Sreekanth Vanga, Executive Housekeeper, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai.
“One of the most important things that drives me every day is to keep growing and learning new things.”
Sreekanth Vanga, Executive Housekeeper, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai.Born and brought up in South India, Sreekanth Vanga is a people’s person. This personality trait makes him an ideal housekeeper who values his team as much as he values his guests. He values teamwork as much as he values guest experience. Sreekanth has been in the industry for 15 years, and this month, he spoke to Clean Middle East in an exclusive interview.
I was born and brought up in the south of India in a city called Hyderabad, where I received my hospitality training, and I am currently working at The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai since 2018 as the Executive Housekeeper. As a people’s person, I strongly believe in teamwork and am also constantly looking for ways to improve the cleaning processes whilst enhancing the guest experience. Working in a 294-room resort and managing a team of 52 in-house and 18 outsourced staff members, I often work on a tight schedule; however, excelling under pressure and delivering results is my strength.
Your experience and years in the industry
After my training in hospitality, I started my career in 2006 in one of the leading chains in India and was very fortunate to be selected for a position in the UAE in room operations, later in 2007. Over the next decade, I was associated with some of the most prominent organizations in the industry including Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi and the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai. I now oversee the housekeeping operations at the iconic beach-side resort as part of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in Dubai.
What drives you and your career
One of the most important things that drives me every day is to keep growing and learning new things. At the same time, I take deep interest in training and developing my team members to help them realize their full potential and advance in their careers. Last, but not the least, I like to keep challenging my team and myself every single day, but also celebrating minor successes as a team keeps me motivated.
An accomplishment that shaped your career
Being part of the pre-opening teams of prominent hotels such as the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, where I worked with my mentors Subhojit Banerjee and Sajan Pallipurath helped me to showcase my talent. Facilitating the re-opening of The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai in July 2020 after a temporary closure due to COVID-19, and ensuring that all the safety and cleanliness guidelines are satisfactorily met for our guests, has been another accomplishment that I am proud of.
The best part of your job
Meeting and interacting with guests from all across the world makes me really happy, especially when my team and I are able to exceed their expectations and craft memorable moments. I also enjoy working with my colleagues, who come from diverse nations and learning more about their cultures and lives.
The most challenging aspect of your job
Restrictions on manning and managing budgets sometimes add a strain on the housekeeping operations. Over the past 18 months, in an ever-changing and evolving environment, especially when it comes to cleanliness and sanitization standards, it is sometimes challenging to keep up with.
Why is sustainability so important to you?
At The Ritz-Carlton, we have built a legacy of extraordinary service. This tradition extends into our Community Footprints program and inspires us to impact the lives of others. Every contribution we make is an opportunity to leave an imprint on our communities. It is through this collection of imprints that we can make a meaningful difference.
Each one of us has the responsibility to support and protect our environment. Our guests really appreciate it when we undertake any small initiative to be more sustainable. For example, we give them a choice to not have their linen and towels be changed daily if they wish to reuse them. We also train our ladies and gentlemen on the correct usage of chemicals, recycling and segregating waste to effectively manage this. We recently donated unused linen to stray dog centres and charitable organizations.
Providing a safer environment for our guests and associates is a top priority. In keeping with Marriott's Commitment to Clean, since the pandemic, we have made several enhancements to our cleaning practices throughout our property and in guest rooms. These include:
- Increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfection, particularly in public areas with high traffic including restrooms, elevators, and room keys as well as providing more hand sanitizing stations.
- Staff members wear face masks and gloves based on the activities they are performing and based on direction by the local authorities.
- Implemented guidelines on chemicals and equipment to be used that are effective against viruses.
- Cleaning and disinfecting protocols are in place to sanitize rooms after guests depart and before the next guest arrives.
- Increased frequency of cleaning in the ‘Back of House', where hotel employees work behind the scenes.
- Increased associate health, safety and knowledge efforts, including hand hygiene protocols and specific COVID-19 related training.
- Every guest room is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to guest’s arrival.
Four steps that we focus on consistently are offering a warm welcome, anticipating and fulfilling each guest's need, engaging with guests during their stay and offering a fond farewell.
The latest products (chemicals & equipment) that are in use
Owing to the current situation, we are using electrostatic sprayers for disinfection. We use Hyla machines (Dry steam cleaners and EST Air and surface cleaner) to deep clean our guest rooms and outlets. As part of the guest amenity, we have also included antibacterial wet wipes in all the guest rooms.
Training provided to the cleaning staff
Whenever an associate joins us in housekeeping, we have an in-depth three-day orientation program where they learn more about the brand, as well as about the functioning of all the departments in the hotel. After that, we provide on-the-job training as well as encourage associates to complete learning sessions online to enhance their skills. Every day, we conduct line-ups and include basic training as refreshers on housekeeping tasks and procedures. Interactive role-plays also support our team members to create ‘wow’ stories for our guests. Every quarter, we invite the TASKI and Ecolab representatives to visit the property to train associates on the usage of equipment and chemicals, respectively.
How you think the COVID-19 pandemic should be dealt with (in terms of housekeeping)
We take the standards for hygiene and cleanliness very seriously. Our leadership team has been closely monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) statements regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), and we are following the guidelines from these agencies and the local health departments on appropriate hygiene standards to protect our guests and associates.