A day in the life of a Best Place to Work
My Experience at the Best Places to Work
Photos by David Croxford
(page 4 of 5)
At Holua Resort, one of Shell Management's properties,
Shell Management Hawaii: Satisfied guests, satisfied employees
Rosa Velazquez, housekeeping inspector at Holua Resort, looks at my forehead and hands me a box of Kleenex. “Umm, use this if you’re getting sweaty,” she says, trying to be nice. Who knew housekeeping would be so tiring?
Earlier in the day, I had been hanging around with the bellmen. Holua, located in Kona, is a timeshare property that Shell shares with Wyndham. The bellmen help guests with their bags and escort them to their rooms, chauffeuring them around meandering paths. In the middle of February, however, there weren’t many check-ins scheduled. It’s not that there were vacancies, however. In the winter months, guests stay longer (up to a month or more) to escape the snowstorms at home. So the bellmen had it all under control.
That’s how I ended up in housekeeping. Velazquez gives me a quick training session: First, she hands me latex gloves, then a bottle of Windex and a rag.
Velazquez, originally from Mexico, has worked at Shell for 10 years and is very happy to be there. She’s not the only one. Shell Management Hawaii conducts confidential employee opinion surveys at its five properties in the Islands. In 2007, Holua scored a 76 out of 100. Today, that score is 95.
There are four of us in the plush unit, vacuuming, wiping and changing the dishes. The other three housekeepers are happy for the help and they aren’t letting me slack off. As inspector, Velazquez checks every room before clearing it for new guests. “You need to wipe there,” she tells me as she points at dirt in a crevice of the sliding door. She is helpful and instructive, though. I’m trying to clean the windows and Velazquez sees me jumping up to reach the top parts. She hands me their makeshift extender (a Swiffer mop), places the rag over it and demonstrates. “So you don’t have to jump. We are short here, too,” she jokes.
After lunch, I’m off for pool duty. Lucas Pua, engineer and a member of the maintenance crew, is in charge of the eight outdoor pools and hot tubs. Since they’re outside, they need regular cleaning from wind-blown leaves, algae and whatever else gets in them.
“This is the best job I’ve had so far,” Pua says. And he’s had a few. In the Navy he was a cook on an aircraft carrier, and after being discharged he took a number of odd jobs before discovering Shell at a job fair five years ago. He started off doing repairs and changing light bulbs in the guest units until he was offered the pool cleaning duties. Shell paid for Pua’s pool certification classes, and he’s been at it ever since.
It sounds easy, then Pua explains all the chlorine and chemical levels that need to be checked, the types of chemicals that need to go in, and how to clean up dirt, algae and unmentionables, and soon it sounds complicated. And it isn’t the same everyday. Plus, he has to be a good host because he meets plenty of the guests, and he’ll help other guys in the maintenance department once he’s pau with the pool.
Pua hooks up the equipment so I can vacuum the pool. I move the pole back and forth over the bottom, but it doesn’t seem to do much. “Ah, am I doing this right?” I ask.
“Yeah, you’re doing OK,” Pua says modestly. “I try to imagine mowing a lawn. You just have to see the lines, and move around the outside.” I take his advice and it starts to make sense.
On a hot day, he usually does two pools in a row before retreating into the shade. His supervisors don’t mind – as long as he gets the job done, he can manage himself and his work.
As for me, on this overcast day, I’m enjoying the outdoors and really wouldn’t mind going over a few more pools.
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