(TODAY.com) -- With more than 52,000 properties, the U.S. hotel industry is a
veritable job-creating behemoth that employs roughly 1.8 million people.
That's a lot of cooks, waiters and housekeepers - and, apparently, the
occasional duckmaster, guacamologist or proposal coach.
jobs actually exist. For hotels, they provide an opportunity to forge a
unique reputation; for guests, they add a touch of humor or personality
to what is often a cookie-cutter experience. And for hospitality-job
seekers, the following positions certainly beat washing dishes and
Dog Surfing Instructor - Loews Coronado Bay Resort
Surfing: it's not just for humans anymore - at least not at this San
Diego hotel where Fifi and Fido can enjoy their very own surf lessons
courtesy of, yes, a resident dog surfing instructor.
all about balance," said Teevan McManus, owner of Coronado Surfing
Academy, who manages the canine classes. "A low center of gravity helps
but if a dog's comfortable in the water, they can usually surf."
help them hang 20, McManus starts his students out on the beach, has
them progress to shallow water and eventually launches them into the
waves. Owners are welcome to participate but when it's time to ride,
it's strictly a solo deal.
"It's like people,"
said McManus. "Some take right to it, some don't. As it would have it,
dogs are often the better surfers."
Duckmaster - The Peabody Memphis
his brass-headed duck cane and scarlet-and-gold-trimmed jacket, it's
hard to miss Anthony Petrina. Then again, maybe that's because he's most
often seen leading The Peabody's twice-daily duck marches, an 80-year
tradition in which the hotel's resident ducks make their way from their
rooftop coop, along a red carpet and into a lobby fountain.
Duckmaster, Petrina is responsible for all aspects of the ducks' care,
including feeding, training and protection. Previously, he worked in the
hotel's Capriccio Grill but when the previous Duckmaster retired two
years ago, the "solid career path" he was on flew out the window.
Duckmaster) was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said, which,
alas, doesn't bode well for others hoping to succeed him. "The first
Duckmaster did it for 50 years so I have 48 to go."
Fish Valet - Fairmont Vancouver Airport
Although it's not a U.S. hotel, this Canadian hotel is a popular
way-station for Americans returning from the posh fishing lodges of
British Columbia. Not surprisingly, perhaps, some of those guests check
in with rather large, potentially odiferous "souvenirs."
Harvey Makasa, the hotel's resident fish valet, who relieves those
guests of their salmonid burdens, stores them in a 575-cubic-foot
freezer and retrieves them when it's time to check out. Along the way,
he'll typically inquire as to the size of the fish, information that is
entered into the hotel's Biggest Catch contest. Come fall, the winner
will receive a free two-night stay at any Fairmont hotel in North
America (except, alas, The Plaza).
Guacamologist - The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas
Can you select an avocado at the peak of freshness? Do you understand
the subtle interplay of salt, lime and roasted garlic? Can you share
your knowledge with hungry guests on a daily basis and, when
appropriate, help them create their own culinary delights?
then you may have what it takes to be a guacamologist like Todd Sabo at
The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, who hosts a daily guacamole-making
presentation in the lobby. Participants can learn the secrets of great
guacamole, taste the results along with mini-margaritas and, with
advance notice, don an apron and be a guest guacamologist for a day.
requisite culinary background isn't incredibly in-depth," said Sabo.
"You just have to love your avocados and love talking about them."
Proposal Coach - Stowe Mountain Lodge
As a longtime wedding planner, Calais Van Horn has seen her share of
predictable proposal scenarios - hide the ring in the dessert, drop it
in the champagne flute, etc. - so two years ago, she made a proposal of
her own: Rather than be an after-the-fact facilitator, why not help
romance-challenged suitors from the get-go by providing a more
Since then, she and fellow proposal
coach, Gabrielle Lungo, have helped arrange proposals ranging from a
late-night snowmobile tour with a pre-arranged "breakdown" to a
golf-themed effort in which the groom reached into the hole on the 18th
green and pulled out, not his golf ball, but a ring.
"This is a really romantic place," said Van Horn, "and some of these guys just need a little help."
Sunglass Doctor - Four Seasons Resort Lanai
Picture this: You're sitting poolside and you suddenly notice a loose
screw on your Gucci sunglasses or that your Serengitis have gotten
badly smudged. That's no problem at the Four Seasons Resort at Manele
Bay, where a staffmember named Dr. Shades is on duty to clean lenses,
tighten screws and otherwise ensure guests' eyewear crises are resolved.
find him poolside 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. - he's the one with the Dr. Shades
shirt, apron/tool belt and medical bag - unless, that is, he's dealing
with a more serious issue that requires his attention elsewhere. Not to
worry, though, since the good doctor always has loaner pairs on hand.
Tequila Butler - The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain
If your vision of a butler is a stuffy manservant who draws baths and
fluffs pillows, you've never met Richard Gutierrez, the official
Tequila Butler at this resort outside Tucson. Most days you'll find him
pushing his cart poolside, offering free samples of tequila concoctions
and expounding on the subtleties of reposado, añejo and the like.
to Gutierrez, the key to being a successful tequila butler is
three-fold: You have to enjoy interacting with guests, you need to be
able to handle the occasional inebriated guest and "you have to be
really interested in tequila."
Swimming while intoxicated (SWI?) incidents aside, all we can say is where do we apply?
Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him on Twitter.