Housekeeping training school for China’s super-rich

Housekeeping training school for China's super-rich 0

Housekeeping training school for China’s super-rich

Hu was putting plastic puzzle blocks pretending to be food into the trainer’s plate.

Wearing white gloves, to fulfill his dream of becoming a butler for China’s rapidly growing super-rich, Alvin Hu must overcome a strange challenge: carrying a plate filled with colorful puzzles pretending to be food.

Last year, the only butler training school in China run by foreigners opened, responding to the demand for aristocratic European-style maids among China’s super-rich.

Every day, International Butler Academy (IBA) students are trained in everything from ironing clothes to smoothing tablecloths, polishing silverware, and serving cutlery properly according to meal standards.

`Around the world, there are more and more rich people. Especially in China, they want someone to take care of their errands,` Hu said.

In an exercise to test his dexterity, Hu carried a plate full of plastic toys pretending to be food to a sitting Swiss lecturer, eyebrows furrowed as plastic balls representing dinner were brought out.

`Thank you,` the guide said, after Hu used tongs to pick up the food on the plate.

A butler can earn 20,000 yuan ($3,200) a month, Hu said, so it’s a worthy investment.

China has more than one million people with assets of over $1.6 million, according to Hurun, a wealth ranking magazine.

`In the past few years, the need to hire housekeepers has become increasingly greater. Therefore, hiring teachers to teach is natural,` said Thomas Kaufmann, head of the teaching team at the school.

The butler profession has a long history in Western books and movies, from the butler Passepartout in Jules Verne’s `Around the World in 80 Days`, to the butler Alfred in the movie `Batman`.

`Downton Abbey is extremely popular in China, we rely on that to determine standards,` Kaufmann said.

Each villa has a butler

IBA is located southwest of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, China.

Every short distance there is a billboard advertising a newly built apartment building, featuring a smiling person in a suit and bow tie, promising to bring `the luxury of English butler service to everyday life.`

`We provide a butler for each villa. Customers are extremely satisfied,` said Pu Yan, spokesman for Langji real estate company.

Shi Chunming, founder of China Butler, a competitor of IBA, said that he had recently signed `several cooperation agreements with real estate companies`.

The index of new home prices in 100 major cities in China fell for eight consecutive months last year, but the downturn brought unexpected benefits to the school, Kaufmann said.

`Currently, selling a house is becoming more and more difficult, companies have to provide more services to tenants, who are becoming more and more demanding,` he said.

However, this phenomenon is sometimes accompanied by so-called one-night housekeepers, who are trained to act as models in real estate sales showrooms, to trick customers.

`When the sales department closes, the butler also disappears,` Kaufmann said.

`Do you understand?`

The school’s headquarters is a villa, similar to the luxurious houses where students hope to work after graduation.

Morning classes include vacuuming, mopping and polishing, and the placement of the water bottle can sometimes spark a furious debate, while a butter knife set a centimeter off the plate is considered a failure.

Arranging cutlery on a banquet table, students bend down and squint to accurately measure the distance of each row of forks, ensuring they are placed correctly.

However, that is not Kaufmann’s exacting standards.

Chrissy Yan, a Chinese trainee, said the training was `very difficult, especially setting the table`.

Once hired, a mandarin’s duties include more mundane tasks such as `running errands, walking the dog, instructing cleaning staff, and polishing furniture and shoes,` Kaufmann said.

Like most other practitioners, Hu is young.

`You have to think and take care of every little detail,` he said.

`Today, butlers not only serve rich families, but also multinational tycoons. They are successful people. Making these people feel comfortable and happy, I feel like

Housekeeping training school for China's super-rich

Students must use a ruler to accurately measure the distance between each glass of wine.

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