As a child, she loved visiting and experiencing different hotels. With time, she grew passionate about creating beautiful experiences for people. Having spent 15 years in the hospitality industry, Carla Beaino, Director of Housekeeping at The Palms Beach Hotel & Spa, Kuwait, shares her experiences with Clean Middle East.
I am Lebanese with local, Africa and GCC hospitality background experience. I’ve always loved the experience of being in a hotel! I guess I’ve loved that since I was a child. And that’s why, when I grew up, I was inspired to be part of that world and give others the same beautiful experience of hospitality. I started my career in 2004 as a supervisor. I was rewarded for the hard work and the high level of consistency and efficiency, which led to promotions and the prestige of being a training ambassador with Intercontinental hotels. Over the years, as my work grew, so did I, till I became the Director of Housekeeping. Moreover, I have an eye for interior design and detail and attention, and was able to create my own taste and style with decor, fabrics for the furniture and curtains of rooms and public areas, so i always put my touch and make it a chic, cosy space for our customers.
Your experience and years in the industry
In the past 15 years, I have been lucky to be employed in a number of positions and haved moved to many international chains like Intercontinental Hotels where I started as a supervisor and was part of the IClean Program implementation. Because of this, I was promoted to the positions of Senior Supervisor and Assistant Executive Housekeeper in charge of the Housekeeping and Laundry department. Then, I wanted to challenge myself further and grab new opportunities. So, I worked in the pre-opening teams of three local and international hotels as the Executive Housekeeper. I had the chance, then, to move to Africa to work with Kempinski Hotels in Djibouti as the Assistant Executive Housekeeper in-charge and Corinthia Hotels Sudan as the Executive Housekeeper. Then I moved back to Bahrain to work with Reef Resort as Executive Housekeeper. Recently, I joined The Palms Beach Hotel & Spa Kuwait as Director of Housekeeping.
How did you get into hospitality, and how have you grown since then?
As a person, I love hosting guests, friends and family in my home. I felt that the hospitality industry (particularly the rooms division) would be the place where I would have the feeling of and the opportunity to be ‘la maîtresse de maison’, welcoming guests and ensuring everything around them was comfortable. When I started to lose focus and definitely was not learning anymore, I knew I was ready for a change. Having the persistence of going from one opportunity to another and climbing through the ranks is what matters.
What drives you and your career?
Having a plan! My plan was to move out of Lebanon, to learn innovation, creativity and how to double the fun. Goal setting also helped me a lot. My goal is to persevere and become Director of Rooms, and the most important thing is having a passion for the industry, the customers and colleagues.
An accomplishment that shaped your career
During this journey, I would say that my pre-opening experience definitely helped me shape my career. When building a department, you see it from scratch and learn a lot. However, I have to say my real accomplishment is that I have always had the passion to keep my work consistent.
The best part of your job
I thoroughly enjoy the intensity of openings; what I like is the choreic nature, the unpredictable reliability of an opening; everything that you anticipate does not happen, everything you do not anticipate will happen, but above all, it's a wonderful human adventure and that I think is definitely the aspect that I like most. Retaining, hiring, training, developing and creating a team with a strong bond and a common goal is something quite unique and something that I really enjoy doing.
The most challenging aspect in your job
I have to admit the rooms division needs ladies and gentlemen who are always very creative and thinking out of the box. It’s easier when you work on it individually, but when it comes to a team, it takes more creativity to run; it’s challenging to create the excitement and make them understand the service, standards, policies and procedures and the most important guest privacy.
Why is sustainability so important to you?
For me, sustainability is one of the most important issues currently facing our world. The hospitality sector has historically had a dramatic environmental impact through many factors. I train my staff in implementing an eco-friendly system implemented daily while using chemicals, products and by saving energy. I empower the team by creating a green council and encouraging team members to champion certain practices. This also provides employees with an opportunity to be creative and lead on certain initiatives, which can promote a sense of loyalty to the business. Moreover, we educate our customers on the benefits of sustainability practices through cards available inside their rooms asking them for their support.
Housekeeping plays a vital role in shaping my hotel’s reputation, but this pathway to success starts within the team. My favorite housekeeping practices are maintaining quality standards, making the staff feel valued, making training a priority, providing checklists and resources and conducting quality control inspections at all times.
Cleaning practices at your hotel
I have implemented new cleaning and sanitation protocols - a cleaning program highlighting new disinfecting and sterilizing procedures with new steam and fogging machines for deep clean. Our priority is keeping guests and employees safe and following the rules outlined by the World Health Organization. We have increased the quantity of cleaning tools, and we are using color-coded microfiber dusters as we’re keen on maintaining hygiene. Our team is also trained on building trust within the customers.
The latest technologies
I have started to adopt new technologies recently, especially with the pandemic. I convinced my management to purchase several machines for vacuuming the bed mattress as well as for sanitizing the rooms and related areas as they can reduce the time needed to complete processes, simplify operations and free up employees’ time for more important tasks that need manual care.
Training provided to the cleaning staff On-the-job training regarding disinfectants, cleaning and safety rules during this pandemic are at the top of our daily allocation. Housekeepers are on the front lines of fighting this global pandemic as they are responsible for deep cleaning, disinfecting and scrubbing the surfaces and areas that are hosts of potentially dangerous germs and viruses. So, daily training activities are our priority.
Challenges you have faced
I have faced few challenges recently during the pandemic. These include maintaining hotel reputation and making sure a positive experience creates loyalty and repeat customers. Health and safety also remains a concern since housekeeping is an area where members of staff are performing physical tasks continuously.
What kind of innovations do you think will help in your cleaning processes?
The rise of advanced technology is a good thing for my cleaning process because it expedites all the tasks, especially during peak times.
How do you think the COVID-19 pandemic should be dealt with?
Following MOH precautionary instructions during the covid-19 pandemic, we have implemented the requirements of wearing face masks and gloves, and also adhered to social distancing. We have increased deep cleaning efforts, sanitising the room using the steam machine on 160 degrees which kills the germs and viruses on curtains, furniture floor and surfaces. In addition to that, we carry out sanitisation using a fogging hand machine, and we provide a sanitizer kit for the guest which contains a face mask, gloves and sanitizer.