HOTELIER AWARDS 2013: The housekeeping shortlist

Five housekeepers hoping to clean up at this year's Hotelier awards

Akshi Singh, director of housekeeping, Crowne Plaza Kuwait
Akshi Singh, director of housekeeping, Crowne Plaza Kuwait
Wael Tarrad, housekeeping manager, Jumeirah Emirates Towers.
Wael Tarrad, housekeeping manager, Jumeirah Emirates Towers.
Mercedita Fernandez, director of housekeeping, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre.
Mercedita Fernandez, director of housekeeping, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre.
Laetitia Lasry, executive housekeeper, The Palace Downtown Dubai.
Laetitia Lasry, executive housekeeper, The Palace Downtown Dubai.
Aziz Shaikh, executive housekeeper, Park Inn by Radisson Muscat.
Aziz Shaikh, executive housekeeper, Park Inn by Radisson Muscat.

The Hotelier Middle East Awards are less than one month away now. In total, 90 hoteliers across 18 individual awards categories have been shortlisted, along with five hotel teams for the coveted Team of the Year Award.

The winners will be announced at a gala event at the world’s tallest hotel, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai on October 30.

Here we unveil the finalists for the Housekeeper of the Year Award, which was last year won by Prabhat Shukla from Holiday Inn Kuwait Downtown.

AKSHI SINGH, DIRECTOR OF HOUSEKEEPING, CROWNE PLAZA KUWAIT

ABOUT AKSHI

With more than 19 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Akshi has emerged within her organisation as an inspiring leader and a mentor to her team guiding them to be aligned with the organisational goals and delivering the hotel’s brand promise to the guests. She joined Crowne Plaza Kuwait as director of housekeeping in 2008, prior to which, she worked at properties in Thailand, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka.

WHY WAS SHE NOMINATED?

Akshi believes in thinking out of the box and regularly trains her team to provide the hotel guests with services that would exceed their expectations. This has reflected in the hotel guests heartbeat reports where housekeeping has constantly achieved “best in class” every month. Her active involvement in the company’s staff survey as well as developing an effective action plan to improve employee satisfaction is evident in her department where she has succeeded in developing a team of highly motivated people. Akshi also implemented cost control measures to boost revenues and streamline operations, such as in-house window cleaning/marble polishing, eco-friendly guest supplies, newspaper rack for guests, and stationary racks among other things.

WHAT DID HER TEAM SAY?

“It is indeed a great honor in having Ms Akshi as my boss, my tutor, and my guide. I feel privileged to be part of this team and it's really a great opportunity to have a chance to work with her. She is very supportive and extremely patient. Throughout the time that I have worked with her it has always boosted my confidence, self-motivation, and even brought out the potential in me that I didn't know I ever had. I thank her again for being the guide to my future success.” Sanjay Mohapatra, housekeeping supervisor

WHAT DID HER GUESTS SAY?

“Through my experience with Ms Akshi, I found her to be a top professional lady, swift decision maker, very loyal to her employer, and on top of that, she is very competent and knows quite well details of materials to be acquired with variations and prices. Despite the over load that she has, I never saw her panicky or nervous but always calm and at ease. I wish Ms Akshi continuous progress in her job.” Mr Abdulla Alarbash, general manager – guest supplies, Al Bagli Company .

Please click through to next page to find out who else is shortlisted…

WAEL TARRAD, HOUSEKEEPING MANAGER, JUMEIRAH EMIRATES TOWERS

ABOUT WAEL

In 2007, Wael joined Jumeirah Emirates Towers as assistant housekeeping manager and was managing a team of over 120 colleagues including housekeeping operations, the flower shop and the laundry. Ater briefly leaving Jumeirah Group in 2010, Wael returned to Jumeirah Emirates Towers in 2012 as housekeeping manager.

WHY WAS SHE NOMINATED?

Wael has driven the training focus and ensured a detailed plan is in place to achieve results. The most significant consistent improvement has been in the LQA (Mystery Shopper) results for 2013. By implementing, following and assessing a concrete plan to address issues in previous LQA audits, the housekeeping team was able to grow in the overall score year on year in comparison to 2012. Wael is also a pioneer for green initiatives within housekeeping and has successfully developed relationships with local charities to collect and re-use bathroom amenities. Discarded uniforms are also given to charity and there is a strong focus on recycling of paper and plastic plus re-using water left in guest water bottles to water plants.

WHAT DID HIS TEAM SAY?

“Wael always works with passion and has good knowledge of operations. He has the ability to build a strong team in the department and gets involved in operations whenever needed. He is a role model and leader and has a sharp mind allowing him to easily identify colleague’s strengths. He also has good delegating skills and knows who the right person is to get results. He has great relationships with other departments, which allow him to run the operation very smoothly. He is a great leader to the team.” Rukman Indika, assistant housekeeping manager

WHAT DID HIS GUESTS SAY?

“Following a complaint about cleaning my room Mr Wael Tarrad followed up with my complaint. He was excellent and very professional. It was great to see a serious and fast follow up to the complaint.” Mrs Imam Alaskar

Please click through to next page to find out who else is shortlisted…

MERCEDITA FERNANDEZ, DIRECTOR OF HOUSEKEEPING, THE RITZ-CARLTON, DUBAI INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CENTRE

ABOUT MERCEDITA

During her career with The Ritz-Carlton, Mercedita has assisted with hotel openings in Qatar, Moscow, China and Egypt. She jouned the Ritz-Carlton DIFC in 2010 as part of the preopening team and was awarded the J. Willard Marriott Award of Excellence by Marriott International. The award recognises 10 individuals per year from the company’s 325,000 associates worldwide, who excel in consistently demonstrating five key traits: achievement, character, dedication, effort and perseverance.

WHY WAS HE NOMINATED?

Mercy achieved a perfect score in Marriott’s annual engagement survery of employees, with key drivers including leadership excellence, personal growth, quality of life at work, total rewards and teamwork. In line with her philosophy of nurturing in house talent, she has promoted seven team members over the last 12 months. She also streamlined the in room guest supplies process by removing all individual pantries for guest supplies on each floor to eliminate artificial shortages that showed up whilst unused stock was sitting in pantries.

WHAT DID HER TEAM SAY?

“Mercy is the embodiment of The Ritz-Carlton service values, and in the 15 years she has been with the company, she has consistently demonstrated excellence in terms of the work she delivers, the guest experience she provides and the emotional engagement she creates within her teams. She is passionate about her position, loved by her colleagues and continuously exceeds expectations of managers and guests. She is equally as devoted to a new housekeeping attendant as to long term team members. Mercy is a tremendous asset to The Ritz-Carlton, and an incredibly worthy winner of the J. Willard Marriott Award of Excellence, awarded to her earlier this year, and an outstanding representative for the region and the brand.” Pascal Duchauffour, area vice president, Europe, Middle East & Africa, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

WHAT DID HER GUESTS SAY?

“I have been a resident of the Ritz Carlton DIFC now for three years, and have gotten to know Mercy both personally and professionally throughout this time. Mercy is an extraordinary and passionate person, and truly one of the strongest assets in the Ritz Carlton DIFC. She goes well beyond the call of duty every day, by not only making sure the hotel looks and "feels " its best, but by making sure each and every guest is comfortable and looked after. She has personally taken care of every detail in my room, and always thinks well beyond my expectations.” Thom Dean, CEO and founder, Focus 360 Arabia

Please click through to next page to find out who else is shortlisted…

LAETITIA LASRY, EXECUTIVE HOUSEKEEPER, THE PALACE DOWNTOWN DUBAI

ABOUT LAETITIA

Laetitia Lasry began her stint in hospitality after obtaining her hotel management diploma in France. Following successful stints at hotels in China and the US, Laetitia joined Emaar Hospitality Group as the first executive housekeeper at Nuran Residences. After excelling in Emaar Hospitality Group’s leisure properties, Laetitia transferred to The Palace Downtown Dubai where she successfully restructured the housekeeping team for greater efficieny.

WHY WAS SHE NOMINATED?

Laetitia restructured the housekeeping team by introducing fewer credits for room attendants and creating a team for turndown service. Her attempts have helped to elevate guest satisfaction, with the housekeeping departments achieving an almost perfect score in the guest mystery shopper report in the first quarter of 2013, making it the highest across every area of operation. Given her seniority and expertise in the field, today Laetitia is responsible for developing the tender that is used to select the casual contractor for the whole of Emaar Hospitality Group, working with the corporate director of quality, to ensure that the housekeeping standards for the group remain at an all-time high.

WHAT DID HER TEAM SAY?

“I have been working with Laetitia for the last 18 months where I have seen her demonstrate passion in her work and shows respect to her team and colleagues. She demonstrates innovation in her work and supports the team all across the hotel. She keeps the entire team together, as one team one mission. Her leadership skills towards her team have helped the team to stay on track and on target to meet their goals. From time to time Laetitia has step-up and has taken extra responsibilities and has assisted me in major tasks.” Jeet Arora, assistant director of food & beverage

WHAT DID HER GUESTS SAY?

“The expectations that Laetitia sets for the hotel have been consistently high and with her often raising the bar often puts us, as service providers at the receiving end. She has always demanded what she expects and in doing this has not only enabled her property maintain standards and set benchmarks but has indirectly upgraded our quality standards and service levels.” Victor Bastian, assistant vice president, Linencraft

Please click through to next page to find out who else is shortlisted…

AZIZ SHAIKH, EXECUTIVE HOUSEKEEPER, PARK INN BY RADISSON MUSCAT

ABOUT AZIZ

Aziz Sheikh joined Park Inn by Radisson Muscat hotel as the executive housekeeper in October 2008. With more than 28 years experience in hotels in India, Kuwait, and the UAE, Aziz has consistently provided a superior level of service in every aspect of his role. He began his career as a housekeeping supervisor progressing upwards to the role of assistant executive housekeeper and finally to executive housekeeper.

WHY WAS HE NOMINTAED?

Deciding that many tasks which were currently being outsourced are more cost effective handled in-house, Aziz allocated resources to handle tasks such as upholstery cleaning, carpet shampooing and general deep-cleaning work. He also set up an annual maintenance contract with a supplier for ongoing maintenance of cleaning equipment to ensure that expensive equipment has to be replaced less often.

WHAT DID HIS TEAM SAY?

“Aziz Sheikh always has a strong sense of urgency, initiative and drive to get things done correctly, with an emphasis on working with and through people in the process. He understands people well and uses that understanding effectively in motivating and persuading others to act.” Fahad Al Wahaibi, executive assistant manager, Park Inn Muscat.

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