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EASY MAGAZINE: Nyree Lovell: Happy to be of service to her country

NATANGA SMITH, [email protected]

EASY MAGAZINE: Nyree Lovell: Happy to be of service to her country

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Nyree Lovell goes above and beyond the call of duty. She is diminutive, but don’t let her height and stature fool you; she is a dynamo.

Nyree has been the housekeeper at Bellevue House for the past two years. But she doesn’t look like the housekeeper we are used to on old television shows – dressed in black and white with an apron tied around the waist, dusting the furniture, tidying up the surroundings and making sure  employers have clean sheets and towels.

Nyree was the recent recipient of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association’s (BHTA) Direct Tourism Service Employee Of The Year Award. It was her first time winning any awards.

With the eight-bedroom Bellevue House being used not only as a vacation spot but a location for private events, she is committed to making sure that everything runs smoothly.

Nyree, who will turn 34 later this year, has a bubbly personality. Married for the past four years to William Lovell, she said he often jokes that she spends more time at Bellevue House than home.

“I love my job. I am a go-getter. I make sure I am well equipped to handle anything thrown at me. Just last week I was in the back of the estate seeding section of the ground that we are turning into a polo field. I also help the gardener sometimes.”

Nyree’s story is quite interesting.

The former student of Alexandra Secondary and the Barbados Community College (“I went there to do law as I love to debate issues; I didn’t finish that though”) loves to meet people and interact with them.

She has held various jobs such as cashier, worked at KFC and was even employed at cleaning firms.

Out of a job, her brother-in-law asked the house manager for Bellevue House if there were any vacancies.

“She said I could get a job as a sub for various houses doing housekeeping duties. I

was doing that for about four years as a temp and as Realtors Ltd managed this house, I used to come here part-time and also temp at various hotels and villas.

“When I realised that I was good at housekeeping it became my passion.”

Bellevue House was later bought by Young Estates, a private entity, and Pauline Saunders took over as house manager.

“She saw the potential in me to be more than just subbing. The previous head housekeeper Sheila Wood retired in 2014. I took on the responsibilities and have been growing since then.”

Nyree was a bit apprehensive about taking on the role.

“I was nervous, saying I don’t know if I could live up the expectations. This house is a huge responsibility. But Ms Saunders took me under her wing and showed me the ropes. Where I lacked and could make myself better at was worked on and with that I became head housekeeper.”

Nyree has a full day, as she works with a team whom she calls her “extended family”.

As the property is busy during the summer and winter season and then also being used for weddings and private functions, there is a something every day to keep Nyree and team busy.

On the events side are two employees, then there is the gardener Bryan, three house staff employees and four wedding coordinators. Sarah Young Concierge takes care of booking tours and car rentals and so on for the guests.

“My days are topsy-turvy. I can start as early at 7 a.m. I get here every morning and I open up the house. I set my girls their different tasks and then I check emails and see what the owners’ requests are. We also manage a house at Apes Hill so I keep an eye on what is going on up there.

“My hands dabble in different projects throughout the day as I also check the website and blog.”

Food is done by a private entity and so Nyree and her team make sure that whatever delights guests want are relayed to them.

What makes Nyree’s day is seeing great reviews from clients and guests.

“I do not like problems. I want to make sure everything is run smoothly.”

She mentions British celebrity Kimberley Walsh who held her wedding there last year and that she also helped in the planning.

“We got six pages in Hello! magazine. I am a certified wedding coordinator so I love to see weddings take place here.”

Nyree was part of the BHTA team that took part in the London Bride Show expo and was happy when one of the brides from the expo was so pleased with the Barbados contingent that she held her wedding at Bellevue House.

Nyree’s BHTA award is special to her and she says she is looking to win it the next time around.

“I am not finished yet. I want it again.”

In 2014, the BHTA held the presidential awards at Bellevue House. Nyree said she wasn’t aware then that the house was eligible to enter.

“I spoke to Michelle Smith-Mayers who is BHTA assistant vice-president and I told her in two years’ time we are going to win that award. Over the next two years I researched the criteria to enter so I could prepare myself when it came back around.”

Nyree almost missed the boat as she only knew of the deadline two days before.

“I quickly filled out the form as I entered Bellevue in the Small Business category. And then Michelle said, ‘Why don’t you enter yourself in the Employee Of The Year category. You have done so much in the past two years here’.”

So Nyree took Michelle’s advice and wrote all the reasons why she should be considered for the award.

The call came that Nyree made the final list: “I called everyone I knew. I was so excited.”

The night of the awards a full Bellevue House team was present and accounted for at a table.

“The owners for Bellevue House were here and they bought tickets for everyone. I had my husband there, my two friends flew in from London, the team I work with was there at the table so it was a big family affair.”

Nyree was nervous. The categories were being announced and winners were going to the stage to collect prizes.  It was now Nyree’s category and everyone at the table held hands and their breaths.

“It was me along with two guys as finalists. I heard my name as winner but I was in shock. Everyone was screaming and clapping and I was looking at my husband, stunned.

“I said to him, ‘They called my name? They called my name’?”

A proud and emotional Nyree collected her trophy.

“I don’t take this win as a Nyree win. This award is for Bellevue House . . . . For the journey we have taken from 2014. I went into the awards to not only showcase me but the property as a whole.

“I couldn’t do it without my team. We are a family. If we don’t work together we can’t prosper. When we see one struggle we help out. This [award] is for all of us.”

Nyree is adamant she has more to give.

“I have come a long way. And I am still making strides. When I Iook to how I started to where I ended, I am looking to do a whole lot more.”

And where is pride of place for this prestigious trophy?

“Sometimes it stays home and sometimes I bring it to work. So it is between two houses,” she said, laughing. (NS)