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Lisa J
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  • Louisiana
  • United States
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Housekeeping - what to expect?
5 Replies

Started this discussion. Last reply by Lisa J Jan 27, 2009.

 

Want to make the Dream a Reality

Profile Information

Hometown:
Louisiana
About Me:
03/09 I'm one step closer to the dream! I just bought a truck camper shell to fit my little truck. I will now customize the bed of the truck to make it my MMR (mobile motel room) and start exploring the State Parks in my region on long weekends. Just to get a taste of solo RVing and see if it really is what I want to do a few years from now. YAY!!!

09/08 Stuck in a 9to5'er right now, but kids are making headway in their college careers so I am starting to daydream about selling all my possessions and work seasonal jobs around the country, probably in housekeeping or if I'm lucky, groundskeeper as I love working outside. I joined this site so I can start fleshing out the daydream into a reality.
Website:
http://latrocabebe.blogspot.com/
Where have you lived and worked?
haven't started the dream yet but working on it.
Dream Job:
housekeeping, groundskeeper or stablehand

Comment Wall (13 comments)

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At 10:11pm on March 26, 2009, Katherine Jepson said…
Would you recommend going to Pahaska Tepee Resort? I was offered a job there but I've seen some posts that really trash talk it so I'm kind of skeptical...
At 9:33pm on March 2, 2009, Carolann said…
Hi Lisa, I started living my someday list last summer with my first seasonal job at Glacier. Now I'm at a ski resort in Ulta. The only thing I miss is Community Coffee. When are you planing to start?
At 4:00pm on January 26, 2009, Ronnie De St Germain said…
I Hi Lisa, I guess I miss the food the most, nothing like a good shrimp Po'Boy on real French Bread. I miss the way everything doesnt close on Sunday and the stores dont close at 6pm...when you get off work. Just the little things a big city has to offer. Although I do like the peaceful quiet atmosphere that small town life has to offer...just kind of miss the hustle and bustle every now and then. My Family still lives there in Metairie and like you they tell me the same thing, your not missing much.
Well if your children graduate this year, we would love to have you at Zion Mountain Resort,Utah. I am going to be hiring for Front Desk personnel shortly as we are getting ready to go full-blown starting March and not stopping until November at a 90plus percent Occupancy rate for 52 Cabins. We are open year-round, but slow down in November.

Ronnie d
www.zmr.com
Zion Mountain Resort
At 9:25pm on December 14, 2008, Colleen said…
Hey! I was the Manager of Fairholme Store & Marina. I worked for Forever Resorts - Lake Crescent Lodge located about 40 miles from Port Angeles, WA. The Olympic Nat'l Park is awesome! I now am in Red Lodge, MT at a small ski resort. The place is okay, but no employee housing. Mostly locals employed here and I do miss the comradary of eating, sleeping, working and all the craziness that goes along with a resort that offers employee housing! sick heh!!! LOL
At 12:56pm on October 30, 2008, Dan said…
Hi Lisa,
Glad you can use the information. If you would like to have a little more privacy with your questions and my answers, my personal e-mail is danstaples@hotmail.com and then maybe we could get as specific as you wanted without it being so public.
At 9:21am on October 28, 2008, Charlene Courtemanche said…
Lisa - it does help!!! And I'm surprised that you would be hauling an RV. My idea was to be self contained in a small RV that I could drive. However, your idea gives alot more flexibility and a vehicle to drive when not doing seasonal work. More food for thought. Thanks. Charlene
At 8:47am on October 28, 2008, Dan said…
It sounds like you are going to be a happier type of housekeeper and there are some good crews. Some housekeepers in Glacier Park and Yellowstone Park were pretty happy. In Vail, the departments are basically Hispanic, as they are here in Jackson. In the Florida Keys, the housekeepers are often Haitian and Jamaican and in Glacier Park, many are Blackfeet Indians. The Ute Indians are often at least part of the housekeeping teams in Telluride. We had a nice crew of Brazilians on Martha's Vineyard the summer I worked at the Harborview Hotel there. If you keep up with the chat on coolworks.com, you should start to get your own opinion of how resorts are viewed by their workers. Since you have work experience and know in advance that you'll be physically working every shift, you shouldn't be in for a rude awakening. Being bi-lingual and computer literate along with experienced ought to make you a sought-after commodity. Lisa, there are places that everyone hates to leave and there are places where no one returns and, believe me, those seasons are different. Also, there are places that barely pay enough for your return fare home and there are places where lowly housekeepers make $20 per hour.
We had a funky good time at the Pahaska Teepee Resort where the low money took second place to a real life, but some housekeepers in Steamboat Springs, working piece rate, make over $20 per hour. Some hotels in Vail send vans for their housekeepers in the nearby towns. I saw you had a talk with another community member re: RVs. Some of the happiest resort employees I have ever seen stayed in their own RVs. There's a small spot in the woods at the HQ hotel, Glacier Park Lodge, in Glacier Park - just 6 spots and they are reserved well in advance but those people all swear by the RVing and claim apparently rightly to have a much better summer than the dorm dwellers, even those with private rooms. There were also 7 spaces for trailers/RVs in a small park behind the Lake Hotel in Yellowstone and those were all older employees, the happiest old folk I have ever known. Each night of the week was a different night for them all to meet after work at
a different trailer and they brought their camp chairs and were jumping up and down with glee, having a beverage and maybe
barbequeing a brat like some college kids or big game tailgaters.
I've seen some solid older citizens at home and many rich elderly in the resorts, but no one seemed to be enjoying life as much as that crowd. As far as RVs go, there are models you see rarely that aren't much more than glorified pickup trucks but that have great mobility and economy. They park right in a normal parking space on the streets of Aspen or Key West but still have a full kitchen and bath inside, if not lots of room. I also see a lot of small, old class C RVs, the kind that are basically like a small cabin on wheels but that aren't too hard to maneuver up a snowy hill or aren't too costly to drive and repair. A thirty-footer with about a 400-some horsepower straight gas engine and an automatic transmission runs something like $7,000 with something like 65,000 miles on it. They typically have an Onan generator for full self-sufficiency and another thing you might want to consider if insulation/winterization.
If, say you want to go to some ski resort, and if, you want to live in your own outfit nearby, some RVs are built with insulation/winterization and some are not. You basically cannot live
a winter in an RV that doesn't have the heavier winter sealing and insulation. Your pipes freeze and the cost of heat is impossible. Some people only work in warm weather resorts - up north in the summer time and down south in winter but that means you miss some of the very best places the work in the ski resrorts. I have never met anyone who had worked both in the Florida Keys and the main Rocky ski resorts that preferred the former.
The ski resorts are often very upbeat with lots of low maintenance destination guests who are active physically and 'have lives'. I don't think anyone would tell you that the Florida guests aren't higher maintenance, if you can ride your Harley there 12 months a year, barring hurricane season on occasion...
Well, if you are only in your late 40's, whippersnapper, you may fall into a nice assistant manager job for some housekeeping summer department and those actually seem to be pretty good combinations of physical work and responsibility. Housekeeping departments usually have public area attendants as well as the common room attendant. Lobby porters scoot around guests, emptying trash and vacuuming but that job and linen runner are usually considered plum jobs by comparison with the ordinary maid.
Housekeepers in Vail can make an awful lot of money as do many on Nantucket. Both also usually have ads in the paper for services that require you to drive your own car to, say, a three-bedroom home where you and one helper will spend the whole day cleaning that unit for $15 and hour or more plus gas. They often provide lunch too. You see ads in the Nantucket newspaper, asking for someone work all summer Saturdays - changeover day for the weekly rentals - for '$300 per day plus lunch'. Some of the better paid maids in Vail make $15 per hour plus consequential tips. Just keep finding out the scuttlebutt from other resort veterans and you should be able to figure those you like the sound best of, i.e. if you'd want to go to a sunny place where you ate the scenery or at the other end of the spectrum where housekeepers are making near $50,000 per year but where it's no picnic and you are disciplined, responsible and productive. Las Vegas housekeepers are another whole area. They are unionized with high wages and benefits. Lots of structure and they might typically live in a home they are buying out a freeway in the 'burbs. Mostly Hispanic, they're a far cry from the college girls in the dorm at Many Glacier in Glacier Park. Lake Tahoe has both a summer and winter season with some down time in between as does Jackson. West Yellowstone has a very slow winter season but the main ski resorts now have busy summers for a couple of months. Vail, Jackson, Telluride and Glacier Park are my top picks in general and then you have to look at the better properties in each. In 4 or 5 years, the top handful may have changed somewhat and every resort has its lemons so the property is more important than the town or part of the country, everyone will tell you that.
I love to hear the forthright tales of exploitation that earnest fellow resort workers will publish on this website. It does my heart good to think of the angst that will be avoided by the many forewarned and forearmed potential employees who bypass those particularly dysfunctional spots. After awhile they get infamous, like bad places on the road and workers will share war stories of how this manager fired them or how this new policy victimized workers even more than the former repressive rules. However, with plenty of time to check up on the HK gigs, you should be able to winnow down to a handful of really better spots and then compare the offers and the impression from the application process and try to make the cool informed decision not influenced by something that turns out to be too unimportant about halfway through the summer. You know how you can get all excited that 'it is only 3 miles from the Atlantic dune beaches' and then it turns out you work so much overtime that you get to the beach one time in the 4 months...
At Canyon in Yellowstone and at Pahaska Teepee Resort at the entrance to the Park, the employees used to have the great bonfire gatherings in the woods after work with giant bonfires and real good times that are treasured forevever. Other places gave you less than 24 hours from your last punchout to be out of the dorms or monitored how much entree you had at employee lunch, letting the biggest eaters go first as the season slowed...
Do your research here and an informational call here and there to places that sound interesting won't make the Human Resources people mad. Hint: if the HR people are rude and ill-tempered with you when they are recruiting, how do you think they will treat you once you're an employee there and they aren't 'trying to be 'the ambassadors making a good impression'? A hot spot like Signal Mountain Lodge has the friendliest HR folk and you know you'll like it there just talking to them. They share their good time on the phone while you are getting information. Some good places to work seem to have unecstatic HR folk, but nowhere that has very cold and indifferent HR people has an upbeat morale. If you'd be happy to move away from your interviewer were you sitting next to him or her on a cross country bus, then you have an insight into the culture of the property. Traditionally, the HR folk are the friendliest,
most people-oriented workers in a resort or hotel. If they can't manage to get a smile in the voice of the most visible worker, how do you think the back of the house might be? Listen to the reviews here and pay attention to the places the workers describe with the 'oh, I had the best time' reports. After you've seen a few about the same place, make an informational call and check out how the people you talk to are. See if you can live with the wages or housing or schedule. Some housing in Glacier Park had as many as 6 employees in a room. Driving bus in Aspen had an almost impossible schedule for the new drivers at the lower end of the seniority list. HK almost always starts at around 8am, running until the units are clean, ostensibly about 8 hours later...
That said, there might be a PM housekeeper for late requests or a lobby crew althought the latter's often male.
With the right attitude and outfit, you make friends for life and can have a lifestyle that's a kind of paid vacation. On the other hand when you misfire, there's not much lower than being mistreated at near minimum wage in a service job that you can't even afford to dump.
Some places have crazy deposits that they gleefully keep when the average worker succumbs to the brutal treatment. Other places, drop unannounced bonuses in your check after a hard season where you kept up your responsibilities through thick and thin. We have industry-high morale here in Jackson where I work for the Terra Resort Group and I can't say enough about them. I came from a Lake Powell hotel that was the opposite - 100% of my department quit or asked to be transferred within a few weeks of our arrival. I had gotten a couple of positive reports but they were about another area on the Lake entirely and I didn't have an accurate impression of the resort and certainly didn't know anything about the supervisor. I landed in clover but I wouldn't wish the experience on anyone as it would be a very bad impression of resort work were that the first job in the field. In the better jobs, their are good solid respectable jobs and there are jobs that are paradise so why not get the latter. Along with being in the most interesting places in the world, resort employment often has some of the most upbeat employees to hang with and can make each day a pleasure to face. While it is hard to beat the hiking in Yellowstone or the boating in the Keys, stuff like that is even much better when you have a convivial staff to work with and socialize with after. If you have interests like hiking or mountain biking or body boarding or whatever, it makes it often easier to have a life if you go to a resort known for something you like doing. Skiers, for instance, are usually passionate and can really have lives in jobs that provide a usually expensive ski pass.
I'd like to see what it would be like to be a hotel on a surfing beach although I didn't have much free time when I was at a hotel on the water on Martha's Vineyard. There are lots of people just surviving a job in resorts and they are making the same amount of money as those who are having the time of their lives somewhere else - it's all in the reseach. For my money, the Rocky Mountain resorts, summer and winter, are the best area of the country. Still, the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe was a little nook of unusual conviviality back East and there were times I thought the Nantucket Inn was pretty cool what with the new environ, the pay and housing and beneifts and an entirely complementary season to the ski resort season in Vail. Glacier I went back to seven times and I've been to Aspen more than once also. Summit County in Colorado is home to 3 major resorts - Keystone, Breckenridge and Copper Mountain - and has a very real atmosphere that is favored by lots of dedicated outdoors enthusiasts. Not such a bad place to get started either. A near county-wide transportation system gives the connection between resorts a handy face.
You can often tell a lot about a resort/hotel by reading their recruitment/application material carefully. Repressive deposits with long lists of 'don'ts' and rules as oppposed to long lists of benefits and perks are often indicators of the attitude towards employees.
Too, the published material can also be a source of info on the small matter such as two room mates in all housing that the HR person forgot to mention. Hopefully, they forgot to mention something like 'you can use your meal hall pass in all locations throughout the park and at the sister property in Canada where they'll also put you up in the dorm for free if you give them some notice'. Crucial make or break points are often in the fine print.
Housekeepers are very sought after and one with a more than reasonable chance or working out will have probably an offer from every place where you make a timely and complete application.
While the work is similar everywhere, the departments aren't and you'll find a load of difference sharing a large house in the middle of Nantucket when compared with a two-person room in a college style dorm in the woods near Old Faithful...or at least I did.
Bad room mate, great supervisor, bad meals, free tours...all sorts of factors have an influence on the overall experience. Getting your arms around the ones that are important to you is somewhat personal but the star resorts get better general reviews than the dogs so that's a place to start. Fancy doesn't mean a star treatment of employees and rural isn't synonymous with second rate. The C-Lazy-U dude ranch in Colorado had the number one rating in the industry by former employees for years as near as I can tell. However, one manager can make or break a whole property by the way he insists his supervisors treat their departments and his or her departure signals a new regime that may be somewhat less upbeat, if you know what I mean. So the place you find at the top of your wish list today may not be quite the same in 5 years but the only thing you can do is keep up on the "weather" and try to plan accordingly. Best of luck to you.
At 8:38pm on October 26, 2008, Beth Howell said…
Hi Lisa! Unfortunately, life got in the way and I had to rescind my contract. However, I did visit the park with my son, and even met the gal who took my position after I had to give it up. The park is great and I know I will find the opportunity to be out that way again as soon as possible. Good luck to you and your adventures.
Beth
At 1:32am on October 25, 2008, Dan said…
Hi Lisa,
Glad to offer you some insight... Housekeeping everywhere is real work. Along with dishwashing and laundry, it is usually the hardest job to fill and the easiest to get hired for. As such, it's kind of a magic carpet as everyone's looking for well-adjusted maids. That said, many people have complained about housekeeping and aim to
transfer to something less drudge at the first opportunity. Also, I have a couple of friends who worked as dishwashers summer after summer for the predictability and the niche quality, i.e. NOBODY messed with the dishwashers - who'd want to take that job away from someone? Personally, I've had a niche job myself - night audit - for many years. You have extra security due the hours and rise or fall on your own efforts, something I found I liked. HK may be your niche but one proviso, in many properties the realm of housekeeping belongs virtually 100% to minorities of one kind or another, e.g. Blackfeet Indians, Jamaicans or what have you. Your Human Resources clerk should be able to supply the information wherever you apply. When you look over the great plain in Yellowstone Park just before getting to Old Faithful, you'll often see two distinct herds, one elk and one bison, separated by a few yards but not intermingled. That seems to be the way departments in resorts work. A security department will be 100% Blackfeet Indian and an accounting department will be 100% white. A housekeeping department will be Jamaican with a single exception and vice versa, a bell department will have but a single Jamaican...
The departments will speak their own language and have their own cultural ways and interests. I have never spoken a minute to a Mexican about American football despite having worked beside many of them over the last 2o years. Ditto with skiing, if you know what I mean...
If are looking for a housekeeping department that would have other young people such as yourself, I might suggest Yellowstone Park where I was a houseman briefly. The HK staff there was a reflection of the average US population and not a stronghold of a minority. Still, making beds all day is on the physical side with an "ick" factor as you call it plus you are eating lunch in the employee dining room maybe with someone who has a breezy job where they visit with guests and never perspire. All in all, some wonderful resort experience has been had by those who worked the hardest and I believe housekeeping is hardest after PBX operator, the latter having the worst conditons of any job in any resort... Housekeeping isn't a bad idea for getting your feet wet.
My first job was another niche job of the hard-to-fill variety - dishwashing. I had extra security and was set up so I couldn't fail in an all new setting. It was at Copper Mountain, Colorado, and we had a wonderful crew who all went partying after together and I soon was trying to see more of our gorgeous manager who seemed to feel the same way so the so-called prestige of the job is not usually a factor in the social scene, at least in many places.
In every property or resort, there is usually a hierarchy of departments by money, popularity and so on. In Glacier Park, for instance, the main dining room waitstaff made the most money but the most popular job seemed to be bus driver. Older folks all swore by one of the gift shops while I liked night audit as did some of my friends. Other of my friends preferred the anonymous dishroom, a job they never took home with them.
My suggestion would be to try the housekeeping department at Signal Mountain Lodge in Grand Teton National Park. Signal Mountain has a 50% return rate each year among their seasonal employees and the scuttlebutt on the resort is tremendous. A little sweat when you are in paradise isn't so bad. There, whether you like housekeeping so much or not, the resort is so nice that you'll have a good time while learning maybe what department exactly is most your speed. Good luck.
Dan
At 2:47pm on October 16, 2008, Sue said…
Lisa that is good that you have someone who can help you learn what you need to know to drive and park a trailer by yourself. Now I will say that there will always be someone who will help you get into a parking spot at any park. Listen and ask question every chance you get to those that are doing what you want to do. You have some time before you get out there with a trailer so put it to good use. Compare information, one person does it one way but another will tell you his way, but in the end you apply what you have learned your way. I have yet to met someone who was not helpful or friendly. You may not have the strength in your arms to do some things but learn how to over come that or just plain ask a man who has the muscles to do it. Get a good insurance that has roadside assistance for a RV. That way you can call someone to help if you have a flat tire. I carry Good Sam Roadside Ins. But there are others out there that are just as good. My best advise is to do your research on this and know what your getting into. Decide if you can handle it. But it is not that hard. Keep asking me questions and I will help as much as I can from a woman's stand point. If I can you can.
 
 
 

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