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The struggles and sheer hard work of hotel staff trying to bounce back after lockdowns and other Covid-19 restrictions are shared in a new eight-part series, The Hotel People, produced by BBC Northern Ireland and BBC2.
The series takes viewers behind-the-scenes at The Hastings Hotel Group, Northern Ireland’s largest family-owned luxury hotel chain, which includes the Grand Central, the iconic Europa, both in Belfast, and five-star Culloden Hotel and Spa overlooking the beautiful Antrim coast at Holywood, Bangor. They suffered £16.5 million losses during the pandemic and are now battling to regrow business and recruit staff in a tough market. While guests include Premiership footballers, A-list actors, boxers and beauty queens, the housekeeping teams are definitely among the stars of the series, which started on August 22. They are seen striving to keep hundreds of rooms spotless, and even dealing with bogus bed bug claims.
By the second episode the general manager at the Grand Central has a major housekeeping crisis to deal with and finds himself turning over rooms with the rest of his depleted staff while requesting whether some reinforcements can come across the city from the Europa. Another dilemma is whether taking on inexperienced new staff can fit with the requirements of a five-star property.
There’s some fun along the way, including the staff managing a boom in weddings and afternoon teas post-pandemic and the rescue of a damaged wedding cake.