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Hotel Cateys 2015: Housekeeper of the Year

02 December 2015
Hotel Cateys 2015: Housekeeper of the Year

Sponsored by Tork

Margo van der Werf, Lancaster London

As accommodation services director, Margo van der Werf plays a huge part in maintaining 416 bedrooms, two restaurants, 16 conference suites and the lounge bar at Lancaster London.

Almost six years ago, the hotel selected her out of 80 interviewees to rescue the negative culture of the housekeeping department. She is responsible for a budget of more than £3m and runs a tight ship with a loyal team.

To maintain the hotel's high standards, an estimated 15 rooms are transformed per person each day. Service standards, payroll and rotas for her team - where job titles range from entry-level room attendants all the way up to accommodation managers - are all masterfully handled by van der Werf. She ensures staff members are flexible so employees can work across all departments.

She is a strong believer that her team members are the unrecognised stars behind Lancaster London's impressive operation, and she appreciates the importance of recognising their hard work and rewarding them accordingly.

The accommodation services team - a name which van der Werf introduced to rebrand housekeeping - have to deal with constant challenges amid the hotel's refurbishment, which involves the transition from a four-star to five-star hotel, yet many guests leave without realising a refurbishment is happening.

She has developed her own management programme, the Accommodation Services Management Academy. Through this, the team's culture has been transformed, with increased levels of empowerment, motivation and excitement about their working lives. Van der Werf regards the long-term development of the team to be of paramount importance, taking pride in supporting each and every member. Among other things she is the driving force behind the team's charity work and has a keen focus on corporate social responsibility.

Van der Werf leads by example and trusts that positivity must come from the top. She assures her team that everything can be overcome through persistence. Her colleagues consider her to be an inspiring role model.

One colleague, Elga, said: "Margo is very determined and focused and that motivates all the staff. Margo helps us set up goals and helps us achieve them."

What the judges said

"Margo showed wonderful leadership and exemplary passion - a great ambassador for the housekeeping industry."

Joanna Patek, executive housekeeper, Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5

"Margo has a passion for housekeeping, developing and inspiring her team to provide a five-star service."

Liz Smith-Mills, UK hotel consultant, LSM Consulting

"Margo seems to be a superwoman housekeeper. Her attention to detail, charity work and simply managing a very busy London hotel are all exemplary."

Rachael Park, executive head housekeeper, Rudding Park Hotel, Spa & Golf

Shortlisted

  • Stephanie Axon, Premier Inn, Wigan

  • Sebastian Dabrowski, Brown's Hotel, London

  • Debbie Thompson, Rosewood London

  • Margo van der Werf, Lancaster London

Past winners

  • 2014 Joanna Patek, Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5

  • 2013 David Smith, Park Plaza Riverbank and Plaza on the River, London

  • 2012 Lesley Skelt, Coworth Park, Ascot

  • 2011 Jude Gallacher, The Headland, Newquay

  • 2010 Barbara Sheridan, Thistle Marble Arch

  • 2009 Rachael Park, Rudding Park Hotel, Spa & Golf, Harrogate

  • 2008 Jean Roberts, Hotel du Vin

  • 2007 Minjoo Leutwiler-Lee, Sofitel London St James

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