“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” (Walt Disney) This is actually one of my favorite Disney quotes and it immediately popped in my head on my last visit to St. Moritz. If one thing is for sure, St. Moritz is a place where all the magic happens, where ANY dream can come true. Thus, I was very delighted to do an interview with Heiko Haist, Head Butler at Badrutt’s Palace, uncovering the magic of St. Moritz.

Head Butler at Badrutt’s Palace – let the magic begin

The Butler surname came to Ireland with the Anglo- Norman invasion of the 12th century, led by the forces of Strongbow. The surname came from a common occupational name for a wine steward or the chief servant of a medieval household, from Norman French butuiller (Old French bouteillier, Latin buticularius, from buticula ‘bottle’).

A Butler takes many forms in modern society. They are still the head of the household no matter how large the team of staff, and they will undertake a whole number of duties and tasks depending on how the household is run. In the tourism industry, several popular hotel groups are well-known for their butler or “buddy” services and it’s a major selling point for upscale brands. Heiko Haist (50), Head Butler at Badrutt’s Palace, told me more about his profession.

Heiko Haist was born in Lübeck, Germany, and is a fully trained hotelier who started his career at Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, offering onboard and in-port experiences that range from luxury to upmarket soft adventure. He has been working at the Palace for more than eleven years now and is currently the Head Butler of a team of four.

What does it take to become a butler?

Most hotel butlers are highly trained and professional staff members who pride themselves on providing the best service to their guests. A professional training in hotel management is a must and additional training at a Butler Academy is certainly a plus.

BUT there are special traits you just cannot learn. Either you got it or you don’t. “In the end, it is all about the person, about character and important values. I am talking about kindness, sensitivity, confidentiality, honesty, empathy and loyalty”, explains Head Butler Heiko Haist. “Working as a butler, it is our job and pleasure to make guests feel comfortable, making them feel like they are at home. No request is too large or too small for our team.”

What does a day as Head Butler at Badrutt’s Palace look like?

“Every day is different. And this is exactly what makes my job as Head Butler so wonderful and inspiring”, says Haist. “Usually, I start work at 8 a.m. at the Palace. At around 8:30 a.m. we have our morning meeting discussing arrivals, departures and any daily updates. Afterwards, I meet with my staff to talk everything through. But there is no fixed itinerary for the rest of the day. Every guest is unique, hence every new day you have a new, unique schedule. This is, what I love about my job!”

Butlers at the Palace act like trusted personal assistants. Thus, the butler team plays an important role in the guests’ arrival experience. “The first three minutes are crucial – guests will always remember the first impression. Our butler staff makes sure their first impression is memorable and magical. We welcome them, show them all aspects of the hotel and room and enjoy speaking to them, finding opportunities to make their stay unforgettable. I for myself love finding ways to connect with each and every guest to showcase our excellent service.”

Fairytale Moments at the Palace

Butlers do many things for the guests, offering to unpack luggage, complimentary pressing of clothes, providing a private tour, handling check-in comfortably, making all dinner reservations, arranging tour bookings and special requests, serving lunch on the balcony, ensuring the suite is turned down and so much more. “At the Palace we offer you personalised service and strive to fulfil your every wish and whim. Putting a smile on your face, making your dreams come true, is the best gift we could get”,  enthuses Haist.

Whether you spontaneously would like to propose to your spouse, book a helicopter that takes you to the most romantic spot or simply have your room prepared exactly the way you left it one year ago, the butler service makes the real magic happen. The butler is prepared for any special requests.  It’s also common for butlers to provide a cell phone or an app on the in-room tablet so that guests can communicate on-the-go or with privacy.

Even if your everyday life doesn’t involve the services of a butler, your honeymoon or next romantic trip may. The increasing availability of vacation butlers reflects a competitive effort among upscale hotels to win the loyalty of guests. Walt Disney already knew: “A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you’re fast asleep.”

And I totally agree with Head Butler Heiko when he said: “Remember to keep dreaming and never stop believing!”


photo credits: Badrutt’s Palace