If we are being honest, everyone has dreamt about living like royalty. Imagine stumbling out of bed early in the morning and having everything you need ready even before you ask for it. A glass of freshly-made juice, the daily newspaper and the perfect breakfast laid out on the dining table. By the time you have finished your meal, the bath is drawn with the water just at the right temperature and your dry-cleaned clothes laid out on the bed. You head out for another important day at work and before you reach the door, the chauffeur is ready with the car. For the time-starved HNIs of India, Maison De Luxe and Royal Indian Butlers are offering ease and luxury with their bespoke butler services, at Rs.50,000 to Rs.500,000 per month.
Once hired, a butler checks into a bungalow or a penthouse in the high streets at six in the morning. Nothing is off limits for the client, he has been taught. He starts with a tour of the house while noting everything from a flickering light to a dusty table, followed by a call to the electrician and housekeeping staff. After everyone is abreast with his or her duties, the butler also handles grocery and liquor inventory along with bill payments. From dropping off children at school and picking them up to making appropriate arrangements for specific diets, these professionals go above and beyond the quintessential definition of a ‘butler’. “The English butler is not a well-known concept in India. Here, they want a butler cum household manager,” says Rajiv Malkani, founder of Maison De Luxe services.
Established in 2012, it is India’s first luxury facility management company with clients such as Poonawalla and Rustomjee. “We have international clients in London, US, Dubai, Nigeria and Doha as well,” adds Malkani. A year later, Rajnikanth Subramaniam, who has served the likes of Nelson Mandela and Cindy Crawford, established Royal Indian Butlers. It is associated with the Guild of Professional English Butlers in the UK and also conducts rigorous training sessions for the staff of five-star hotels and luxury cruise lines across the world.
When a client approaches MDLS or Royal Indian Butlers, the companies scout for people with few years of experience in the hotel industry as they possess basic service and communication skills. The candidate is then trained thoroughly — from folding a napkin to perfectly pronouncing the names of wines. “Initially, many are reluctant to leave their comfortable hotel jobs. But, at the end of the day, the hotels pay Rs.25,000-30,000, while an HNI will pay in hundreds of thousands of rupees,” says Malkani. At times, the butlers are trained (or they learn on-the-job) on how to clean marble flooring and grandfather clocks. After all, being prepared never hurts. Besides the contract with the butler and the client, the companies charge a lumpsum amount as the training and consultancy fee.
Joecan Dealmeida, who handles end-to-end operations of Royal Indian Butlers, says the job comes with new challenges every day. For instance, if there is a party for over 100 guests, the butler not only has to arrange the food and beverages, but also has to see to it that the music system is in top shape or that the inebriated guests reach home safely. “It is almost like the butler takes on the role of an event manager. From the scented candle in the powder room to the AC temperature, every minute detail has to be right,” says Dealmeida. His duties extend to clearing the junior staff’s payments and assigning jobs to housekeeping so that there is no trace of a bash the next morning. With more than 18 years of experience in the hospitality industry, having worked in Taj Colaba and luxury cruise ships, Dealmeida says, “The butler has to be the last person to leave and the first one to arrive in the morning.”
With affluent living becoming more and more common in India, both Malkani and Dealmeida agree that this area of hospitality is a fast-growing market. So, the next time, if you don’t want to be bothered with the little things and just want to wake up to a perfect week, month or year, you know whom to call.