Friday, June 27, 2014

The Hyder House: Vacation Rentals for the Rich!

Do you remember my friend Linda, the leading post-production editor for TV reality shows in New York? Well yesterday she sent an email from La Guardia airport telling me she was off to a wedding at the famed Hyder House in central Mexico.

My imagination exploded and I realized it's time to start a series about where the rich like to play and frolic. You see Casa Hyder is not like a hotel. You can't just call them up and book a room for the night.

What you can do, however, is load up your private jet with fifteen or twenty of your most dreadful friends and rent the entire place for a few days in one of the most famous vacation rentals in all the Americas.

It's quite intimate and small, but I think it has ten or twelve guest rooms. The place is well known for its lavish wedding parties but I happen to know about a certain gentlemen who filled up the entire house to celebrate his divorce.

Once rented, Casa Hyder comes with a complete staff; house keepers, laundry techs, and a world class chef to titillate the palate with both classical Mexican cuisine and Italian. According to Linda, breakfast was served in a flower-perfumed garden which in her own words she called ecstasy! 

No words from me can adequately describe the tranquil town of San Miguel de Allende or this awesome Spanish Colonial home. But I found a really dreamy YouTube video that explores Casa Hyder in exquisite detail. If you have a few moments just hit this link. You'll not be disappointed.

Thanks for dropping in this evening,

PS: If you want to rent this place you'll probably need to go through a vacation rental website. Here's one that seems to know what they're doing. As with many things among the rich, you'll notice that the prices are 'Upon Request' - which means open for polite negotiation or else buzz off.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Do Rich People Order Pizza?

This inquiry comes to us from Stacy who asked if rich people order pizza and Chinese food like all the rest of us. Her question is not so much about appetite and nutrition but framed within the context of security. Which is to say who is and who is not allowed onto the property? Anyone, everyone, even Pizza delivery guys?

While the rich might have their own chefs and kitchen staff, maybe even a brick pizza oven to boot, it's still fun to order Chinese or a couple of pizzas on a whim, right? As mentioned before, I can't answer for all the rich, especially with their varying levels of threats and security needs. But I do have some info and observations on the subject:

- If extreme wealth, royalty, leadership positions or merely fame has put you at high risk requiring 24/7 security (possibly even bodyguards) then your pizza will be dropped off at the guard station by the main gate, or with security personnel at the front door. No problem.

- If you live in a luxury high rise your pizza will be delivered to the Concierge desk and sent upstairs by a Messenger or Bellman. No problem there, either.

- If you're staying in a five-star hotel with a world class restaurant, you still might fancy a pizza in the privacy of your own room. So you call the Concierge to order it for you. Adding a handsome tip for the driver, she pays for it with cash from the Front Desk, which is simply added to your room bill. She gives the cash to the Doorman who pays the driver and then brings the stupid pizza inside to the Concierge - and it's sent upstairs by a Bellman. In a hotel of this stature it's not uncommon for the rich to tip the Bellman $50 or $100 bucks to cover not only his aggravation and extreme labor, but also that of the Doorman and Concierge as well.

- For the ordinary private rich however, things are more simple and we can order takeout with little fuss or fanfare. Mercifully this is not a paranoid household where I work, with no need for high security. But here's the sequence of events around here if our employer suddenly decides he wants a pizza for himself or his guests:

- He'll annoy me or someone on the evening shift to order it.
- We call it in to the pizza shop and give them the community gate code. Payment is made with the household credit card at the time of ordering, with a generous tip already added.
- When the delivery guy* gets to the second gate, there's a call button on the keypad which we can answer inside and open the gate by remote control.

So to fully answer your question Stacy, yes we do order pizza and Chinese. While all the delivery guys, contractors and vendors may have their iPhone cameras as you worried and knowledge of the layout, they can't miss the security cameras aimed directly at the driveway or the guard dogs running and yelping alongside their cars. And how could they know about the loaded guns inside the house, or mine for that matter?

Thanks for dropping in,

* Our pizza delivery guy is a 170 pound female with a butch haircut, a chain belt and a big set of keys dangling from her hip. She's adorable and always full of gossip about what's going on in the neighborhood - who's having a party, who had to call EMS last week, who's car was seen sitting overnight at who's house? Sometimes I want to order a pizza myself just to catch up.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Ideal Guest Room!

Most of us don't have enough space for ourselves or enough rooms for our kids, much less the ability to dedicate a separate room entirely for a guest. Myself, a pull-out sofa or a blow-up mattress is about the best I can offer.

But in the world of the rich guest rooms are a top priority and well covered in the butler academy. In this house where I work, in addition to the family bedrooms, there are three rooms set aside specifically for guests.

As you might expect our uppity guests need their privacy, comfort, and access to the outside world. Each one of these rooms has its own bathroom - the premiere with a huge tub on a marble platform, the others with smaller marble-encased tubs and showers. Each room has a sitting area complete with a coffee table and end tables, and most importantly a desk. There's a telephone and cable TV in each room of course, along with a stable internet connection.

Basically these rooms are set up like a hotel. There's a luggage bench and the closets are empty, with plenty of wooden hangers inside. The bureau drawers are empty as well, and the bathrooms have essential luxury toiletries in case the guest's luggage doesn't make it on the same plane.

As the butler academy taught us here's what we do if a guest is expected:

- Open the balcony doors or windows and air out the room.
- Replace hanging towels with fresh ones, in case dust or odors have collected.
- Double check that bed sheets are fresh and smoothed out.
- Make sure the soap dishes have fresh bars of designer soap.
- Put current, gender-specific magazines on the coffee table. Or neutral magazines like The New Yorker and  Robb Report if we don't know who's coming.
- Make sure the TV Guide is current and remote batteries are okay.
- Check all light bulbs in the room, especially reading lamps.
- Set a vase of fresh flowers on the coffee table.
- Turn down the bed.
- Finally, vacuum our way out of the room so as not to leave footprints in the carpet.

I feel quite sure you do the very same things if your mother-in-law or other relatives are coming for the weekend, right?  But around here, this is the normal and expected sequence of events when guests are coming - which is all too frequent if you want my opinion.

Mercifully we have a full staff to handle all this, including a florist who drops off the vase of fresh flowers. And the kitchen staff is geared up for breakfast, snacks, and extra meals if the guests hang around and don't go out. Being professionals in our jobs, there's really nothing much to it, all said and done.

The only burning question in our minds upon the arrival of every guest is "How frigging long are you going to be here?"

But the problem is that rich people themselves, not having any significant schedules to keep up with, often don't know how long they're going to plunk down in any given spot. So our tricky balancing act is not to be too accommodating or make them feel too comfortable - or else they'll be here for a solid month. 

Thanks for stopping by this evening,