In light of Raffles Hotel’s restoration, we dig up (literally) memories that were perhaps swept under the expensive carpets of Raffles (fun fact: one in particular costs a whopping six-digits). Raffles Hotel has withstood the test of time and has seen many walk through its double doors. Well documented amongst the esteemed guests are King of Pop Michael Jackson, actor John Wayne, Hong Kong star Jackie Chan, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the II and even (reportedly) a tiger.
Yet, the spotlight shines more brightly on an entirely different set of celebrities, the dramatis personae who run the show at Raffles Hotel 24/7.
Opening doors. Polishing floors. Managing a team of ground staff. Scampering to get whims and errands checked. These are some of the daily performances of the Raffles Hotel vaudevillians, and we are merely scraping the surface of the varieties under their belt.
Front office manager Bernd monologues his guests’ requests to his audience (his staff) and makes sure, like every good actor does, that the guests’ names are pronounced accurately. Yes, the accents and all. Overseeing the lobby and valorously appeasing guests are but some of the events scheduled for him.
“Butler service!” says Yu Jun. You would hear her chirpy voice through the door as a new day begins at Raffles Hotel. Be it the extra towels a guest has requested, or a round of breakfast served in bed, the butlers of Raffles Hotel are always ready to indulge in their inner Alfreds. Probably the most indefatigable characters present, you’ll see them scurrying the halls and loyally attending to every single whim.
While on the topic of whims, Roslee would know best. He is the duty manager of Raffles Hotel, and his theatrics would prove to be a comic relief to the poignancy of Raffles’ temporary closure. Befitting of his role as a duty manager, he sees to dozens of tourists who wander in and out to marvel at the beauty of both the hotel and Singapore. Photographer, historian, comedian and a manager rolled into one, he is perhaps the most versatile of characters.
Down in the kitchen, amongst the silver pots and pans, we have executive chef Pierre Burgade. He orchestrates a whole band of cooks and his sous chefs to put together a five-star spread — be it the famous Raffles Hotel high tea or a gala dinner. The symphony of flavours and the harmony of the dishes are all because of his exceptional puppeteering skills. With an eye for excellence and a penchant for perfection, guests never fail to leave happy each time.
These unsung ‘celebs’ of Raffles Hotel are but a named few of the many more who play equally important roles in the day-to-day running. They are not just actors playing their parts — they are family. Raffles Hotel is their home — as some of the long-standing guests would remark.
And as Raffles once more open its doors later this year, the spotlight will again be on these vaudevillians to vivify.
Catch ‘Raffles: Remaking an Icon’ to check out the unseen stories of Raffles Hotel. It airs this Sunday at 8pm, on Channel NewsAsia.