Book a stay at The St. Regis Deer Valley and you’ll receive the royal treatment, courtesy of head butler Alexander Mattinson.
As head butler at The St. Regis Deer Valley in Utah and lead butler for The St. Regis’ North American Butler Training program for three consecutive years, Alexander Mattinson knows more than a thing or two about keeping guests happy. He also knows how to keep his cool when a stranger-than-strange request is made (like being asked to fly to Switzerland to return a pair of heels left at the hotel). Perhaps that’s because he learned the ropes at the mother of service-industry standards: Buckingham Palace. During his time with the royal family, Mattinson worked as carriage driver, store manager for the Royal Mews and valet to the crown equerry. Fast-forward to the present, though, and Mattinson now ensures that guests at The St. Regis Deer Valley receive the royal treatment. We sat down with Mattinson to talk about how the St. Regis butler program has evolved over the years, the difference between American and British expectations regarding service, and that intriguing family across the pond.
At your beck and call, Alexander Mattinson and his team of 10 butlers serve you meals on silver platters, press your clothes, expertly and artfully pack and unpack your suitcase and basically attempt to fulfill your every desire. As far as we’re concerned, though, just having someone pack and unpack us would be enough. As Mattinson says, “It’s like a big jigsaw puzzle, especially with items like swim fins or five pairs of 7-inch heels.” To make your packing job less of a puzzle next time, follow these tips from Mattinson:
1. Pack light. If you can take just a carry-on, do so.
2. Try to mix and match unless events require otherwise.
3. Put heavy items at the bottom of the bag so they don’t crush lightweight items.
4. Put liquids in a plastic Ziplock bag so TSA can see them. If they should leak during travel, they won’t ruin your clothes.
5. If possible, use tissue paper — it absorbs creases and separates items that may bleed color when damp.
American Way: How did you get into the service industry?
Alexander Mattinson: I kind of fell into it after leaving the Household Cavalry [British armed forces]. I had been an orderly with them for a few years, so it became an easy transition for me from military life to personal service.
AW: You trained at Buckingham Palace — what was it like working for the royal family?
AM: It was an experience I will never forget, having the opportunity to experience events and areas only few could imagine. The house is run much like [that on] Downton Abbey but with a larger staff. Behind the scenes everyone is rushing about making sure their duties are done for the day while the family attend to their appointments and functions.
AW: Ahhh … we were wondering. So, do you watch the show Downton Abbey?
AM: Yes [laughs] — I love it!
AW: Are you as hard-nosed as Mr. Carson [Downton’s head butler]?
AM: No! Far from it … though I wonder if people would listen more if I were.
AW: How is it different working in the service industry in America versus in England?
AM: England is built on a class system and the U.S. is not, so Americans [initially find it unusual to have] someone do things for them that they feel they are more than capable of doing themselves. But once they realize we are here to assist them and provide them with the time to enjoy their vacation, they become very comfortable with us around.
AW: The St. Regis personal butler service has been around for more than a century. How has it evolved?
AM: The services are practically the same as when we first opened: packing and unpacking, beverage (tea and coffee) and pressing. The advantages [today] are that with modern technology, guests can be in contact with their butler 24 hours a day via the E-Butler system.
AW: What’s the strangest request you’ve had at The St. Regis? We heard you once had to fly to Geneva to return a pair of shoes.
AM: Yes, someone once left a pair of shoes and requested they be personally delivered back to them. We had a guest request a cowboy hat on Christmas Day — purchased and wrapped for a present. Another requested our butler meet [their group] at a nearby property so they could have warm slippers waiting [to wear during] lunch as their ski boots would be too uncomfortable. All the requests seem a little peculiar — but all are achievable if requested.
Go to www.stregisdeervalley.com for more information about the hotel and its signature butler service. Rates start at $329 during the summer (July to September), $279 during the fall (October and November) and $799 during the winter.