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ONE-ON-ONE with Mohamed Helal, Executive Housekeeper - V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton

 

A seasoned housekeeper shares his best practices, challenges, journey and experiences.

 

Filed under
Housekeeping
 
November 15, 2022
 
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ONE-ON-ONE with Mohamed Helal, Executive Housekeeper - V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton
 

“The housekeeping department is the history-maker of the hospitality industry and the backbone of any hotel. We take great pride in keeping the hotel ultra-clean, very well disinfected, comfortable, and well-equipped with all the guest’s needs in mind.”

  • Mohamed Helal, Executive Housekeeper - V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton

About you

I was brought up and born at the riverside of the legendary Nile, in a very green small village of Cairo in Egypt. I came to the United Arab Emirates 7 years ago, and was part of the opening team of Fairmont Ajman and working with V Hotel Dubai Curio Collection by Hilton since the opening in 2016. 

My love for nature and care for the environment endured also here in Dubai. Being raised around such natural beauty and crisp air, the love for nature and environmental sustainability has always been my top priority, hence when choosing any housekeeping products, I do a whole background check to ensure that the products used at Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection are environmentally sustainable. 

Your experience and years in the industry

I have been in the hospitality industry for the past 14 years within the most reputed properties of the world including the 5 Star ultra-modern lifestyle Hotel, V curio collection by Hilton Dubai where I currently oversee the housekeeping operation.

In 2015, I made the big move to UAE, joining a five star property in Ajman as a Housekeeping supervisor. 1 year later, I got a chance to work at one of the hotels in the City of Dreams - V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton as an assistant housekeeping manager in charge. As time went by, my love for Dubai grew and made me believe that ‘this is the city I want to grow in’. Finally I got promoted to Executive housekeeper in 2021.  I now successfully have my own team to lead, and hope for them to one day be where I am today. 

How did you get into the hospitality industry and how have you grown since then?

At the age of 18 years old, after I finished my secondary school and joined the faculty of art history department I already felt a passion for the hospitality industry. My student job was at a restaurant back then. Shortly after, I started with my first experience in the housekeeping department at one of the most iconic luxury hotels in Cairo. Starting from scratch and working across well known 5-star companies such as Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt, Dusit and Four Seasons where my knowledge increased day by day. The chance to be exposed to so many corporate standards allowed me an ideal grasp on the function of a housekeeper who knows perfectly how it’s done and always spread this knowledge to my team making them great leaders for the future.

What drives you and your career?

Creating memories for our guests is my biggest drive. When we see reviews that mention, ‘the room was clean and service was phenomenal’, it makes us want to WOW the guests even more. Especially with V Hotel Dubai’s V moment, in which we see so many happy faces. This motivates the team and their hard work pays off. Seeing my team happy inspires me to be a better leader every day. I live with the motto ‘Happy employees lead to happy guests.’

An accomplishment that shaped your career

I feel blessed that I was able to be part of renowned hotel openings, brands and companies. At a very young age this has shaped my career and developed my skills by achieving benchmarks in business enhancement, and improving guest service driven by a passion for achieving high quality work for my guests. 

The best part of your job

The best part of my job is meeting and interacting with guests, providing them with the best service and celebrating as a team the recognition and appreciation received from them. To provide a clean, safe and comfortable environment for our guests and colleagues, seeing my team members grow and develop their careers, crafting memorable moments and making them really happy is my daily bliss.

The most challenging aspect of your job 

The most challenging aspect of my job was during the pandemic when Dubai had just started to open up to staycations and international travel. During this time, guests were very particular about cleanliness and hygiene. We had to maintain a very high level of cleanliness, sanitization, and hygiene standards throughout the hotel, whilst being low on staff. As being part of the Hilton Group, we had taken strict measures when it came to health and safety for our guests and employees. Hilton partnered with Reckitt, makers of Lysol® & Dettol®*, to help deliver an even cleaner stay for our guests with the creation of the Hilton CleanStay program. Our promise to our guests is to deliver the same level of reliable and friendly service one would expect from Hilton. This practice is used till date and we will continue the promise to our guests going forward. 

Why is sustainability important to you?

Maintaining sustainability is our social responsibility to ensure the survival of our future generations. Every change of mindset to a positive direction is meaningful and important. Housekeeping plays a pivotal role in creating, developing and retaining the sustainability-embracing culture at V Hotel Dubai. We are constantly educating our employees and our guests on sustainability and trying to make them aware that their individual contribution to the initiative will have a meaningful impact collectively. We have implemented a number of measures to ensure that we’re reducing the carbon footprint whilst striving towards a more sustainable future one step at a time. Using eco-friendly and organic products in cleaning; linen- and towel recycling; recycling and segregating waste, in addition to the sustainability training for all employees, to ensure compliance and avoid wastage.

 Housekeeping practices you follow

We have a well-trained housekeeping team as well as we have in house training as per Hilton standards. We always try to improve and provide a wow experience to our guests by anticipating the wishes and needs of the guests. We also ensure families with kids also get to experience the WOW factor at V Hotel Dubai by surprising them with towel art and gifts. We follow all COVID-19 protocols (mask, gloves, social distancing and using the right chemicals to sanitize all the required areas or surfaces). During our daily operations, we ensure that the highest quality standards will be met, we have made several enhancements to our cleaning practices throughout our property and in guest rooms. These include:

  • Increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfection, particularly in public areas with high traffic including restrooms, elevators, and room keys.
  • Team members are asked to wear face masks and gloves based on the activities they are performing and based on direction by the local authorities.
  • Implemented guidelines on chemicals and equipment to be used that are effective against viruses and as per Hilton guidelines. 
  • Cleaning and disinfecting protocols are in place to sanitize rooms after a guest’s departure and before the next guest arrives.
  • Increased frequency of cleaning in the ‘Back of House', where hotel employees work behind the scenes.
  • Increased associate health, safety and knowledge efforts, including hand hygiene protocols and specific COVID-19 related training.
  • Every guest room is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to guest’s arrival.

The latest products (chemicals & equipment) that are in use

We are committed to providing a safe environment to our guests and staff and to supporting sustainability programs we have eliminated using non-eco-friendly detergents and are instead using natural soaps, which makes washing and cleaning cycles more effective which minimizes environmental damage and disinfects the hotel surfaces. We use products from our partner chemical provider ECOLAB – Peroxide Multi-surface cleaner and disinfectant. We have new enhanced cleaning technologies i.e. electrostatic sprayers to sanitize surfaces throughout the hotel. We steam clean, which eliminates the usage of chemicals and emphasizes more on sanitization, floor scrubbing, and carpet shampooing machines to maintain the highest level of cleanliness and we use air purifiers that are effective against viruses.

Training provided to the cleaning staff

Employee training is a crucial aspect of running a successful business; therefore, it is important to establish standards of cleanliness and teaching the team proper use of cleaning equipment, focus on maintaining consistency, reinforce staff etiquette, using role-play to train and reinforce and always communicate the latest requirements and trends in order to keep the team members up-to-date. The Training at V Hotel Dubai is provided from day 1 of joining with 2 days of comprehensive orientation regarding the company philosophy and different departmental roles. We share the experiences to learn and grow from each individual. Hilton global has given access to online training for all staff where they have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow. We involve them in planning and training to demonstrate their expertise.

The future of the cleaning industry

The future of the cleaning industry is more about sustainability as most of the hospitality industry is now taking the front seat to go green, plastic free or save energy by using LED and adopting new technology to reduce the cost and energy. To work effectively and efficiently, the concept of housekeeping is changing day by day, it is becoming so much more than just cleaning and maintaining the hotel. Housekeeping has also become an integral part of the hotel’s pre-opening design team, to ensure that the chosen design is keeping the housekeeping team in mind.