In Conversation With Hanspeter Vochezer
Having worked in some of the world's best hotels and with some of the most elite families, Hanspeter Vochezer has turned hospitality into a fine art.
Hospitality is a fine art. It is an ever-evolving exercise in intuition, patience and tenacity. A complex balance of flexibility, discretion and charm. No one knows this better than Hanspeter Vochezer, founder of Swiss Butlers and president of the Swiss Butler Association, who for over twenty years has served in some of the best hotels and worked for the most elite families in the world.
“The greatest thing you can do on the planet is to serve people on the highest possible level,” he says. “Whether you are a butler on a private estate or a crew member on a superyacht, excellent service is about going the extra mile, going beyond the expected to make your clients happy.”
The role of a butler may seem like something from a bygone era but for Vochezer, the need for personal service at this level has seen a resurgence. The position of personal staff at the heart of top families changed when post-war society downsized, becoming conscious of conspicuous consumption, and decades of technological advances made it easier for people to do things themselves. But we have now come full circle. “Wealthy people work so hard today,” he says. “Every minute of their time is precious so they want someone who can help them get things done and transform their free time.”
As the world has evolved, so too have the clients. But, having worked in the most luxurious hotels, from Portugal to Thailand, Gstaad to Palm Springs, Vochezer doesn’t feel like everyone kept up. “Guests in five-star hotels don’t want to be told when to have breakfast or when the kitchen closes anymore,” he observes. “Expectations have changed. Clients’ schedules are their own and you need to be flexible, but most luxury hotels are not.”
Good service has no boundaries in true luxury, he says, and this is the beauty of superyachts. Here, where exclusivity is guaranteed, you have an entire crew dedicated to delivering exactly what you want, when you want and how you want. With this in mind, Vochezer and Ocean Independence have joined forces to have create a bespoke training programme for yacht crew to furnish them with the skills, etiquette, protocol, and specialist butler tips to go the distance.
“The key to impeccable service is never assuming, never judging and always staying three steps ahead,” he says. “It is about understanding your guests and adapting to their needs. If, as a crew, you communicate, work as a team and are always positive, ready to go the extra mile, your guests’ experience will be incomparable. There is no greater reward than this.”
Going the extra mile doesn’t need to be complicated. It is most often about the smallest of details; creating ‘magic moments’, as Vochezer says. It is leaving a different luxury Swiss chocolate on their pillow every night. It is chilling three bottles of champagne when they’ve asked you to chill one, just in case friends come over for a drink. It is constantly listening and anticipating.
“The best thing about the extra mile?” smiles Vochezer. “There are no traffic jams.”