Ángel Molero is in charge of the team of butlers and room area at Abadía Retuerta Le Domaine and therefore always on hand to meet his clients’ requirements. We have asked him to take us through his day to day at the hotel and the lengths his team go to in order to pamper their guests.
The check-in stage might seem the beginning, but there is plenty of legwork done beforehand. By the time clients arrive at the hotel, Ángel Molero has already checked the preferences form sent by them in advance and their schedule of activities. He greets them with a lavender-scented welcome towel (cold in the summer; warm in the winter) and a drink. Devised by chef Marc Segarra, this refreshment changes with the seasons but at this time of the year it inevitably is harvest must.
The check-in is done in the room, which helps guests to get detailed information about where things are, which services are available and how things work. Contrary to what we may think, this procedure is far from a routine check —it is at this time that psychology comes into play. “It’s important to gauge the guest’s disposition,” explains Molero. “Are they willing to find out every single detail or are they suffering from jet lag? If so, may we offer a relaxing pillow mist?”
Attention to detail
After working in luxury hotels around the world like the Four Seasons in Dublin, Ángel Molero has been in Abadía Retuerta Le Domaine since its official opening in March 2012 but also in the earlier run-in period. He greatly values the teachings of Robert Watson, who set up The Guild of Professional English Butlers, a consultancy specialised in training butlers, and with whom he shares the motto “maximum service, minimum intrusion”.
Butler´s department daily goal is to exceed guests’ expectations: he addresses them by their name, offers them personalised news, accompany them and accommodate them for their dinners and meals, identify their tastes, allergies and special requirements through the digital form generated by the Department.
In butler talk, there’s a stellar moment called Wow Factor. What could surprise guests to make their visit unforgettable? Options range from a framed picture of their stay which is placed in the guests’ room to small details that enhance a romantic celebration like flower petals or candles.
Unlike other hotels in which reception staff work eight-hour shifts, the butler team at Abadía Retuerta Le Domaine is highly flexible and adapts to the guests’ needs and timetables. This implies being at the ready until 3am if there is an event or celebration or getting up at dawn if the client requires it.
“Our job means never saying no, within the limits of the law,” explains Ángel Molero. This requires us to be “very well informed and handle a wide web of contacts to swiftly fulfill our clients’ wishes, not only at Abadía Retuerta but also in our surroundings.”
It is not uncommon, for example, to get requests from wine-loving guests to visit other renowned wineries in the region which are not open to the public. “A guest once demanded a unique bottle of wine from a recognized winery and we had to go to Madrid to buy it.”
Not everything can be achieved —hosting a capea (a celebratory activity involving young bulls) at Abadía Retuerta is not possible, but the team of butlers always strives to please the client finding alternative locations. Incidentally, guests who have requested to do a parachute jump at events on the estate have been fully satisfied.
Obviously, no names or surnames are revealed as one of the pillars of this trade is total confidentiality. Molero is convinced that this discretion helps clients to enjoy a pleasant stay and encourages them to return, as is the case of a couple who have come back every year since they got married in the abbey.
“The most important thing I’ve learnt in all this time is that absolute respect for the client is paramount,” says Molero. “And you must never let your guard down when you are on duty.” Almost like a 007 agent in the customer care field.