DUBAI 25 August 2017: Scrubbing Dh100,000 designer handbags; cleaning balconies in a sandstorm; even welcoming children into the world – it’s all in a day’s work for Dubai’s army of housekeeping staff.
With help from UAE Professional Housekeepers Group, The Hotel Show has lifted the lid on how housekeepers’ jobs vary from one extreme to the next, as they try to meet every guest’s needs.
The group’s members reported that as well as keeping rooms and guest facilities in flawless condition, their roles routinely edge into the bizarre. Commonplace is being asked to polish priceless jewellery or remove stains from expensive luggage or handbags. One housekeeper even reported being asked to make a pair of velvet loafers “shine”.
Lost property has been an issue too, with one team spending hours tracking down a guest who somehow forgot to take the Dh10,000 he left beneath his bed. Yet, those examples seem tame compared to others uncovered by survey.
Several housekeepers recalled becoming makeshift midwives when pregnant guests’ babies decided to arrive unexpectedly early – and when they were the nearest helping hands!
One explained: “I was inspecting our rooms when I heard an unusual sound – a lady crying loudly, seeking help. I called a female colleague, and together we entered the room and found that the guest was about to give birth. I called for more assistance – from duty managers to security – and she eventually had a baby girl there in the room. She was taken to hospital and we immediately shampooed the carpet, changed the entire bed linens, and had the room perfect again in no time.”
In being Dubai, experiences have naturally ranged to the more extravagant. Housekeepers told of entire guest room transformations, with one explaining: “One guest wanted to have the entire floor covered with linen, including the bathroom, due to being allergic to walking on floor. Since the bathroom is a bit of sensitive area we covered the floor with bath rugs and anti-slip mats. The entire room was carpeted to ensure the guest had a good stay.”
“The results go to prove exactly why Dubai’s vast international housekeeping teams are the backbone of the region’s world-leading holiday destination,” commented Gary Williams, Event Director of The Hotel Show Dubai.
The Hotel Show carried out the research ahead of the first ever ‘The Middle East Housekeepers League of Champions’, during the annual exhibition’s three-days in September.
The contest will have two ransacked hotel rooms set-up back to back. Two teams of housekeepers will go head-to-head against the clock to put the room back to its original state in the fastest time, with the overall winner taking home a trophy.
“The competition will be a great experience for all of the teams involved and for everyone watching. We’ll be sure to throw in some curveballs – whether this is a guest asking for something unusual, or adding a unique item to be cleaned – to keep the teams on their toes. We’re really excited about hosting an event that really celebrates housekeeping and demonstrates the incredible work these people do every day,” added Williams.
A member of the competitions’ expert judging panel, Lakmall Mawella, Executive Housekeeper at The Address Boulevard Dubai, said: “The hotel industry keeps changing but many people think housekeeping is stagnant – it’s not. It has moved a lot in the last decade in terms of technology and efficiency. A few years back it took one hour to clean one room – now it takes about 20 minutes.
“This is the first time in Dubai that we have encountered a competition like this. Although housekeeping is everywhere – and is one of the key ingredients in keeping guests clean, safe, happy and coming back to a hotel – it is often forgotten. We are the unsung heroes of the hospitality industry, and this is a great platform for people to see what housekeeping is all about.”
The Middle East Housekeepers League of Champions will take place at The Hotel Show Dubai, running 18-20th September 2017 at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). The competition is proudly supported by Restonic and Diversey.
By Sheena Amos