Weird and Wonderful
I once went on a safari in Africa that involved uninvited monkeys regularly descending from trees to steal food off my plate. The problem would have been solved had our resort only employed a monkey patroller — one of many bizarre but totally real hotel jobs around the world.
While travelers are likely familiar with the front desk staff, doorman, bell hop, housekeeping crew and concierge, they’re probably less acquainted with folks hired to clean their sunglasses, warm their beds, tend to the bees and, yes, train mermaids. Is surfing on your dog’s bucket list? There’s a dog surf instructor for that. Seeking a self esteem-boost during your travels? Enter your very own personal flatterer.
These and other weird hotel jobs exist to guarantee you have all your strange needs met during your epic escape. Just know that it might be difficult to return to your regular, decidedly more boring life after.
For an escape from the everyday into a world of pure fantasy, head to the historic Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, where spending an afternoon as a mermaid – just like Daryl Hannah’s Madison in the hit rom-com Splash – is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. Forget the cares of modern life, frolic in the aquamarine pool and listen to a mermaid-inspired playlist during a 45-minute aquatic workout led by the hotel’s seasoned mermaid trainer.
Guests can immediately transform themselves into mermaids by donning colorful mermaid tails and splashing around, while also getting an epic workout that’s a marriage of swimming, cardio, core and strength training. It’s the perfect way to stay fit and have fun away from home — while also taking a nice break from the real world, which sadly often frowns upon mermaid role-play.
Canine Surf Instructor
While a lot of hotels cater to furry family members, few cater to them like Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego. The hotel offers four-legged friends the opportunity to learn how to surf (which is of course on every dog’s bucket list) with the help of a canine surf instructor.
Guests who want to ensure their pups are as well-rounded as possible can sign them up for a lesson, which involves their pooches donning board shorts before learning how to ride the waves of the Pacific. Post-surf lesson, all dogs are rewarded with a savory surf-and-turf meal of beef tenderloin and salmon.
Similar to the monkey patroller, a pigeon chaser’s job is to chase pigeons away from the main courtyard of the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, India, with a bright flag. According to the Marriott, pigeons were historically held in high regard because they were seen as bearers of good luck...but they have fallen from grace at the Palace due to their thoughtless courtyard-soiling practices.
Enter the pigeon chaser, whose only job is to make sure everyone’s stay is pigeon-poop free — as all vacations should be.
For hoteliers who love fowl, nabbing a job as a duckmaster is nothing short of a dream come true. And for travelers who want to share their vacation with a flock of ducks, The Peabody in Memphis, Tenn., is a must-visit.
Every day, the historic resort parades out five North American Mallards that waddle down a red carpet, bathe in the hotel’s fountain and luxuriate in the hotel’s Royal Duck Palace after hours. The original Peabody ducks were trained by a retired circus-trainer-turned duck trainer who taught his flock the famous, dignified Peabody Duck March. Today, seasoned Duckmasters carry on the proud tradition.
Fun fact: Because people might not want to nosh on duck after making friends with this flock, the Peabody’s restaurant is one of the only French dining establishments in the world that doesn’t serve duck. These fowl are friends, not food.
People who haven’t been told how wonderful they are lately should head to the Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel in Portland, Ore., where every guest can add a “Compliment Package” to their stay. Akin to spending a few days as an A-list celebrity, the Compliment Package includes hotel staff showering guests with verbal love, according to Fodors.
Let’s face it: A little kindness goes a long way, and while it might seem silly to pay someone to hand out compliments, constantly hearing how amazing you are can provide a big boost if you’re a weary traveler in need of love.
Being hit on the head by a falling coconut could very well knock a person out cold — which is why the Ritz-Carlton on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, employs a full-time coconut-safety engineer. According to Travel + Leisure, the hotel’s engineer, Shaka, diligently shimmies up trees to collect ripe coconuts before they fall and potentially injure unsuspecting guests.
After all, safety first.
In some parts of the world, mischievous monkeys are a real nuisance for unsuspecting diners who might not want to share their expensive entrees with pesky primates. That’s why Amanbagh, a hotel in Rajasthan, India run by the luxurious Aman Resorts, employs a designated team to chase away monkeys. Scaring away creatures that may have nefarious plans to steal a meal isn’t just a “nice to have” — it’s a requirement.
This gig is best suited for people skilled at perfecting monkey sounds. According to the BBC, four employees walk the hotel grounds mimicking the sounds of a dominant male monkey in order to keep wannabe food thieves at bay.
Love the taste of truffles? Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn., has a full-time truffle-dog trainer on staff who teaches his pack of Lagotto Romagnolo dogs, a breed from northern Italy, to expertly sniff out truffles that will later adorn dinner plates. Known for their sharp senses and laser focus, Lagotto Romagnolos love having a job and are committed to the singular task of finding the best truffles Tennessee has to offer.
Truffle-dog trainer Jim Sanford also tends to other animals on the hotel’s farm, including sheep and chickens.
The strange hotel job of bed warmer is perfect for those looking to catch some zzzzs. Part Goldilocks and the Three Bears fantasy and part opportunity to sleep professionally, bed warmers do exactly what it sounds like they do — they lie in guests’ beds to warm them up, taking turn-down service to a whole new level.
The Holiday Inn told Reuters that its bed-warming service at three properties in London and Manchester is a response to the region's cold, wet climate, which in turn creates a chill between the sheets for tired travelers. Designated bed warmers enter hotel rooms with a thermometer to ensure that beds are a cozy 68 degrees. The staffers come fully dressed in special sleeper suits and wear hairnets so they don’t transfer anything unseemly to the beds.
Instead of risking getting your signature scent confiscated by TSA at the airport, simply book a stay at a hotel that employs an in-house fragrance butler.
Rosewood Hotels offers this unique amenity at seven on its hotels around the world, including The Carlyle in New York City, Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas and two properties in Saudi Arabia. Guests can choose a luxury essence from a curated fragrance menu specifically designed to reflect the unique style of the city they’re in. Once they make their choice, at any time of day, the Frangrance Butler will arrive carrying their perfume or cologne on, what else, a silver tray.
Individually wrapped soaps are a staple in most hotels, and generally the least important part of the stay. But at the Viceroy Riviera Maya in Mexico, they leave a real impression; each bathroom is appointed with locally made seasonal soaps that are hand cut by the hotel’s soap concierge, a treatment normally reserved for expensive cheese.
These soaps aren’t the kind to leave behind, and guests might just want to smuggle them home in their suitcases.
For travelers who are new to camping or glamping, a camping butler is a must-have to ensure a stress-free foray into the wilderness. The Resort at Paws Up, a swanky-meets-roughing-it retreat set amid 35,000 acres of Montana beauty, invites guests to explore by day and retreat to well-appointed luxury tents by night. The epitome of camping glamour, these tents are tastefully designed with hardwood floors, smooth-to-the-touch linens, air conditioning and heat, private bathrooms with heated floors and expansive showers.
Better yet, guests’ glamping needs are met by camping butlers who, among other services, pour cocktails, prepare hot cups of coffee and assist in the making of s’mores by the campfire. The result: a rugged experience as sophisticated as a stay at any five-star hotel.
Sometimes traveling inspires a little too much letting loose, with an overabundance of beer, wine and spirits making for a less-than-good morning. Happily, because necessity is the mother of invention, there’s a concierge for that.
The Ritz Carlton in New Orleans, the home of one of the world’s largest annual Mardi Gras celebrations, offers its guests the option of calling on a recovery concierge so they can feel better fast after an epic night turned regretful morning. The recovery concierge can whip up a vitamin-packed smoothie to help guests rehydrate, mix a bloody Mary or pour a specialty Cure Royal, a French hair-of-the-dog cocktail made with Kir Royal.
It can be hard to enjoy a breathtaking view with smudged sunglasses. For those who just can’t be bothered to clean their own, there’s a hotel employee whose sole purpose is to make those shades sparkle like the sun.
The Four Seasons in Lanai, Hawaii offers complimentary hourly cleaning of guests’ sunglasses while they lounge at one of its four oceanfront pools. While the shades shiner is spiffing up their specks, sunbathers can also request an Evian spritz to cool down.
Guests who love nothing more than a perfectly grilled slab of tender meat will likely become fast friends with the barbecue butler at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee hotel in Greensboro, N.C.
The butler comes to each guest’s lakeside cottage, cooks up a feast of quintessential southern cuisine and even teaches the fine art of barbecue if desired. Options are selected from three mouth-watering menus — All-American Cookout, BBQ Pit Master and Grilling Enthusiast — featuring items like lamb lollipops, pulled BBQ pork and baby back ribs.
Wedding Proposal Concierge
Already a premier wedding destination, the BBC noted that Stowe Mountain Lodge is also a popular location for people to pop the question — and sometimes they need a little help. If a nervous guest can’t keep track of all of the details, the wedding proposal concierge is on hand to ensure that everything is perfect when they request their beloved’s hand in marriage.
The assistance is part of the hotel’s Proposal Package, which also includes a couples massage and dinner for two.
At an impasse in life? Book a session with a spiritual guide at the Miraval in Tucson, Ariz. Described as a cluster of bright lights, these guides offer curated experiences that include everything from lectures to customized healing sessions. Guests are encouraged to wrap themselves in the melodies of a sound bath, clear the clutter from their minds through guided meditation, explore their intuition, work on letting go of emotional pain and more.
The team includes a wellness counselor, trauma specialist and Native American practitioner.
It’s no secret that one of the best parts of traveling is sampling the local cuisine. And it doesn’t get more local than honey brought straight from the beehive to the breakfast table for topping off tea or toast.
Several hotels around the world employ hotel beekeepers to tend to hives, and the honey is not just reserved for delectable eats. Honey from on-site-hotel hives is also added to spa treatments for its anti-aging and skin-smoothing benefits. Hotels that harness their own honey include the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, the Mandarin Oriental in Paris, W Taipei in Taiwan, the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver and St. Ermin’s Hotel in London.