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Described by her colleagues as a shining star, a true gem, an extraordinary individual, it came as no surprise that Fiona Hartley emerged winner of the National Tourism Service Excellence Awards.
The pleasant, high-spirited room attendant from Beaches Boscobel Resort and Golf Club holds the distinction of being the first person to receive this award, presented to her at the inaugural ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Montego Bay, St. James, on April 24.
“I am thrilled, I am elated, I am just glowing, I am still weak in my knees but it shows that hard work pays off,” Fiona describes her feelings, after winning the award, to JIS News.
For the past seven years, she has been delivering excellent service to guests, who have come to know her by name, and that extra special touch that she gives to the rooms she attends to.
“My job is to ensure that my guests have a comfortable room.I welcome them and see to it that they have a wonderful stay. I make it my point of duty to know their names, and I call them by their names and ensure that everything is going well for them,” Fiona tells JIS News.
She notes that she finds it a pleasure to add that special touch to the rooms, making them look more inviting for the guests.
“I like to be creative for them. I use flowers to write messages, such as congratulations for, maybe, a couple who just got married; happy birthday; happy anniversary; or create my ‘welcome hearts’ on the beds,” the room attendant says, cheerfully.
She recollects that the idea came one day, when she decorated a room for a couple who got married on the property.
“I said well, the guests are coming back to the same room after the wedding, so I am going to do something special for them,” Fiona recalls.
“I decided to do hearts and swans, so I made the two swans kissing, using the towels from the room, and shell off ginger lilies to form the letters, just married in Jamaica,” she explains.
This is a gift that she has, which got better over time and something she continues to do because of the positive feedback she gets from the guests, she says.
Guests are always pleased by her efforts, and usually want to meet the person behind the idea, she adds.
“Some of the guests request that I decorate their beds everyday and, with me doing this, they feel extra special because I add that extra touch,” Fiona observes.
Fiona suggests that housekeeping is not just about cleaning rooms or making beds.
“It is about making others happy. It is my passion and I enjoy being a room attendant,” she says.
Even though Fiona is employed as a housekeeper, she takes on other roles as supervisor, trainee trainer and even maintenance tasks.
“I do a little of every thing, even maintenance, as it makes my job easier. I do not have to wait on somebody every time to do things for me…I make it my duty to learn to do other things, like plunge the toilet, clear the drains and the pipes,” she explains.
Fiona is no stranger to awards as, throughout her years at Boscobel, she has frequently been honoured for excellence in service.
“My major award was the 2004 Employee of the Year. I have received five Departmental Star awards: Honesty; Excellent Trainer; Total Commitment awards; and the Shining Star awards for five years. All this and more, since working at Beaches Boscobel,” she relates.
Her outstanding service and contribution goes beyond her job at Boscobel, as she is also involved in community and church activities in Friendship, St. Mary, where she lives.
“One of my major commitments in my district is to care for the elderly. I just enjoy working with them and also helping out children with disabilities,” Fiona says.
Her commitment to excellent service is recognised and admired by many of her colleagues, including Hotel Manager, Caroline Cousins, who sees Fiona as an ambassador for excellent customer service in the entire Caribbean.
“We cannot think of anyone more deserving and more poised for rewards than Fiona. She is just a great human being, a fantastic person and we are just immensely proud of her,” Miss Cousins says.
As national champion, Fiona will enjoy a week-long trip for two to St. Maarten, Barbados and Antigua. She will fly first class, courtesy of Caribbean Airlines, and will stay at top resorts in the islands. She also received cash prizes totalling $150,000.
The Excellence Award was created by the Ministry of Tourism and its agencies, and is the culmination of a search to identify and celebrate the best individual and organisation that consistently surpassed the standards for service delivery during 2008.
“It doesn’t matter what you do, just do it to the best of your ability. It is about selling yourself and nobody can sell you, but you,” is Fiona’s message to those who would like to follow her example.

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