To Get Butler Service or Not?

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Is Butler Service For You?

I will start by saying we do not have paid help of any kind at home. We don’t even have a cleaning lady since we moved from our house into the smaller condo and started travelling for as much of the year as we can swing.  I say this as an intro because it does mean that we are very inexperienced at asking for help. Being Canadian may also play a part. We may be too nice and too many times may not want to be seen as demanding. All of this may mean that we own our equal share in not getting the premium service we have paid for.  With that as a preamble, we will share our experiences for your consideration.

We have experienced 3 different types of butler service type experiences:

1)   Concierge level with a butler on a Mediterranean cruise

2)   An all exclusive resort with butler service

3)   A driver and house staff at my friends condo in Nassau (not really a “butler” but awesome personal service)

A few observations:

The Best Accommodations

In all cases, butler service comes with a considerable step up in the accommodations.  You get much more space, more amenities and preferred access to dining.  If you decide a butler is not for you, it will mean either a step down in accommodations.  Or you may accept that you paid for a butler you didn’t use.  You should assess if you really need the extra space. How much time are you really going to spend in your room?

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Penthouse Suite – Oceania Cruises
Butler Oceanfront Suite at Sandals Emerald Bay

Do you really get access to different dining options or better food and drink when you have butler service?  My friend’s condo gives us a full luxury home away from home.  That is a great way for me to work remotely.  But when I am at a resort or on a cruise, we generally want to be out as much as possible.  A quiet room, good bed, strong shower and reliable wifi are all we really need in the room.  Generally you don’t need to upgrade for these.

A Great Customer Service Attitude Makes All The Difference

We have had great and not so great butler service. The big difference rests all in the butler’s attitude.  When the starting position is that they are there to make your vacation as easy as possible, you can’t lose.  The good ones will remind you at every chance that you are their “guest”. They will proactively seek to anticipate your desires.   They listen, take notes and ask questions.

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Butler Aboard Oceania Cruise

We had one butler we never saw for two days.  We had another who told us every time we asked for something that it was either someone else’s job (“call housekeeping for that”).  Or he would point us in the direction for something we asked for (“you can go to the gift shop to buy the shaving cream you forgot” – when we were paying over $1200 per night).  One night we asked one butler for dinner reservations.  He claimed the best he could do was a 9pm seating. When the butlers changed at 3pm, our new butler got us a 7pm seating and walked us to dinner. We are not sure what relationships this second butler  worked.  But he knew how to exceed our expectations. Sometimes it is just so obvious when someone is in the wrong job.

If You Aren’t Happy – Speak Up

Being good Canadians we mutter quietly for a long time before we hit the boiling point. When we did bring our issues up, we often had them addressed.  Sometime it was addressed with an attitude. When we asked to have a butler changed, the difference was like night and day. The head butler wants to know when their staff are not doing the job as required. They can’t fix systemic issues they don’t know about.

Those firms really dedicated to customer satisfaction check in with you early and regularly to make sure you are delighted.  They don’t wait for the client to bring issues to them after stewing for days.

A Great Butler Is Worth Their Weight In Gold

Like a really good concierge, butlers are often locals or very familiar with the destination you are at. They can give you the inside scoop on where to go and what to see. They can arrange for you to see things the other tourists miss.  What they may not have known themselves they pick up from being genuinely interested in what their guests are doing.  They want to know if it is a good future recommend.

Derrick Finding Us the Best Tropical Conch Salad At Arawak Cay, Nassau, Bahamas
A butler can generally ensure you can eat or drink what you want, where you want it. Typically it takes us days before we know enough about the food options and quality before we would order food service. In cases where the weather craps out, when you are on the beach far from the closest bar, where your room is a long, long walk from the main building or when you really want breakfast in bed, the butler can be a real treat.
Many resorts now have a mid-level concierge level service or room service for all.  This may often be a much better deal than paying the butler premium.
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Don’t Be Hesitant About Using The Butler Service – But They Aren’t Your Slave

We are pretty independent and generally happy to fend for ourselves. We have found great butlers want to be busy and want to help. They expect to be doing things for you.  They are worried that you aren’t satisfied if you keep doing things they feel is their job. And they don’t really need to be micro-managed in doing what you ask for.
At the other extreme we have seen people treating butlers as slaves. They talk rudely to the staff and ask for unreasonable services.  There is never a good reason for this!  If you have paid for butler service (or have an awesome friend who staffs his condo with great people), don’t hesitate to politely ask for reasonable requests.

So – Will We Book A Butler Again?

We have come to the conclusion that we may not really be butler people. As nice as it is to have great extra service, we tend to be far too independent.  We almost always find it quicker to do things ourselves on our own time.  We like the better accommodations and may at times feel this is worth the premium even if we decline most butler services. In most cases, taking a mid-level service is more than enough pampering for us. But when we visit my friend’s condo in Nassau, we would miss being welcomed home by Derrick. We could do without staff at the condo but it wouldn’t be quite the same feeling of coming home.
Would you book Butler service?  Have you had great experiences you want to share?






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About TravelAtWill 748 Articles
Travel blogger and photographer! Scuba diving, luxury cruising, chocoholic, sea and sunshine addicts, camera attached and just generally curious! Join us on our adventures!

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