This was an extremely challenging position supervising all caretaking aspects of a private estate including a large primary residence and multiple vacation properties located in Southern California and the Caribbean. I work directly with the owners to plan and execute the overall management of the primary estate, its extensive grounds, elaborate art, antique, and wine collections, and have some involvement with the 9 additional sub-properties. My primary focus is the safety and security of the home as well as the owners. The overall maintenance of the primary residence, security and comfort of the owners and their guests, their personal belongings , and co-ordination and scheduling of service for the entire estate.
Put simply a caretaker or keeper is a person that has the responsibility of the maintenance of the property, buildings, and the smooth running of an estate, especially when done in the absence of the owner. This includes making sure the heating/cooling system is working, painting, gardening, plumbing, carpentry, car maintenance, cleaning, portering goods, moving furniture, doing repairs, ordering materials, and charge of maintenance equipment. A caretaker may be asked to assist with heavy cleaning duties within the house, and may also be responsible for caring for animals or performing regular errands during their trips away.
What I did
The maintaining of the property, and the owners private information are obviously of most importance, give them the peace of mind of knowing that their properties are being looked after while they are away and proactively ensuring that regular maintenance takes place. My time may be spent managing and scheduling the household or I may execute the daily maintenance of the household personally. My responsibilities include, but are not limited to general household management needs, cleaning and maintenance (hands on or scheduling of), entertaining and etiquette, care of clothing and packing for travel, identifying issues, and care of fine china, silver, crystal, artwork, antiques, and cars. Put simply I act as a House Manager helping to keep the properties running smoothly so the owners can worry less about their management and letting them enjoy themselves more. My responsibilities do not include finances or planning and allocation of assets. On occasion I may travel ahead of the owners to get a property ready for their arrival and bring the property "up to speed" on any necessary maintenance needs, changes, or special service requirements. I am often required to call upon my previous experience in Property Management, Customer Care, Client Services, Food and Beverage Management. A position such as this requires you to be well-trained in multiple modalities and have excellent judgment regarding decisions about household maintenance and management such as hiring service people and providing direction to other resources.
These duties include:
Overseeing the operation and maintenance of the estate and its multiple residences
Maintaining daily operation of the household
Ensure proper care and cleaning of the estate and its outlets. Maintenance of the driveway, pathways, patio and outdoor living spaces. Including scheduled care of formal gardens ( ensuring irrigation and lighting is working, mowing, planting and landscaping), the pool, spa and gazebo area
Managing the calendar
Organizing and running large events and parties
Booking travel arrangements
Maintaining household security
Managing designated improvement and renovation projects
When the owners are "on property"
In addition to the overall supervision of the home my duties expand to include concierge type services where I may perform the following responsibilities. This could range from basic guest services to arranging entertainment, local tourist trips for guests, tasting from the estate wine cellars, or anything from a simple dinner for eight to planning a grand formal gathering for fifty.
Provide multiple meals that are custom designed for the owners' particular requests and requirements. These meals are cooked fresh or packaged and stored, so that they may eat them at their leisure in the future. Preparation of the meals requires a knowledge of wine and food. Including the planning of menus within a weekly authorized budget for the menu, the purchase and stock of refrigerators and pantry to ensure freshness and likes of the owners and their guests
Organizing and running large events and parties. Coordination or preparing for events at the primary residence as well as arrange catering to the other properties if requested. Set, Serve and Clean up as appropriate for the number of persons and have the ability to supervise other staff when needed.
Maintaining the wine cellars with inventories of estate produced and additional domestically wines. Demonstrating a solid understanding of wine and food pairing, setting and serving of meals and drinks
The preparation for and receiving of guests using presentation skills that can be adapted to the level of formality of the event
Performing valet duties for the owner at home and while traveling; running household and/or personal errands for the owner or guests
Scheduling and managing service vendors
Responsibilities are not limited to the above as each experience requires its' own unique approach to personal service and to the household.
It is important to have excellent judgment regarding decisions about household maintenance and management such as using service people and providing direction to other vendors maintaining the properties. The level of “hands-on” involvement can vary from full participation in gardening and cleaning When dealing with multiple residences it is essential to have skills and experience that include, but are not limited to cleaning and maintenance (balancing hands on or use of outside resources), entertaining and etiquette, identifying needs, care of clothing and packing for travel, and care of the estates assets; fine china, silver, crystal, artwork, antiques, and cars.
Assistant to the Winemaker
As an added benefit I also have the opportunity to assist in the production of the estates five private label wine varieties all created using grapes selected from local Bay Area and Central Valley vineyards. A winemaker is a general term, also known as an enologist or vintner, and oversees the entire production process of creating wine, including grape harvesting, crushing, fermentation, aging, blending and bottling. They combine scientific concepts with practical experience to alter a wine's chemical composition and make key decisions based on the levels of acid, sugar, sulfur and sulfite within a wine.