The second group of Etihad Airways Butlers has completed the intensive Savoy Butler Academy training program in the UK. The course was conducted by the London School of Hospitality and Tourism at the University of West London, in conjunction with the legendary Savoy Hotel.
The Abu Dhabi-based team of 12 men and women, who have all worked as food and beverage managers on board Etihad Airways’ long-haul fleet, graduated this week at a ceremony held in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
The elite group of talented hospitality personnel are now fully qualified to perform their duties, catering to the needs of guests staying in The Residence by Etihad™, the airline’s exclusive private living space on the upper deck of its fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft. Featuring a living room, private shower room and double bedroom, the revolutionary cabin boasts the innovations and exclusive features normally associated with private jets and luxury yachts.
Linda Celestino, Etihad Airways Vice President Guest Services, said: “These highly skilled and talented professionals have successfully completed a challenging program which has provided them with all the knowledge and the tools necessary for one of the most unique roles in the airline industry. They are the ultimate ambassadors for the Etihad Airways brand, and will bring to reality the airline’s vision of providing a totally reimagined travel experience for the discerning guests flying in The Residence by Etihad. We are very proud of them.”
The syllabus included a series of master classes given by the Savoy’s Head Butler, Sean Davoren, covering international protocol and etiquette, VIP guest care, valet skills and organising travel arrangements. The Butlers ensure that the needs and expectations of guests in the Residence by Etihad™ are met and exceeded at all times, using Etihad Airways’ full inflight connectivity service to provide a 24-hour service in the air and on the ground.
For 27-year-old Varun Rawal, graduating as an Etihad Butler was a moment of immense pride: “I am expected to redefine luxury and set new benchmarks in hospitality by using the skills I acquired at the Savoy, and the experience gained over the two years I have been with Etihad Airways. The highlights of the training for me were the visits to stores with Royal Warrants, which cater to the needs of the Royal Family, and the attachment to the Savoy Butler. This gave me an incredible insight into the dedication and professionalism needed to carry out my new role in The Residence by Etihad.”
The training program, which took place in various departments of the Savoy Hotel, saw the Butler trainees complete an attachment shadowing the famous establishment’s own world-renowned butlers, allowing them access to all areas of butler training.
Anne Klinkert, 27, who joined Etihad Airways in 2014, added: “The training really opened my eyes. An Etihad Airways Butler’s role goes far beyond simply serving a guest. Reading your guests is the key and being able to surprise them and exceed their expectations is such a satisfying feeling. The word ‘no’ is not in our vocabulary, there is always a solution or an alternative. I am grateful for the opportunity Etihad has given me. Being a flying Butler is such unique role in air travel and being part of this makes me extremely proud.”
The first Etihad Airways A380 service was inaugurated from the UAE capital to London’s Heathrow Airport on 27 December 2014. On 31 May, the airline will deploy a new A380 on one of its two daily flights to Sydney. One of the airline’s double daily services to New York JFK will also be upgraded to the A380 on 1 December this year.