Ute Knott, Executive Housekeeper, Ajman Hotel
A lover of countries and cultures, Ute Knott pursued a career in hospitality because it presented diversity instead of monotony. She started off her career in a small hotel in the north of Germany and grew to become the Executive Housekeeper Ajman Hotel (Managed by Blazon Hotels). She shares her interesting experiences and journey with Clean Middle East.
I am from Germany, and I have been living in the UAE with my family since 2005. I’ve wanted to travel and explore other countries and cultures since I was a child.
I chose hospitality because it is diverse and involves many different tasks and responsibilities. So, I started off my career in hospitality with a threeyear apprenticeship in Hotel Management in a small hotel in the north of Germany. During this time, I was trained in all departments of a hotel. My goal was to live in a bigger city and to work in a large, luxury hotel. My first position was Assistant Housekeeper in the Renaissance Hotel in Cologne in 1991. There, I learnt that housekeeping is one of the most important departments in the hotel. Consistency in providing the highest possible standards of cleanliness in guest rooms and public areas is one of the most important responsibilities of the department.
How have you grown since then?
My choice to start in housekeeping was to gain more experience in a larger housekeeping operation. After three years in my first position and after one promotion, I accepted my first role as Executive Housekeeper in a pre-opening Hotel in Berlin with the Ramada Renaissance Group. I have worked with the group, which became part of Marriott International in the late '90s in Germany and Spain. In 2003, I moved to Kuwait with IHG, which was my first experience in the Middle East. And, since 2018, I have been working with the Ajman Hotel - a resort hotel managed by Blazon Hotels.
Your work and profile at your current establishment
I have been working with the Ajman Hotel managed by Blazon Hotels since 2018. I am responsible for the Housekeeping and Laundry operations. The property is a beautiful 5-star hotel with 182 rooms and suites; a large beach, various F&B outlets, Bowling alley, tennis court, and stunning views on the Arabian Gulf. This hotel was the first fivestar hotel in Ajman and managed by Blazon Hotels.
What drives you and your career?
People and places; daily interactions with guests and employees; a motivated, successful, and positive team who is willing to achieve, learn, and become stronger.
An accomplishment that shaped your career
I would say my first hotel pre-opening in Germany was definitely the one that shaped my career. It was my first position as Executive Housekeeper. The new responsibilities plus the achievement of a successful hotel opening has been a very positive learning experience.
The best part of your job
The best part of my job is working with people from different cultures and backgrounds, being able to share my experience, and develop future talents. Also, I enjoy the interactions with guests and employees immensely.
The most challenging aspect in your job
I believe manning and restricted budgets sometimes put a strain on the housekeeping department. Guests and owner expectations are sometimes higher and resources are less, which can be challenging at times.
Why is sustainability so important to you?
From the product selections to the work practices, sustainability has to be an important aspect for everyone in their day-today work and private lives and habits. Guests do appreciate environmental initiatives, and we are giving them the choice to have their linen and towels changed daily if they wish to reuse them. We also make sure that employees are trained in how to use chemicals correctly and how they can save water and electricity when they are performing their tasks.
Housekeeping practices you follow
Our team is trained to engage with the guests and deliver personalized service. Practices have changed since the Covid-19 crisis, and we have to adhere to social distancing and implement disinfecting agents in our cleaning routines. Interaction with guests have changed with the social distancing.
Cleaning practices at your hotel
We have a very strong focus on hygiene, and we are using colorcoded microfiber dusters to avoid cross-contamination. Our employees are regularly trained in day-to-day tasks on how to deal with different scenarios like guest requests or how to use the right body language. Every employee in the department has to be aware that they are part of the image and reputation of the hotel.
The latest products (chemicals & equipment) that are in use
We use cost-efficient and excellent quality chemicals for our rooms and public areas, and the results are great! We are also planning to implement steam cleaners for disinfection and deep cleaning. It is important to be open to new products and practises to improve the quality and work efficiency.
Training provided to the cleaning staff
We provide daily basic training sessions on housekeeping tasks and procedures for attendants and supervisors. We also provide access to an online training platform where employees can learn through their mobile devices. In housekeeping, we have to focus on consistent service to create a memorable guest experience and provide the highest level of cleanliness. Training and supervision are very crucial and keeping employees engaged to improve performance and results.
Innovations that make your cleaning processes easier We use Microfibre flat mops for wet floor cleaning in rooms and public areas to improve cleaning results and make the cleaning process easier. Our vacuum cleaners are noise reduced and perfect for use in guest rooms.
I believe that working in hospitality has become more challenging since competition has grown and guests have a lot of tools to compare every option before they book a stay. There will always be a demand for hotels but especially in UAE, room rates are a big challenge. I think it is becoming more and more important to hire people with the right attitude, who love their jobs and are ready to go the extra mile. We need to develop people not only based on their skills but on emotional intelligence as well.
How you think the COVID-19 pandemic should be dealt with (in terms of housekeeping)
We are in the middle of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and have implemented all precautionary requirements in our property. Face masks and gloves are a standard now for our employees. We have implemented hand sanitizer stations and disinfectants for our routine cleaning in guest rooms and public areas plus regular fogging of disinfectants.
Teamwork and communication have become more important than ever and are vital for everyone to deal with this crisis. Time will show us how long this new situation will last, we are optimistic and hope that slowly, the restrictions for tourism will be eased and people will start to travel again. The safety of our guests and employees are our first priority.