The panel at the ITP Media Group offices. The panel at the ITP Media Group offices.

The sixth annual Executive Housekeeper Forum is set to return this year on May 2, at Grosvenor House Dubai. The event will bring together executive housekeepers, directors of rooms, and laundry managers from the region’s five- and four-star properties. Together they will reflect on how to tackle key operational challenges, meet guest expectations, and drive the efficiency of their teams.

Helping Hotelier Middle East to set the agenda were experts in their field: Michele Millot, executive housekeeper, Jumeirah Beach Hotel; Chandra Illanperuma, director of housekeeping, Palazzo Versace Dubai; Kishore Kumar Pemmasani, executive housekeeper, Hilton Dubai The Walk; and Tinka Tzolova, complex director of housekeeping at Le Méridien and Westin Mina Seyahi.

The panel gathered together at ITP Media Group’s office in Dubai Media City on February 13, 2018, to discuss the most important issues facing the industry today.

Given the number of major renovations set to take place later this year, the role housekeepers play in the renovation and refurbishment process was one of the first topics to be discussed.

According to Jumeirah Beach Hotel’s Millot, housekeepers have their own set of challenges when it comes to renovations. She said, “All the older hotels in Dubai are in renovation mode or contemplating a refurbishment. One of our major priorities is to maintain and protect the asset of the owner so it’s our voice, our duty to enhance and make it better.”

Adding to that, however, Tzolova commented that the housekeeper’s main role is to make recommendations during a renovation or refurbishment. Then it’s up to the general manager to convince the owners to go ahead with the renovation.

Pemmasani, agreeing with Tzolova, said: “The housekeepers’ responsibility is to bring up the issues surrounding soft furnishings to the decision makers.”

“The carpet needs to be changed, hard furniture like desks and chairs need to be renovated and we come up with recommendations. One of the most common mistakes is postponing the bathroom renovations for later and only refreshing soft furnishings. They always think that bathrooms can wait, and it’s a big mistake because in another year it’s going to be a wreck,” Tzolova said.

However, the advisory panel was in agreement that the problem stems from the fact that the refurbishment/renovation timeline from when the hotel opens to when the renovations take place is really long.

According to Pemmasani, it’s because owners don’t always follow a timeline.

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