Luxury hotels spend a great deal of time making sure their guests never see how much time is spent making them luxurious. The romance of perfectly aligned toiletries is, after all, diminished somewhat by the image of someone carefully aligning toiletries. That said, the ways in which details are looked over rather than overlooked is what is most interesting about luxury businesses. Effortlessness takes effort.
In order to introduce their clientele to the people in charge of the biggest small stuff, The Ritz-Carlton has released a series of video shorts entitled "The Art Of The Craft," which show a housekeeper, shoeshiner, chef and sommelier making their daily rounds. Though the focus is soft and the pitch is a bit hard, the videos do capture the intricacies of oft-forgotten labor. Watching a housekeeper place a bookmark in an open novel and a shoeshiner select his polish turns out to be pretty compelling stuff.
There is also some delightful weirdness thrown in: Check out the Hong Kong housekeeping staff stretching in unison before making their rounds or the Californian sommelier's almost amorous relationship with his stemware.
It's always nice to pull back the curtain and be reminded about the work that goes in to perfectly pulling back curtains. It is also worth remember that the people doing the curtain pulling -- to belabor the metaphor -- view guests as guest and cater to them accordingly. Far from functionaries, these people are in the luxury trenches day in and day out. There is something admirable about that.
Shoe Shine Valet
Chef de Cuisine