Keeping Hotels Clean And Green
You leave your hotel room for the day’s activities; when you return, the bed is made, the bathroom is scrubbed clean and you have a supply of fresh towels. Maybe you want breakfast in bed or some extra clothes hangers. Ever wonder who vacuums the hallway carpets or keeps the lobby spotless? So much of what you’ve come to expect at a hotel is the domain of the housekeepers: Those quiet, largely unseen hotel workers who can make all the difference in your hotel visit.
Keeping rooms clean is not the only aspect of housekeeping, to be sure, but it is a very significant one that has led to the formation of an association devoted to supporting professional standards, education and community service in this profession. That group is the International Executive Housekeepers Association, whose 3,500 members are housekeeping managers in commercial, industrial or institutional facilities.
The Hawaii chapter, founded in 1968, has become the parent organization’s largest, a status no doubt reflective of the state’s sizable visitor industry and the chapter’s outreach efforts include professionals in such areas as health care, education, suppliers and cleaning businesses.
Working alongside housekeepers in the visitor industry in my position with the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association has given me an even deeper appreciation of their importance and commitment to ensuring the highest professional standards in their workplaces.
And at the IEHA’s Bosses’ Night I attended Oct. 7 at the invitation of forever-young 75-yearold chapter president Rose Galera the members saluted their bosses for the support they received, although I know the bosses were more than happy to reciprocate the sentiments expressed by their housekeeping managers.
As if their work responsibilities weren’t enough, the IEHA members have taken on a number of community service projects. Members and students do a quarterly cleaning of the 100th Battalion Clubhouse, while the chapter recently adopted Washington Place as an ongoing cleaning project, with public-spirited businesses donating window and carpet-cleaning services.
On Nov. 2, the chapter will host a hospitality job fair at McKinley Community School for Adults. The event will include a hotel industry panel discussion and exhibitions, as well as give hotels an opportunity to reach out to adults seeking frontline positions in the travel industry in such areas as housekeeping, front desk, food and beverage, bell desk, laundry and maintenance.
Past projects have been equally impressive, with members participating in high school career days, donating money to the American Red Cross for disaster relief in Japan, representing the IEHA at the annual Hawaii Lodging, Hospitality & Foodservice Expo, and donating supplies to homeless shelters and other charitable organizations.
It’s easy to take housekeepers for granted. Largely unseen, they are often overlooked. But I can’t think of a corps of visitor industry employees more deserving of our recognition and appreciation for their contributions to the success of travel and tourism in Hawaii and beyond.
MUFI’S VISITOR HEROES
Position: Housekeeping Supervisor
Location: Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
No detail escapes the sharp eye of housekeeping supervisor Sterlin Bandmann of the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, who takes pains to ensure that every villa meets the company’s high standards of cleanliness and tidiness.
He accomplishes this by instilling a spirit of ownership and pride among his staff, taking them on inspections so they can see what he sees when inspecting a room. He encourages his team to see a room from a guest’s perspective and to be alert to individual guest preferences or special occasions they may be celebrating. Sterlin takes the extra step of making personal connections with guests to ensure they have the best experience the Westin has to offer.
When not at the villas, Sterlin Bandmann is active with the Relay for Life, adopt-a-highway program, Toys for Tots, and a foundation that provides boxes of food to the needy.