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Quirky hotel jobs


Talk about jobs in hotels and we visualise receptionists, housekeepers or bellboys, not to mention cooks, gardeners, pool attendants and waiters. If you think harder, maybe valets, concierges or even dry cleaners come to mind.

But would you think of a fragrance butler, carrying a guest’s favourite perfume to their room on a silver tray? Or even a person employed purely to shine every coin in the hotel?

The Flexicover Team looks at some hotel employees with skill sets you would never imagine!

Duckmaster at the Peabody Hotel; Memphis, USA

This unique and odd tradition goes back to the 1930s. Following a hunting trip, Frank Schutt – general manger of the Peabody Hotel at the time – and his friend Chip Barwick thought it would be amusing to place some of their live duck decoys in the hotel lobby fountain. The guests loved it so much that it was decided five North American mallards (a drake and four hens) would become a permanent fixture. In 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke (a former circus animal trainer) volunteered to care for the ducks and was awarded the title of Duckmaster – a position he held for 50 years until his retirement. However, the tradition continues to this day and each morning, promptly at 11am, the ducks and their master take part in the now-famous Peabody Duck March where they parade across a red carpet to the hotel fountain, before head backing to their $200,000 rooftop Duck Palace at 5pm. Today’s Duckmaster wears a red jacket with gold trim and carries a brass duck-headed cane; he also acts as a greeter and tour guide for the hotel. Redcoats, eat your heart out!

Coconut Safety Engineer at the Ritz Carlton; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

It’s not hard to believe that falling coconuts, weighing around 1kg, can inflict some nasty injuries to unsuspected bystanders. While some resorts post signs warning guests not to sit under the trees, the Ritz Carlton won’t take any chances… they employ a Coconut Safety Engineer. He isn’t just putting on a show as he shimmies up the resort’s palm trees, which tower from 20 to 60 feet high, to pick ripened coconuts before they get the chance to fall. You can also try the literal fruits of his labour at a daily sunset get-together by the pool, announced, of course, by the blowing of a conch shell.

Tartan Butler at the Balmoral; Edinburgh, Scotland

At Rocco Forte’s Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, the Tartan Butler is not just a smartly dressed man in a kilt; he is also there to offer a rather unusual service to guests. If your ties with Scotland extend beyond the odd wee dram or a passion for the country, then he will help you trace your Scottish roots. Before arriving at the hotel, you can tell the Tartan Butler the names of any known Scottish ancestors and he’ll find your connection to one of the thousand of clans — he will even track down your traditional tartan, if such a thing exists. When you arrive he’ll be more than happy to arrange a trip to a kilt shop to have your very own clan kilt fitted and he’ll even arrange a guided tour of the region of Scotland where your forefathers were born and spent their lives.

Monkey Men at the Amanbagh Resort; Rajasthan, India

If you have been to a safari park or even Gibraltar, you will know the damage monkeys can inflict when they run free. You will also be aware of the crafty nature of these primates. The resident langur and rhesus monkeys at Amanbagh Resort have developed quite a taste for the savoury cookies served to guests. To combat the sneaky little thieves, the hotel employs 4 monkey men who patrol the grounds. Though they are armed with slingshots, these men have developed a rather ingenious way to keep the locals in check; they have mastered the call of the dominant male, meaning they seldom need to shoot. But don’t worry if they do, it's just to scare, never to hit or wound.

Sleep Concierge at the Benjamin Hotel; New York City, USA

Americans are famed for being service-focused – and New York’s Benjamin Hotel goes a step further to ensure guests get the perfect night's sleep. The Sleep Concierge will carry out an assessment of your sleeping habits and recommend the best pillow for you – the 'pillow menu' offers a choice of 12 different styles including one that claims to reduce snoring, one that has a ultra-thin speaker inside which you can hook a personal audio device and listen to music or a book before you depart for Dreamland. There’s even one for the mother-to-be. The concierge is also on hand to arrange a bedtime snack or a sleep-inducing massage. In fact, the Hotel is so confident that you will get a good night's sleep that it offers a 'Sleep Guarantee', claiming if you don't sleep just as well as you do at home they'll give you a free night's stay. How comforting!

Whichever beach you head for this summer, Flexicover, the travel insurance specialists are committed to providing you the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.





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