A day in the life of Tanvi Ashar, Head Butler at The St. Regis Mumbai

Sep 24, 2015, 08:20 IST | Krutika Behrawala

Leading a team of 35 butlers, the average day of 26-year-old Tanvi Ashar, Head Butler at The St Regis Mumbai, is quite a handful — from training staff to interacting with ov er 60 guests and ensuring their odd requests, like arranging for piano teachers, are granted. Krutika Behrawala tracks her routine to find out the real deal

  Morning 10 am to 12.30 pm
Briefing session: I check with my team of butlers about the previous evening’s arrivals as well as check-ins and check-outs for the day. We also update ourselves on the events scheduled in the hotel. Often, we see celebrities checking in, so, I have trained my team to be discreet and not give out details to other guests. In the morning, I also meet heads of other departments, like the chefs of the restaurants and the housekeeping staff to let them know if any guest has special requests.

Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi

Delegating tasks: Post the briefing sessions, the butlers are divided according to their tasks. For instance, those who would be taking care of arrivals, departures, etc. Each butler is also assigned a particular floor in the hotel that he/she takes care of. We also offer a 24-hour beverage service, where a butler serves a cup of steaming hot coffee or tea to the guest in their room, on request, at any given point of time.  

Pressing service: This is a complimentary service available to all our guests whereby a butler presses two garments. While the delivery time is an hour, if a guest is in a hurry, I have also trained butlers to press garments in their room, in front of them.

Afternoon 12.30 pm to 5 pm
Meeting guests: Our check-in time is 2 pm, so post noon, we see a heavy flow of arrivals. As the head butler, I make it a point to meet each guest, especially the Starwood Preferred Guests (SPG), Gold and Platinum (three levels that St Regis offers), when they check in. In a day, I meet at least 60 to 70 guests.

Packing/Unpacking: This is one of the main services offered by The St Regis’ butlers. After the guest checks in, we offer to unpack their bags because we wish to create the concept of a home away from home and don’t want our guests to live out of a suitcase. This also saves their time. Similarly, we also offer packing services for guests who are checking out. A typical packing/unpacking session would last for about 20 minutes. While packing, we use butter papers and paper collars to ensure that the clothes are packed crisply. We also ensure that essentials like chargers and documents are at the top of the bag. For a personal touch, we place a butler card wishing our guests a happy stay at the hotel.

Afternoon tea: One of the rituals at The St Regis, the tea session takes place in the Drawing Room between 3 pm to 5 pm where the guests can savour different types of tea. During these sessions, I interact with each guest, taking in requests, creating their itineraries with help from the concierge, etc.

Evening 5 pm to 8 pm
Champagne Sabering: This ritual was conceived by Napoleon Bonaparte and his cavalry during the 1700s where they would uncork a bottle with a sword in honour of their victories. The St Regis’ founding family also followed this ritual at the first hotel established in 1904. So, every Wednesday and Friday evening, I, or one of my juniors, saber a champagne in the Drawing Room; it’s quite exciting for our guests.

Meeting requests: I am in constant touch with the guests and my team of butlers, in case of any requests. Recently, a guest wanted to drink a particular brand of wine. So, I offered to take him to the wine vault at the members-only business lounge, Equus and we picked it out. The idea is to ensure that the guest doesn’t need to walk out of the hotel for anything.

Night 8 pm to 10 pm
Briefing session: Before the end of the day, I conduct another briefing session with my butlers where we scan through the arrivals for the next day. 

Private dining service: Late in the evening, a butler usually visits the rooms to place a tray on the bed. It includes a private dining menu and the laundry slip, so that the guest doesn’t have to hunt for anything. We also leave some fruits in the room, if we observe that the guest might check in much later.

Round-the-clock butlers: While I usually wrap my day by 10 pm, we have a 24-hour butler service where at least two or three butlers are present during the graveyard shift. We also provide an e-butler service where, if you are away from the hotel, you can send an email asking us to press your dress or order dinner for you and it will be done by the time you reach.

What's a St Regis butler about?
Before The St Regis Mumbai (Starwood Hotels & Resorts) opened its doors this month, the butlers were trained for two months by Dominik Hengge, Chief Butler at The St Regis Bangkok. Smart, observant and with a passion for hospitality, the St Regis butler looks for clues from the guest and serves, accordingly. “For instance, if we see a guest sleeping on the left side of the bed, his slippers are placed on that side. Or if we observe that a guest has had too many cups of coffee through the day, we leave an antacid next to his bedside,” informs Ashar, adding, “You are their one point of contact, and the guest will remember you wherever they go.”

The CV
Name: Tanvi Ashar
Age: 26
Home town: Pune
First job: At Westin-Mumbai  (Management Trainee), 2009
Education: Hotel Management from Institute of Hotel Management, Goa
Experience: Also having worked with Shangri-La and Palladium Hotel, Ashar is competent in departments of guests relations, front desk, rooms division and even housekeeping.
Current designation: Head Butler at The St Regis, Mumbai. She is the first female Head Butler in South Asia for the brand. She currently heads a team of 35 butlers.

What can we do for you?
“Recently, we outsourced a piano teacher for a guest from the US, who wanted her son to take piano lessons during her stay with us and even arranged a Skype call with his US counterpart to ensure both were in sync. We love to make things happen for our guests. If it’s impossible, we offer different options,” she smiles.

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