What’s the first thing that catches your eye when you check into a hotel room? How neat and white the bed looks. Of all the things that go into deciding whether you like your room or not, how good the bed looks tops the list. How long do you wait before flopping onto the bed to check out the ultra-comfy pillows? It doesn’t take most of us more than 5 minutes.
Behind your spotless rooms, beautiful gardens and shining swimming pools are the housekeepers and their hardworking teams. These wonderful squads are like worker bees — hidden away from the guest’s experience, but absolutely crucial to the operations and smooth functioning of the hotel or resort.
We wanted to catch up with some of our star housekeepers to understand what their work day is like. So we had a chat with Anand, the Housekeeping Manager at the Grand Chennai by GRT Hotels, and Sangeetha, the Director of Housekeeping at the Radisson Btu Resort Temple Bay Mamallapuram.
What does a housekeeping team oversee?
Cleaning of guest rooms, upkeep and cleaning of common areas (like the lobby, porch, corridors, rest rooms, restaurants and bars), landscaping and cultivation,
laundry washing, dry-cleaning and ironing (guest rooms, guest laundry, banquet areas, linens for restaurants, as well as staff uniforms), maintenance of back-of- house areas, cafeterias and offices, pest control throughout the property, flowers, upkeep of the gym, swimming pool and spa, procurement and control of housekeeping inventory, as well as guest service support when needed.
Phew, that’s some list! Makes you tired just reading it, doesn’t it! So how do they manage all this, we asked. With efficient and dedicated teams, they said. The Grand Chennai by GRT Chennai has 45 housekeeping staff, and the Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay Mamallapuram has 98 team members working to keep the properties running smoothly.
What Does a Typical day in a housekeeper’s life look like?
“Housekeeping is a 24 hour job, we don’t really have a start and end time!” quips Anand. Some tasks are done consistently – like cleaning rooms and getting them ready for the next guest’s check-in. And others are done by night – upkeep of common areas, cleaning of carpets and couches, wood polishing, deep cleaning and sanitising of rest rooms./p>
Sangeetha tells us about how vitally important it is to be thoroughly organised when it comes to managing every aspect of housekeeping operations. “I like to arrive at the office before the supervisor team comes in at 9am for briefing. Planning is vital in this job, so I check room status, staff allocation for the day, emails and guest arrivals to ensure changes are made where necessary and rooms are ready before the guests arrive”.”
“Housekeeping is the backbone of any hotel but it doesn’t ever get into the limelight. It’s not just about knowing techniques, it’s also about scheduling staff, motivating the team, making sure they have the tools for their job, and ensuring that they are happy,” she says.
The Grand Chennai by GRT Hotels operates a centralised complaint desk that makes housekeeping tasks extremely efficient. As soon as there is a guest request or complaint, it is keyed into the software which sends an alert SMS to the housekeeping staff on duty. He or she can immediately get to the task and has a bracket of 20 minutes to complete and close the task on the system. This way, nothing goes amiss, and guest satisfaction is ensured!
What are some unique requests they’ve had from guests?
Everything from specific pillows to baby kits! The properties leave a preference card and even send an express check-in form to help them understand guest preferences (right down to the aroma of the room!). They’ve also assisted guests with shopping, mending shoes and tons of other personal requests.
Asked about how they make a guest’s stay special, Sangeetha has interesting insight. “Turndown Service in hotels is getting more competitive and therefore standards are rising. Scented candles by the tub, beautiful satin gowns in guest rooms, herbal teas by the bed stand, and family and individual photographs in a decorative frame are just some of the ways we make out long-staying guests feel part of the family.”
What are some of their favourite tools?
Anand swears by micro fibre fabric as it picks up the tiniest particles. He’s also a big fan of scrubbing machines, but his favourite is the steam cleaning machine. “It kills everything!” he says. They use it twice a day in all the public areas and rooms.
The organiser in Sangeetha loved the Janitor’s Trolley – a superbly design trolley that tucks away everything the staff needs to do their job well. She’s also a fan of scrim fabric, owing to its high absorbing and lint-free nature. Others on her favourite list include the Scarifying machine (for landscaping), the Box Sweeper (that cleans floors and carpets), and the Vapour Cleaning machine that helps odours and bed bugs out.
The next time you have an enjoyable stay at a hotel, remember that an entire army of housekeeping staff was behind it!
To stay with us at GRT Hotels & Resorts, call 1800 425 5500.