Hotel Hustle

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Column by: Shanella Pantophlet

Housekeeping week: appreciating the backbone of the hospitality industry

I recently heard the phrase: ‘There is no such thing as unskilled labor.’ Immediately my mind went to the women and men of the housekeeping department. It helps I read this just as our resort -and every resort around the world- is preparing to celebrate international housekeeping week.

I must admit, this has not always been my opinion, until I began working in the industry I hadn’t grasped how difficult of a job housekeeping actually was. In my mind it was always ‘how hard could changing bed sheets, sweeping and mopping the floor and cleaning the bathroom possibly be?’ I was ridiculously naive to the skills it takes to do what these women and men do on a daily basis, especially those working in a timeshare resort, where the rooms can be the size of apartments with either a kitchenette or a full kitchen.

At my resort for example the housekeepers who clean the 2 bedroom units are assigned 5 of these units, and the ones who clean the 1 bedroom units are assigned 10 of these units. Me being my judgmental self would see how quickly they’d get rooms done through the week and never once considered everything they had to do in those 5 or 10 rooms on a daily basis to make the Saturday check- in run as smoothly as possible.

All of that changed one fateful Saturday when housekeeping was short staffed and we needed all hands on deck, that day. I experienced first the hard level of skill it takes to turnover a room.  Our check out time is 11AM and rooms are guaranteed by 4PM, so that gives them 5 hours to clean up to 10 rooms to our expected standards, while also going through a checklist to verify everything in the room is functioning as it should. I didn’t last more than an hour and although she wouldn’t say it, I am 100% sure the housekeeper I was assigned to felt, I was slowing her down more than helping. Regardless she was thankful for the assistance of me stripping the beds (the easiest task) and sweeping the floors (she went back over the floors) so she could get underway with the rest of the room, once I was out of her way.

The thing that I and a lot of other people fail to realize is that not every guest is the same. My mother works in hospitality and has always taught us to keep the rooms as clean as possible, unfortunately not everyone does that. One of the housekeepers explained to me it is important for them to get into rooms during the week so they can assess the cleanliness of the guest staying in order to plan for their Saturday and get all their rooms done on time. A great deal of their time before Saturday is spent discussing, and planning with their managers or supervisors which rooms they will need more time or extra hands in to get done based on what they’ve observed in the days prior to sale. It allows them to come up with a plan of action and work in teams to get rooms ready for the next guests by check- in.

The people who work in housekeeping are; observant, strategic and hardworking. Superheroes in the industry who make the job look easier than it actually is and they deserve both praise and recognition for the great work they do.