Next Level Hospitality: Marina Bay Sands’ Butler Academy

The Marina Bay Sands Butler Academy | Marina Bay Sand's Butler Academy | Food For Thought

Have you ever wondered what is required of a Butler at a hotel? From assisting in arranging for an itinerary to packing your luggage for you, the job of a butler is one that can be challenging but also rewarding. We learn from the Marina Bay Sand’s Butler Academy on what it takes to become a butler at the prestigious hotel.

Can you tell us about Marina Bay Sands’ Butler Academy?

Established in April 2022, the Marina Bay Sands Butler Academy is created to train a pipeline of butlers to deliver world-class service at our hotel, which is in the midst of a transformation to set a new benchmark. The academy educates both existing and new butlers to execute the integrated resort’s premium strategy while raising the overall standards in Singapore’s hospitality industry.

Marina Bay Sand's Butler Academy | Food For Thought

Most people’s idea of what a butler is can be quite traditional. Can you tell us what the duty of a modern butler such as the roles and responsibilities and how it adds to the guest experience?

The main competencies instilled in butlers at Marina Bay Sands are communications and customer skills, adaptive skills, strategic thinking, and resilience. As of today, we have a butler strength of 90 pax, of which a third has gone through the Academy.

Butlers anticipate guests’ needs and personalise interactions to ensure a smooth and pleasant experience from arrival to departure. They curate unforgettable experiences for guests of all ages, adding their own personal touches. The main duties of a butler include preparing VIP suites and rooms for arrival and collaborate with departments such as Front Office and In-Room Dining to maintain the highest standards of hospitality. From escorting guests on property to providing recommendations of suitable experiences, a high level of attention to detail is required to make each guest interaction impactful and their experience memorable.

The bathroom is an urban retreat with his and hers vanities (Credit to Marina Bay Sands)

Who is given access to the butler service and is it interlinked with all the outlets within the hotel?

Guests staying at the newly renovated Sands Signature Suite as well as rooms and suites in The Paiza Collection can enjoy the luxury of Butler Services. Our butler team is well-trained to go the extra mile, including planning itineraries for their guest, surprising them with personalised celebrations and decorating the suite with towel art, as well as extending special turndown services such as preparing a bubble bath and chocolate dip strawberries for special occasions.

Butlers also take their own initiative to enhance guests’ in-suite experience. Earlier this year, the team created clothing fresheners with various soothing scents to be left in the wardrobe. These scents were so memorable that some guests have even requested to purchase them to bring home.

Bathroom | Marina Bay Sand's Butler Academy | Food For Thought

Is there some sort of formal course that butlers have to acquire?

The Marina Bay Sands Butler Academy organises a half-year training programme, comprising a week of training by industry experts and a rigorous three-to-six-month internal training roadmap guided by the hotel industry’s gold standards.

In addition, our butlers also attend 7 Star Service by Magnums Academy, a training programme conducted by renowned luxury service professional and UK’s first female butler Josephine Ive.

New butlers attend a training called ‘Setting the Standards’, where veterans in the industry impart foundational, theoretical, and practical skills to ease them into butler duties. The training guides them through the guest journey, instils competencies of a professional butler and equips them with extensive knowledge of how to manage VVIP guests. It also comprises of topics such as food and beverage service and wardrobe management, to name a few.

Cocktail Trolley | Marina Bay Sand's Butler Academy | Food For Thought

What are some services that a Butler provide that many people don’t know of?

Butlers are the main point of contact for guests, right from the very first touchpoint of their journey when they arrive at the airport. Our butlers aspire to cater to every guest’s whim and request. This could mean purchasing local delicacies from far flung parts of the city island, to performing an in-suite tea ceremony, booking of private city tours, shoe-shining services and packing of luggage prior to departure, among others.

Room Ammenties | Marina Bay Sand's Butler Academy | Food For Thought

Tell us a story of an extraordinary situation where a butler has made happen.

This comes from Arielle Stephanie Hidalgo, Senior Butler and Department Trainer, Butler Services who had assisted a Jewish family during their hotel stay, which coincided with their Sabbath religious observance. The family of seven consists of a couple, four children and their grandmother. In anticipation of the family’s needs, Arielle thoroughly researched for kosher restaurants and outlets in Singapore but soon realised the only two kosher restaurants in the city were closed to observe Sabbath. In a bid to offer alternatives, Arielle discovered a kosher mart and recommended it to the family who was touched by Arielle’s thoughtful service.

Arielle also went above and beyond to accompany the family’s 70-year-old grandmother to the Infinity Pool. As the Sabbath involves refraining from the usage of lifts, she had coordinated the most efficient route with the Security team to ensure a safe climb from level 44 to 57 via the staircase. They were incredibly heartened by her meticulous effort to delight her guests even though it was an uncommon request.

For the rest of the family members, Arielle had prepared a list of kid-friendly attractions to visit, including the Ice Cream Museum, Gardens by the Bay and Sentosa. Over the few days, the children bonded with Arielle over her approachable nature, warmth, and jovial personality.

Luxury transformation | Marina Bay Sand's Butler Academy | Food For Thought

Dos and don’ts: What are some services a butler can provide, and what are those that should not be asked of them?

Butlers are ready to extend the best-in-class service anytime. They collaborate with all departments on property to make their guests’ wishes come true. From popping confetti in the suite for a guest who requested for fireworks to bringing other tropical fruits into the suite instead of durians, our butler team have the passion to find the best alternative solutions for guests.

| PHOTOGRAPHY: MARINA BAY SANDS | WEBSITE: MARINA BAY SANDS |

Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic and drinks writer and is the editor of independent publication Food For Thought. He has been a freelance journalist for the 15 years and has previously worked as a lawyer and in digital marketing. He currently is the Principal Consultant of A Thought Full Consultancy, a food and beverage marketing consultancy.

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