Few people give much thought to the background work that goes into keeping hotel rooms and guest spaces spotless.
Clean and comfortable rooms, hallways and spaces impact the guest experience and speak volumes of a hotel. Working behind the scenes, the four women who make up the The Table Bay Hotel’s housekeeping team ensures that the hotel is kept neat and tidy.
The Table Bay’s executive housekeeper, Melissa Hugo, has been with the hotel for two and a half years, heading up a team of four women.
Ms Hugo said she was most inspired by watching the teamwork, camaraderie and growth within her team.
“I am inspired by my work every day, especially when I see how my team develops, improves and grows together and as individuals due to what we do within the department and as a business.”
Ms Hugo said the hospitality industry has many facets to it. Whether young women are interested in the culinary side, the finances, customer service, marketing or operational side, there are diverse career opportunities.
“Don’t ever consider it to be a man’s world. Your abilities, skills, passion and personality will dictate how far you go, not your gender. Leverage your strengths and work hard on strengthening your weaknesses. Remember, anything is possible.”
Working in the dynamic, always-on hospitality industry can mean long and irregular hours, and it requires a passion for hospitality, people and service.
For women, it can be challenging to juggle a career in hospitality with a busy household.
All of the women in the housekeeping team have worked hard to overcome obstacles to get to where they are today.
Housekeeper, Puleng Lebesana grew up in the Eastern Cape in a small town called Mount Fletcher. She later moved to Cape Town where she finished her matric at Fezeka Secondary School. Coming from humble beginnings, she said she understands that many people face tremendous challenges in furthering their education and pursuing a career.
As advice to young women, Ms Lebesana said: “Dare to dream. Chase your career and work at it every day to achieve it. Further your knowledge and skills by studying. There are various ways in South Africa to further your education. It is not impossible.
“The hospitality industry is a great career choice in which you will learn and experience various aspects of business. You will reap the benefits of hard work and commitment in the hospitality industry, but passion is a given and not an option.”
Housekeeper Althea Beukes, who grew up in Mitchell’s Plain, said young women should never allow themselves to be limited by their circumstances.
She believes that anyone can achieve their goals if they set their minds to it. “Dream but don’t leave it there. Nurture them and make them reality. Never limit yourself or what you can do. It is important to keep learning as this will help you grow in your career and as a person.”
Julia Mokwena, who has been part of the team for two and a half years, said that balancing family life and working in hospitality can be challenging and can mean sacrificing time with loved ones.
“Women need to establish boundaries at work and stick to them. To get the balance right, it is important to schedule time for work and family. Sometimes this means being selfish with your time. But remember, you can’t be the best version of yourself at home or at work if you feel stretched and overworked. Make deliberate choices about what you want from life, and stick to your plan.”
Nomakorinte Skwati, fondly known by her nickname “Skorrie”, said managing stress was crucial for keeping work and home life in balance. “You should not take stress and worries from home with you to work and likewise, you should not take work related worries home with you.”
She said she manages stress by calming down and thinking of solutions. “I never throw my hands up and give up. I ask for advice from people I trust as talking to someone always helps me to put things into perspective. Surrounding myself with women I trust and can confide in has always been a tremendous coping mechanism for me.”