CPP-LUXURY.COM has recently interviewed Anne Britton, Executive Housekeeper of Jumeirah Carlton Tower in London and Chairperson of the UK Housekeeper Association. French born, Britton has spent her impressive 3 decade career in the UK, of which over 16 years only at the Carlton Tower, today a Jumeirah owned and managed property. In her incessant quest for perfection, Britton made us realize once again how vital housekeeping, a ‘behind the scenes’ department, is for the success of any hotel irrespective of rating or classification.
She admits that luxury hospitality is more demanding, guests expecting perfection. In her day to day job, she highlights creativity and anticipation of guest needs as among the most important responsibilities. She also stresses she would not overlook motivation and training of personnel.
We asked Anne what makes a perfect night sleep and she emphasized in order of importance: smell (a room should smell and feel fresh – windows which can be opened are a must for fresh air), soundproofing (a room should be quiet) and an ideal bed.
Smell in a bedroom: needs to be neutral as most guests do not like a forced perfume. It must be smoke free, the cleaning material needs to be odor free. Airing the room is important. If using an ozone machine to clean the air, some rest time is needed to neutralize the smell. Stay clear from aerosol.
Light: need to be easy to operate, controllable & dimmable. Ideally window with a view and which can be opened even if only partly. Curtain must offer a complete black out, night light for the night walker, bedside light not to bright or directional for the late night reader.
Décor: A very bright or colorful scheme could be interesting but may not entice the relaxing mood needed. Everything needs to be placed logically, so the guest is not infuriated because he do not find thing or do not know how to operate things. Space on the bedside for the guest private items need to be kept.
In the evening a turndown service is also very beneficial to set the relaxing feeling. The bed had been open, the bedspread or throw have been folded away and slippers are there on the bedside mat. The light near the bed is dimmed, the curtain would have been closed, soft music could be on. The bottle water with glass, the breakfast card and the remote control have been approached. From the bed position a lit up time clock must be seen to reassure the guest of the time, as often the jet lagged guests lose track of it.
When we speak about the bed, she smiles and we could not help but notice her passion sparkle. ‘I spent 5 years looking for the current bed we have. But an ideal bed is not only about the mattress, it is also about the pillows which should not be too soft or too hard, the duvet cannot be heavy and ideally made of feather (80%) and down (20%) – Hungarian down is reputed to be the best. As for the linen, I do not agree with the current the trend of 600-700 thread – a 400-500 thread linen is ideal, as durability is very important.
The bed base is very important too and its height has to be comfortable so that the guest can sit comfortably on the side. The scale of the bed is equally important – here in England we have 2/2 which is king /imperial, with the German being ideal as it is the longest 2,20/2,00’
We went on to ask about the ideal maid and Anne sighed: ‘Unfortunately, less and less youngsters take on this job, due to an artificial perception. These days, in cities such as London, recruiting professional maids is probably the biggest challenge we face. You see, there were times, the hiring pool was made of Asians and these days are Eastern European.’ But in order to train and motivate professional maids, hotel companies also play an important part. They cannot be treated like machines, a well balanced work schedule is a major motivational factor.’
Remembering the old time maid with an impeccable attitude driven by passion, we asked Anne what is the ideal profile of a professional maid. She said ‘a good maid should be language proficient, posses a high standard of hygiene and she needs to have an immaculate look’. Anne added: ‘a mature maid has to be curios and pro-active, reporting any issue regarding the room or public spaces, even if this does not fall under her responsibilities’.
What happens when a maid encounters a guest with unreasonable expectations, even with a disrespectful attitude? Anne told us she needs to tale a ‘Disney attitude’ and think they are Donald Duck. ‘At UKHA, we strive to create team building programs with the aim of motivation and appreciation. Our Gamba Day with contests have so far been the most popular.’
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