The Butler; Luxury or Necessity

By 21 September 2016

Experiencing the Butler through Club InterContinental

img_3281As a business traveler, luxe vacationer or someone jet-setting to a fabulous escape, you’ll have a plethora of decadent options to choose from. More so, when luxury hotels and hip resorts have improved infrastructure, and continually conjure up delightful ways to make the guests ‘feel at home.’ Then, how do you narrow down your choices to pick one that is tailored to your tastes?
Well, what you need is a hotel or resort that not just meets your needs but also exceeds it beyond expectations. All the while offering you a high level of privacy yet remaining mindful of your likes, dislikes and requests, the personalized services should be a tailor-made for you.
In my earlier blog post, I’d written about my visit to Cairo as a guest of Club InterContinental. The hotel, exuding elegance, is a jewel in Cairo’s crown for its impeccable services and luxury. Here, besides savouring the indulgent hospitality, I also got to experience the exceptional services of a personal-butler, made available around-the-clock.dsc_0009-small
Typically, in a luxury hotel/resort, the room and amenities are in place prior to your arrival. So, why, you may wonder, is there a need for a personal-butler? Besides catering to your dietary requirements and serving in-suite dining, a butler unpacks and packs, helps in choosing your outfit and pressing clothes on arrival. Should you want a pair of shoes to match your outfit or a clutch to match your diamond cuffs, he’ll make sure it’s in your wardrobe – name it and he caters to it. This brings to my mind the award-winning British period drama, Downtown Abbey, and its protagonist – butler Charles Carson. The traditional butler, who once polished the silverware and was in-charge of the household, pantry and wine cellar, is more than just that. And like Charles Carson, butlers are not just de rigueur, but a necessity in the hallowed environs of luxury hotels as well as our lives.
My observations
So, how does a butler play a vital role? When a guest arrives, the butler establishes the guest’s profile, either by collating information prior to the guest’s arrival or establishing a personal contact with the guest or the guest’s acquaintance. Hotel butlers are armed with multi-pronged strategies that serve as key tools enabling them to gauge and cater to the guest’s needs.img_3276
Additionally, this can transition into generating ‘service needs’ with butlers offering suggestions and recommendations to the guests: e.g. “After your swimming and spa session, would you like me to book a hairdresser for you?”
In fact, a butler is the HOTEL’s best ‘tool’ to pampering guests with personalized service, while offering a unique experience. This, in my opinion, is the secret to making guests return to the hotel time and again. Which is why hotels should, for the role of a butler, always hire people with extreme attention to detail, besides making sure they are highly intuitive and possess great manners.
Key Takeaways
img_1903Here are some key takeaways from my experience:
In my case, there were quite a few things that needed to be taken care of – being pregnant, not eating raw foods, needing water wherever I am, requiring Wi-Fi for work on the go, having to do my prenatal img_3274exercises, not wanting to walk in the heat, not doing any activities that are tiring or even having my half avocado every day. If I had to explain this to each of the staff or get it all sorted myself, my stay – as you can imagine – would be far from relaxing. Knowing that I would want a massage as soon as I arrived so as to relax me, making sure my outfits were ironed prior to my outings, checking with me on what I’d like to drink…all these made a personal-butler service important for me. The one-on-one attention catered to our needs throughout our stay at Club InterContinental.
Every aspect of our stay was made memorable by our butler Walid (and his manager, Roger). Walid unpacked and packed the luggage, and steam ironed our clothes. After my spa session, he booked a hairdresser (from one of the top salons, Al Sagheer) within the comfort of my suite. Within a few minutes of my requesting for a ‘noodle’ to do my prenatal exercises (which my chiropractor advised me to do in the swimming pool), Walid brought it to my room; turns out the hotel didn’t have a ‘noodle’ and quickly procured it for me.
Another major plus: each time, when my husband, Jad, and I had breakfast at the Club Lounge, the cook rustled up food per my ‘strict dietary’ requirement. img_3265On a separate note, I should mention that I love avocados; unfortunately these weren’t on the breakfast menu. But the moment I said I’d like to have the fruit, the team had it brought to my table. Also, when Jad developed a severe toothache, they rushed off to get pain relievers – the team knew what we needed and when!
Additionally, Walid booked our tours and outlined the programmes per our schedule, including visits to the Egypt Museum, the Pyramids of Giza, art galleries in Zamalek, and handled the reservations for lunches and dinners at Fairouz, Shogun and Al Khal. Chef Ahmed Shaaban and Chef Komatsu personally greeted us at their restaurants and crafted culinary experiences to suit our dining preferences (no raw food or vegetables for me). What was indulgent was that I could order anything that I wanted even if it wasn’t on the menu.img_3267
Since we were in Cairo, we wanted to explore the culinary spectrum and its diversity. The staff anticipated our wishes and enabled us to do so by fashioning a bespoke culinary adventure – we visited noted restaurants and had tasty bites at non-touristy (primarily off-the-beaten-track) eateries that are all-time favourites.
I did make a brief mention in my previous post about the surprise the staff threw our way on my husband’s birthday. That was indeed a special moment! They got us flowers and balloons and wished Jad in our room. Another gesture that was truly touching was when the staff brought a candle-lit cake for Jad during our dinner at Shogun img_3264restaurant (on our last night in Cairo. It’s the strong attention to detail that makes a trip an experience to remember; this would not have been possible without a team of great staff and a wonderful butler on call. Through a myriad of custom-made moments that matter to you, you live your dream holiday. Like I did mine.
So, the next time you travel, make sure you opt for personalised butler service. You’ll surely realise what you’ve been missing – an outstanding experience, unforgettable stay and relaxed getaway.




NK Luxury Consultancy (NKLC) is a boutique consulting house based in Dubai Design District  dedicated to helping established, international, luxury lifestyle brands create presence in Dubai and GCC. NKLC advises companies on their long term brand strategy, developing near term tactical planning for execution across communications, products, and retail touch points. As part of our ongoing commitment to the industry, NKLC established a  mentorship program dedicated to supporting emerging brands grow from a product into a business. We work with emerging and established fashion and consumer luxury brands, designers, retailers, art associations and luxury associations.   To connect with Narimane Kurdi, Managing Director 

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