Housekeepers Extraordinaire

30th of August, 2017 | Posted in Editor's Picks, Hotel News, People Email Article | Print Article

JO WILBY

EXECUTIVE HEAD HOUSEKEEPER,
THE BALMORAL HOTEL, EDINBURGH

(Pictured above)

Number of staff: Just under 60.

Number of rooms: 188 including 20 suites.

How long have you been a housekeeper?

From the age of 17 – 27 years! I have always had a passion for Housekeeping over food and beverage and all other areas of hospitality. After 27 years I can’t imagine doing anything else!

How did you get into hospitality?

I studied hospitality at Carlisle College, from there I furthered by knowledge at Huddersfield University. From 1995 I worked as a floor supervisor in Manchester, this was when I became a part of the UK Housekeepers Association (UKHA) which since has given me endless opportunities to progress my career through experiencing various hotels throughout country. I moved to Edinburgh 18 years ago, spending 12 years at Norton House and Spa and then onto to open Hotel Indigo on York Place before progressing to The Balmoral in 2016.

What is the hardest part of the job?

Driving team members to take ownership and see housekeeping as a career, not just a standard position. It is challenging for people to present new ideas to drive forward, and this is extremely important to me in order to progress within the industry. I am passionate about demonstrating to my team the opportunities that a housekeeping career can reward you with.

Is there any gadget or trick of the trade you find especially useful?

Knowing your team and learning individual’s strengths, getting to know their personalities and what they enjoy. This aids me at a management level to maintain a happy team dynamic. It also helps when planning rota – one team working together to exceed expectations!

What’s been your proudest moment at work?

The opportunity to manage the housekeeping department at The Balmoral. I am very proud to work at this 5-star establishment and landmark in the city – I have always been passionate about working here.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen or found in a hotel room?

There have been a few occasions where I have been faced with a few unwelcome surprises! On two occasions I have had a warm welcome from a bat – which was a challenge due to their endangered protection. On another occasion I was met with several crows that unfortunately had made their way down the chimney – both occasions not at The Balmoral!

Any tips for aspiring housekeepers?

As the Scottish chair and National Deputy Chair of the UKHA, if you are seriously considering a career in housekeeping, I would strongly recommend becoming a part of the association. The UKHA has been a hugely important part of my career, it has aided me to network and build contacts, progress my skills and knowledge about the industry. Housekeeping is a career that can take you all over the world and provide you with endless diverse opportunities.

LORNA STEVENSON

HOUSEKEEPING MANAGER, PERLE OBAN HOTEL, OBAN

Housekeepers

Age: 48

Number of staff: 15

Number of rooms: 59

How long have you been a housekeeper?

22 years, but I’ve been in my current role
since March.

How did you get into hospitality?

I was ten years in nursing at residential care homes, then I moved up to Oban and needed a job. I answered an advert for a housekeeping role in a hotel because I’d always been good at cleaning, and that’s how I met my husband – he interviewed me!

What is the hardest part of the job?

I look for 100% in everything we do. I am adamant that the guests get what they pay for or more, so I need everything to be perfect. The hard part is training the girls so that they achieve my standards.

Is there any gadget or trick of the trade you find especially useful?

There’s a high shine cloth supplied by Robert Shaw that I’ve endorsed on Instagram. It’s the best product that I’ve come across for years, you can clean a whole room with just one of these wet cloths, it grabs up every bit of dust.

What’s been your proudest moment at work?

I’ve been put forward three times for Housekeeper of the Year in the Argyll & Lomond region at the Scottish Hotel Awards and last year I won. I cried, I couldn’t believe it. It’s not about the winning, it’s about personal recognition, the fact that somebody, somewhere has recognised that I’m doing a good job. People think housekeeping is just hoovering and dusting, but
I live and breathe it, and to go up on a stage in a nice gown and get an award meant everything to me.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen or found in a hotel room?

A cat in a box! I’m a cat woman, I’m crazy about cats, and I just wanted to take it home with me! But I could probably write a book based on what I’ve seen.

Any tips for aspiring housekeepers?

It’s not for the faint of heart, and it’s not for the money – it’s a passion. If you’re passionate about it, you will succeed. Housekeepers need to be highly motivated and dedicated. I love what I do, it’s my life.

ANGELA JAMES-LIDDLE

HEAD HOUSEKEEPER, DOUBLETREE BY HILTON GLASGOW CENTRAL, GLASGOW

Housekeepers

Age: 51

Number of staff: 45.

Number of rooms: 300.

How long have you been a housekeeper?

I have been a Housekeeper for more than 17 years and Housekeeping Manager for 15 years.

How did you get into hospitality?

I had no previous Hospitality experience before joining this hotel as a Room Attendant in March 2000. I knew this would be something that I would be good at and have a real passion for.

What’s the hardest part of the job?

A few things are quite challenging in my role. The hardest one for me personally years ago, was learning and understanding the difference between being a boss and being a leader. I self-taught myself over a 12 month period, taking one topic per month and studying best practices. Finding the right people is also a huge challenge for myself and colleagues alike. This job is like marmite, you either love it or hate it and all too often Housekeeping are classed as Back of House with little importance, which I completely disagree with. We are the grass roots of the hospitality industry. Without clean rooms and public areas there would be no guests. We are the guests journey. Getting people to buy into that can be a real challenge at times.

What’s been your proudest moment at work?

Every day I am proud. Proud of my team and how they do such a hard, physical job with pride and passion on a daily basis. I am proud of the way I have developed my team. All of my current Supervisors and my Deputy are “home grown” from starting as Room Attendants and developing into their current roles. Rebranding and undergoing a full refurbishment was also one of my proudest moments alongside achieving fantastic cleanliness scores in our QA audits. That makes everything worthwhile. On a personal level I was awarded Housekeeping Manager of the Year in 2009. This was a fabulous achievement for me.

Any tips for aspiring housekeepers?

This role is very rewarding and certainly not mundane. It is like having a second family, your work family as I call them and that gives great satisfaction watching your team grow. Listen and communicate with your team. They like to be a part of what is going on. Every day is a new experience. Be a leader and not a boss. If you can get those things right, everything else will fall into place.

SARAH CURRIE

EXECUTIVE HOUSEKEEPING MANAGER, CAMERON HOUSE LODGES, LOCH LOMOND

Housekeepers

Age 44

How long have you been a housekeeper

As a Housekeeping Manager approximately 20 years.

How did you get into hospitality?

I started in housekeeping when I was just 14 years old, as a weekend chambermaid in a 488 bedroomed hotel in Folkestone Kent. I was employed with that establishment for 18 years working my way up through the ranks as a Supervisor, Senior Supervisor, Assistant Manager to Executive Housekeeper. Then in August 2005 I relocated with my family to Loch Lomond looking forward to new challenges, In September of 2005 I was successful in securing a position of Assistant Lodge Housekeeping Manager at Cameron House Lodges. I was then fortunate enough to be head hunted for the launch of the brand new sister resort to Cameron Lodges, The Carrick Lodges, Golf and Spa Resort. Spending 6 years as Head Housekeeper at The Carrick I then returned to Cameron House Lodges as Executive Housekeeping Manager of both resorts for the last 6 years.

What’s the hardest part of the job?

Housekeeping is a very hard job, balancing duties, staff and keeping the standards high and the guests happy.

Is there any particular gadget or trick of the trade you find especially useful?

Happy workforce is a productive workforce, Routine is a must.

What’s been your proudest moment at work?

I received the accolade Manager of the year in 2012.

Strangest thing you’ve seen/found in a hotel room?

Some are too rude to mention, you name it we’ve found it. a wooden leg has been one.

Any tips for aspiring housekeepers?

You have to have a passion for hospitality and hard work. Every day is a challenge some less than others but it is a very rewarding job and you will meet some exceptional people along the way, some will even become lifelong friends and colleagues.

BRENDA BALNAVES

HEAD HOUSEKEEPER, CRIEFF HYDRO, CRIEFF

Housekeepers

Age: 50

Number of staff: 70

Number of rooms: 215

How long have you been a housekeeper and how did you get into it?

I’ve been in housekeeping 30 years. During the summer of 1984/85 I acquired a summer position working and living in the Dundaroch Hotel in Pitlochry. I was recruited to generally assist for the two summers and I fulfilled all positions in the hotel from housekeeping, to reception, waitressing too. Sadly I was not allowed on the bar. I’m not sure why! But I loved the buzz of turning the hotel around following coach departures, welcoming the new tours, making their stay happy. I became hooked on the hospitality industry. The majority of my career was spent at the Old Course Hotel in St Andrews, seeing/meeting famous people was a buzz in itself. However in the industry you either have to love it or hate it, it’s like a love hate relationship with your career.

What’s the hardest part of the job?

The hardest part is convincing the accountants you need a new vacuum… but seriously the hardest part is when you receive a guest complaint, filtering the complaint down to your team members and seeing their faces, knowing they have worked hard to achieve the standards, continuous coaching and training are key. It can be a difficult role to recruit for and initial training takes time.

Is there any particular gadget or trick of the trade you find especially useful?

Keeping a handy little screw driver set in your packet can be useful, even the ones from a Christmas cracker, work amazingly when you’re trying to get dirt out of those awkward little spots.

What’s been your proudest moment at work?

I’ve had a few… I do llike seeing a plan come into action – from simple things like implementing a deep cleaning schedule to when I joined a team in Canada in a 263 bedroom hotel. The team were wary which is to be expected. Within 6 months I managed to turn the department around, raising the employee satisfaction ratings by around 10.4% and all it took was treating the team with respect and listening to them.

Any tips for aspiring housekeepers?

Work hard, stay focused, be honest and earn trust through your employees and employers. Help and assist at all times, the paperwork can wait, your guests won’t.

FABIEN WILLIAMSON

DEPUTY HEAD HOUSEKEEPER BLYTHSWOOD SQUARE HOTEL, GLASGOW

Housekeepers

Age: 31

Number of staff: 36

Number of rooms: 101

How long have you been a housekeeper?

11 years

How did you get into hospitality?

My move to hotels was unplanned following redundancy and I have never looked back, I love my job and the industry.

What is the hardest part of the job?

The pressure that I choose to put myself under in order to deliver perfection.

Is there any gadget or trick of the trade you find especially useful?

‘Sticky Stuff Remover’ it’s great on chewing gum.

What’s been your proudest moment at work?

Being promoted to Deputy Head Housekeeper at Blythswood Square.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen or found in a hotel room?

A bedroom ceiling filled with celebration balloons, what a sight!

Any tips for aspiring housekeepers?

Train your team well, recognise the hard work the team do and show them your appreciation. Also a well stocked store room is better than a back-up plan.

SHEILA SERGENSON

HEAD HOUSEKEEPER, BUSBY HOTEL

Housekeepers

Age: 57

Number of staff: 8

Number of rooms: 29

How long have you been a housekeeper?

4 Years

How did you get into hospitality?

Fell into Hospitality by Mistake but I love being a Housekeeper

What is the hardest part of the job?

Physical demands and the fluctuations of the room numbers

Is there any gadget or trick of the trade you find especially useful?

My Bar keepers friend

What’s been your proudest moment at work?

Winning the VOWS

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen or found in a hotel room?

Viagra

Any tips for aspiring housekeepers?

Attention to detail is the most important with a keen eye for immaculate standards of cleanliness.

 

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Hotel Magazine Scotland News Team

Hotel Magazine Scotland News Team

Hotel Scotland is a new publication (2017) from the publishers of DRAM - Scotland's leading on-trade magazine. Hotel Scotland is a newsy magazine which covers all aspects of the industry in Scotland. From who's who, to industry issues and refurbishments.
Hotel Magazine Scotland News Team

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