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Learning skills of a Western-style butler to serve the super rich

(China Daily)    08:03, October 13, 2015

Learning skills of a Western-style butler to serve the super rich

Christopher Noble (left), an instructor at the International Butler Academy China, inspects a student's uniform in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. [Photo/Agencies]

Specialized schools and institutes have set up in China to teach the art of being a Western-style butler as the sector starts to take off

Dressed in a black tuxedo, with a bow tie and white gloves, Tang Zhiyong is struggling to iron a newspaper while keeping his feet straight and his waist tilted at exactly 30 degrees.

Part of a course designed for budding butlers, the 31-year-old from central Anhui province is hoping to follow in the time-honored European tradition of catering for the super rich.

"I have been practicing my ironing skills all day," he said. "But I never thought ironing a newspaper would be so difficult."

At exclusive Noahs Shanghai Yatch Club, Tang and 13 other students have paid thousands of yuan for a two-week program to learn specialized skills such as valet services and etiquette.

The courses are run by The British Butler Institute, a London-based training school, which entered the Chinese market in 2007.

Apart from valet duties and etiquette, the program takes in international protocol, knowledge of wines, food and cigars, as well as getting the temperature right when running a hot bath.

"I dream of becoming a butler because I can earn more money," Tang, who used to work as a manager in charge of cafeteria services for the five-star Jianguo Hotel in Henan province, said.

A typical private butler in a major luxury hotel can earn around 20,000 yuan ($3,175) a month, which is more than triple the average salary in Beijing.

Demand for qualified staff is growing as China's ultra rich pursue opulent lifestyles. This in turn has fueled a mini boom in training schools and institutes, rolling out the hidden arts and duties of a "respected man servant".

"The butler service sector in China is still in its infancy but we are seeing growing demand," Gary Williams, principal of The British Butler Institute, said. "We have grown steadily throughout China and we are currently providing training courses for an average of 850 students a year."

At this stage, it is difficult to gauge the value of the sector as there is very little data on the subject. But to put the industry into context, Hurun Research Institute, a wealth management research agency based in Shanghai, reported in its latest survey that China has more than 1.09 million people with assets of at least 10million yuan.

Naturally, this is good news for companies turning out skilled domestic staff.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Liang Jun,Bianji)

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