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What makes a great butler?

We posted a great role for a formally trained butler on our Villa Recruit jobs board this morning.  A full-time position based half the year in West Palm Beach, the other half the Hamptons. BUTLER ROLE:  "Responsibilities include serving at formal dinners, managing the home, assisting in the planning of events, dinner parties and running errands. Knowledge of beverages desirable. Other responsibilities include calling in repairmen and overseeing their work, as well as dealing with contractors and landscapers. Occasionally housekeeping when necessary." Posting the various responsibilities of the role, made me think about what it takes to be a really great butler. As Google would have it "chief manservant of a house," the reality of being a butler in t...

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Norland Celebrates 128 years

This month we thought we'd throw the spotlight on those fabulous Norland nannies who graduate from Norland College. With their instantly recognisable uniform, we wanted to find out more about the history, heritage and values of Norland College.  Norland College was founded in 1892 by Emily Ward with children's early years education in mind. Influenced by the ideas of Friedrich Frobel - creator of the kindergarten concept - Emily recognised that every child has unique needs and capabilities and should have access to childcare that facilitates that. As the first educational establishment in the UK to offer any kind of childcare training, Norland was focused on the need for early years childcare to be more structured.  Totally centred around the child. Prior t...

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The Swanky Shankly Grand Party Hotel

Have you caught up with BBC One's Grand Party Hotel yet?  The real life docu-soap based on and in Liverpool's Shankly Hotel.  A little reminiscent of the BBC's series Hotel Babylon (2006-9), only with flamboyance, colour and a splash of Big Brother!  I can't decide whether it's decadent, exciting or kitsch in the extreme!  Love it or hate it this extraordinary hotel has cornered the "party-dream" market.  With 83 uniquely themed rooms and suites, from bridal, communal (sleeps 24!) to sporting themed in memory of Liverpool's football manager, Bill Shankly OBE.  Some boasting pink flamingos on the ceiling, some with lion's heads on the walls, even toilets fashioned into thrones, and don't forget your...

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Flower Arranging Made Easy

We can all appreciate the impact of a beautiful flower arrangement, but how do you achieve it with little or no training?  Here are some really simple tips for making an impact without the stress. Choose your colour palette – decide which colours you want to feature but remember classy, elegant displays are often achieved with the simplest of colour ways. So, stick to 1 or 2 colours, that's all you need to create a simple, elegant but impactful floral display.  For example: only buy white and green flowers.  TIP: Often the more colours you choose, the more hectic, crazy and distracting the effect.   Flower finds - If you can't get to your gorgeous local flower market (you'll probably have to get up super early but it's worth th...

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The Role of Household Management with COVID

  The role of the Household Manager has changed somewhat with the advent of coronavirus.  With lots of new responsibilities added to the original job description, the adage "Walking/Working Manager" really fits in these new times as private households reel from the limitations of the pandemic and fears of future lockdown and quarantine. Running the household from behind a desk is no longer enough! Employers will expect higher standards, tighter controls and crystal-clear procedures to reflect the demands of our times: Household Managers will need to: Get fully up to speed with industry best practise to keep private households safe for families and staff. Work out whether to guarantee safer home environments, a professional should be employed to train domest...

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10 Home Renovation Pointers

Don't just think fabulous, think functional. When you're planning a home renovation, an Interior Designer worth their salt should advise you on more than just the fabrics and furnishings, lighting and artwork.   For your home to run smoothly and efficiently, the less glamorous bits like storage, light sockets and linen cupboards might sound dull, but unless they're carefully planned and allocated in advance, could leave your beautifully crafted spaces looking unsightly and chaotic.  Don't just think fabulous, think functional.    1. Plan AheadTry to think to how you, your family and your staff will use your house, not just today but in the future. As the children grow, the way you use your home will change, so think about how the space accommodates everyone...

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Finding the Perfect Gardener

A beautiful home is nothing without beautiful gardens. The wow-factor your guests will enjoy when they turn into your driveway and approach your home, pausing to take in the elegance and splendour of their surroundings.  A stunning garden becomes an alternative space to entertain and relax with your guests, in an area specially created and luxurious under the sun, the moon and the stars. But maintaining that outdoor glamour takes attention to detail, creative flair, experience and a lot of ongoing work from a highly skilled and knowledgeable gardener or team of gardeners to keep it looking pristine, day in, day out. So, what skills, duties and qualifications should you be requesting to find the perfect gardener? Read on to find out more: Gardeners with landscap...

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8 Tips for the Perfect Picnic

We hope you're finding time to enjoy the glorious UK weather?  Perfectly timed too, as the nation celebrates National Picnic Week (22nd - 28th June 2020) this week (yes really!) giving families, nannys, childminders and au pairs just the excuse to make the most of the clear blue skies and lush green grass and get the children out to enjoy the great British picnic. So dust off those hampers, baskets, cutlery, crockery and wash those picnic blankets and outdoor napkins. National Picnic Week have set up a website to celebrate and invite you to join in sharing tips and recipes for the perfect picnic. Picturesque spots to visit, picnic dishes to prepare, favourite treats, tips and games to share. What better way to make the most of current UK government advice, maintaining a saf...

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Nailing the Video Interview

With travel restrictions and physical distancing demands of COVID-19, the video interview has come into its own.  Especially, when it comes to first stage private household staff recruitment interviews. Video calls are way more convenient, save time for both employer and candidate and save on all those unnecessary travel costs, particularly when the employer and candidate live in a different country or continent from the other.  And with everyone having to quickly relocate their offices and commercial ventures home-bound during lockdown, we've already seen a huge spike in the use of video technology platforms.  But behaving naturally and with confidence in front of a camera lens can seem daunting for some. You might be someone who feels really comfortable with the ...

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The Impact of COVID-19 on Private Service Recruitment

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on individuals, communities, local and global economies.  To say nothing of the longer lasting psychological effects individuals have suffered, as a result of their own personal experiences during the pandemic, isolation and social distancing. Once the industry starts to recover, private service staff - traditionally recruited for employer's homes - will need to follow a vastly different interview process. Obviously, it will vary from household to household, owner to owner, but once we get a handle on what the new norm is, there will need to be a clear path for recruiters and candidates to follow.  Liquidity in the market indicates that there will still be strong demand for goods and labour, but when and how quickly the industry bounce...

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