Vila Foia (B&B Benchmarking)

In our second week, Julia, Gary and I went to Vila Foia, a B&B east of Monchique to see what the day to day tasks are. The guest house is managed by Stephanie, Lily helping in the kitchen and another local to maintain the garden and green areas. Villa Foia is classified as a sustainable guest house and has solar thermal, is build with local building materials and employs locals. The house is owned by P. Ackerman, and part of the Stiftung Kreuzberg. It has been running for a whole year now with occupancy peaking in August.

Due to the little information upfront we only set the breakfast tables, before Julia and I were taken down to the laundry room to see Fatima – a lovely Portuguese cleaning lady who helps with the laundry and cleaning of the rooms two days a week in low season. First we helped Fatima to take down bed sheets from the drying line, next I mangled all Pillow cases. Julia, very proficient in Spanish talked away in Portuguese attempts. It was a great opportunity to improve my understanding and I got most of the gist and was able to express simple things like ‘at the house of my parents, we also had a mangeling machine’. In fact, very useful every day phrases! Anyway, when mangling,  everything is mangled twice before a third and last time – folded. Also keep an eye out for dirt marks.

After that we helped clear the tables after breakfast and feasted on the left overs. Next Stephanie showed us the booking system and to do sheet for the day – a paper version for each month and explained the challenge in busy months to reach high occupancy and arranging the rooms so that guests would not need to be asked to move rooms during their stay. Warming up a little and noticing our genuine interest she elaborated on experiences with clients e.g. people who forgot to pay, or write bad reviews on booking.com (there main POS), or understanding the stress catering for 24 people if you are by yourself. It’s always the bad that stick in one’s head.

After that Lily asked me to help her with the rooms, cleaning occupied rooms and preparing rooms for new guests. The rooms get cleaned twice weekly whilst occupied. The nice little touches:

  • Fresh flowers
  • Fresh, refrigerated fruit
  • Bottle of water and glasses (Bottom up)
  • Triangles folded into toilet paper and tissues
  • Every guest receives a torch on arrival. (It’s quite dark outside at night)
  • Every room is called a local plant
  • Every bath room has a different painted tile as a centre piece (nice detail to tell new guests when showing them their room)

When occupied beds are shaken, to shake off hair and alike, the bed linen pulled and stretched, pillow are puffed and the bed sheets folded in thirds. All surfaces in the bathroom are wiped with alcohol cleaner, vacuum cleaned, and all leaves from the balcony are collected together. Finally the floor is mopped, the dirty glasses, plates or cutlery are replaced and new fruit is provided.

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