Behind the Scenes With a Modern-Day Butler

PHOTO: Alexander Mattinson, Head Butler of The St. Regis Deer Valley.

With the success of BBC series "Downton Abby" and the release of Lee Daniels' new film "The Butler" this Friday, there has never been more interest in white-gloved caretakers. But aside from watching "Mr. Belvedere" in the '80s, most Americans have very few interactions with butlers.

So where can you find one and what exactly do they do in 2013?

According to Alexander Mattinson, head butler of The St. Regis Deer Valley, they do pretty much whatever your heart desires.

"I have your credit card on file. So anything you request I can probably do," says the 38-year-old, who is also the lead butler for butler service training across St. Regis properties in North America. "We can arrange for you to have dinner on top of a mountain, helicopter the food up and helicopter you up. You are the gatekeeper to whatever you want."

Mattinson has unique experience treating others like royalty. Before joining the St. Regis hotel group in 2009, the native Brit worked at Buckingham Palace in various roles for more than 10 years, including times as valet to the crown equerry.

Catering to celebrity guests such as Katie Holmes and Dustin Hoffman, as well as other well-heeled travelers staying in suites at the hotel, he says his responsibilities can range from serving meals on silver platters to sourcing a last-minute gift. If a guest wants Mattinson and Mattinson only, he can be reserved by name.

"My day would normally consist of bringing the guests their coffee in the morning so they can start getting their thoughts together," Mattinson says. "Then we find out whether they're going to go golfing or skiing, we help them arrange transportation, get them to the valet, run back for forgotten items in the room and generally make sure they are tended to. We are always available via phone or text."

Once suite guests leave the room, the butler coordinates with housekeeping to make sure the space is cleaned and arranges to lay out any clothing that the guest might want pressed for dinner.

"At some hotels, butlers do get requests for turndown service and drawing a bath," he says. "But most people are either too private or feel they are capable of turning on a faucet. Still, if desired, we could liaise for those types of things."

Other guests aren't shy at all and apparently make much more outlandish requests.

"I had one guest who broke two phones and I had to arrange to find two new ones then meet [the guest] in different places all over," recalls Mattinson. "And I had another guest who decided they wanted to get their partner a cowboy hat on Christmas Eve. So we contacted a shop owner and were able to get him to open his store on Christmas Day. Then we picked up the hat, we wrapped it up and we delivered it."

It may come as no surprise that the best butlers, according to Mattinson, have good manners.

"You want to speak to people the way you want to get spoken to," he says. "You want to be reserved. You have to realize that you're going to observe a lot of personal things that most people aren't exposed to. In a way, you are being let into an inner sanctum."

When asked what the personal reward is for providing all of this pampering, Mattinson says it is "the warm factor: Doing something for somebody that he wasn't expecting and that makes him feel as if he is the number one person in the hotel, regardless of who they are, that's very rewarding."

But to date, he has not been called upon to butler for a president or former president.

"Not yet," he says. "I'm told they are quite the experience when they do turn up, though."

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