Hotel Management.....Why Do I Do This?

30 December 2007

No Title.

Well, after a weekend of hell I am now, officially 'off duty'. I will not answer the phone, they do not need me for at least two whole days!

I had a lovely Christmas in the bosom of my family, I hope everyone else did too.

But now, I just want to relax for a couple of days, and stop being amazed at the stupidity of some people.

Stupid cat woman blocked her sink with cat litter....hello?

Stupid pregnant woman blocked her sink, and next doors'pipes with all the fat that she had accumulated in the same roasting tin all over Christmas....hello?

Stupid drunkard wedding guest picked a fight with someone HUGE who could flatten him with one punch, and chose to bleed all over the parquet floors and cream carpets, without attempting to clean it up....hello?

Laundry failed to tell me that they had 'forgotten' to pick up our dirty linen, and so didn't bring back our clean....hello?

Every Manager in the property decided to take Christmas/New Year off, our busiest time since the summer....hello?

Blocked toilets,no shower pressure,no spare accommodation to move guests to,gas fires that refuse to light, central heating systems broken down, broken window from mis-hit golf ball, guests convinced they have ghosts, and no maintenance engineer, he's on holiday....oh fuck it....HAPPY NEW YEAR ONE AND ALL!!!!

23 December 2007

Tidal Wave.

I was reading the Hotel Chick the other day, by a nice housekeeper in the States who writes really well about how shitty the industry can be sometimes. She reminded me about an incident that occurred in the summer.

A beautiful day, sunshine, perfect day for a wedding. Bride in white, bridesmaids in black (!) well, each to their own...snotty page boys with gameboys in their pockets.

The brides' mother was erm, happy, thanks to a few Dubonneys and all was going fine, they seemed to be enjoying themselves, and they were happy with the arrangements, even though the band they had booked, thinking they were going to be a Van Morrison tribute turned out to be a Jim Morrison tribute!!

When the 'best man' started singing 'c'mon baby light my fire' I made my excuses and left for home.

Next morning they were in no state to check out. The bride and groom were staying an extra night, but their family were supposed to be leaving.

By one o'clock, (and many phone calls to hung over morons later), the 'best man' his wife and a few others decided they were going to stay too.

When they finally vacated the room,and headed in the direction of the bar, one of the housekeepers on that floor came to my office, obviously very upset about something, and, as she had no English, my deputy translated to me that she had gone to service their room, only to find that the bed was wet.

I went to have a look myself, and the only way I can describe it is that it looked like someone had poured a bucket of water on the bed..........I had flashbacks of my Japanese guests a few years previously, I have never before seen so much fluid on an Hotel bed!!

It was obviously pee..........strangely enough though, there was no smell, none, just very wet, in the middle of a zip and link bed, (which is two single mattresses joined together). We did the usual routine, remove the bed, and base as it had gone right through, to an outside area, and called the chem-dry guy to come and steam clean them.

I passed on the information to the front office manager and she was to contact the guest for payment etc.

A while later, I was behind the front desk, covering yet again for my 'weakest link' receptionist friend, who had been on her feet since seven that morning, without a break,thanks to the ineptitude of her line manager.

As she came back from her well earned coffee, a woman approached the desk, and enquired about booking a room for that night,I handed her over to the receptionist and after she was allocated a room, she went back to join her laughing, drinking,shouting, party on the terrace of the bar.

I mentioned to the receptionist what had happened with the pissy room......she then told me that the woman that had just been at the desk was the guest that had stayed in the room, she was one of the bridesmaids, and her husband was the 'best man'. She had just booked her into a different room, as the one she had last night was out of order for 'maintenance'!!

I suppose if she hadn't been so fucking arrogant, maybe even said something about the fact that they had left the room looking like a swimming pool, or just said 'oops, sorry', I wouldn't have been so annoyed.

Before I had a chance to put my professional hat on, I could see myself, like in one of those 'out of body' experiences, marching towards this group of pissed up knackers, my hovering self was shouting,

'Don't do it...they'll kill you, they don't care, they're hard, they arrived in Hiace vans with white ribbons.....'

My accommodation manager self was saying,

'Bastards......bastards......bastards......bastards......how dare they put my girls at risk of infection, how dare they not say a fucking word about leaving urine in one of my rooms, then laugh about it, the shits.

When it comes to guest relations, I like to think that I am a true professional, I have always put the customer first, and I literally bend over backwards to make sure the guest is catered for, but sometimes, just sometimes..they really make me want to commit murder.

I thought I was quite diplomatic.

I approached the baying crowd, and asked if 'she' was Mrs F. When she confirmed that she was,I asked her if I could have a word.....she snorted and said,

'Ok, what do you want?'

I asked her if she wouldn't mind following me somewhere private.

'Jesus, it's like being told to come to the fucking headmasters office' she laughed to her friends, and strutted after me, mimicking my walk.

I should have just shown her up there and then and told them all that her husband or indeed herself, had pissed the bed and they would have to pay for the damage, but I chose not to embarrass her in front of her fans, and be nice about it.

We went into the function room, where, the previous night she had half stripped and belted out her version of 'I will survive' and I outlined the problem.

Suppressing my anger, I asked her if she was the guest in 115......she confirmed this......so looking her in the eyes I asked,

'Would you mind telling me what happened to the bed? Is it urine?

All her bravado and arrogance melted away from her, she looked mortified,crushed.

Removed from her supporters, and in the presence of someone who had seen it all before, she made the split decision to tell the truth.

'I am soooo sorry, my husband had an accident,he drank too much last night'

She was like a little girl caught smoking.

'Can I ask you why you felt it unnecessary to mention it to the receptionist?

All right, sarcastic, but professional!

'I'm sorry, I'm sorry' was all she could say.....I banged on a bit about the hazard of having to deal with and handle bodily fluids without prior warning, and she was suitably chastened.

Anyway, they didn't return for the extra night, she called on her mobile phone later in the day to say they had changed their minds!

A few days later we received a cheque to cover the cleaning....and a note to say she was too embarrassed to come back.......

There is a God after all.

17 December 2007

The Fragrant Uma Thurman.

Name dropper?

Me?

How very dare you!

I have worked in lots of Hotels, for over 20 years so obviously I have had 'stars' under my roof so to speak.

When does it become acceptable to start blabbing abut them? Is it like that 'official secrets' thing, where the powers that be wait 50 years or so before telling us mere mortals, that our beloved leaders once farted at a state function in Moscow?

I don't suppose she'll mind, and anyway, it wasn't her fault.

We had the production team, and some of the cast of 'Robin Hood' staying at the Hotel, not the Kevin Costner 'Prince of Thieves' version, but the smaller budget English version, starring Patrick Bergin. The rumours were flying around that Kevin Costner was indeed staying with us, and the branches of the trees in the grounds were assaulted by the fat arses of teenage girls trying to catch a glimpse of him in his tights.

Uma Thurman was Maid Marian, she wasn't well known then, it was four years before Pulp Fiction, so she was booked into a standard, normal, ground floor room.

We had had a particularly busy day, lots of check outs, a wedding, staff on holiday so we were understaffed. It was also quite an exiting day, in that one of our chambermaids had won a huge amount of money at the bingo the night before! Why she came into work I still don't understand, but I'm glad she did.

We were flying, sweating, nearly finished, last room, they were ok, getting on fine with it, so I went to check the public areas and see if that dozy woman at the wedding had found her shoe. I went back to check on the girls a short time later.

I could hear the giggling, the clanking, the obvious sound of no work being done......four girls had congregated in the last room to 'help' finish it off.

I walked along the corridor ready to hurry them up, to find other work for the non essential staff crowding the room, at exactly the same time as Ms Thurman had crept into the ground floor fire exit, and was returning to her room.

We walked, together, into her room, and both saw at the very same moment, two maids in the bathroom, one with a bottle of perfume, mid-spray on to her uniform, the other, lovingly brushing her long hair with Maid Marians' hairbrush.......another was sitting on her unmade bed, leafing through some private letters, the last one, on hearing us enter the room, jumped into the air, and began dusting furiously, convincing no-one.

I'm really glad that she didn't have that sword that day!

I don't know who was more annoyed, her or me, but she certainly let her feelings be known!

She calmed down after a while, and was very nice about the whole thing, but I was embarrassed for days. The whole Hotel was awash with stories about how she had screamed at the girls, and threatened to sue.....typical rumour mill.....but actually she was too nice about it.

Shame really, it would have been a better story :)

The film was much better than the Hollywood version by the way.

15 December 2007

Black Friday? Sh***y Saturday!

The works 'do' was last night.

I have the flu. I didn't go. I am very glad I didn't go.

Apparently the food looked ok, smelled ok, tasted, on reflection a 'bit' strange, but you know how it is, having a drink, relaxing with your workmates, no-one wants to be the one who complains, and anyway what does it matter, get the meal over, and on to the club.

On to the club they went, all 75 of them, in varying states of sobriety and dress. The typical company Christmas Party.......whoopee do. Come to think of it, even without a raging temperature and a face that looks like porridge, I don't think I would have gone anyway, I mean who wants to see their boss, er, relaxed? Not me.

So off they teetered in their new heels, bought especially for the evening, paddling through puddles of beer and vomit, to sit and shout over the musak, for a couple of hours at people they don't speak to all the week.

Missed opportunities, lost handbags, smudged lippy, everyone drunkenly told that someone "really loves them," new friendships, ruined friendships, broken heels, and food poisoning, all of life is here.

So, today I have been Mummy at work too. Grown women are worse than kids!

Our own 'do' is next week. Somewhere else I'm glad to say.

10 December 2007

It's Raining Men

"Quick, what room is above here?"

"Morning to you too" I replied.

Staring back at me, wild eyed, and hair dripping water down her face, the night Manager, looking like she'd had more than enough for one shift, had rounded it off nicely with a shower.

Arriving for the 7am shift, I walked into Reception, not really thinking about anything else, other than getting organised for the day ahead.
A tour departing, another coming in. As a city centre hotel, a quick turnaround is pretty normal, the tours don't usually make much mess, they aren't here long enough......and they often leave a tip under the pillows for the girls doing their rooms.

"Um, problem"? I ventured, half expecting to get my head bitten off.

"What the fuck do you think"?

"How long have you had water pouring through the ceiling onto your head"? I asked.

The look of exasperation on her face was enough to send me running up the stairs of our 19th Century building to investigate.

I had figured out which room it was on the way up, and, arriving at the door, could hear splashing noises. Now anyone who has worked in Hotels will know, that Hotels are dodgy places, occasionally filled with dodgy people, so its not a good idea to reach for the master key and ask questions later!

So, being polite and professional, I knocked, then knocked again, nothing.........so I had no choice, my colleague was in danger of drowning, electrocution, of having her first wash for days, so I opened the door.

I shouted, loud, from behind the door,

"Hello, housekeeping.....can I just check your bathroom?"

Nothing.

I had no choice, I went in, I walked towards the bathroom, calling out as I went, then the problem became clear.

Standing in the corner of the bathroom, was a naked Japanese tourist, quite content in his nakedness, as his partner threw bucket after bucket of water over him.

I kept a straight face, well they're good tippers, and explained the best way I could in sign language, keeping my eyes above sea level, that if they had to do that could he please stand in the bath.

From that day, I think I became unshockable, or was that when it became my job to ask the prostitutes to vacate the Ladies Room?

08 December 2007

"People Are Stupid"

A 'twenty something' told me that, but I always played devils advocate.

"No, people are not stupid, they are all different, have different opinions, you shouldn't be so negative, look for the best in people....."

How come he knows more about people than me? I am twenty years older than him, surely my life experiences give me the edge??

People are most definitely stupid!

We have some guests checking in on Monday, long term, moving from France.
They want to bring the contents of their whole house with them, including the plants! So, like an idiot I have been on my hands and knees measuring the height of the bloody windows from the floor, to see if the feckin things will fit!

Never mind the mice that have set up a colony of thousands and think they can stay for free, never mind the fact that the builders arrived as everyone was leaving last night and began taking the floor up in the bar.......and left it like a bomb site, never mind the fact that it has been raining for days non stop, and we are in danger of becoming a 'Norfolk Broads' type resort, no, lets get our priorities right.......the yuccas' happiness is paramount.

They can't help it, they're French.

My lovely receptionist friend had a meeting with the GM the other day.....I take back what I said about her complaints falling on deaf ears, he seemed quite concerned, and said he would not tolerate bullying from anyone, he also said he would investigate her complaints.....we'll see if he puts his money where his mouth is.

Now, where's me tape measure, they want to bring their expectations with them.

04 December 2007

"We Veerrry Beeezy"

I absolutely adore Polish people.

They are friendly, funny, hard working, and I am really happy to have both Polish friends and colleagues.

I have never had to chase anyone over their bad standards or attitude. Mostly, as a whole they are a delight to work with. I know I shouldn't generalise, but in this case it's true.

There's always an exception to every rule.

My last supervisor, lovely girl, polite, friendly, mature........stubborn as hell.

On my days off, I would leave directions in the diary of what needed doing that day, I always made sure that she understood what was expected, that she had no problems, that she would be able to complete the tasks, that she had enough staff to do it.
Without fail, when I came back, nothing was done. The excuse was "we were very busy" er, yes, and?? The bare minimum was all you could expect.

I then spent a couple of days picking up the pieces.

I have lost count of the number of times I blew my top, having horrendous rows in both broken English and Polish, it must have sounded like a comedy sketch, some bright spark who, walking in on the torrent, called it Penglish.

What can you? Sack someone who has been there longer than you, and in all honesty probably does more work than you? At this stage, I was already in the process of cutting my team down to the bare minimum, so without a supervisor, even one who played dumb at the mere mention of the dreaded mattress turns, we would have been even deeper in the shit.

You always know the hotel you are working in is in financial trouble when your purchase orders come back with refused written in blood on the top page. First casualty is always toilet rolls. I have never had to cut up the Indo and put it on a hook on the back of the bathroom door, but I have come pretty close. Once this starts to happen, get the hell out of there. That sounds completely disloyal, but hey, loyalty has to be earned, along with respect.

I sincerely hope my last property thrives and starts to make money, there are still some lovely, decent people working there, and I would like to see it succeed, but unless it has huge investment, in the very near future, I seriously doubt that will happen.

A GM friend of mine starts a new position today, I still don't know where, he wouldn't tell anyone, something to do with 'jinxing it'!! I hope he's ok, and it's what he wants. It must be difficult taking over a property with total control, but he has the technology as they say, I'm sure he's fine.

Personally, I wouldn't be a GM for a big clock.

Speaking of GMs mine has just announced that I now have control of the cleaning standards in the public areas in the clubhouse as well as my bits!! Oh thrilled I am! Since the day I walked in the door, I have thanked the Lord under my breath that I am not responsible for the bars and lounge.....because they are fucking filthy!! Having said that, it was starting to annoy me, so maybe its a good thing. Nice to know that he thinks I'm up to it!

Now, what's 'skirting boards' in Polish?

03 December 2007

The Start Of The Beginning

Last week I let the cleaning contractors go, they were costing the property over two grand a week, and I still can't figure out what they were doing.

Today, we have our own housekeeping team, five wonderful ladies, who, when I last checked, were rubbing and scrubbing like Billy-O.
I organised some training for them with Rosie, from the company that supplies the cleaning products, just to go over how and when to use the various sprays etc..........she told me that she had never met a more enthusiastic team........my God, I must be doing something right at last!

I have taken on quite a task here, although it is an established property, the area in which I am working is new, and so is my position, so it's a learning curve for all of us.

Some things you never forget though.

I had a long conversation with a long term resident this morning.

I was warned she was high maintenance, and so I was prepared for the sarcasm, the tears, the dramatics!

This was wrong, that was wrong, "it was never like this before."

'NO'.... because the contractors spent all fucking morning in your lodge pandering to your every fucking need you selfish cow......which is why they rushed the others they had to do..........which is why they were crap.............!!

What I actually said was, "please accept my apologies, my supervisor will be right down to you and you can direct her on your cleaning needs"

I also pointed out to her that her two cats (which she isn't supposed to have in there anyway) shit all over the floor, the girls had to scrape it off the runners on the patio door.....that shut her up!

01 December 2007

'You are the weakest link....fuck off'

I got a text today from a receptionist at my last Hotel, a lovely woman, warm, kind, funny, fantastic with the guests, what else, oh yes, and highly professional. She wanted my opinion on a letter she was going to send to the GM.

In short, she gave notice, but not before making a formal complaint about her treatment by the new 'front office manager'. To say this awful 'manager' woman is a tad rude is the understatement of the year.

I have certainly met/worked with far worse, but I don't have dyslexia, am not as forgiving as my receptionist friend, and I am not in the unenviable position of having a bitch for a line manager, so I understand her frustration. I told her to send it, making sure the owners of the property received a copy too.

The letter will fall on deaf ears, or blind eyes, whatever, but it should make her feel better about leaving.

Its the age old story of 'new brooms' new GM, new Front Office, new Accommodation, all recruited from the GMs' pool of wannabes, well that's what you do isn't it? Surround yourself with old chums, people you've worked with before.......widen your comfort zone.

I relocated this year to Cork from Mayo, and, after turning down three other offers, agreed to take a position with a GM I really felt I could work with, at a property that needed investment in both time and money, but had potential.
A few weeks later, he announced he was on a years' contract and was leaving.....

So the new guy starts....first week, and I find myself sending texts to an ex GM telling him that I think this guy is a prick. 'Give him a chance, he's only just started' I am told, hmm maybe.....then the morning meeting turns into a bloodbath with the parting shot "I could get another Accommodation Manager to do your job for 10k less than you are getting". I wished him good luck, knowing full well that he had someone lined up already, and began scanning the sits vacant.

I was bullied at school, and I can spot a bully a mile away, I no longer allow myself to be a victim of these reprehensible half wits, but I get so angry when I see it happening to someone else. I offered my lovely receptionist a job, just to see her and her daughter through Christmas, it not glamorous, but the moneys good, so I hope she agrees to take it.

I've just been reading about a project to build the first hotel in space.....fantastic, just think of the endless possibilities, imagine how many times you would hear yourself saying ' I'm sorry? your water won't stay in your bath? That would be the lack of gravity, I'll send a plumber up to you straight away.'

Jesus, who invented guests?

Don't thank me!

My husband saves lives, it's getting to be a habit. He isn't a firefighter, or a paramedic, he just seems to be around, when someone tries to kill themselves.

Last weekend he stopped a young lad, with obvious suicidal intentions, I say obvious because he was hanging over the parapet of the river bridge at midnight, I think he got home about two-ish.

I suppose I would have done the same, although I'm probably more cynical than him, less patient, and certainly not strong enough to pull a six foot drunken Irishman off a bridge.

A friend, far more spiritual than me, once said that she believed there are angels that walk the Earth, they're all around us, (woooo!) I put it down to too many chasers, but you know, I'm starting to think she's right.......

He told this lad not to thank him, he wasn't doing it for him, it was for purely selfish reasons in that he didn't want to read about him in the paper, knowing that he could have done something.

I love my life, but if I ever find myself looking down at rocks and flowing water....I hope my angel isn't too far away.

I seem to have worked in Hotels for ever, in one shape or form. It wasn't intentional, I wanted to be a nurse, but I didn't have the stomach.

Much to the disgust of my mother, I left her nest and went in search of a life of servitude.

I thought it would be fun, easy, I would meet lots of nice interesting people, be paid handsomely for my efforts and have a fab pad in the staff quarters.........would I do the same now, knowing the truth?

Of course I would!!