Name: Vincenta Castillo
Job Title: Deputy Head Housekeeper
Where: Harrogate, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Years of Experience: 12 years
Education: Teesside University Diploma on Business Information Technology and Management
Employer: Mcdonald Old Swan Hotel, Mcdonald Gisborough Hall Hotel
Salary: Use the PayScale Research Center to find the average wage for housekeeper.
Hotel Housekeeping Supervisor
Hotel housekeeping is steeped in history. From the beginning of the noble class in England the position of head housekeeper has been one of the top jobs of the commoners. Now, in modern times, all of the nobles have been replaced by bankers and their castles have been converted to high class hotels and resorts. What remains are the housekeeping staff and the important role of head housekeeper. Vincenta Castillo has been carrying on the tradition for more than a decade and has house keeping lesson plans to show you what it takes to be successful in this age-old profession. In this Salary Story, Vincenta shares her hotel housekeeping definition, including the roles and responsibilities of the housekeeping department, and provides an insider's look at what life is really like for hotel housekeepers.
What is a housekeeping supervisor job description?
Deputize and supervise the housekeeping department along with the head housekeeper. Allocate bedrooms to be cleaned by the room attendant and check cleaned bedrooms to make sure they meet the core standard of cleaning. Check bedrooms for maintenance – attention to details and presentation are very important. Every six months I do the following: re-training on health and safety and do the risk assessment on staff, re-training the room attendant to the high core standard of hygiene and cleanliness of the bedrooms, re-introduce any changes on different cleaning materials and chemicals to be used, ask for staff feedback and give incentives for jobs well-done.
What were your steps toward becoming a head housekeeper?
After my younger daughter reached the age of 12 and started high school I was desperate to get a full-time job after my diploma on business and management to help give my oldest daughter and son a proper education at the university. I applied for a room attendant job first at Mcdonald Old Swan four-star Hotel in Harrogate North Yorkshire to get a grip of how the hotels work. It’s about one hour travel by train from where I live since there was no job available nearby. After three to six months, my executive housekeeper noticed how good I was. I was promoted to be one of three assistant housekeepers which meant I was to be one of the three supervisors for 136 bedrooms with 20 staff to look after. After a year I became the deputy head housekeeper, and I am proud of it. I’m sure I’ve reached my dream to be one of the heads of the department and all my children are all professionals. My eldest daughter a biologist, my son is in architecture design and my younger daughter, now 27, is a nurse.
What do you love about your housekeeping job?
What I love about my job is the satisfaction of doing it, having good feedback from the customer on how they enjoyed their stay through the comfort and care of their bedrooms. The high standard of cleanliness from top to bottom. The teamwork and togetherness with our staff – good motivation and looking after each other by giving appreciations on staff birthdays and anniversaries. Incentives such as housekeeping of the month with ?50 voucher – always being appreciated for a job well-done.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as head housekeeper?
My biggest challenges were in January 2002 when Gisborough Hall where my husband used to work as a head waiter was going to be built as a hotel 15 minutes walking distance from home. As they already had a head housekeeper, I applied as a Deputy Head Housekeeper while the hotel was in the middle of refurbishment, ready for the opening by March 2002. I met the head housekeeper and found out that she was not as experienced as I was told she was. When we started the training, she couldn’t run the computer, didn’t know what organization meant and had no management skills.
First week of January all members of staff gathered and had a big meeting, introduced ourselves, our experience and goals and objectives. The general manager gave us the task to do our core standard procedures for our own department and submit it within the end of the month. My head housekeeper was about to retreat as she didn’t have the experience. My general manager still wanted her to stay due to the fact that she’s paid far below any other department head and he knew I could proceed without her, but he would have to pay more if I ran it myself due to my knowledge and experience. Due to my love and passion for the job I just agreed to their offer. To be fair I decided to train her on some management skills and organizing to avoid a bad situation. She organized the staffing and purchasing items to set up 71 bedrooms while I typed 50 pages of core standard procedures on how to set up, clean the bedrooms and the whole departmental offices, as well as revival zone for beauty treatment and massage. I made the flowcharts for the room attendants and for ground floor and office cleaners. I introduced a plan for induction and training.
Unfortunately, two weeks before opening the head housekeeper was sick and the bedrooms not set up. I had to do something. I saw the general manager and asked all different department staff to help for one day to set up and refresh all 71 bedrooms. Ten restaurant staff, four sales staff, four banqueting staff and four front of house staff worked together. I gave a list to each group to set up 71 tea trays for 71 rooms – how many coffees, teas, kettles, teapots, milks, etc. in each room. One group of staff was to polish and vacuum 71 bedrooms and 12 staff were to make beds and set up bathrooms while I walked around and supervised. Two days before opening my head housekeeper still sick, but we made it with the help of all of the department staff, jobs well-done.
Can you recall any crazy moments from your housekeeping job?
The craziest thing on this job is how to keep your staff motivated. I had a conflict with the sales department for booking small bedrooms to a couple with two children that needed two small beds; there was no space to move around to clean and it was all about health and safety issues. Then the guest was not happy with the room, but there were no more rooms available. They ended up checking out early and wanted their money back since we ruined their holiday. On the other hand, at Christmas time some guests were handing out presents and some happy and well-off guest gave tips and thanked everyone who looked after them. When you received good comments and appreciation from the guest that makes you proud of your job and boosts your confidence. The most interesting thing about this job is you meet a lot of people in so many ways of life – celebrities, popular people, politicians and so many good people. You make friends and they keep on coming back with their families and friends.
Do you have any advice for those looking for housekeeper jobs or who want to become a housekeeping supervisor?
To break into this field you need a good education in management communications, especially on the subject of your interest, hospitality. You need to have good organization and planning; have a lot of determination, patience, skills and knowledge; and passion for all of what you’re doing.
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