As far as Emily Matotek is concerned, tourist accommodation stands or falls on its cleanliness. After nearly 40 years working in three different countries, this executive housekeeper at Kelowna’s Best Western Inn says the only acceptable standard should be “as close to perfect as humanly possible.”
Emily began her career in Austria, working in a hotel for a year after leaving her native Croatia, where she had earned a degree in accounting. She then moved to a hotel in Switzerland for a year before coming to Canada. By then, she realized that hotel housekeeping was much more complex than she had thought, and also that she liked doing it. So she stuck with it, eventually joining Best Western 13 years ago.
Emily coordinates the daily duties of up to 30 housekeeping and laundry staff, responds to guest requests, looks after purchasing and inventory control, tracks maintenance, supervises quality control, and handles staff screening and hiring. With 145 rooms to care for, it’s a multifaceted job, she says, where she is frequently challenged to “think outside the box.” One of her biggest concerns is the ongoing search for cleaning products that are effective, safe for the staff, that don’t create possible problems for sensitive guests, and that are environmentally friendly. All these factors, and the variety of people she meets, are why she loves her job.
Emily doesn’t hesitate in recommending her work, especially for someone interested in moving up the corporate ladder. “The lower you start, the better you will be at whatever you do higher up, because you will understand what another person has to do and what it takes to get that job done,” she says.
A decade ago she was among the first group of Kelowna hotel workers to complete a Certified Housekeeping course. Since then she has taken a variety of courses because, “you need to know a lot more than just how to clean a room.” Today’s housekeepers are not simply cleaning ladies, she says. “You have to know how chemicals react, which ones to use with others or by themselves,” and even how to use a cardiac defibrillator, as her staff now does after a recent workshop.