CRU in Conversation - Aileen Huelgas of London EDITION
International Housekeeping Week falls annually every second full week of September, celebrating the hardworking staff who work behind the scenes to ensure cleanliness and quality in establishments we all know and love - our homes, restaurants, bars, hotels and more.
We sat down with our friend Aileen Del Rosario Huelgas, the Housekeeping Manager of The London EDITION, who we proudly support with their in-room coffee offering. She talked us through some of the challenges the hospitality sector, and housekeeping in particular, have faced during and after the pandemic, as well as some highlights of her career and what it takes to make a quality housekeeper.
Why did you choose to go into the hospitality sector, and how did that lead to the role of Housekeeping Manager at London EDITION?
Before finding my passion for hospitality I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Medical Technology in the Philippines. I found my calling in hospitality in Barcelona, Spain and worked there for 12 years before relocating to London and became part of The London EDITION’s pre-opening team in 2013.
To gain more knowledge in hospitality I worked in different hotel chains like Four Seasons Ten Trinity, Marriott Park Lane, InterContinental The O2, InterContinental Park Lane, and W London. I also joined the task force pre-opening at the W Residences Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. Which I guess led me back to The London EDITION for the Housekeeping Manager position.
What do you love most about your job?
I love working with people, learning different culture and background, giving them motivation no matter how hard and heavy the workload is, and helping them grow and build a solid team that takes care of each other and work together to achieve the goal. I always look at the attitude and outlook in life rather that the expertise and skills, as for me these can be taught/trained but I can’t change a person’s attitude and perspective in life.
Covid undeniably had a devastating effect on industries around the world, maybe most notably the hospitality industry. How did covid impact your role, and what have the biggest challenges been?
I guess all businesses and individuals alike have been affected by the covid crisis, but mostly a massive impact in hospitality. Not to mention it happened at the same time Brexit happened. Which led to hospitality sector having challenges in losing people and rehiring back. Most of them went home, everyone wanted to spend time with the family. Majority couldn’t come back, and some tried their luck in other places/countries afar from London.
How has the ‘bounce-back’ from covid been for your team & the housekeeping sector in general? What changes have happened overall?
For those very few left, the challenges have been to hold on to each other, covering 3 roles instead of one, and surviving the re-opening post pandemic. As mentioned, all sectors have been affected. Even company providers have been affected by short staff, and the Brexit situation led to delayed deliveries and prolonged lead times. Struggle in supply production, shortage of stock, and even customs fees have been implemented which prolong the release of goods hence causing more delays. In most cases, the urgent solution, and can be a long term solution, is to find a local provider who can supply rather than stick to the regular providers overseas.
In your opinion, what are the top qualities of a great housekeeper?
Leadership, Resilience, Time Management, Attention to details, and “Ears” for people.
How important are events like International Housekeeping Week for your sector?
All events are important as they give the people time to relax and be themselves out of job roles, but International Housekeeping Week is mainly the most as it gives more motivation and importance to the team, not to mention it is specifically for the department. The team feel appreciated not only on a daily basis but focused on this entire week.
What has been the highlight of your housekeeping career?
Meeting and knowing different types of people, with different background, title, personality, knowledge, expertise, story. I learn from them everyday. And when I bump with them again they would recognise me, smile at me, remember me, chat with me, instead of ignoring me. That means I treated them well and I did something right.