TORONTO — Hosted and presented by Hotelier magazine, in partnership with Ecolab, the third-annual Housekeeping Forum brought together housekeeping professionals for a day of discussion and learning at the Chelsea Hotel Toronto.

The event, sponsored by Clean Rest, HD Supply Hospitality Solutions and Chelsea Hotel Toronto, addressed a range of topics impacting hotel housekeeping departments — from ensuring excellence, to tackling recruitment challenges and sustainability initiatives.

In the first panel of the day, Hotelier editor/publisher Rosanna Caira led Isabel Carreiro, director of Housekeeping Services, Doubletree by Hilton Toronto Downtown; Lina Gavino, director of Housekeeping, Four Seasons Toronto; and Reina Rezaie, executive housekeeper, Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites in a discussion examining the meaning of housekeeping excellence in today’s market.

Next, Dale Kurt, assistant regional manager with Orkin Canada, provided insight into detecting and addressing incidences of bed bugs. Kurt stressed the importance of regular training, highlighted tell-tale signs and suggested first steps for when infestation is suspected.

The morning agenda also featured panel discussions on ensuring profitable housekeeping departments through technology and initiatives, and on housekeeping’s role in hotels’ sustainability programs.

During the lunch break, the event’s annual Housekeeping Awards were presented. Maria (Leni) Paner of the Fairmont Royal York was named Attendant of the Year, and Isabel Carreiro of the Doubletree by Hilton Toronto Downtown received the coveted Executive Housekeeper of the Year Award.

Following the award presentation, attendees were offered a choice of breakout sessions relating to labour challenges — one on the value of inclusive employment and the other on strategies addressing recruitment and HR challenges. In the inclusive-employment session, moderated by Hotelier managing editor Amy Bostock, Don Gallant, national director, Ready, Willing & Able; Anne Marie Faria, Rooms Division manager, The Walper Hotel; and Rob Sherman, HR director, Holloway Lodging, made the business case for hiring individuals with disabilities.

The labour-challenges panel featured Steve Renard, founder and president of Renard International; Shalin Parikh, Health & Wellness manager, Chelsea Hotel Toronto; Sara Park, assistant executive housekeeper, Chelsea Hotel Toronto; and Meaghan Joyce, director of Human Resources, One King West Hotel & Suites. Led by Caira, the four discussed the reality of this segment’s aging workforce and strategies to attract young professionals to housekeeping positions.

The day concluded with a panel on the role hotels play in human trafficking. Sandy Biback, CMP Emeritus, Meeting Professionals Against Human Trafficking (MPAHT); detective Dave Correa of Toronto Police Services’ Human Trafficking Enforcement Team; and Kevin Porter, GM, Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites, stressed the ubiquity of the issue and offered strategies and tools to enable hotels and their staff to take greater control of the role hotel properties play in these crimes.

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