Profile: Mereena & Sustainable Housekeeping

A couple of days ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Mereena, the head of the housekeeping department at Cardamom County. Mereena has been here since 2003, and started from the bottom rung of the housekeeping department ladder. Mereena explained to me how she was successively promoted six times.

She began as a trainee housemaid, and then progressed to official housemaid and then to senior housemaid. Next she became housekeeping desk assistant, then trainee housekeeping supervisor, and then housekeeping supervisor and finally Room Experience Officer and head of housekeeping. Taking full charge of the department required thorough and extensive knowledge of housekeeping but maintaining that authority has required managing responsibly.  In multiple senses of that term.

Among the first of the topics we talked about were the conservation and sustainability initiatives being implemented in housekeeping. The main feature is the recommendation for reusing bed linens and pillow sheets and also the reusing of face, bath, and bathmat towels in the rooms. Mereena estimated that about 60-70% of guests do reuse their linens and towels when staying longer than one night, which is a very encouraging statistic. Additionally the room bathrooms contain cards placed by the housekeeping department reminding guests about water conservation because 97% of the water in the world is not freshwater and of the 3% that is over 2% is locked in glaciers leaving less than 1% available for drinking, washing, bathing, etc.

Whatever can be reused in the rooms is, from the biodegradable laundry bags to the refilling of matchboxes with new matches. Hopefully a small group of travelers including you and I can indeed change trends and save more water and laundry resources in the hospitality industry.  In reference to Meg’s post about the turnover and wastage of soap in hotel rooms, we can rest assured that the soap here is not wasted but rather is reused for staff laundry, cleaning back of house areas, and most of the staff uniforms with the exception of the more delicate saris and chef coats.

I think that there isn’t much debate about housekeeping and its department being a more difficult if not the most difficult part of running a hotel. There are the typical obstacles of scheduling, logistics, and training, however, dealing with the monkeys in the form of the bonnet macaques is an added twist. Brooms for female housekeepers and slingshots for male housekeepers (only used for intimidation factor) is the solution, and of course, no monkeys are ever harmed. This is especially true considering the stringent animal and wildlife protection measures in Kumily including up to a 5000-rupee fine by the state government of Kerala. After dealing with a tough day being Room Experience Officer, Mereena said that her favourite thing to do was simply sleep although she also doesn’t mind unwinding by shopping and singing mainly Malayalam and Tamil songs, her favourites being Unarume Ganum in Malayalam and Ovaru Pakkalume in Tamil.

One thought on “Profile: Mereena & Sustainable Housekeeping

  1. Pingback: In the mood for flowers : floral arrangement Raxa Collective-style | Raxa Collective

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