At Sundance, The Butler Did Itâ??Elegantly, of Course


Having a good man around to press your evening dress and present your coffee isn’t just for the Earl of Grantham—at least not for those who are Park City-bound this week for the Sundance Film Festival and attendant festivities, and who are staying in the St. Regis Deer Valley, which offers regal personal assistants to guests in all 67 suites. We caught up with Alexander Mattinson, Head Butler for the Starwood property—and Lead Butler for St. Regis North American training—to hear how the Stourport-on-Severn, UK native and his team of eight service men extend the personal touch even when the requests come in ways Carson could never have envisioned.

ALISON COHN: Are guests often surprised when they arrive at the St. Regis Deer Valley to learn they have a butler?

ALEXANDER MATTINSON: We have a funicular which comes up at the side of the hill to the hotel, and when it stops I’ll usually call out their name and then I’ll say, “Oh, I’m your butler.” And they’ll say, “Oh! You’re our butler? Oh, oh we have a butler! Did you know that, honey? We have a butler!”

COHN: All very British! You worked at Buckingham Palace for many years?

MATTINSON: I was the Storeman at The Royal Mews. The Storeman—he didn’t have the most glamorous job titles—but he’s in charge of all the procurance, issuing, and inventory of The Royal Mews itself as well as being a valet to the Crown Equerry.

COHN: The crown?

MATTINSON: Equerry. Do you know who the Crown Equerry is?

COHN: I’m afraid not.

MATTINSON: He’s the aide-de-camp, a personal assistant to Her Majesty who’s in charge of all land transport. So in addition to the daily chores I’d arrange the ceremonial uniform for the Crown Equerry for every state event.

COHN: So what are the other responsibilities of a valet and how does that differ from your responsibilities as a butler?

MATTINSON: To be honest, valet and butler mirror each other, and those go back to the signature services which we offer at the St. Regis: packing and unpacking, pressing, and beverage service.

COHN: What is the day-to-day like for you?

MATTINSON: Generally I start around half by five, being that people want their tea or coffee delivered to them, so they can start waking up, getting ready for their ski day. We all have a standard silver butler tray, which is rectangular. We always do a French press coffee, so we have the cafetières, and obviously china for the cups and saucers. You’d take it in, and the newspaper would usually be hanging on the door at this point. You’d take that in also, lay it all down, present it out, I mean it’s a presentable item, it isn’t something you just throw in on the table!

COHN: Indeed.

MATTINSON: At around 11 o’clock-ish you’ll start going then to rounds, visit the suites, just to kind of check in on the guests, make sure that everything is going well for them and if they have any requirements. Certainly, not everybody comes to ski—they certainly look like they want to ski, but they can’t really, you know, actually ski—so you’ll tend to assist those people with their requests if they have anything during the morning.

COHN: And what is the eButler?

MATTINSON: It’s a way of moving forward with society and technology, really. The whole premise of this is that you can email your butler anywhere in the world or at any time. The thought is that you can shoot an email off from your phone saying, “Hey, I’m at the top of the mountain at the moment. Kids feeling really tired—I want hot chocolate with the cream marshmallows in the suite in half an hour.”

COHN: What are your most common requests?

MATTINSON: The usual requests would be day-to-day things: if they’ve forgotten something or if they want some meal reservations, laundry, transportation into town. This week, we have Sundance on, so people are going to want to get their transport in, so they can go in to see all the films and everything in that way. Sometimes you have peculiar requests.

COHN: Such as?

MATTINSON: Well, recently, a guest at another St. Regis property who forgot their shoes requested they be delivered. Which doesn’t seem very peculiar in that respect, except they requested the shoes to be delivered back to them personally—in Geneva. “Okay, well, we can FedEx those across to you.” And they said, “No, no, we want them personally delivered to us.” So they wanted the shoes to be placed on a chair next to the other person delivering them on the plane, so they ended up paying for two tickets on an airline, so the other seat could have the shoes on.

COHN: How crazy! What did these shoes look like?

MATTINSON: I think they were just Manolo Blahniks or something. Nothing with like Swarovski crystals on them or anything, to my knowledge. They were just normal shoes, but she obviously thought they were very personal to her and she wanted that personal touch with them really!