This article by Mila Pantovich was originally published by JustLuxe.com.
Not many people are aware of just how much goes into keeping a luxury household running, but estate manager Bryan Peele certainly does. As the President and Founder ofEstate Managers Coalition, Peele has worked with some of the world’s biggest celebrities, top-tier billionaires and industrialists, and has become one of the most trusted figures in the luxury realm.
So what does an estate manager do? The more accurate question would be what doesn’tan estate manager do? In overseeing properties and staff for some seriously wealthy individuals, a manager does everything from organizing parties at the last minute to making sure kitchen appliances are in working order. If it helps, think of Downton Abbey‘s Mr. Carson—always in the background but probably the most trusted figure in the household—though what Peele does is still so much more than that.
We were curious as to how Peele got into the world of estate management and we admit, we wondered what kind of celebrity stories he had up his sleeve (he didn’t divulge anything specific, of course—he wouldn’t be where he is today if he gossiped), and he was nice enough to take a breather from his busy schedule to chat with us. Read on to find out what the most difficult part of his job is, the full scope of what he does, and how he pulled together a last minute New Year’s Eve party.
JustLuxe: How and why did you choose to work as an estate manager?
Bryan Peele: I’m not able to do anything well unless I am passionate about it. Passion seems to be a common denominator in all that I do, and that passion is the most evident in my chosen profession as an estate manager and president of The Estate Managers Coalition. I fell into the world of estate management quite by accident after a challenging period of my life. I was at a crossroads professionally and a friend of a friend suggested an estate manager position. She said “estate manger,” but what I heard was “estate planner” and almost immediately said no, until she clarified exactly what the position entailed. It was entirely unanticipated and yet perfectly serendipitous, because I took the job and it was a perfect fit for me on so many levels. The rest is history.
JL: Is there something about the job someone would be surprised to learn? What’s the most difficult part?
BP: I move at a rapid pace all day long, and my role as an estate manager is all about multi-tasking. Managing a 10,000-square-foot estate takes an incredible amount of organization and extreme attention to detail. There are many tasks that need to happen simultaneously to flawlessly execute running an estate. I think people might be surprised to learn some of the things I do to make sure the estate is running seamlessly, such as testing out the gym equipment to make sure it is working properly or learning how to prepare the families favorite meals in case the chef calls in sick. The most difficult part of my job is making it look like it all happens seamlessly and that the house runs on its own like clockwork.
JL: How many homes are you personally managing right now?
BP: Currently, I am managing two homes in Los Angeles, one closer to the city and one beach house. In addition, I manage additional properties remotely which at times require my traveling to those properties to supervise seasonal set up, and/or organize parties, events or larger projects if needed.
JL: Give us an example of a typical day as an estate manager and why you love your job.
BP: While no two days are typically the same for an estate manager, it’s still important to have an established foundation for each day, including a detailed house manual, trained supportive staff, and a multitude of spreadsheets and checklists that hold each member of the staff accountable for their respective “zones.”
I love this career for many reasons: 1) I am naturally adept at multi-tasking, and this job allows me to shine in that arena, 2) I feel that every day is greeted with a new set of challenges and obstacles, and being naturally resourceful, this allows me to utilize all of my skill sets, talents and connections to make someone’s life easier, and 3) It’s about being of service, and not to sound too cliché (but I will anyway), it was Ghandi who said “to truly learn how to be of service, one must lose oneself in service to others,” and I subscribe to that sentiment.
JL: What’s the full scope of the things you do, from the most miniscule to the most extravagant?
BP: When I arrive at work in the morning I meet with the Mrs. to review the schedule for the day, review any estate issues and the itinerary, walk the property to look for any matters that need to be attended to and meet with the staff. The full scope of my job as an estate manager includes the smallest details, such as showing the staff how to properly set the table or iron and fold the linens; and on a more macro level I will oversee events, the landscaping of the property, the weekly menus and generally oversee everything that happens within the estate. At times, I will test out vacation resorts if my principals would like to vacation there, or perhaps Bentley will invite me to drive and review the latest models in order to relay my experience back to my principals.
My role runs the gamut from securing reservations at impossible-to-get-into restaurants to training a new housekeeper when needed or managing the wine cellar, home theater and security system.
JL: You’ve thrown tons of high profile parties; do you have any stories you can share?
BP: To truly create a memorable event I’ll start with a comprehensive understanding of the purpose and intent of the event. My belief is that less is more and that every great event starts with an event flow that I have created and outlines a distinct narrative with a beginning, middle and end. I develop themes based on my personal knowledge of the hosts, such as Black & Blue or 40s Cuba. From there, it’s all about hiring the best caterer, florist and staff to create a unique and distinctive event that will make people feel at home. Whenever I can create something special, I do, such as hiring a mixologist to create signature drinks for the event, or hiring a luxe valet service that leaves a white rose in each car at the time of departure. I believe that all of the little details add up to make a big impression so it’s really focusing on the details and walking through the event visually several times to ensure nothing has been missed.
One event that stands out was a New Year’s Eve party in which I was asked to organize the morning of New Year’s Eve!! At 10:00 a.m. for that night for 150 people! In Los Angeles, NYE is one of the most booked-in-advance events of the year. By the time 11:30 a.m. rolled around I had the entire affair dialed in and scheduled. One small detail the celebrity host forgot to divulge was that the event would be recorded for later to broadcast on a reality TV series. I’m happy to report that the event was a huge success with no hiccups and as much as I would love to take credit for it, the credit truly goes to the team you have assembled around you at any given time who understand the importance of delivering consistent results and are at the top of their field.
JL: What does luxury mean to you?
BP: To me, luxury is service without being obvious that it’s service. It’s when things get executed flawlessly and performed with the synchronicity of a Rolex. That said, everything should be accomplished without the principals really ever knowing what is happening behind the scenes, it should appear seemingly effortless. Granted, the challenge is to always maintain the smile and cheerful disposition, which for me starts with gratitude for the job I currently have. If gratitude is my starting place each day it makes everything easier.