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‘The Butler Did It’ takes on a whole new meaning at Anantara’s Maldives Resorts & Naladhu Maldives

To meet the constantly evolving needs of discerning guests from across the globe, Anantara’s Maldives resorts and Naladhu Maldives recently put their team of Villa Hosts and House Masters through their paces with an intensive training course delivered by British-born Steven Ferry, Chairman of The International Institute of Modern Butlers.  Anantara and Naladhu are already recognised for offering exemplary service, demonstrated through recent awards including the World Travel Awards and multiple TripAdvisor Awards for Excellence.

Villas Hosts and House Masters, otherwise known as butlers, are responsible for ensuring the needs of their guests are met from the moment they step off the plane to the second they return home – and sometimes beyond.  Services include packing and unpacking guests’ luggage, creating unforgettable dining experiences such as gourmet picnics on the beach or breakfast in bed, personalised bath rituals or once in a lifetime experiences.

“It comes down to the art of being invisible and yet delivering everything,” says Steven Ferry, who personally trained Forest Whitaker for his role in the widely-acclaimed movie, The Butler.  From the White House in Washington D.C. to the white sands of the Maldives, the training for Anantara’s Villa Hosts and House Masters went far beyond covering the basics of the traditional ‘British butler’ service, instead focusing on ways to enhance the naturally warm and hospitable nature of Maldivian people and the barefoot luxury experience which are both unique to the destination.  

Steven continues: “I believe the true test of an intelligent modern butler is not how much he knows how to do, but how he behaves when he doesn't know. One of the toughest aspects of the job is trying to second-guess the guest.”  

As well as offering a personal concierge-type service, anticipating guests’ needs is a major part of the role: “We are ahead of our guests’ needs. We like to be there before they ask, so the knowledge we have gained from Steven Ferry’s training is something we apply every day to offer a better service,” remarks Bibin, an Indian House Master at Naladhu Maldives.  

Steven Ferry’s butler training involves learning the art of creativity and anticipation and ways to deliver intuitive service, with soft skills such as character and body language reading, etiquette and how to be ‘emotionally in tune’ with guests -  very important when dealing with travellers from a wide variety of nationalities and cultures.  The training also covers ways to demonstrate two of the most important characteristics of any good butler - loyalty and discretion – and practical skills such as techniques for walking silently across wooden floors, ways to enhance the wake-up service for guests and the intricacies of handling cigars including humidity control.  

“For destinations like the Maldives, which offer exceptionally high standards of service and luxury, butlers are not just a status symbol but also key to delivering memorable experiences and an emotional connection with particular resorts and brands.  One of the most enlightening aspects I learnt from Steven was that in the corporate world you strive for recognition; in the world of a butler, your goal is invisibility,” says Torsten Richter, Cluster General Manager of Anantara Dhigu Resort & Spa, Anantara Veli Resort & Spa and Naladhu Maldives in South Male Atoll.  “When things are going very, very smoothly and the guest doesn’t notice the butler, then they’re successful.”  

To help measure the impact of the butler training on service delivery, a number of internal and external measurement tools are used by Anantara.  The Quality Assurance team carries out bi-annual assessments to measure the effect of the emotional connection that associates are trained to establish with guests, including mapping the emotional impact of service delivery at every touch point throughout a guest’s journey and how this correlates with their overall satisfaction.  The results highlight the importance of emotional connection as a key factor in exceeding guest expectations and help to develop benchmarks for best practice.   

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