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

23 April 2008

The Hotel Inspectors...'no such thing as a free lunch!'

We've been inspected...again.

We have a lovely little certificate up on the wall to say that we are worthy of the all the attention, that we are fabulous, that we provide one of the best 'experiences' in Ireland, that we have beds to die for and when you see the bill you probably will, die, that is.

I have no problem with inspectors, as such, they do a great job telling us all what we're doing wrong, and we 'welcome' their input, so that we can use it to improve...what I find difficult is the inspector who can't separate job from sadism.

Some inspectors enjoy seeing Managers squirm, they love the power they have, and the fact that they can destroy your property with the stroke of a pen, and quite frankly, it goes to their heads.

She arrived on the Resort in a flurry of enthusiasm, rather windswept due to the fact that she has a convertible, and is 'damned well going to use it...even if this IS Ireland'! Once she had wiped the dead bugs from her horned rimmed glasses, she began stomping around like a bull in a china shop.

Lipstick (??) in one hand, clipboard in the other, she proceeded to pull my 5 star lodges apart. Out came the pots and pans, out came the silverware, wine glasses held up to windows, hands plunged into dishwasher filters.....she knew where to look alright, toasters turned upside down and banged on the work surface in case of any missed crumbs....denting them in the process....on and on she went....toilet seats lifted and after she ran her manicured fingers under the rim, checking for dirt, she then used the same fingers to check the tumblers on the vanity unit!!!

Imagine a very badly choreographed musical, 80's style, mad hair, lots of twirling around, badly fitting costumes, over made up, loud, offensive to the got it. Couple this with manners of a warthog, and you have the whole picture.

I followed this obnoxious person around for over two hours, without losing my temper, which for me was amazing, and in all that time she said nothing of any importance, she found nothing significantly wrong....the one or two faults she highlighted, in a very personal belittling way, were things that you can't do a great deal about in self catering accommodation which is in constant use.

She objected to the faint smell of cooking in a microwave oven which is in a large housing unit with the cooker, even with the old 'boiling lemon juice' trick, there is still a whiff however faint, she told me to cure this by leaving the doors open!! (At head height, just right to knock a big hole in your head).

This is just one of her little nuggets of advice, another was to use Brillo pads on soft faux metal, to use pan scourers on the glass shower screens to remove the builders' grout etc, and to boil wash the curtains if they got emulsion paint on them, I kid you not!

I objected to her comments, and didn't do what you are supposed to do when you are being inspected which is smile and nod your head a lot whilst taking lots and lots of notes....I argued with her, well not argued, but whenever she remarked that something was wrong, I asked her 'where?' or 'which bit'. This got her nerves after a while, and she got steadily more manic.

She took a filter down from a cooker hood and, using an inspection keyword of 'DIRTY' threw it onto the worktop, so I did what any Accommodation Manager who gives a shit would do, I picked it up and said 'No, it isn't' and made squeaky clean noises on it by running my finger along its edge, reveling in the fact that this one has never been used.

She was a little put out by the fact that the lodges she had come to look at were not quite finished, from a building point of view, she had been advised of this and still, even though there was no deadline to meet, chose to come, knowing that she would earn Brownie points with the owners, as she would have no problems finding fault in an unfinished house....who couldn't? So, she decided that she would go and look in the finished, certified, passed lodges, which she had no reason to do other than the fact that she enjoys intimidating people, but as I was by this time, thoroughly disgusted with her language, and her manner, and her unprofessional approach, her lack of knowledge or method....I had no patience with her at all, and did nothing to hide it.

If someone is employed by an official body to inspect your property and give their opinions of your standards, they should surely be able to demonstrate a superior knowledge of this subject.

After her tornado's approach to the inspection, she flounced off towards the Hotel restaurant to be wined, dined, and definitely nothing else by the GM, who was waiting, smiling with a bottle of strychnine behind his back!!

Her words of,

"I'm sending some friends down here next week, and I'm expecting it gratis" ringing in my ears.

I brought this up at the next meeting with the Management team, and voiced my disgust that these people think it's right to freeload in the name of improving standards! My GM, who is at times quite forthright and occasionally seems to 'speak first, engage brain later', said,

"They're ALL at it, anything for free, just give them what they want and get rid of them, they annoy me so much, that woman annoys me, but we are stuck with her, she's so far up the owners arses that we just have to put up with her".

I can work with this guy, he's normal, but I had better not say too much, every time I find a boss that I think I will be able to work with, something happens and they leave.....*sniffs armpits* it's not me, honest!

Shortly after her visit, three of her girl friends arrived, booked into the best lodge we have, comp of course, I refused to put the flowers and wine in for them, so concierge did it, and they stayed for three nights, to 'experience' the Resort

They 'lurrvved' the place, and will certainly be recommending us...gee thanks, the also loved the spa of course they did, it was free, they paid for NOTHING, not a drink, not a movie, nothing. Did they find anything wrong with the lodge? Well, they didn't find the little presents that I left for them to find...but they did find that they couldn't sleep because the water pump was noisy, shame.

The list of her 'recommendations' arrived today. Mostly they are for the builders, there is a lot of 'snagging' which is ongoing and will be finished in due course, half of the lodges are still being built, and were not even due for an inspection, but it would seem our lady is a law unto herself!

As a colleague and I sat and went through the list today, she turned and said to me,

"I would love to be an inspector, I would be such a bitch"

I just laughed, I actually wanted to ask her if that's what she thought was the most important aspect of the job, being a bitch? I'm ashamed to say, I just laughed.

The point is, it's just all someone elses' opinion, I could find fault in an empty room, as I am sure our lovely lady could, but I wouldn't report it if it was not constructive, because then it it's pointless.

16 April 2008

Personal post...not a guest in sight.

There is a line in a Counting Crows song that goes;

"We only stay in orbit for a moment of time...."

It has other connotations, about unrequited love, but whenever I hear it, it always makes me realise how short our time is, and that unless we have done something quite remarkable in our lives, and made a difference, that life will go on, just as before, only our nearest and dearest will notice we have gone.

I don't worry about getting older, and I certainly don't obsess about dying, but now and again life slaps me in the face and tells me that I had better start getting things right.

Getting older is fabulous, I enjoy the extra wisdom, and the confidence I have now, after years of hiding behind something or someone. I'm of the opinion that we are all capable of anything, we can achieve all and more that we set out to do, that the only person holding us back is ourselves, which I know has been written already by someone far more literate than I.

If I had had the outlook, and the confidence that I have now, say, twenty years ago, I would have given Bertie a run for his money, and we all know he liked to run with the Punt.

Life for me and mine, has taken some weird and wonderful turns over the last couple of years, new country, new house, new jobs, new friends, new schools, and along with that came bewilderment, fear, frustration, confusion, and 101 questions every day about whether it was the right thing to do, to create such huge changes, remove us all from our comfort zone.

Now, just when I thought we were safe for a while, settled, the slap has stung again.

My beautiful miracle baby, my little fighter, my youngest, the child that shouldn't be here, has autism.

Two summers ago, I stood with my husband at the foot of Croagh Patrick, looking at the summit, we had no doubts about being able for the climb, confident that we would get to the top, but I still found myself wondering if I would be fit enough, how long would it take, and how the hell would we get down with broken legs?

That's how it feels now, standing at the foot of another climb, anyone who has done the 'Reek' will know how steep and rocky it is, and how easy it is to fall. We didn't have to do it, we wanted to, we had good boots on, waterproofs, and prepared for it, not like the girls in flip flops that had to turn back less than half way, or the old dear sat on a rock, smoking a Silk Cut because she hadn't the breath!

This time, we have no choice, getting up this steep 'hill' is the only way to get the little miracle the help that he needs.

I know we don't have to cope alone, there are many more parents in the same situation, willing to help, and give advice, and many wonderful healthcare professionals waiting to take him to the next step, but anyone in this position could be forgiven for feeling that they are totally alone. It will pass, I know, and the practical side of my nature will take over, and I will start getting through the the HSEs' red tape, and start finding the right people to deal with.

But not this week. He's four tomorrow, and he doesn't know it's is birthday.

The view from the top of the Reek is worth every minute of that pain and breathlessness.

Work can wait.