moments of drama aside, when a butler knows and understands the spa program of a guest, he can converse about the guest's experiences with good reality, should the guest so desire, and can also take actions to enhance that program-such as adding a complementary (not necessarily complimentary) bath salt to the bath, rather than one that conflicts with the spa program.
The spa butler is a new creature in the hospitality and spa industries, for he or she is really the architect of the ultimate spa hospitality experience, designing and arranging the entire spa guest experience. The spa still delivers the spa services, but the butler acts as the main point of contact before, during and after the guest's stay. Because he understands and knows what the guest is going through, and the basic spa methodologies, he can be there for the guests and extend the entire stay into a smooth experience for them. That's the simplicity of the spa butler program.
Translated into the real world, this program means the butler asks and cares about the guest's goal in coming to the spa; he cares about the guest's room, ensuring that the space reflects the guest's needs and wants. The butler supports the guest by being a sounding board and conversing with understanding and empathy. He introduces the guest to the people, places and services he or she will be experiencing at the spa, answering all questions and resolving all concerns. He smoothes the preparations for each spa experience and helps the guest through the ramifications of each spa treatment, asking the right questions.