x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Rosewood Abu Dhabi butler keeps guests returning

The Life: Nona Zazikashvili, who grew up in Georgia, describes the daily work of a modern butler at Rosewood Abu Dhabi.

"For us, all guests are VIPs," says the Rosewood Abu Dhabi butler Nona Zazikashvili, here helping hotel guest Frederic Robert. Sammy Dallal / The National

Nona Zazikashvili grew up in Georgia. She majored in politics as an undergraduate before going on to do a masters in Caucasus studies. But it was her minor studies in hotel business tourist management that set her on her current path. When she saw an advert for butlers at the Rosewood Abu Dhabi, she applied, got the job and arrived in the UAE in February. Here Ms Zazikashvili, 24, describes the daily work of a modern butler.

 

7am

We have four shifts, starting at 7am, 9am, 3pm and 11pm. We work nine hours. The shifts change every week. I like the middle shift starting at 3pm - it's more interesting. Our [food and beverage] outlets are getting busy and there are lots of people moving around and it's nice to meet them and escort them to where they need to go. I try not to sleep too late in the mornings. I go to the pool at our accommodation - I don't swim too well but I am trying to improve - or I run or go to the gym. I check the news - reading about Georgia and checking what's going on in Abu Dhabi. I need to be prepared for my guests in case they ask me about something.

 

2.45pm

I arrive 15 minutes before the shift starts. I clock in, change into my uniform and go to my office. We are a total of 20 butlers and each guest has three butlers during a 24-hour period. Our head butler, Roberto Cassanova, organises a briefing. He sets us tasks and updates us about arrivals and departures. We really prepare for the guests. We check their preferences and prepare according to their needs. In Georgia, I worked at the reception of a small hotel and I realised I loved working with guests. This is my first experience as a butler. When I started working here I had training with Steven Ferry who is the chairman and founder of the International Institute of Modern Butlers.

 

3.20pm

If I have guests checking in I go directly to reception. For us, all guests are VIPs so they all have access to an assigned butler. In older times, a butler was a servant; now the concept has changed. We have lady butlers and we are modern with our technologies and skills. With our tech [an earpiece and iPad] - it's very funny: I look like a security guard but it really helps. The guests can request butler services via iPads in their rooms and our iPads receive these requests. You need to have intuitive skills, to do things discreetly, to do things before the guest asks you. We are the link between the hotel and guest. If they don't want to go to the concierge to book a tour or something we are here to do it for them. We can also arrange spa treatments or make appointments in the fitness centre if they want a session with a personal trainer. Every guest is different.

 

5pm

I have dinner at 5pm. I take care of any laundry deliveries in the evening. I check to see if there are any guest requests for extra water or reservations for the following day.

 

11pm

We have an evening briefing when the night shift comes in at 11pm. After 11pm I write my reports about what happened during the day and put in notes for the following day. We also advise on the times for wake-up calls.

 

1am

I change and clock out. I can go to the restaurant, sit there and get a snack. Then I go home and check some emails, answer my friends in Georgia, sometimes Skype with my parents. Rosewood opened in May and we already have some repeat guests. Being a butler gives you big responsibilities and a chance to personalise your interaction with guests. I am the person who they can contact any time for assistance. You are the reason they feel comfortable - the reason why they will come back. If you do something really good for them and exceed expectations ... I hope I am the reason that some of them came back. Nothing is as good for me as good feedback from the guests and some who return ask to have the same butler - me. This is not only a job for me, I really enjoy it.

 

lgutcher@thenational.ae