Towards eco-friendly services at hotels

PETALING JAYA: Travellers, it’s time to curb your expectations about daily housekeeping at hotels.

There is a growing trend worldwide towards more sustainable and eco-friendly practices in the hospitality industry, including Malaysia, says Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang chapter chairman Tony Goh.

Some of the hotels in Malaysia have adopted an alternate day cleaning policy to reduce the use of chemicals and provide a more hygienic environment for guests, he said.

This means that some of the hotels will provide housekeeping service only upon request by the guests.

“Housekeeping is available upon request, which is already the norm. But not every hotel follows the same policy,” he said.

He said hotels that do not provide daily housekeeping services are doing so not because they want to save costs.

He said more travellers are also supportive of eco-friendly and socially responsible businesses.

MAH Kuala Lumpur chapter chairman Lim Boon Eow said some hotels have begun implementing sustainable and eco-friendly practices, including reducing the frequency of daily housekeeping services to conserve water and energy.

However, he said it is essential to note that the availability and frequency of housekeeping services can vary, depending on the policy of the hotel and preference of the respective guest.

In the case of alternate day housekeeping service, he cited an example of a guest who stays the night on Saturday and leaves on Monday.

“In such a case, the hotel may provide daily cleaning only when the guest request for it.

“But even if the room is not cleaned daily, the hotel will still change the towels or sheets if the person asks for it,” he said.

Lim also cited examples in Australia where some room prices are classified as including or excluding housekeeping.

“In Malaysia, four-star and five-star hotels are continuing their daily room cleaning services, despite a shortage of staff.

“However, the hotel industry has already taken measures, such as hiring part-timers or outsourcing the services,” he added.

MAH Johor chapter chairman Ivan Teo said it is a common practice in Johor hotels that housekeeping is provided only upon request.

“For example, towels do not need to be changed daily but guests can request new towels if they are dirty, and bedsheets do not need to be changed daily.

“Many hotels in Singapore have adopted this model. The hotel room is a place of rest for many tourists and business travellers. They leave in the morning and return at night,” he said.

He stressed that hotels are doing so to protect the environment.

As for staff shortage, he said this can be resolved by hiring part-time workers.

“We will also ask staff to multi-task, especially during holidays when there are many guests,” he added.

But in the case of Malaysian Budget and Business Hotel Association, its president Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel said the association has 40,010 hotels across the country and a shortage of 9,167 housekeeping workers.

He said that with the rise in electricity tariff and minimum wage, the cost of operating these hotels has also increased, and they are looking for ways to cut costs, such as sharing housekeeping services with other staff and cleaning rooms only when needed by guests who want to change towels and bed linen.

“And when there is a staff shortage, operators will hire part-time staff or delay room check-in until 3pm and check-out by 11am,” he said.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic and high operating costs had forced them to cut costs.

Malaysian Inbound Tourist Association president Uzaidi Udanis said tour operators, in arranging trips for their travellers, had not been impacted by the new practices in housekeeping.

Furthermore, he said travellers on tour packages would usually just stay at a hotel for one or two nights.

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