17th April 2020
Joanne joined The Athenaeum in February 2019 as General Manager. Originally from South Africa, Joanne has over 25 years’ experience in hospitality and can often be found mingling with guests, providing them with the ‘magic’ experience that she so fondly teaches her team about.
A (FAR FROM) AVERAGE DAY
6am – Wake up with a gorgeous view of Green Park and have a cup of coffee to get me going. I’m currently staying at the hotel for 4 days a week, as we are open to key workers and long term residents. The Athenaeum is home for a few guests and it’s important to us that we maintain our usual standards in these challenging times for them.
6:30am – Head to the gym for a quick workout. Currently, we are only allowing one person in the gym at a time, and it is fully sanitised after each use.
8am – I walk the hotel to speak with my team to receive an update on anything that has happened overnight or that we need to share. Currently, we have two operational teams of 12 that live in the hotel on a rotational basis and change on a Monday to minimise the risk of travelling. The team comprises people from reception, housekeeping, maintenance, food and beverage and chefs.
11:30am – We have lunch together every day. When you have such a small team it becomes more important than ever to keep communications flowing. We naturally need to share the business information, equally important is team bonding; we totally rely on each other. One of the most inspiring things is hearing how each colleague has formed a close bond with others they wouldn’t normally work that closely with.
Throughout the day, I also:
- Check on our guests to make sure they have what they need and are comfortable.
- Check supplies and deliveries, as every day seems to bring a challenge on what we can get and from where.
- Facilitate community support. Being a family-owned and run hotel, one of our guiding principles is indeed family, and it’s more important now than ever to stay true to our values and help others. At the moment we are helping the local church by feeding their volunteers. We are also giving back to the hospitality industry working with Umbrella Training who supports 40 apprentices to find creative ways for them to keep growing their skills and to offer emotional support and reassurance in this most unsettling time.
- Speak to the teams in the other hotels regularly through an app called Workplace to keep morale high and let everyone, whether in the hotel or at home, know what’s going on. That sense of family is so important to us.
- Go through any queries and requests on any number of subjects as we have no Sales, Reservations, Marketing, Human Resources or Payroll people on site. I am most definitely becoming a ‘Jack of all trades’
5pm – Tune in to the daily briefing from the government. It’s important that we respond to the advice given and adapt to new guidelines when issued.
6pm – Enjoy dinner that is prepared by either sous chef Isabella or Executive Chef Ian on alternate weeks. Every day the menu changes and there are more ‘home-cooked’ style meals on the menu for guests and the team. The food we are getting is delicious.
9pm – Check that all guests and team have what they need before retiring to my room for the night. I also have a radio next to my bed in case the team have an emergency overnight. So far we haven’t needed it, phew!