Twenty-year-old Miguel Pando is a tanning butler. His job: to stroll around the Ritz-Carlton South Beach pool and beach and offer tanning supplies to guests. Oh, and to also apply the tanning lotion on hard-to-reach body parts like backs, shoulders, and necks.
Michelle Payer, the hotel's public relations director, created the trademarked tanning butler position in 2003 when the property opened. Since then, several hot, young men have filled the butler's flip-flops. The hotel has lost several tanning butlers to modeling offers.
How does one get the position? Miguel was walking down the street when a Ritz-Carlton employee approached him. "At first I didn't know what a tanning butler was. I was confused. Then I Googled it and saw that it was a cool job," Pando says.
Wearing his tanning butler T-shirt, flip-flops, board shorts, and holster filled with the tools of the trade (various oils and lotions ranging from SPF 4 to 55), Miguel cruises the pool deck and schmoozes with the ladies (though he'll just as happily apply lotion on men). The women love the attention -- it's more shitck than sleaze. Pando is sexy but not smarmy; in shape but not muscle-bound. This position would have a totally different meaning in the hands of a rock-hard "juicehead." With Pando, though, it seems like innocent fun -- a few giggles, a squirt of lotion, and he's on his way.
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Besides spritzing high-end sunscreen onto the backs of the hotel's clientele (celebrities, socialites, and even a senator have all been tended to -- good butlers don't name names), the tanning butler provides restaurant recommendations, fetches champagne, and poses for a lot of pictures. Sort of a beachy concierge. "I'll set up a little weekend plan for guests," Pando says. What's his pick for a couple wanting to experience South Beach? "Dinner at Asia de Cuba or De Rodriguez Cuba, then drinks at the Delano, followed by some partying at Set." By the way, this 20-year-old has attained local celebrity status, so he can get you into said restaurants and clubs.
If you think this job has gotten to Pando's head or if he's seeking a lucrative modeling deal, think again. He's an accounting student with a girlfriend. His dream is to work at one of the Big Four accounting firms, like Price Waterhouse in New York. We're sure his girlfriend is looking forward to the day he trades in the lotion for a calculator.