Jane Day is the executive housekeeper at the luxurious Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast. She spoke with Grantlee Kieza about her crucial role.
The Palazzo Versace is one of Australia’s most beautiful hotels. How long have you worked there?
I started in March last year, literally just as COVID began. I was here for just three weeks and then we shut the hotel down for a few months. I came back five weeks after we shut down and we brought the housekeeping team back because, without guests, it represented a great opportunity to spring clean the hotel. We could pull everything out and start afresh.
Where had you worked before the Palazzo Versace?
I was with AHS Hospitality, an outsource company, and for them I worked at the Gold Coast Hilton for seven years and the Vibe for two. The Palazzo Versace is a standout hotel on the Gold Coast because we have so much opulence. It’s a feast for the eyes as soon as you walk into the lobby.
How did you get your start in the hotel industry?
I was born in Geelong and we moved up to Murwillumbah when I was about five. I got a job at the Town Motel there working in housekeeping, and I was there for four years before I went overseas on holiday. When I came back, I wanted to work in the five-star hotels on the Gold Coast. I applied for a position as a room attendant at the Gold Coast International, which is now called the QT, and I started from there. I learned every aspect of the housekeeping department. We had an in-house laundry and I worked there and as a room attendant, and that put me on the path of what I wanted to do.
Why did you love that sort of work?
I’ve always loved cleaning, bringing a room back to being spotless after it’s been used. I find a lot of pride in making it perfect again, bringing it to the standard that I would like if I were staying in a hotel. I also love the fact that the work is always different.
You’re in a feel-good industry?
Yes, and you feel good when people enjoy their stay. They’re coming on holidays to where you work, and you want them to have a fabulous experience just like you would when you go away. It is very satisfying to know that people have really enjoyed their stay and the rooms were fabulous for them.
Have you got a large team?
About 60 people including those in our laundry and I also oversee the florist team as well. The most I have managed is 200 people.
Did COVID change your work dramatically?
Not dramatically because when we’re cleaning a room we’re always cleaning it thoroughly. But with COVID we started doing a lot more sanitising of touch points in rooms. We use a special chemical to sanitise everything that guests might touch from a remote to door handles, to light switches, bed heads. We are very thorough.
Before COVID did you travel a lot?
Yes, and when I met my husband we started doing a lot of cruising, every couple of years. We were due to go to Alaska, but we haven’t been out of Australia for a couple of years. We are eager to get going again.
Whenever I stay in another hotel, I study the way things are cleaned there and what their other housekeeping practices are like. I always appreciate the room first and admire the view, think how fabulous it is, and then I start to look closely at the way it’s cleaned. I can’t help myself. I sometimes bring home ideas that I might want to put into the hotel, and I’ll talk them over with my boss.
I also relax with photography. I do a “Photo-A-Day” on Facebook with a friend who works at another hotel. My husband and I are also refurbishing our house and I do a lot of craft projects as well, a lot of sewing.
What’s the most important part of your work?
Guest satisfaction. That and trying to bring something different that no other hotel offers. At this hotel, we have an in-house florist, and as well as providing fresh flowers in the rooms we also do a lot of events. If someone wants to arrange a proposal of marriage, we’ll light tea candles on our beach that spell out “Marry Me”. Things like that.
We also have a service called “Bath Bliss”. We run oils in the bath and light candles and put out things like marshmallows and chocolate strawberries and fondue or champagne for the guests. It’s fabulous and guests really love it.