CLEANING PUBLIC AREAS – BEST PRACTICE METHODS
Public area and Other Types of Cleaning
Most people – including guests – trust first impressions. In a hotel, a guest’s first impression often revolves around what he or she sees and experiences in the property’s public area. Spotless and well-kept public areas signal guests to expect the same level of care and attention in their guestrooms.
To a large extent, the responsibility for cleaning public and other functional areas rests with the housekeeping department.
Establishing and maintaining housekeeping procedures for public areas is just as important as it is for guestrooms, but much more standardized. The housekeeping needs of public areas vary considerably among properties because of architectural differences, front entrance space, corridors, elevators, public restrooms, swimming pools, exercise rooms, activities and guest traffic. These and other factors affect scheduling routines, requiring many of the cleaning tasks to be performed at night or on a special-project basis.
Entrances must be clean both for aesthetic and safety reasons as they are the most heavily trafficked areas in a property. The frequency of cleaning entrances is largely dependent on the weather. Attendants should also frequently clean fingerprints and smudges from door surfaces – particularly glass area.
Lobbies require continual cleaning both because they are heavy-traffic areas and because they are the “gateways to the hotel”. Many lobbies are a hub of activity where guests check in, socialize, relax, or, in the case of some properties, window-shop at special-interest or novelty stores. Properties generally schedule cleaning of lobbies for the late-night or early-morning hours.
Front Desk/Reception Area
The front desk cleaning must be scheduled during nonpeak hours to avoid interrupting the flow of business. Although this area is technically part of the lobby, the front desk has its own set of cleaning needs and peculiarities. Special care should be taken to remove fingerprints, smudges and shoe and scuff marks, especially near the base of the desk. In all cases, public area attendants must never move any papers or other business-related items or touch or unplug equipment in the front desk area.
Other sections most guests see before stepping foot into the guestroom are the corridors/passages.
Many properties recommend that, when cleaning baseboards/skirtings, or spot cleaning the walls and doors for fingerprints and smudges, light fixtures for dust and dirt or globe replacement, etc that the work should start on one side of the corridor/passage to the end, then move to the other side till back at the starting point.
Elevators require frequent cleaning, because of their volume of use. As with the lobby and front desk area, the best time to clean elevators is late at night or very early in the morning to avoid high-traffic periods.
At the very minimum, public restrooms should be cleaned twice daily, once in the morning and again in the evening. In some properties, more frequent cleanings are required to maintain a pleasant environment and to ensure proper sanitization and safety levels. Sometimes, these additional cleanings/sanitization, consist of “touch up” cleanings every one or two hours depending on the traffic.
Swimming Pool Areas
Swimming is perhaps the most popular of all recreational sports. Pools can be indoor or outdoor. Some pool areas include whirlpools and saunas. The daily care and maintenance of these areas is usually the responsibility of the maintenance/gardener department or the engineering department. However, housekeeping also attends to specific tasks within the pool area:
Among the pool-area duties usually appointed to housekeeping staff are:
- Collecting wet towels and dirty linen
- Restocking towels and linen
- Emptying and cleaning trash receptacles
- Emptying and cleaning ash trays
- Sweeping and mopping hard floor surfaces
- Caring for any carpeted areas
- Cleaning and straightening lounge furniture
As with any public area, unsafe, unsanitary, or damaged conditions should be noted and reported to management staff.
Exercise Rooms/Spa areas
Housekeeping’s part in servicing these facilities will largely be determined by the size and scope of these areas and the equipment involved. The responsibility for maintaining exercise equipment typically rests with the hotel’s engineering staff, or in the case of a Spa, with the owners of the business. Housekeeping staff, however, will play a role in ensuring that these facilities meet the same standards of cleanliness that the guest enjoys in other public areas. For the most part, an attendant will be assigned on a daily basis to perform such tasks such as:
- Dusting Equipment
- Cleaning mirrors and glass areas
- Sweeping and mopping floors
- Removing soiled linen
- Restocking clean linen
- Cleaning and straightening any furniture
- Dusting light fixtures
- Spot-cleaning walls
For safety reasons, it is extremely important for attendants to note the general condition of the equipment and report any malfunctions to their supervisor. Attendants may also be responsible for cleaning shower and locker areas and replenishing guest amenities.
Other Functional Areas
Besides cleaning public areas such as lobbies, restrooms, housekeeping staff may be responsible for cleaning dining rooms, banquet and meeting rooms, administration and sales offices, employee areas and housekeeping offices and work areas. In some of these areas, housekeeping staff will have limited responsibilities; in others, cleaning activities will be as elaborate as the area’s counterpart in the front of the house.