Hotel Cateys 2022: Housekeeper of the Year – Lisa Williams, the Grand York

08 December 2022
Hotel Cateys 2022: Housekeeper of the Year – Lisa Williams, the Grand York

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Our judges said the Housekeeper of the Year category was especially difficult to judge due to a large number of very high-quality entries, but Lisa Williams was recognised as someone who has "flown the flag" for the role for many years.

The Grand York is York's only five-star hotel and features 207 bedrooms, a spa, gym, fine dining restaurant, cookery school, bar and seven meeting and event spaces for up to 150 guests. As executive housekeeper Williams is responsible for a team of 63, who oversee the cleanliness and the whole property. She has spent 32 years in the hospitality industry, 12 rising through the ranks and 20 in an executive housekeeper role, making her an expert at training and nurturing a successful team.

Williams is passionate about employee development and, since joining the Grand, three of her team have been promoted and she has also welcomed six different students on placement across 2021/22. Under her guidance there is now a monthly housekeeping lottery where two winners receive £500 each for their hard work and dedication. Williams also runs housekeeping appreciation weeks and offers the team gifts and treats to keep morale high, especially during stressful periods.

These initiatives, as well as offering staff flexi-hours and running monthly welfare chats, has meant Williams' team at the hotel has remained fully staffed at a time many others in the industry were suffering recruitment issues.

To ensure the hotel stays up to five-star standards, she runs weekly refresher sessions with her team, who have all been given training in communication skills from Impact London.

The success of her management style has paid off in a flurry of five-star TripAdvisor reviews and an internal guest satisfaction survey, which showed the housekeeping team received scores of 91.51 while working through the busiest months in the Grand's history.

It also helped the hotel win the 2022 Catey award for Hotel of the Year – Group.

As an important member of the UK Housekeepers Association (UKHA), Williams attends monthly meetings with other key housekeeping personnel across the country to discuss industry trends, struggles and successes. She is seen as a mentor and hosted the first UKHA post-Covid at the Grand. The hotel said Williams had an ethos of "doing the right thing'" and her community work has included helping people who have served prison sentences back into the workplace at the Grand. She is also a volunteer for the Menopause Focus Group and is in the process of becoming a member of Hospitality Action.

Our judges were highly impressed with her management style and said Williams was clearly a champion for mental wellbeing in the workplace.

What the judges said

"Recruitment and retention of staff in York is challenging, but Lisa has overcome this and works hard to retain a strong in-house team."

Ian Hughes

"Lisa is a champion of best practice in mental health and wellbeing, and continues to promote and highlight housekeeping and hospitality as a wonderful career choice."

Liz Smith-Mills

The shortlist

Nicoleta Loredana, Royal National hotel

Adriana Milea, the Ritz London

Gosia Oszkiel, the Grand Brighton

Diane Payne, Rockliffe Hall

Lisa Williams, the Grand York

Past winners

2021 KK Prabakaran, Dukes London

2019 Tzveta Ivanova, the Milestone Hotel & Residences, London

2018 Fernanda Telatin Lewis, the Goring, London

2017 Amelia Lawrence, the Grove, Chandler's Cross, Hertfordshire

2016 Jane Steel, Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa, Luton, Bedfordshire

2015 Margo van der Werf, Lancaster London

2014 Joanna Patek, Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5

2013 David Smith, Park Plaza London Riverbank, and Plaza on the River, London

2012 Lesley Skelt, Coworth Park, Ascot

2011 Jude Gallacher, Headland hotel, Newquay, Cornwall

2010 Barbara Sheridan, Thistle Marble Arch, London

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