Where is Alfred? Queenstown’s new luxury hotel faces butler punishment

Queenstown’s latest luxury hotel faces an unusual staffing dilemma as it prepares to welcome Australian tourists – it can’t find a qualified butler.

The Carlin Hotel opened last week.

It was a rough few years, with constant price increases for building materials, and its general manager, Kevin Carlin, became an owner-builder to ensure it would be built on time.

The Carlin Hotel is Queenstown's newest luxury property.

Simon Larkin/Supplied

The Carlin Hotel is Queenstown’s newest luxury property.

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His latest challenge was to find 20 more employees.

“We have all of our service chefs on board, but again, bartenders, food servers, housekeepers, butlers.

“It’s really hard to find a butler in this country. We don’t have a butler school like in China, America or Europe.”

He worked to find a solution that didn’t involve looking abroad.

“Getting overseas employees is very difficult due to the visa process. Even if we find a great candidate overseas, it could take two or three months for them to qualify to move to New Zealand, so we have to look in New Zealand,” Carlin mentioned.

“We’ve found that concierges in hotels can be trained to be butlers and even a good waiter or wine sommelier can be trained to have butler skills overseas.”

With the Aussies expected in less than a week, he was happy to open a bit earlier to ensure their staff and service were ready.

“We wanted a smooth opening and only 50% occupancy at the start to keep the bugs out of staff and the building so the border closures at the moment weren’t too inconvenient, and it looks like they might be reopening just in time to deliver over 50% occupancy.”

So far, all of their available suites have sold out on weekends, but weekdays have been very quiet, he said.

He wasn’t the only one who wanted to see the return of tourists.

“I think a lot of entrepreneurs in Queenstown are cautiously optimistic.

“We are happy to see the borders reopening without a doubt.

“It’s just how fast people get on a plane and want to travel again.”

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