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The winners of the AHA awards 2019 are:

Best Housekeeper in Asia:
Kavita Shah Executive Housekeeper, Vivanta by Taj President, Mumbai

First Runner-up:
Ebenezer Ahimaz Executive Housekeeper, Hormuz Grand and Radisson Hotel, Muscat

Second Runner-up:
Rahul Raj Housekeeping Manager Grand Hyatt Mumbai

The nature of their work demands that housekeepers need to work behind-thescenes. Guests may appreciate the results of their efforts, but housekeepers themselves are rarely appreciated in person. The Asian Housekeeping Awards are intended to change that – to recognise and honour housekeepers who excel in their profession.

Kavita Shah

The 3rd Asian Housekeeping Awards were the highlight of the International Housekeepers’ Summit 2019. Nominations were submitted by deserving candidates from across nations, who considered themselves fit to be nominated for such a prestigious honour. Every year, the AHA awards are keenly contested, and this year was no different.

The awards were judged by a jury consisting of Dr Angshuman Chatterjee, Director at the School of Hospitality & Culinary Art (Neotia University), Sunil Ralph – Group Head of Facility Management Services (GMR Group), and Hari Sukumar, Vice President – Operations, Jaypee Palace Hotel and Convention Centre, Agra.

Ebenezer receives trophy from Santosh Suvarna – HF-CLR

Giving an insight into the selection process, Dr Chatterjee said it comprised three stages. Nominations submitted were first screened by the panel; all candidates headed sizable housekeeping teams at large properties, and were all executive housekeepers. To clear this round and nominated for the next stage itself is an honour. Ahimaz said he had heard of IHS and had long wanted to apply for the awards. Rahul Raj said he applied “because I wanted to test my competence in comparison to my peers from India and abroad”. Shah credits her General Manager with pushing her to apply; “she feels I do not portray an image of everything I am capable of”. Clearly, winning this award can create a tangible difference in the career of a housekeeping professional.

Shortlisted candidates were interviewed by the jury at IHS 2019, during which they were asked questions about their technical knowledge, man management skills, product knowledge, innovation introduced in their working system, and personality. They were also asked about their future plans, and where they saw themselves years down the line. Shah pointed out: “These questions made me think. I had not been asked such questions in a long time.” Chatterjee added that all the candidates fared very well.

The third stage consisted of questions asked by judges, that were answered by candidates on stage, in front of a full audience of delegates. Covering a wide range of personal and professional areas, the candidates had to think on their feet and express themselves as articulately as possible. All the candidates were candid and thoughtful with their responses, which drew applause from the audience witnessing this stage. At the end, each delegate voted for their pick for the winner. The judge’s scores as well as the audience’s votes were both taken into account while deciding the winners.

Jay Raman, Oriental Lotus felicitates Rahul Raj

Thanking everyone who voted for him, Ahimaz said: “This is the first time I am appearing on such a big stage. It is a great honour for me to be awarded in front of 250 of my colleagues.” Raj commented, “I have been in the industry for just three years, and winning is one of the best feelings of my life”. The Best Housekeeper in Asia Kavita Shah revealed: “At this point in life, when you have worked for more than 30 years and are towards the end of a journey, you think no one recognises you or appreciates you. To get it now is mind-blowing! This award made me feel very special.”

All the winners agreed that being awarded by their peers – who understand their abilities, and the challenges they face – makes the awards so much more special. Chatterjee said, “The award is meant not just to recognise talent and excellence, but to also push housekeepers to take their work to the next level”. Surely, this year’s will take back with them not just their prize, but the feeling of being recognised as the very best in their profession.

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