Hot on the heels of technology such as Wi-Fi, guest’s expectations when they visit a hotel include top notch cleanliness, especially in the wake of Covid-19. This makes the role of any hotel’s most unseen staff, the housekeepers, extremely vital.
“The cleaner can absolutely make or break a hotel, so they are really important, when you are a five-star property like The Table Bay, at Cape Town’s best address, everything has to be perfect from check-in to check-out and everything in-between,” says Melissa Hugo, who was promoted from Executive Housekeeper to Rooms Division Manager at Sun International’s The Table Bay, in the V&A Waterfront, in May.
The 35 year-old first experienced The Table Bay in 2006 while doing her internship for her Hotel Management studies at The International Hotel School. She returned four years ago, after working as an Executive Housekeeper for numerous hotels, as well as in the destination management industry.
“I decided to go into housekeeping because I felt I could add value in employee relations and management in this department, respect and care improves productivity and results in staff who are more empowered. At Sun International we have employee wellness programmes which also encourage increased engagement.”
Hugo is responsible for Housekeeping and Front of House departments, managing close to 60 people, and said she runs her departments by getting buy-in from her staff and allowing them to be heard. “My management style is to allow people the space to be responsible for their own work, I give them the tools and leave them to it, but you need to own up to your mistakes thereafter!”
“My day starts at 7am and I leave when I am done. “As an operations manager, I balance managing daily operations and behind the scenes administration and management. Guests are my focus as they need to come first, but you also need to balance this management and administrative tasks to keep the hotel going.”
“I understand our responsibility in keeping our guests and staff safe. Guests have been understanding in a post-Covid world, with the many changes for health and safety reasons.”
Hugo said the word in the hospitality industry post-Covid is ‘agile’. “With short lead bookings, you cannot plan on next week’s occupancies as things change. Our staff has had to learn to be flexible, and it is a balancing act between health and safety and luxury.”
Hugo expected her first child in June 2021 but will be back at work in November in time for the anticipated busy season and “hopefully, lots of eager international guests to shower with our special Sun International hospitality”.