When you hear the term ‘ butler’, depending on your age, the first thing that springs to mind is probably Carson from Downton Abbey. Butlers are not just for the rich and famous though – normal people like us can also have the privilege.
We were quite nervous the first time we booked a butler suite with Sandals. What do these guys do? Are they with you all the time? Do you tip them daily? Are they standing at the end of the bed when you wake! Do you have a bell?
We’re pleased to say after three trips to Sandals butler suites, we now have all these answers and more. See here for more detail of what they could do for you depending on which resort you attend.
Having a butler sounds quite posh and upmarket and, do you know what, there’s no getting away from it, it kind of is. If you want a completely luxurious ‘switch off’ vacation though a butler experience is exactly what you need. Hey, these guys are trained in accordance to the exacting standards of the Guild of Professional English Butlers. This Guild provides butlers and valets to nobility and celebrities worldwide and here they are looking after us for 11 days!
Some people may have different views, but ours is that the Butlers at Sandals are there to provide a personalised service to ensures guests are looked after to the highest standard. We’ve been fortunate to have experienced butler suites on three occasions, once at St Lucia Grande and at Sandals Ochi, Jamaica twice. The most important point to remember is that the butlers are there to make your trip more enjoyable and hassle free. While they will tell you different we don’t think they are there to wait on you 24/7 and should be treated with the same dignity and respect you would expect in return.
Quite simply, if you’re 12 ft from the pool bar then get of your sun lounger and get your own Mojito, don’t call these guys to do it for you. That said, they will tell that’s exactly what they are there to do!
We prefer to build up a respectful and fun relationship with them. The hours these guys work, sometimes 12 a day, and the effort they put in is first class; build up a relationship with them and they will treat you like royalty. You also need to remember they are going home to their own families after they leave you and it could be a far cry from the luxury they are affording you.
Back to our trip, which has become our laziest of all trips – ever! Moria and Shenae, our Sandals Ochi butlers this year, really helped us get into this zone very quickly.
These immaculately dressed ladies, with their amazing personalities and smiles, have only been working together for a short while, but have already built up a great relationship with each other and this works really well for their guests. They had received our completed ‘preferences’ before we had arrived and had set about getting everything in order for us – including Colin’s Drambui and our other drinks and restaurant preferences.
What was even better is they got to know us pretty quickly and knew what we liked and when we liked it. We really felt as if we have known them for years. To be fair Moria was one of our butlers last year and we put in a request for her when we returned. The nice thing was that they were both normally nowhere to be seen, until you needed them and then they were only a short phone call away on the ‘bat phone’. They both did have a ‘bad’ habit though of turning up unprompted every now and again with platefuls of coconut shrimp, pastries and champagne – it would have been such a waste to turn them away!
The ‘bat phone’ was our name for the mobile cell phone they gave us which provided a direct dial to them when you needed them. There’s something comforting to know that there’s a person there for you on the other end of the phone when you need them – even if only for more coconut shrimp.
Moria and Shenae worked split shifts generally from around 7am each morning to around 10pm each evening, although they covered for each other for an entire day each week to give them a day off. Throughout our stay it seemed they were looking after around five couples – all with competing needs and demands no doubt. What struck us with Moria and Shenae was that they were both committed to what they did and in making their guests feel totally relaxed. We’re pleased to say they managed that no problem and Sandals should be proud to have them on their staff; nothing was ever a problem.
The ladies brought our breakfast to our terrace most mornings along with afternoon lunch, snacks and champagne – even when our stomachs were full to the max. They made making dinner reservations a breeze and picked us up each evening in their golf carts and escorted us to our dinner table where they arranged pre-dinner drinks and table wine. They got to know what we liked and even had it waiting for us when we didn’t know we wanted it.
Before finishing for the night they would turn down our bed for us and ensure our rooms were ready for us returning, our fruit platter was in the fridge for the following morning and that we had plenty water (and other drinks!) for the next day. Even more impressive was their ability to make vegetarian dinosaurs out of our towels – a talent not held by many.
At the end of our stay and just before we left we showed them our appreciation for all their hard work. Sandals have a no tipping policy across their resorts, which we always have difficulty in following, but they do make an exception for butlers. Moria and Shenae definitely earned some personal recognition from us this time round and we would recommend them to anyone staying at Sandals Ochi.
So all in all was it worth paying extra for a butler suite – we think so yes. It may not be everyones cup of tea, but it works for us and certainly made this the most memorably relaxing break we have had in a long long time.
In answer to the earlier questions hopefully the above gives an idea of what these guys do and that you can still have plenty of spare time to yourself. You can tip them daily but we chose to do it at the end of of the holiday which is much easier. Whether they are standing at the end of the bed when you wake is entirely up to you. Finally, there’s no need for a bell as you always have the bat phone.
Thanks again Moria and Shenae and all the best for the future.