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Choice Hotels Canada: Celebrating housekeeping team members, one story at a time
International Housekeepers Week is observed the second full week of each September. Choice Hotels Canada is celebrating some of its hotel team members by sharing their stories. Meet just a few of the professionals at the heart of Choice Hotel properties' day-to-day housekeeping operations across the country, with sincere thanks for their dedication and service. We couldn’t do it without them.
MARY JANE MOLINA, HOUSEKEEPING MANAGER
A person who ignites the vibrant spirit of Comfort Hotel Bayer's Lake in Halifax, N.S., Mary Jane, affectionately known as MJ is a petite powerhouse with a giant personality. As the housekeeping manager, she's not just a leader; she's a model of excellence, setting the bar high with her hands-on approach and her uncontainable energy. A true role model, she forges ahead, leading the charge through her own actions. Her commitment to perfection shines through in her meticulous attention to detail, ensuring that every facet of the guest experience is flawlessly delivered.
Molina speaks Filipino and English. She has worked in the housekeeping department of the Comfort Hotel for nine years. She says her favourite part of the job is attending to guests’ requests and the routine of cleaning the rooms, inspecting all areas with precision and ensuring everything is up to standard. “I care about each of our guests sincerely, and I’ve established very good relationships with some of the guests who regularly frequent the hotel. Guest experience is our utmost priority and how you treat everyone and make them feel are impactful factors for their overall experience,” she explains.
Molina’s most memorable experience was working at the hotel during the Covid-19 pandemic. She talks about being given the opportunity to work alongside the general manager during those challenging times. “In order to keep the hotel running, she trained me in front desk operations as a guest services agent,” she says. “Because we had a limited workforce at the time, in addition to working as a housekeeping attendant, I was also in charge of preparing the continental breakfasts for the guests, ensuring food health and safety were maintained. It was a privilege for me to go through that training and I have truly enjoyed understanding the operation elements of the business.”
To achieve success in her role, Molina says that it takes courage, hard work, patience, determination, and dedication to be a good housekeeping manager. She encourages open communication among the staff. “All of us are unique and have our story to tell, and if you listen with empathy and an open mind, you will continue to grow and build trust with your peers. Having all those qualities wouldn’t have happened without the constant guidance, encouragement, and motivation of our GM, Nimfa. Having a good mentor contributes to the success and motivation of a person. She is a role model and hands-on with every detail of the job, and sees potential and development among the staff. She harnesses our strengths and makes sure that we are appreciated and recognized,” explains Molina.
OLEKSANDRA MAIOVA, HOUSEKEEPING ATTENDANT
Hailing from Ukraine, Oleksandra's journey took an incredible turn when her whole family sought refuge in Canada following the invasion of her homeland. With her effervescent personality, Oleksandra (or simply Sandra) forms connections that light up every corner of the Halifax Tower Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection. Her enthusiasm contributes to the guests' overall experiences and creates a sense of belonging that transcends mere service. She has exhibited leadership qualities among her peers and has taken new housekeeping attendants under her wing, developing their skills and training them. Maiova reminds us that the true essence of hospitality lies in the people who make it all possible.
Maiova speaks fluent Ukrainian and Russian, and she is actively improving her English. She has been working in housekeeping for more than a year. “It was in Canada that my journey as a housekeeping attendant began. Few people know, but I worked as a painter at the Halifax Tower Hotel before it even opened a little over a year ago! So, you could say that I have been working in the Choice family since the first week I moved to Halifax from Ukraine. After the painting job, I wanted to look for new work. It was through a friend on Facebook who shared with me an email where I can send my resume and when I got invited for an interview, it turned out to be the Halifax Tower Hotel! I thought it was fate,” she explains.
She goes on to say that success in her job means simply doing the job well. “It doesn't matter if you work for yourself or for someone else. It doesn't matter what position you hold. My work is an integral part of guest’s satisfaction and every moving part within the hotel is of great importance,” says Maiova.
ANTONIO AND HONORINA CENTENO, HOUSEKEEPERS
Antonio and Honorina Centeno are a couple who have worked within the Choice family for eight years. They work alongside each other at two hotels in close proximity—the Comfort Inn & Suites and the Quality Inn & Suites, both located near the Edmonton International Airport. The Centenos speak English and Tagalog.
They say their favourite part of the job is the flexibility and work environment, as well as interactions with different people. To be successful in their roles, the Centenos say that being confident and asking for help if necessary is important, as well as building relationships, learning from mistakes and being organized.
CHRISTY BURCHAT, OPERATIONS MANAGER/EXECUTIVE HOUSEKEEPER
Christy Burchat has been with the Quality Inn & Suites in Petawawa, O.N. and various Choice Hotels, for over 13 years. She started off as a housekeeper and was soon asked to train all new room attendants, then promoted to assistant supervisor and then to supervisor. Most recently, Burchat was promoted to operations manager and she continues to look after the housekeeping team when needed.
“I love so many aspects of my position. It is very rewarding; it has taught me so much about myself and about many ways in how people learn. It feels so good when you take the proper amount of time and train your staff accordingly and see them become shining stars and being able to execute their duties spot on, to be able to take on more responsibility and see them successful in their position. I get to work with many amazing people, which is why I enjoy my position so much,” says Burchat.
When she first started at the Quality Inn & Suites, Burchat’s “enemy” was folding fitted sheets, which, today she has down to an art and science. Struggles that Burchat has seen over the years include seeing new staff without passion in what they do and turnover due to the job being too strenuous, which she says she understands. Sometimes if rooms are trashed, or you have to wash soiled floors, it can be unglamorous, a bit overwhelming and hard on the body.
“In 13 years, you meet a lot of people. Some stay, but a lot go as well. I’ve been so fortunate to have met some very amazing people. We had owners and a GM who invested in their staff, who believed in them and gave me opportunities I never could have dreamed of. I would say the most memorable experience would be when the owners sent me to Vegas to one of the Choice Hotels Conventions, where I was able to learn so much in my time there. It helped me grow into the person I am today. I was also able to meet some very amazing people along the way, who took me under their wing and we enjoyed a fantastic few days. We were also very fortunate when our new owners and GM took over, as they share the same values and treat their staff with respect, and like family,” she explains.
Burchat says a big accomplishment for herself and the hotel is long-term staff retention. “We have a few that have reached 4, 5, 10, 13 and 14 years. I don’t think you see this in hospitality as much. I think our approach of being understanding, compassionate, kind, patient, accommodating, praising your staff, coaching in a positive proactive manner, and truly caring about our staff have made our workplace an enjoyable place to be and keep coming back,” she states. Adding, “I love it when I walk in a room, and it smells clean, and the beds are perfect with beautiful hospital corners. This brings a huge smile to my face when staff get how important first impressions are.”
DANIELLE HÉBERT, LAUNDRY ROOM ATTENDANT
Danielle Hébert is a laundry room attendant in the Choice family, working at the Quality Suites in Drummondville, Que. She speaks French and has worked in housekeeping for over 13 years.
Hébert loves to see a job well done and she demands this of herself to satisfy all customers.
Her most hated task is unclogging a toilet, but, she says, “When I'm called on to unplug a toilet, I do it with a smile!”
Her most memorable experience took place during a Christmas reception when she helped serve meals. Hébert took a lot away from this experience, saying that “human contact is very important to me.”
To be successful in her role according to Hébert requires care, cleanliness, respect, and communication between team members and with customers. She says that she knows how to listen and be responsive.