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Inside the Butler's Pantry: Q&A With St. Regis Deer Valley's Thomas Crawford

Known for its impressive portfolio of five-star properties across the globe, St. Regis has a standard of service so high, it's the only hotel brand with an official butler program at every location. It's a St. Regis tradition that dates back to 1904 when John Jacob Astor founded the original hotel in New York City. The Signature St. Regis Butler Service honors that legacy 24/7 with exactly what you'd imagine your own personal "Geoffrey" to tend to: coffee and tea, shoe shining, packing and unpacking, shirt pressing and travel arrangements – all with white gloves of course. The word "butler" alone evokes a certain level of luxury, so how does it work in the laid back locale of Park City's Deer Valley enclave? "We're constantly evolving to meet our guest's changing needs," says the St. Regis Deer Valley's General Manager Edward Shapard. "The real-life modern butler attempts to be discreet and unobtrusive, friendly but not familiar, and graceful and precise in execution of duty." Curbed Ski caught up with Thomas Crawford (the longest butler in residence), inside the pantry to get a few staff secrets of standout service.

So, how did you get your start?
I relocated to Utah from Illinois in 2009, just as the hotel was being built. I have always been passionate about hospitality and was intrigued by the opportunity. Once the team was hired, we went through an intense month-long training program with the head butler from the New York City property.

What does the St. Regis tradition mean to you and how do you incorporate it into your work?
Everything we do is inspired by our brand's culture, legacy and tradition. As butlers, we are the gatekeepers of the St. Regis reputation.

How do you adjust the traditional role of the "butler" to your mountain town visitors?
We serve as mountain guides and naturalists as much as we can bring you your newspaper in the morning. I recently helped a family chart a journey through Utah's state parks. And although our surroundings are inherently casual – our clientele still demands the attention and service they expect from a St. Regis resort.

The program's motto is "Allow Me" - what exactly does that entail?
Some might think our standard daily services are slightly mundane, but the measuring stick of success for us is creating time. Depending on the trip persona of our guest – whether it's for business, pleasure or family – our job is to identify that immediately and determine how we can maximize their time here. It's all about anticipation too, which can mean something as simple as pre-calling an elevator to the floor a guest is on, so they are never left waiting.

Is the word "no" even in your vocabulary?
Well, we're definitely not a culture of "no," but we're also not necessarily a culture of "yes" either. If there's something we can't accommodate, we come up with several secondary options. But there is rarely a request too small or unattainable – which usually tend to happen in the middle of the night!

What are a few of the most extreme requests you've received?
A gentleman wanted to place a bet on a professional basketball game…in person…in Las Vegas. We arranged for a private plane to take him there to visit the sports book and bring him back. He was probably on the ground there for 30 minutes.

On Christmas morning, we had a guest that needed a specific "Indiana Jones" style hat, gift-wrapped and under her tree by 11am. We were able to get a store on Main St. for us to make it happen.

During the ski season, we do everything from getting guests into the latest gear to coordinating lessons with Olympians. We've even met guests on mountain during their lunch breaks to get their boots warmed up before they head back out.

What is a typical day like for you?
I start walking the property and then looking at the arrivals and departures, scheduling everything from there. Upon arrival we do a meet and greet and then get started on their trip agenda. We have butler pantries on each floor with workstations so we can fulfill requests wherever we are needed most. Every day is truly different – coordinating with housekeeping, in-room dining, concierge and even ski school. It's a lot of logistics.

What is your favorite part of your job?
I get great joy out of our champagne ritual, which is another St. Regis tradition. Every night at sunset, I give a brief history lesson on sabering and get to perform it for our guests on our Mountain Terrace.

And last, the least favorite?
Pressing. Over the years, I've spent a lot of time trying to perfect my skill set and our staff often practices on each other's suiting. It's definitely not something that comes natural to me. Before I started here, I had never even ironed a shirt!

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