Running a hotel that offers programs and amenities for children requires employee certification, training and extensive sanitation.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Offering programs and amenities designed for children can help drive demand during the heavy leisure travel summer months, but those offerings also require hotels to hire more skilled staff members and housekeepers, sources said.
The Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Manalapan, Florida, offers year-round child care and summer camps. Counselors are hired just for the camps and are often brought on with experience in other forms of child care.
“We usually advertise specifically for camp counselors,” said Catherine Warren, spa and leisure director at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa. “It’s usually best to hire people who have worked at YMCAs, camps at any other children’s program, so we do try to have educators and people who have a strong background in working specifically with children.”
Staff training and certification
As a beach resort, safety is a top concern for children’s programs at Eau Palm Beach, Warren said, and that plays into the resort’s hiring criteria.
“We require (employees) to be CPR-certified before they can even start,” Warren said. “Since we’re at the pool and the beach, it’s just best in case of an emergency since we’re by the water that (employees) are able to resuscitate the child.”
At the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, employees go through specific training before staffing kids’ programs.
“The company’s recruitment process is rigorous and includes thorough background and reference checks,” Allison Collie, senior director of resort programs at Atlantis said via email. “Once an applicant successfully passes the application and training processes, the (Atlantis Kids Adventures program) management carefully selects the (employees) we feel will be best fits to keep our young guests safe while having fun while in our care.”
The Plaza hotel in New York offers an Eloise suite for children staying at the hotel. To keep guests of the Eloise suite engaged, all employees at The Plaza are trained to “keep track of Eloise,” according to Donovan Alicea, director of operations at The Plaza.
“Whenever a child asks a staff member where Eloise is or what she is up to for the day, without missing a beat, the (employee) responds with a fun and exciting answer, such as, ‘you just missed her!’ or ‘Eloise just left The Plaza for a shopping trip to Paris with Nanny,’” he said via email.
Alicea said The Plaza always has a first responder team on-site that has been extensively trained in pre-hospital care for medical emergencies, such as food allergies, CPR and stabilizing head injuries.
Kids’ facilities at the Eau Palm Beach are in an 8,000-square-foot facility downstairs at the hotel. Warren said the housekeeping staff comes in at night to sanitize the facility, and the night cleaning job is negotiated in the hotel’s housekeeping contract.
“We go through and (list) specifically the needs of that area because there’s a lot of disinfecting that’s involved,” she said. “Obviously, because there are so many children, like those little monkeys from ‘Outbreak,’ they’ve got hundreds of diseases that they carry with them, so we make sure that we scrub everything down.”
Alicea said each room at The Plaza is treated the same in terms of housekeeping needs, but the staff is very detailed-oriented when it comes to cleaning up kids’ suites such as the Eloise and Tower suites.
“Both The Plaza’s Eloise suite and Tower suite have a diverse array of unique in-room amenities such as DVD collections, branded sweet treats, costumes, books and milk and cookies delivery service that need to be replenished and perfected prior to any guest’s arrival,” he said.
Collie said the housekeeping staff pays “extra attention to areas of the property that serve children such as the kids’ club and Atlantis Kids Adventures.”