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Hotel Cateys 2017: Housekeeper of the Year winner, Amelia Lawrence, the Grove

01 December 2017 by
Hotel Cateys 2017: Housekeeper of the Year winner, Amelia Lawrence, the Grove

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Amelia Lawrence has been executive housekeeper at the five-red-AA-star, 215- bedroom Grove hotel at Chandler's Cross in Hertfordshire for six years, and she has 30 years' experience in housekeeping in total.

She is responsible for a team of 65 employees and the cleanliness of all the internal public areas across the Grove's 300-acre estate, including all rooms and suites, public areas, laundry, 17 meeting and conference rooms, all the hotel offices, the night cleaning contract, the golf changing facilities, a luxury spa with 18 treatment rooms and six high-occupancy outlets.

Over the past year she has reduced staff turnover year-on-year by 10% by means of enhanced engagement and a tailored approach to training and development, and every member of the team has an individual training needs analysis and personal development plan. She also successfully managed a soft refurbishment of the hotel bedrooms, including soft furnishings, marble bathroom polishes and technology.

Examples of where she went above and beyond her job role include hosting the hotel's Christmas reception for more than 150 people and the local school choir on Christmas Eve, and serving food and drinks on a hot summer's day outdoors in her formal suit due to an unexpectedly high volume of guests. She is dedicated to developing her team and has had many successes with developing room attendants into supervisory and management roles. She is keen to get all individuals involved in aspects of the business they may not necessarily come into contact with, rotating them through the various areas so they understand their department better. She is also committed to giving her team time to pursue National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs).

The result is one of the longest-serving teams in the Grove, up to 13 years in many cases, which is no easy feat in the hospitality sector, let alone housekeeping. In the past three years, 10 of her colleagues have completed level 2 and 3 NVQs, with apprenticeships starting this year.

She runs the department efficiently through consistent implementation of checklists and communication of results, including followup and action plans and constantly reviewing procedures and processes. Communication is key. A translator attends all the training sessions to ensure that every team member understands, and all the hotel's standards documents are being translated.

Lawrence takes a hands-on approach and ensures all team members realise the part they play in ensuring the hotel looks its best.

Lawrence is also always looking for new ideas and approaches to everyday challenges. Recently she introduced a ‘rainbow' cleaning system, which has greatly reduced the levels of dust across the hotel and enabled staff to quickly clear up any spots and spills.

She has even been known to change the furniture and décor in the rooms for individual guests, and her team personally pick toys they feel will occupy guests' children during their stay, as well as selecting special toiletries, robes and slippers. Her employer puts it best when she is described as "a passionate individual who cares deeply about her team and the guest experience".

What the judges said
"Amelia demonstrates strong leadership, ensuring her team are well trained and have development tracks open to them. She lives and breathes housekeeping." Ian Hughes

Shortlisted
Mihaela Bishop The Bingham, Richmond, Surrey
Mary Curtin Redefine/BDL Hotels
Amelia Lawrence The Grove, Chandler's Cross, Hertfordshire
Fernanda Lewis The Goring, London

Past winners
2016 Jane Steel Luton Hoo hotel
2015 Margo van der Werf Lancaster London
2014 Joanna Patek Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 5
2013 David Smith Park Plaza Riverbank and Plaza on the River, London
2012 Lesley Skelt Coworth Park, Ascot
2011 Jude Gallacher Headland hotel, Newquay
2010 Barbara Sheridan Thistle Marble Arch
2009 Rachael Park Rudding Park
2008 Jean Roberts Hotel du Vin
2007 Minjoo Leutwiler-Lee Sofitel St James hotel, London

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