Here is our third member of the Know-How Squad to be featured. Let us introduce you to:
Barbara Sheridan, Executive Head Housekeeper at Thistle Marble Arch
Barbara has been the Executive Head Housekeeper at Thistle Marble Arch for the last 18 years.
Thistle Marble Arch has 692 bedrooms, which require over 100 members of housekeeping staff. Barbara’s job is to manage this large housekeeping force and ensure the guests are happy with the state of their rooms.
Barbara believes that the housekeeping team members are the unsung heroes of any hotel but she sings the praises of her own team, and in return the excellent calibre of staff she has makes her life a lot easier.
In her career, Barbara has been the very proud recipient of two major awards: the first one was for customer care with ‘Wish for a Star’ and the second one, which was awarded to her last year, was the Hotel Catey Award for Head Housekeeper of the year 2010.
Our questions for Barbara:
Who would be your dream hotel guest and why?
I would probably choose any member of the Royal family, as I am a real Royal enthusiast.
What have been the most interesting items you’ve found while doing the housekeeping?
I’ve found a lot of random things like false teeth, a wedding dress, unlimited credit cards, £10,000 cash and some unmentionables – which you can use your imagination for!
What are some of the daily challenges you are faced with?
Challenges are always there but I try to overcome them. Quite regularly, there are floods in bedrooms and the carpets get soaked because some people leave the water in their bath running and leave the room. At other times, the lights aren’t working and guests sit in the dark. These are quite simple everyday challenges but you have to deal with them nonetheless.
Which tasks are part of your daily routine as an Executive Head Housekeeper?
One of the first things I do on a daily basis is to ensure that all maids have keys and enough equipment for the day. I must also ensure that everybody is in place and the VIP rooms are ready so that the day goes by smoothly. Then there is the daily Head of Departments meeting, which I have to attend. Generally, I always try to make a difference to keep the staff and the guests happy.
What do you love most about your job?
My favourite part of my job is meeting the guests and talking to them. I love communicating with people and we have guests from all around the world. It’s easy to meet them in the public area or in the lift and they’re always willing to share an interesting story with you or ask you some questions about the area. I love giving recommendations to the tourists.
What is the most memorable moment you have experienced in your career?
Oh, there have been about a million memorable moments… The time I met the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince Philip was definitely one of the most exciting moments in my life. Shaking hands with prince Charles was a wonderful experience. I’ve always wanted to meet him as he was born on my birthday, November 14th.
Which skills are most important for the job of a housekeeper?
The most important skill is to be observant to every detail. You have to train yourself to be observant and notice small things like whether the skirting boards are dusty, whether there’s a stain on the towel, a hole in the sheet. Guests will inevitably see it and your last look is the guest’s first look at the room. So as you go to close the door, look at the room as if you were a guest looking at it for the first time.
My top tips for making a perfectly neat bed:
- Stand at the bottom of the bed, open out the sheet and lay the sheet flat onto the mattress ensuring the iron fold is positioned down the centre and the sheet is even on all sides.
- Allow the sheet an 8 inch overhang at the top of the bed and sufficient even overhang on all sides of the bed to aide tucking in.
- Shake the duvet so that it lies flat onto the bed. Ensure that it is even on all sides and the edge of the duvet is in line with the head of the bed.
- Ensure the pillow fits into the corners of the pillowcase to ensure it sits upright on the bed.
- Turn the mattress at regular intervals.
Inspired by our questions for Barbara, you might want to ask her some questions yourself. Please feel free to post your questions in the comments box and we’ll have Barbara answer them for you! Enjoy and fire away.
For other profiles and more info, visit our Thistle Website.