Working in a diverse culture, learning from each individual, developing the talent, sharing knowledge and expertise and creating a wow experience and providing the genuine care and comfort for internal and external guests are the best parts of my job.
- Syed Saleemuddin, Director of Housekeeping, The Ritz Carlton, Jeddah
Syed Saleemuddin is a flexible and family oriented person from the Indian city of Hyderabad. Currently working at The Ritz Carlton Jeddah as Director of Housekeeping, his expertise is in rooms operation (housekeeping, laundry front office, guest relation and concierge). He is passionate about learning new things, traveling, innovating, interacting with people and at the same time, he likes tidiness. Since childhood, he was particular about hygiene and loved to interact with people to make friends. Let’s take a look at his journey.
Your experience and years in the industry
My passion landed me in hospitality. I gained my first experience in 2004 from One & Only Royal Mirage in the housekeeping department and worked in different roles from public area to coordinator/under Training Supervisors. In 2006 I was selected to be part of Sharq Village & Spa (managed by The Ritz Carlton) pre- opening team in housekeeping and it gave me a chance to acquire more in depth knowledge and enhance my skills as a pre-opening team member. In 2007 I moved to Dubai with Ritz Carlton as I wanted to learn about front division. I was selected to work as a front desk agent and worked for 3 years in different areas in rooms i.e front desk agent ,night audit and concierge ,club lounge agent and MOD. In 2010 I moved to Saudi Arabia and accepted my first management role as an Assistant Executive Housekeeper in Aramas Hotel (Taiba Group) to manage 270 rooms in the Holy City Madinah Al Munawara.
After a year I moved to the capital city of Saudi Arabia Riyadh when the first Ritz Carlton opened and I started to work as the Assistant Housekeeping Manager to manage the larger operations with 493 rooms with 161 ladies and gentlemen and developed my skills. In 2016 I joined Jeddah Ritz Carlton as a task force to assist for GCC Events and later in 2017 moved to The Ritz Carlton Jeddah as an Assistant Director of Housekeeping to manage 224 beautiful rooms with 75 Ladies & Gentleman. In 2019, I was promoted as the Director of Housekeeping, still a part of Ritz Carlton Jeddah.
What drives you and your career?
People, rejuvenation of the work environment, challenges, developing and empowering the team, celebrating the achievement and creating legendary experiences for internal and external guests. I pay attention to the detail of my task and I am fortunate enough to be selected as a quality assurance team in most of my career that’s the opportunity drives me to leadmany projects.
An accomplishment that shaped your career.
All my experience has helped me shape my career. I’ve had immense support from family, friends and co-workers and special support from my mentors who empowered me to excel in my abilities to work as a pre-opening team member, pre-opening trainer and additional responsibilities.
The best part of your job
Working in a diverse culture, learning from each individual, developing the talent, sharing knowledge and expertise and creating a wow experience and providing the genuine care and comfort for internal and external guests is the best part of my job.
The most challenging aspect of your job
Sometimes, we have to manage with limited resources and vendors cannot meet the deadlines. This becomes a challenge for housekeeping. It is also a challenge to engage and train external workforce. Managing business budgets and skilled manning especially during the pandemic is a challenge but the support from the management to drive the cleanliness culture in the hotel is great.
Why is sustainability so important to you?
To improve the quality of your life, protect and preserve the natural resources for upcoming or future generations, sustainability is important. It helps to save many natural resources like water energy and climate. In my current Property Ritz Carlton Jeddah, I have installed a box where all our ladies and gentlemen drop the clothes which they don’t need and our laundry team prepares them by separate wash, press and pack them before dropping to charity organizations so this is like giving back to the community.
We should also encourage the alternate day change of linen and terry, use eco-friendly products whenever possible which will benefit to save natural resources like water and energy. I believe more awareness and training will help to protect natural resources. In the long term it will benefit not only the hotel but also the communities.
Your work and profile at your current establishment
As a Director of Housekeeping at The Ritz Carlton Jeddah which includes 224 beautiful rooms, 03 Outlets, 17 meeting rooms, 02 Luxury Ballroom and a pressroom, I am responsible for Housekeeping and Laundry operations. And also I am responsible for the most important resource in our service commitment to our guest which is our employee that we call The Ladies and Gentlemen of the Ritz Carlton, to provide the team which instills wellbeing, tools, resources, enhance and develop the skills of the team to deliver the uncompromising highest levels of cleanliness, genuine care and comfort to our internal and external guests.
Housekeeping practices you follow
We have a well-trained housekeeping team to build a strong relationship and to create guest for life and we always navigate to improve and provide wow experience to our guest by anticipating expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guest. We also ensure our future little guests are also engaged and our team always surprise them with towel art and gifts.
We take pride and follow all COVID-19 protocols (wearing mask, gloves, social distancing and using the right chemicals to sanitize all the required areas or surfaces).
We provide all arrival in rooms including amenities anti-bacterial wipes. We have (Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kit in case of emergency. This includes a water soluble bag for laundry, gloves, mask, face shield and full surgical gown. There is always a guest opportunity from time to time and we use this opportunity to improve our services and products.
Cleaning practices at your hotel
To create a safe and accident free environment, we enhanced our cleaning practices during the pandemic.
All rooms, high touch surfaces or frequent use areas during service, whether vacant or occupied, are sanitized with certified chemicals.
In the public spaces, the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting increased and also aligned with WHO and the Local Authority Guidelines including elevators, washrooms doors handles and the vanity counter. We have channeled best practice in our hotel e.g. covering with adhesive transparent sheet in all arrival rooms, the AC thermostat, electrical switches, telephone dial pad, TV remote control, electronic safe keypad and flush buttons in the washroom.
We use the electrostatic sprayer as a part of our Marriott’s commitment to the clean program to disinfect the hard surface. We have increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting the Heart of the House and Back of the House. We have trained the team with the help of our partner chemical provider ECOLAB as to how to use chemicals effectively and efficiently. We use proper colour coded duster to avoid the cross contamination.
The latest products in use
We are committed to providing a safe environment according to WHO and local authority standards to disinfect the hotel hard surfaces we use the chemicals 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 are using Restor Air that is effective against viruses and to deodorize.
The latest technologies in use
Electrostatic spray for large and small space (the handheld and backpack sprayer) are introduced. UV- C lights are also used to sanitize the key cards, car keys and pens.
Training provided to the cleaning staff
The Training is provided from joining day with 2 days comprehensive orientation regarding the company philosophy and different department roles in a hotel with property tour from the division and department heads and later it followed with department training called Day 21 where the ladies and gentlemen will share his/ her experience and suggestion.
Daily Lineups:- We use this tool to educate and train our ladies and gentlemen. We guide them how to improve the services or wow the guests and also we provide options on how to handle the situations and we highlight our team efforts and outstanding performers which will motivate the team who performs daily physically on floor and public area.
We share the experiences to learn and grow from each individual. We have given access to online training for all our ladies and gentlemen where they have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow. We involved them in planning of work and in training to demonstrate their expertise.
We also use the outsources partners like ECOLAB to train our our workforce and advise the new market requirement (chemicals or equipment’s)
Daily on job training to ensure we are in line with covid 19 protocol without compromising the quality and standards.
Innovations that will help in your cleaning processes
I would vouch for effective battery operated vacuums, foam or liquid base chemicals for instant cleaning and quality results specially for carpets, sofa and curtains, noiseless equipment like vacuum, carpet shampoo machine or extractor.
Technology will also help to save paper, which in turn contributes to sustainability.
The future of the cleaning industry
The future of the cleaning industry is more about sustainability as most of the hospitality industry is taking a lead to go green, plastic free or save energy by using LED and adopting the new technology to reduce the cost and work effectively and efficiently.
The cleaning industry's future is more about providing professional cleaning with eco-friendly chemicals and tools. With the current situation hygiene and sanitization is a requirement of all sectors, not only hotels.
How you think the COVID-19 pandemic should be dealt with
To handle the COVID- 19 in terms of housekeeping:-
- We have to empower the workforce with proper tools, equipment and training.
- Provide schedules online training as technology is booming and use of mobile is common.
- Making more awareness regarding the personal hygiene and surrounding cleanliness.
- All new hires should be trained how to maintain the cleanliness and use of right sanitizer and disinfectant.
- Adopt the best practice to keep everyone safe.
- Frequency of cleaning and disinfecting the area must be increase and scheduled and monitored.
- Housekeeping should take a lead to provide uncompromising levels of cleanliness and create a safe and accident-free environment.