Welcome to my word …
I am pretty sure that those who are not in the hotel business have little idea of what we do all day, or why we work such long hours. This is exactly what happened on Monday, 12 May 2014 and which I recorded that evening.
“Walk through the door at 10.05am. Knew there was a problem with the blind mechanism in room 25 and determined to sort it out immediately. Sit at desk and find email order part-written to the blinds supplier.
2 minutes later housekeeper comes in and says she can’t manage to move all the furniture out of room 20 which needs to be empty for carpet-fitter. I get someone to come over to help. 5 minutes later carpet-fitter arrives and I take him to the room. He starts to talk about flooring for the bathroom. I explain I have samples but don’t like them and will talk to him later.
Back to my desk in the reception office, resume trying to resolve blind problem. Think we might have a spare at our store on the edge of the village. Cappuccino and Badoit arrive. Thank you. Get car keys and drive up to look for blind. Search and think I‘ve found it – plus new standard lamp needed for room 9 and replacement table lamp for room 10 (shade reported damaged on existing one yesterday).
Drive back to hotel, find housekeeper, explain about lights and where they are going. Ask her to tell me when she has finished assembling standard lamp so I can check it’s ok.
New restaurant manager comes in to try and help fix blind problem as we don’t have another room for guest who will be arriving later. Give him new blind but he’s not sure he can install it. (Maintenance man and long-suffering GM both unavailable.) Phone husband (doing accounts) and ask him to go and help.
A number of departing guests want conversation – reasonably. Check with kitchen to make sure lunch menu is ok for printing. Discussion about two changes, including rhubarb Eton Mess to replace a tart. Print lunch menus. Restaurant manager comes to check breakfast menus are being revised as we have changed the suppliers for the black pudding and Suffolk honey. Re-write the suppliers’ credits and print 80 off, for midweek and weekend. Start checking and responding to emails.
Drink half-cold cappuccino. Husband comes back to say spare blind not wide enough but he has cannibalised it to replace faulty cassette (that houses the chain). Chap arrives unannounced and stares at me, without introducing himself. Eventually I recall he is the service chap for our in-house laundry, on the edge of the village. Asks if everything is ok as he is in Orford on another job. Phone laundry and supervisor says press is making funny noise. Send him up there.
Husband comes in to get two cheques counter-signed. I finish blind order: 10 new blinds to replace dim-outs on back of garden doors, three spare blinds for large garden room windows and five spare cassettes. Check measurements for the three big blinds and that the last order had the correct sizing. Send email.
Go up to room 9 to check lamp is okay – it is. But see new (and larger TV) is sticking out over the edge of the sideboard and will get bashed every time the door opens. Remove radio on bedside table to make space for water and glasses previously on the sideboard. Go down to reception and tell them that guests being shown up to room must be told how to access radio on the TV. Receptionist has no idea that the 700 group is for radio, so explain and then ask her to make sure all her colleagues know.
Tiler arrives to survey room 10’s bathroom. Get husband, go next door and go through the scheme with tiler so he knows what to measure. Leave them to it, having checked the tile I have chosen is ceramic, not porcelain, and therefore okay for walls.
Post arrives. New switch plates for rooms 30 and 31 that I ordered last week as existing ones unaccountably scratched. Unpack and label for installation in next few days.
Man desk while receptionist has lunch. Very early arrival needs chat and car parking sign before he goes to have lunch next door. Always pisses me off, that, because our pub lunch is brilliant. (Apologies for puff, but it is – see sample menu.) Take enquiry for room booking and promise someone will call back as it needs rooms to be assigned before we can take it. Resume email replies. Departing customer wanted to know where the lamp came from next to the doggie table. Source it, Flos, at John Lewis and send him the link. (And, unusually, actually get a thank-you email later on in the day.)
Show carpet-fitter samples of flooring for bathroom. Meant to be anti-slip but horrible bits of grey concrete-like spatters on the surface make it completely unsuitable as customers will think it’s not clean. He comes back to office and goes through other products, telling me stuff I already know. Go online to check spec. Phone technical department as widths vary, i.e. three oak colours, but each one in a different width. Random logic. Oxymoron. Go to other supplier’s website, whose product we have used successfully in the past and laboriously order samples (laborious because website not functioning properly.)
Hear that an ex-employee is in for lunch, so go and say brief hello. Have a pee.
1.40pm phone kitchen to order some lunch. Told a new dish is being tested so could I wait and have that instead. Yes.
Discover new, young trainee receptionist has absolutely no idea about the village, or where the quay, shops, pubs and smokehouses are. Tell her to put on coat and have a good walk around. Print out guest information so she can take it home to read.
Restaurant manager comes in to say lunch customer has taken wrong coat by accident. The second time in two weeks, but only the third time in 15 years. Weird. I get in car and drive down to quay to see if customers are still around village. No good, back to hotel. Check on progress with carpet fitter. He’s still struggling to remove old, glued-down matting.
Restaurant manager comes to check on tea orders. Should we change the white tea which doesn’t sell. Show him site to order new teas, check he knows account details, show him which new sugar sticks to buy, Fairtrade, and agree not to offer brown sugar any longer but have some in stock if asked.
Check restaurant plan and discover one guest tonight is allergic to garlic, eggs and fish, which means I need to write a completely different menu for her.
Lunch arrives. Great new dish of griddled octopus salad with romesco sauce. Chef comes over for feedback. Talk about another idea he has.
Restaurant manager back to check on where to buy candles. Tell him to change from old supplier to new one, as they are cheaper and more efficient. (I placed the last order as our then rest.mgr was away.) Give him details of last order.
Email from postcard printing company to say they can’t open coloured front side. Discover PDF is missing a few photos. Keep redoing artwork which looks fine until I PDF it. Drives me mad all afternoon trying to get it right.
Head chef comes over to go through tonight’s menu. Discuss details with her and suggest a few minor changes. Check spelling, then print.
Restaurant manager comes back to check on the local honey supplier whom he is unable to contact. Explain they’ve closed down, and ask him to tell me when honey stocks run down as I’ll buy it from a local farm shop. It’s been a bad three years for the bees but if this year is ok then we’ll buy in bulk to last until next summer.
Housekeeper comes in with glass knob broken off chest of drawers in suite. Make note to get it fixed tomorrow.
Answer more emails. I send about 30 on an average day and receive about 80, a lot of which are junk – but not all. Discover two maps someone has drawn of the village would be very useful for guests. Try to print them, can’t. Email and ask for different format. Will check with partners tomorrow to see if we can afford to hand them out to each arrival. Colour printing massively expensive.
Go to room 20 and check fitter’s progress. Shows me some damp he’s worried about. Get husband who later confirms it’s ok – just a legacy from replacing a shower a few days ago.
Reply to email from garden furniture company as I cancelled an order yesterday for tables. Three had already been delivered but the rest were on back order. Checked out the suggested alternative but didn’t like it. Need to find another supplier.
Phoned local nursery to check when hanging baskets were going to be ready. Phoned our gardener, then emailed her to confirm collection next time she’s in. Ask for invoice to be sent in advance so we can pay on collection.
Checked out price for our current room biscuits so our chocolate supplier can see if he can match price with his hugely nicer cookies.
Talk to several arriving customers who are often surprised to see I actually work. Keep an eye and ear on trainee receptionist, pointing out that it’s not good to say ‘yeah’ to a customer but fine amongst ourselves.
Write the non-garlic, fish and eggs menu – takes a good 25 minutes. Wait until head chef comes in to make sure I have not made any errors and there’s not some garlic lurking quietly. Print the menus and take them over to restaurant.
Waste time responding to a stupid industry survey about recruitment. In the time (over 30 years) I have been a hotelier there has never been any understanding from the totally metro-centric hospitality press, associations, agencies and allied organisations that rural businesses suffer from completely different problems to that of city businesses.
Guest arrives while receptionists are away from desk. Show them up to their room. Offer to take luggage. Never will understand how a fit and full-grown man can allow a woman to carry his bag. Pity the wives.
Carpet fitter comes in to ask me to come and see the room, which he’s nearly finished. A slight skew on the run of the weave as he has measured from the walls. I advise that in all the other rooms he must use his eyes as that is what the customer uses: not many come armed with a set square.
Start to research what last year’s June offer was. Need to write it tomorrow so we can email out next week. Ask for copies of written housekeeping sheets so I can prepare new instructions to be incorporated into the computer-generated housekeeping print-out that is issued each day.
Someone comes in who knows our GM from the past. He stays for a 10-minute chat. Passers-by drop in throughout the day to pick up a brochure, ask about rooms, etc. We always show rooms to them as long as they are clean and empty.
Receptionist absent so I have to pick up a telephone call from a person wanting to book a room. I start the process then hand over when she returns. (I always explain they will be quicker than me, because they are. Partly because our reservation system is on a PC and I use a Mac. Keyboard slightly different – and much nicer, of course.)
Restaurant manager comes in to say guest who took wrong coat has just been brought it back. Thank God.
Guests return with muddy dog. Get towels and show them hose, then discover the fitting has disappeared so can’t use it. Go back to the office and order replacements online.
Change card details on four much-used shopping sites as bank details have changed and some orders have not gone through.
Re-do restaurant plan as guests have changed times and new bookings made.
Finally finish postcard artwork but need to check it properly tomorrow.
Do a bit of personal correspondence. Send handover email to GM so he’s up to date with what’s gone on while he has had his days off. Go home at 7.15pm. Eat lovely asparagus, Jersey Royal, soft-boiled egg & radish salad, then write this blog.” Want my job?