Maid of honourHAPPY TO SERVE: “When guests are happy, I am happy,” says Gretel Joshua, the BHTA Employee Of The Year. (Rawle Culbard)
By Cheryl Harewood | Sun, July 01, 2012 - 12:04 AM
EXCELLENT SERVICE, going beyond the call of duty and a deep love for her job all helped Gretel Joshua to secure the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association’s (BHTA) Employee Of The Year 2011 title during its annual awards last month.
In so doing, the committed Bougainvillea Beach Resort employee put her place of employment in the spotlight and also put smiles on the faces of her husband and three daughters.
Winning this prestigious title from more than 100 nominees came as a surprise to the room attendant, who also assists with preparing in-room meals and offering babysitting services to hotel guests.
Recalling the night she captured the coveted title, Joshua told the SUNDAY SUN: “I was in shock. It was a total surprise! I did not know whether to cry or to laugh.”
However, winning awards for her work is nothing new for the 41-year-old who captured the South Coast Employee Of The Year International Housekeepers Week Award title last September. She was also previously Bougainvillea’s Employee Of The Year and also was Employee Of The Month on a number of occasions.
With 18 years’ experience in the tourism sector, Joshua joined Bougainvillea’s family in 1999 as a part-time employee in the housekeeping department. Within a week, she was hired full-time because of her aptitude and dedication.
It was soon thereafter that she was performing additional tasks – sometimes at the requests of guests or management.
“One of the things I started doing was in-room cooking for guests and babysitting jobs – sometimes without taking a fee,” she explained.
For Joshua, the best part of her job is meeting people and being given the opportunity to show love to guests.
“No matter how bad the day may be, when I see my guests I feel extremely good. Those who come each year are happy to see me and I am just as happy to see them.
“I also always go all out to ensure that those who are visiting for the first time are happy; after all, I want them to return again and again.”
Joshua says she has learnt a lot over the years, adding that her job has also helped with her personal development. She also heaped praise on her general manager Sharon Hugh-White and manager of the housekeeping department, Avril Clarke.
Good days and bad days
“When I first joined the staff at Bougainvillea I was a mere child. I’ve learnt to be patient, how to be myself and that people will have their moods.
“I’ve also learnt that guests are people like me who sometimes have to save money in order to take a holiday abroad. I’ve learnt that they will have their good days and bad days, but that I must always treat them lovingly,” the Vincentian-born Joshua stressed.
She does not buy into the belief that working in the tourism industry is “a breeze”.
“It is lots of hard work, but since tourism is really all we have, when visitors come to our shores we have to woo them so they would come again. We need them and it is our duty to make sure they return.”
Joshua is always ready to talk about her “loyal friends”, like the couple from New Zealand who entrusted their children to her and who regularly send her up to date family photos, cards and gifts.
“I keep all the cards and photographs, but could never take cash from this family when I babysit their children.
“Some people think I am silly because I do not ask for money, but money is not everything.”
A member of the Bougainvillea Beach Resort Green Team, Joshua does her utmost to get young people (especially those touring the hotel) to think green by recycling and saving water and electricity. She also educates them on career options available in the tourism industry.
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