Housekeeper’s life in Fiordland

This morning I wake up at 8am, my mind a little misty of a dream I do not remember. It’s been four months since I start working as a housekeeper at the Lakeview Holiday Park in Te Anau. I have just thirty minutes to prepare and swallow a quick breakfast. I leave West Arm and cross the park under a fine rain to join the small office of the housekeepers team. The sky is covered. Lill, Veronica, Joy and Summer are already here as usual. I take a look at the distribution of teams. West Arm again! For a few weeks I have spent most of my time cleaning West Arm. Big day ahead. Alex, Joy, Tim and I have 50 rooms to clean in West Arm (with 6 bathrooms, one in each block, kitchen and two lounges) and 13 Standard Cabins to do. The other four teams are also full of work.

Alex goes on foot while Tim, Joy and I embark on Grandma’s car, an old automatic car whose roof is slowly falling apart. We cross the park at reduced speed to get back to my starting point. As usual, Alex attacks the cleaning of the bathrooms, which arranges me, not being my favorite part. I go to the Bauza block and start striping the beds of the rooms I have the key. Ten rooms are still occupied in my block. It is 9am, the occupants have until 10am to empty the place. I give a helping hand to the others and we begin to redo the beds and clean the rooms. Make a room at West Arm is supposed to take only six minutes. Unless you’re a robot, it’s rarely the case. The more expensive is the room, the longer is the cleaning time. In the five star block, where the rooms are real studios, the cleaning takes about 1h30 per room.

It’s 10:30, time for the very important morning break. Fifteen minutes of rest in order to drink the unavoidable tea and to nibble something to give myself forces for after. Of the fifty rooms in West Arm, we only made thirty. And the 13 Standard Cabins are waiting for us. I have doubts about our ability to finish cleaning for 2am, the time of check-in.

Back in West Arm, I clean the floor of the rooms with Archi, the old one, an old vacuum cleaner that does not aspire much and has the ability of getting stuck in unlikely places. We finish the last rooms and runs at full speed towards the Standard Cabins, leaving Alex to his bathrooms.

Lakeview Holiday Park - Te Anau - Fiordland - New Zealand - © Claire Blumenfeld

And again. Undo beds, redo beds, clean tables and windows and vacuum. An unalterable cycle. I have chapped hands that hurt me because of the cold and use of cleaning products. And I have the stomach that shouts for food despite my cereal bar from the morning break. A ray of sunlight suddenly illuminates the park and the atmosphere changes instantly. We get to finish the 13 Cabins for the lunch break. Which is done at 1am and not at noon.Thirty minutes to swallow a quick meal.

All the staff arrive in West Arm kitchen to make sandwiches or reheat in the microwave a prepared dish. It speaks English, Czech and French since Manu and Quentin, a couple of French arrived in early January. I go back to the office where the teams change a bit to help those who still have rooms to clean. The check-in being at 2pm, it remains barely half an hour to finish everything. Supposedly. Most of the time the rooms are finished for 3pm.

We go back to West Arm. Tim gives Alex a hand to finish the last bathroom while Joy and I clean the kitchen. Which looks a bit like hell on earth, with an infinite number of dirty plates and cutlery not cleaned by customers. Despite the posters inviting to clean and store dishes plastered almost everywhere, few people do.

Once West Arm done, we go to Luxmore, another facility in the middle of the park. Likewise in West Arm, the bathrooms, toilets, kitchen and lounge are to be cleaned. It is 3pm, we are the first to arrive, the kitchen is for us. The other two facilities of the park, Kepler and Coronation, are being cleaned by the other teams. I sigh, tired of cleaning again a kitchen. But it’s like that. The first team arriving in Luxmore starts with the kitchen. Thirty minutes later, Jordan, Quentin and Stephanie disembark. They’ve just finished Kepler. They attack women’s bathrooms and toilets. Followed by Manu, Summer and Sarah who start cleaning men’s bathrooms and toilets. Veronica, Natasha and Sophie arrive after to clean the laundry, barbecue and spa.

The day finally ends. Last task, fill the cleaning products whose bottles are empty. I write my hours on the timesheet. And I go back, a little tired in my tiny room in West Arm. Fortunately I do not work tonight as a waitress at the Kepler restaurant. It gives me energy. I have the evening to rest.

Lakeview Holiday Park - Te Anau - Fiordland - New Zealand - © Claire Blumenfeld

Lakeview Holiday Park - Te Anau - Fiordland - New Zealand - © Claire Blumenfeld

Lakeview Holiday Park - Te Anau - Fiordland - New Zealand - © Claire Blumenfeld

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