Director of Housekeeping, Park Hyatt Dubai and Dubai Creek Complex
Passionate, experienced and self driven - Bhawani Bhargava has been in the hospitality industry for over 18 years, growing by leaps and bounds due to sheer determination and a vision to provide the best guest experience possible. Being a traveller at heart, she understands the importance this experience holds for a hotel. Today, she works as the Director of Housekeeping in Park Hyatt Dubai and Dubai Creek Complex and successfully spearheads her team to deliver world class service and maintenance of 223 guest rooms, 16 luxury villas, 9 F&B outlets and an extensive public area space. Let’s take a look at her extensive journey in the industry!
I am a seasoned housekeeping professional with 18 years of handson experience in room operations management and facilities management. I am a very passionate individual who constantly looks for ways to improve internal processes, coaching the team with a strong focus on guest services and financial profitability. I am also an avid traveler and love to experience new cultures and cuisines.
Your experience and years in the industry
My journey started in 2002 as a pre-opening Room Attendant in The Oberoi Udailvilas, Udaipur, India where I was selected in the campus interview. There wasn’t a moment where I hesitated to work as a room attendant and it paid off well. The rigorous and detailed training provided at The Oberoi helped me shape my outlook and understand the importance of training and engagement during the process. During my tenure I also had the opportunity to be part of the task force at The Oberoi Wild Flower Hall Shimla.
After spending 2 years in Udaipur, I moved on to take on the challenge as Guest Service Supervisor in Taj Exotica Goa where again working for the world class resort encouraged me to focus on leisure luxury guests to understand and deliver service, which exceeded their expectations every time.
A very interesting opportunity came my way when I was working in Goa, to join the top publication house in India, The Times of India in Mumbai. The position I held was that of Facilities Executive and I managed the cleaning and maintenance of their headquarters and various executive accommodations. Stepping away from hotels broadened my mindset and helped me develop a skill of managing a strong task force consisting of 70 employees.
In June 2005, an opportunity came to work abroad in Dubai to open Park Hyatt Dubai as Housekeeping Team Leader. Without batting an eyelid, I hopped on to the aircraft and landed in the City of Gold, Dubai, UAE, which I have called home for the past 15 years.
I was promoted and transferred to Hyatt Regency Dubai and Galleria apartments in March 2010 as Assistant Housekeeping Manager. In August 2011, I took a transfer again, this time to open Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi where I spent my time until 2013 to lay the foundation of a strong rooms operation during the initial year of opening and a smooth operation thereafter.
In 2013, I was extremely privileged to work for the National Airline of United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways as a Facilities Officer where I managed the turnaround maintenance of 1000 pilots, cabin crew and core grade accommodation. I was able to provide them the 5-star experience that they expected from their accommodations team.
The year 2015 took my path back to hotels, this time to open Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi and after which back to Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi in 2016 to take charge and elevate the guest experience whilst making sure we did 80% profitability in the rooms division. Life came a full circle 2019 where I was promoted and transferred as Director of Housekeeping and rejoined Park Hyatt Dubai. It has been a thrilling and rewarding 18 years journey which I am very proud of and I want to keep going forward as an inspirational leader and inspire talents across the board to pursue their dreams, stay curious, focused, and positive and success will follow.
What drives you
I would say there are 3 things which drive me and my career are:
• To be able to deliver happiness each day to guests and colleagues.
• To be able to guide and coach the team to be a better version of themselves.
• To keep learning and growing as I strongly believe in the saying “when you settle, you shrink”.
An accomplishment that shaped your career
Being a part of four pre-opening hotels in various designations such as a room attendant, a team leader, an assistant housekeeping manager and an Executive Housekeeper has not only shaped my career but also has propelled it forward.
The best part of your job
The best parts of my job is meeting guests and getting to know them better, to see them have a great experience with their families during their very well deserved holiday. To see a motivated team do their best. My day becomes better when the team achieves 99% consistently in overall cleanliness and guest satisfaction in Medallia.
The most challenging aspect in your job
Consistently maintaining high quality service levels and adding special touches to guest rooms within a limited budget is a challenge. Also, working with contract work force who speak and understand limited English and come with little or no experience in housekeeping, let alone having an understanding of luxury is a mammoth task.
Why is sustainability important?
All the efforts we make must be directed towards achieving sustainability, a concept which is under strong focus for the purpose of protecting our environment for our future generations. In fact we have recently started a pilot project where we have started placing large format dispensers in our guest rooms. This will help reduce single use plastic bottles by 40% in the future.
Slowly but steadily, there is a shift in the thought process about how and what we can do to save the environment. I can only see it getting better. Personally as well, I pay close attention to plastic packaging and avoid single-use plastic products.
Exclusive housekeeping practices you follow
• Close follow up with planned, preventive maintenance ensuring the quality is being delivered by the engineering team after which we do deep cleaning of guest rooms and make them ready for sale.
• We pay utmost attention to guest preference notes where we find out likes and dislikes of the guest and prepare their room accordingly when they visit us again. This is one of the ways we personalize their stay and them feel at home.
Cleaning practices at your hotel
• We follow a cleaning and maintenance frequency schedule for both guest rooms and public areas. Any area of challenge is tackled by inviting professional companies to offer solutions to fix the problems.
• We follow a stringent practice of cleaning frequently touched surfaces in public areas and guest rooms with an antibacterial/ antiviral wipes.
• We use a “green cleaning system” by machines operated using minimum electricity and zero chemical such as Hyla cleaning system and steam cleaning machines.
The latest products (chemicals & equipment) in use
• A hand held glass cleaning equipment with microfiber. It works for us because we don’t have very high level glass surface.
• Latest chemical that we are using is Oxyvir from Diversey, which is used on frequently touched surfaces.
Latest technologies that transform cleaning
• Digital room inspection system – where the room inspection template is created for easy inspection with pictures.
• Battery operated cleaning systems to reduce electricity consumption which in turn emits less noise and is safe to use for the end user.
• Steam cleaning system which cleans very effectively without having to use chemicals.
• Innovative ways to remove cigarette smell from guest rooms.
• Innovative ways of carpet cleaning tool and equipment. Since our guest rooms have beige color carpet a lot of time goes to spot clean it. If there is a wine or other beverage stains, it takes us very long to clean it.
• Hands free radio for supervisors to communicate and to reduce telephone call expenses.
The future of housekeeping
The future is all about productivity, profitability and sustainability. With a strong focus on the environment, everyone is working towards being plastic free which is a great sign. Also, the focus may shift to gather resources which are ethically sourced and helping the communities in some way.
Involvement of housekeeping professionals when constructing a new hotel to ensure the design is not only linearly or solely on the basis of aesthetic and functionality; on the contrary, the design should be in consideration with all aspects of the guests experience as well as easily maintained areas without having housekeeping team to spend extra time and effort for years to come. This will positively impact the hotel operations and achieve a unique and holistic result.