If the image of Jeeves comes to mind when you hear the word butler, think again. There’s a new type of butler in town and she’s anything but a grim, stiff man in dark suit and black bow tie with white gloves holding a silver tray of drinks in one hand and a white napkin draped over the other.
The new butler is a high-spirited, high energy Ashley Forbes, a barely 5’5’ tall bubble of warmth, song and happiness and her job at Sandals Emerald Bay, Exuma, is making her a superstar while setting a fresh model for an old hospitality art.
“I always wanted to be a butler to be able to serve and make people happy,” says Forbes, one of 15 butlers at the Family Island resort. At 26, she confesses she’s proud to serve with such enthusiasm it made her a standout even attracting the attention of Adam Stewart, executive chairman of the best-known hotel brand in the Caribbean.
That’s no surprise to Sandals Emerald Bay General Manager Jeremy Mutton.
“Ashley’s smile just lights up the room,” says Mutton. “She’s a Sandals standout with her positive energy, always going the extra mile to make every guest she interacts with feel special.”
Sandals managers throughout the 17-resort brand are always on the lookout for superstars among team members. Their search is for those, like Forbes, whose presence and attitude adds to the loyalty factor. Much of the brand’s success over its 41-year history has been repeat visitors who vacation almost exclusively at one Sandals or another in one of the seven countries where it operates.
“Guests love Ashley because they can see she takes such pride and joy in making them happy,” he adds. “From the instant they walk through the front door and she greets them to the attention she pays to booking their tours, golf or spa visits, their restaurant reservations, Ashely Forbes wants to help make guests’ vacation dreams and memories even better than they imagined.”
Despite the lavish praise, Forbes said there are no secrets to being a great butler, even at a 5-star all-inclusive brand where luxury meets romance, expectations and demands can be taxing.
“You just have to love people and want to see a smile on their face and know they will always remember their vacation in part because of your service,” she said. “And don’t be afraid to serve. It’s a good thing.”
One of seven children, Forbes grew up in the Carmichael Road community of Nassau. She attended Adelaide Primary, Stephen Dillet Primary, Anatol Rodgers and Government High. She took a course in hospitality through the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and worked at a busy restaurant in Nassau before landing a job at Sandals where she’s smiled through tours of duty in the kitchen and housekeeping. Being in the industry inspired her to take a course in butler service.
“The thing I love most about Sandals is the opportunity,” says Forbes. “Others may call it a lot of work, I call it opportunity to learn new things, new jobs.”
She’s received cards of thanks from guests who say they will return because she showed them what being waited on was really all about. Pampering, finding the perfect tour or tee-time on the golf course or restaurant is just part of the job. Sometimes it is simply letting the guest know you are there to assist.
Although she has only been in butler uniform at Sandals since September, she reached her goal – spreading enough cheer and goodwill in service to grab the executive chairman’s attention.
“Service is what makes the wow!’ says the new kind of butler who hums and sings as she serves.
Source: D.P.A Associates