“We as hoteliers can make so many positive changes in the world when it comes to sustainability.”
Nithya Mehrotra, Executive Housekeeper, Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah
Nithya Mehrotra holds the position of Executive Housekeeper at the soon to be opened Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah Hotel. A certified coach & mentor, she leads a team of more than 90 people in the Housekeeping & Laundry department, taking care of 608 rooms ranging from 40 sqm to 390 sqm, all with balconies featuring sea views of Ain Dubai and the Dubai Marina skyline.
Nithya started her hospitality journey way back in 2000 after completing her Hotel Management in Institute of Hotel Management & Catering Technology, India. She began her career with the Leela Kempinski, Mumbai, India as a Hotel Operational Trainee in Housekeeping.
After managing some of the finest Kempinski hotels in India, she moved on to expand her career in the UAE in 2004, to support the pre-opening of the prestigious Emirates Palace Kempinski Hotel in Abu Dhabi. After her long association with Kempinski Hotels, Rotana Hotels & Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts, Mehrotra joined the pre-opening team of Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah.
Nithya is a proud recipient of the Housekeeper of the Year Award at the Hotelier Middle East Awards in 2018 and was the runner up for the Best Housekeeper category at the MECHF Awards in 2018.
Let’s take a look at her journey.
Just as I completed my schooling, professional courses started gaining momentum in India. As an extrovert, I loved social outings and interacting with new people. Hence, I was all prepared to go against my father’s will of me becoming a doctor and opted for a hotel management course. After completing my hotel management course, I joined Leela Kempinski, Mumbai as a hotel operational, and from there onwards, there was no looking back. I am a self-motivated person, and this added to my success in this very demanding industry and profession.
Drive and passion
I believe that what you truly want should be deep within you. So, motivation should come from within, not externally. It is the feeling of ownership, the feeling of pride, recognition and the sense of accomplishment that must drive you more. As Stephen Covey rightly said, “Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.”
I cherish each and every task I have completed successfully. There is always a sense of pride when you achieve your targets. Especially if there were hurdles and challenges faced. The pre opening of Kempinski Hotel Mall of The Emirates is one such accomplishment. I was promoted as the Assistant Executive Housekeeper for the pre-opening of this hotel. Just a month prior to the opening of the hotel, the Executive Housekeeper left the company. My first role as an assistant and the pressure of successfully opening the hotel was indeed overwhelming. I had a strong management team who supported me, and my colleagues stood by me through this process. We successfully launched the hotel, and we got a new Executive Housekeeper, Feryal Haddon on board - a great mentor and a great housekeeper who ensured that I learned whatever I missed or went wrong during the pre opening phase.
I am confident that the successful opening of Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah, will be definitely an added feather on my cap, which I am going to cherish for a long time!
The best part of your job
A housekeeper’s job is very challenging; hence it is important that you really enjoy what you are doing. I enjoy both the creative side and the day-to-day operational side. The creative side includes the opportunities you get to do something different on special occasions in your hotel for your guests. And many times, guests appreciate these special moments we create for them. On the operational side, I have trained myself over the years to pay attention to the smallest detail. To enter a room and assess that everything is in the right place and the room is cleaned to the highest standards. My team says that I have golden eyes!
Challenges you face
Housekeeping is one of the most demanding roles within a hotel. How we motivate our team and maintain consistency in performance is very crucial. You have to continuously come up with new ideas to keep the staff engaged and encourage them to exceed guest expectations and take pride in their jobs. If you ensure that the staff is dedicated towards their work and put their heart and soul towards it – then you are inevitably successful. Also, to train and ensure the consistent quality in such a fast-paced environment is a challenge.
Generally, the housekeeping department consists of the largest team in a hotel, and the operation area becomes very extensive to have an overview of the entire operations. It also gets complex and challenging at many times to handle the biggest team in the hotel. Motivating each colleague takes meticulous planning. In other words, I strongly believe if you can successfully manage a housekeeping team, you can manage any operational team in the hotel.
View on sustainability
We as hoteliers can make so many positive changes in the world when it comes to sustainability. Sustainability is a widely discussed subject lately, not because it’s something new but because it is gaining recognition as its importance is becoming clear to everyone. People will be only interested in sustainability if they are educated about it. The overall importance of sustainability needs to be effectively communicated. We all need to understand that it’s for our well-being and the well-being of the society we are a part of.
At Hilton Palm Dubai Jumeirah – we are opening the hotel as a Zero Plastic hotel, and keeping all measures in place to support and achieve Hiltons - Travel with Purpose Goals – to cut our environmental footprint, reduce water use, reduce waste output and many more.
Sustainability in the context of cleaning means making the right product choices and using chemicals in a responsible way. Opting for productive and sustainable equipment is also a part of sustainability.
Work profile at the current establishment
Being a part of the pre-opening team is quite different from a running Hotel. I have always enjoyed doing Hotel openings. To be an integral part of the Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah hotel’s pre-opening team, is a great honour.
There is a lot of planning required and you need to have a clear vision on how you want to layout and set up your department. From there on it goes to ordering, selection of items / products for your hotel, identifying & recruiting talents, Snagging of all areas. You will really need to look into all minute details as this will be the base structure of the Hotel operations.
The housekeeping Department it’s all about cleanliness. It is always rewarding to see that the hotel standards are well-maintained. We also have to ensure that the department is managed effectively, and we have to be flexible, allowing team members to work together and finish their tasks. Proper planning, scheduling/rostering and delegation is required for the execution of work. We have a clear breakdown already of our cleaning cycles, preventive routine, interim and restorative. Deep cleaning plans of rooms and public areas are already in place. There is also a plan in place to outsource façade and marble polishing services for the hotel.
Training is vital for any hotel operation and especially during the pre-opening stage. I usually prefer and have recruited freshers in the entry level positions & train them up to our required standards. Training is a constant and continuous process creatively implemented for all employees. Employees who are not adequately trained cannot be expected to perform the best. Each task requires some level of skill. A thorough training program based on task breakdown for each individual is mandatory. There is always a high expectation from our trainers, as we recruit more freshers than trained staff. Monthly training calendars are prepared for colleagues in accordance with the departmental training needs. For a new joiner, on-the-job training, shadowing, job swaps and class room training is planned. Also, Hilton manuals and training videos are updated on a regular basis, which helps to reinforce the proper methods of cleaning. We also have to constantly identify challenges and causes, resolving them and training our staff to enhance performance.
When it comes to people, Millennials are the next generation of managers in the workplace. They are simply motivated to seize what appears to be a better opportunity and a new experience, which can transform their lives. The hotel industry cannot be an exception in this trend. We need to effectively communicate the interesting aspects of managing the millennials. There is so much to learn in housekeeping, and hotels should attract the next generation of managers by putting enthusiasm, creativity and importance at the forefront when communicating job prospects.
When it comes to technology, the cleaning industry is constantly evolving. The latest multi-functional equipment is available in the market. With the pace of ongoing innovations and development in the cleaning market today, we have a better version of each model available. Software programs are used as tools to aid in cost saving measures and creating more efficiency pertaining to productivity. It all starts with training the staff to use them in the best possible way.
The housekeeping department has one motto to offer ‘a home away from home’ experience and also takes immense pride in maintaining the utmost standards of cleanliness and quality. The job of the housekeeping department is a well-rounded operation that tirelessly works round the clock. You have to be committed and willing to adapt in this department. Never underestimate your importance and contribution to the overall success of a hotel. Be proud of what you do to make a difference every day. Make sure you are leaning against the right wall; every step you take just gets you to the right place faster.