China / Society

The school that serves up butlers

By Li Yang (China Daily) Updated: 2016-02-01 07:34

The learning curve

The school that serves up butlers

Sascha Seiler, an instructor from Germany, shows students how to greet a guest arriving by car.

The Chengdu school has two teaching sites-one in a luxury villa in the city's suburbs, the other in a private club in a high-rise in an up-market residential community in the city, with a grand view of the Jinjiang River.

Owned by Wennekes' Chinese business partner, the two sites provide a real-life household environment in which to instruct students.

After paying 40,000 yuan ($6,000) in tuition fees-enough to pay for eight years of college tuition in Sichuan-the trainee butlers receive six weeks' "intensive and professional" training from instructors from the US, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands, in addition to three meals a day and a butler's suit.

The first few days of training are the most interesting, according to Vincenzo Matarrese, an Italian instructor and former bartender at a five-star hotel in Europe.

He said that in the first few days, the Chinese students learn to become familiar with a whole range of Western etiquette and protocols, from personal grooming to laying tables and pouring wine. He displays different kinds of grapes on the table and explains the differences between various types of wines.

"In Europe, people have an understanding of wine. But in China, that knowledge is new," he said.

Liu Kecheng, former manager of a five-star hotel and now a travel consultant for wealthy Chengdu residents, attended the training sessions through his company's cooperation with the school.

"It was the first time I learned that it takes about two hours to clean a pair of shoes through 12 procedures. I realized how considerate, meticulous and good at handling multiple tasks a successful butler should be," Liu said. "It's life-changing experience, because the training not only gives me new status, but also a new angle to see hospitality work."

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