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Painter’s World: “Please Find My Dolly.”

A True Hotel Holiday Tale…

 

She couldn’t have been more than five years old. I’d just rounded a building, and climbed out of the golf cart. The little girl ran toward me.

“My dolly. Mein puppe. My dolly.” Tears gushed out of her deep blue-green eyes. Wide with fear. “My dolly,” she sobbed, as she grabbed onto a woman’s hand.

“May I help you, Mam?” I asked.

“My doteur lose her doll.”

 

It was Christmas Eve at the hotel. Guests and visitors swarmed the property. The Seralago was at full capacity. Actually at overflow.

I knelt down to the child’s level. “What is your dolly’s name?”“

“Katweena,” she cried. “Dolly Katweena.”

“Katrina? That’s a pretty name.” The child reminded me of my sister. What she probably looked like at that age. Beautiful, natural wavy hair that encircled her round face. Like an angel’s golden halo.

“Can you tell me what your dolly looks like?”

“Like me.”

“Blonde hair?” I looked to the mother, who struggled with her English.

“Katrina large. (The woman moved her arms about 20-22 inches in height.) “Baby doll. Pink dress. White pinafore. Shoes, like Marta’s. (She looked down at her daughter’s white tie shoes.

The little girl had inched closer to me. “You find Katweena?” she asked, almost in a whisper.

How could I refuse? It may have been close to clocking out. But, no way could I leave that property before finding that child’s doll.

“Madam, do you know where your daughter might have left her doll?

“We – family – by pool. Close gazebo. Husband and sons swim. I read in chair. Marta stand by small pool, for little ones.” The woman’s voice sort of dropped away. Her eyes full of concern.

“I’ll start by the pool then. Where will you be, Madam? What room?” I stopped. Family of five, I thought. “Does your family have a suite here?”

“Yes. Suite. Children’s fun room. Building 100-200.” She hesitated, “Please find. Must fly home day after Christmas. Germany.”“We’ll find your daughter’s doll.”

“We’ll find your daughter’s doll.” The lady smiled, then bent down and hugged her little girl.

 

Standing, I reached for my mobile, and called Security.

“Please put out the word. We’re looking for a lost doll. Long, blonde hair. Pink dress, white pinafore, and white tie shoes. Doll is 18-22 inches tall.” I told security where I was, and the guest’s suite number.

I felt a tug on one of my pants legs. My “whites” were splattered with pastel yellow and mint green paint. (We’d had an incident in another suite. It needed a quick repaint, the entire suite.)

“Please find her.” The little girl’s eyes bore into mine.

“I will. I promise.”

 

After clearing where I could find the family within the next hour, I re-parked my golf cart. And I took off.

First, I scoured the entire pool area, including the gazebo. Also the children’s playground. Just in case. I checked every spot within that general radius, certain that the child had not wandered far from her family’s location by the pool.

For over a half-hour, I looked. Nothing. And, no one else – in security – had found the doll either.

I decided to find the family. To reassure the mother – the little girl – that I was still looking. And that other staff members were looking, too.

The family was back at the pool area. The little girl spotted me and met me part way. “You not find my Katweena,” she said. Lowering her eyes to the ground.

“Not yet.” I bent down. “But I’m still looking.” I forced a smile. “She has to be here somewhere. Right?”

“Wight!” The child agreed. A slight smile appeared on her tear-moist face.

 

About fifteen minutes later,  I looked toward a sort of out-of-the-way corner near the gazebo. I’ll never know why. Something just pulled me there.

I darted toward an area opposite the pool. Past the gazebo. Around the corner. Toward this nearby pool supply building.

There she was! Doubled over on the concrete walk. I couldn’t wait to grab hold of that dolly. Wipe her off. Straighten up her dress and pinafore. And, smooth down her curls.

 

I will always remember the look on that little girl’s face. The moment she spotted her dolly in my arms.

It was the same kind of “love-look” that I remembered seeing, many times, on my sister’s face when we were kids. Especially when she was playing with her Madame Alexander Baby Doll.  “Cookie.”

"COOKIE" circa 1972

 “COOKIE” – circa 1972

 

I worked the next day. Christmas Day. And, I had the chance to see little Marta and her family before they caught the shuttle to Orlando International Airport.

Working on Christmas – that Christmas – offered such a remarkable reward. The gift of being surrounded by people – hundreds of families – on the most important day of the year.

 

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Bless you and yours this holiday season.

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painting Them: Hostels for Youth and Young Adults

In January of 2017, I will, for the first time, meet a third cousin from Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Frederich III is a professeur of microbiologie. He and five others have been invited to the United States to present papers on the impact of environmental changes upon our health.

 

Fred has two sons. They operate a large guest hostel located in a coastal city.

 

They employ a painter part-time. One of his jobs involves supervising youth and young adult “stay-overs,” who want to earn part of their room rates by doing some painting at the hostel.

 

Few of these young people have ever picked up a paint brush. Except, perhaps, an artist brush. So they do not know their capabilities in this area. Until they put a brush in one of their hands.

 

To make their possibly first painting experience a positive one, the hostel painter works them in pairs. Then, he lets them select, from a duty list, the small painting project they want to take on.

 

Most projects involve interior surfaces and areas. Repainting of the drywall parts of the ceilings, supported by huge rough-sawn beams. Filling, sanding and re-varnishing of the paneled walls in most sleeping rooms. Patching, sanding and refinishing of the hardwood floors, located throughout structure.

 

One of the biggest challenges is the repainting or refinishing of all surfaces in all public areas and “pass-through” corridors, as well as the miles and miles of dark oak stairs, railings, banisters, and trims. There’s a steady flow of traffic in and out of every area – 24 hours, seven days a week.

 

To help solve that problem and make it easier for the young guests to get the painting done, Fred’s boys developed a rotation system. Different two-person crews would be available to do painting at different times of the day or night. Translation: whenever a room or area became vacant for even a few hours.

 

Considering that most of the persons doing the work are novices – new to the craft, Fred says it’s been amazing to see how effective the system works. And, how qualitative the painting results have been.

 

“What about the outside?” I e-mailed Fred.

 

He said that the colder climate limits the exterior work that these young people are able to do. A few always come along, willing to put up with the elements while beautifying the outside of the building.

 

Four questions that will be answered later this month, with the help of the co-owners of the hostel.

 

1. How do the products used differ from those used in the U.S.?

2. How do the techniques or methods differ?

3. How do the average costs differ from those incurred in the U.S.?

4. How do the youth and young adult “painters” feel about the results they produce?

 

Fred, a silent partner in the hostel enterprise, already responded to Question 4. “They’re in surprise. Also, they express gratefulness for making some money to help pay for traveling expenses…”

 

Employing young hostel guests is not a new concept. Hostel operators around the world have,, for many years, employed them to work in the kitchen, restaurant/dining area and laundry. Employing them to handle repair and painting tasks and work orders is a newer pursuit.

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Travelers at any age can work their way to their destinations.

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Travel safe, travel well. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s View: Modifying Your Hotel’s Color Scheme

Supposedly, residential painters possess the greatest creative latitude in using color. Their palette is color wheel sized.

Hotel and facility painters tend to be confined to the master color scheme established for the property. Then, specific surfaces, areas and amenities on the property.

That said, they can expand that palette. They can give the property, and people, a huge boost!

 

My suggestion? Start on the right foot.

1. Be certain that you have identified the exact color scheme currently approved by the owners.

2. Check out where what colors are used.
Example: Sherwin-Williams Yellow crème. Front road entrance and lobby/office building.
Example: S-W Chinese Red. Front entrance and lobby building fascia.
Example: S-W Deep Mint Green. Exteriors of guest buildings.
Example: S-W Bright Gold. Exterior doors of guest rooms.

3. Confirm with the owners their preferences and limitations for making color use changes.
Q. What colors in that color scheme can be modified?
Q. What new tints, hues and/or shades are acceptable?
Q. On which surfaces and areas can what specific new colors be applied?

TIP: Get sample color swatches approved in advance. In writing!

 

TEN TIPS FOR MODIFYING COLOR SCHEMES

1. Building exterior fascia and trim. Be consistent.
Example: If the front lobby building is trimmed in S-W Chinese Red, then trim all buidings on the property in the same color hue. The finish may need to be varied, depending on the surface.

2. Option: If color scheme features, say, six colors, use all six at front entrance area. Then, paint the fascia and trim on each building in one, or different hue from color scheme palette.

3. Then, paint other exterior surfaces on or near respective building in that hue.

4. Select one color from the color scheme. Mix two-to-three tints closely related to that color. Choose two-to-three types of surfaces and areas around the property to paint in those different tints.
Example: Park benches, signage frames, litter collection boxes. Paint in S-W Medium Mint Green, one of the new tints.

5. Select two colors from interior color scheme. Mix two-to-five tints closely related to those colors. Then, choose two-to-five types of surfaces/areas to paint in those new tints.

6. Choose two different tints from the same new one above. Paint two areas in the office area in those tints to liven up the workspace.

7. Choose the mid-level tint from that 2-5 that you mixed already. Create accent wall in sales director’s office. Paint darker tint on bottom half of the wall. Then, tint that color two levels lighter. Use that color to apply decorative finish – eg. vertical stripe – to upper half of wall.
Added touch: Paint a long narrow section of wainscoting/trim a darker tint of same color. And install it mid-point horizontally.

8. For the G.M’s office, use the darkest tint that you mixed. Create an accent wall by applying decorative finish on entire wall.

9. In main hallway to a restaurant, brush on a light tint of one of the lobby colors from the color scheme. Added touch: Paint wainscoting/trim section in same tint, or two shades darker.

10. Fitness room. Paint three-foot wide vertical stripe on both entry walls. Use one of lighter colors from master color scheme.

The idea is to build on the color scheme that you already have in place. Wherever possible, you want to extend and accentuate that theme. You want to unify the overall aesthetic appearance of painted and decorated elements on the property.

And, ultimately, you want to strengthen and solidify the guests, and teammates, overall perception and connection to your hotel.

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A painter’s role includes the enhancement of what’s already there!
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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s View: Working a Holiday Shift

Working a holiday shift has its rewards. Take Labor Day at a hotel or hospital.

 

  1. The overall mood of the staff is more upbeat, spontaneous and relaxed.
  2. Guests or patients are feeling upbeat and sociable, even to staff.
  3. Fewer members of management may be around to interrupt your work.
  4. Supervisors tend to move in slower gear, and accept the same from team members.
  5. The painter’s tasks and work orders can often be completed in minimal time.
  6. Management demands cause less stress.
  7. The overall atmosphere around the property is lighter, even enjoyable.
  8. The dining menus offer more festive, fun choices – even in the staff/employee cafeteria.
  9. Lunch breaks may be a little longer if the workload is light – and relatively routine.
  10. More opportunities may come along to chat with teammates – in your own and other departments.
  11. Extra treats, from the chef, may be available for free. Particularly, if he and his kitchen helpers have been cooking for a big event at the hotel.
  12. Clocking out may be a little later than usual; but the reason is usually worth it.
  13. Guests or patients like the chance to visit with you a few minutes.

 

 

Eight Tips for Enjoying that Holiday Work Shift

 

  1. In advance: Pick a painting project you can easily leave and return to throughout the day.
  2. Schedule to eat lunch with one or more teammates, and share the holiday spirit.
  3. Share your morning and afternoon breaks with any fellow staff member that’s nearby.
  4. Help a teammate handle a work order that is clearly a pain in the grain.
  5. Look alive! Lend a hand when you see a coworker struggling with a large arm load of stuff, or trying to move a piece of furniture or equipment.
  6. Treat your supervisor on duty to a soda, coffee, or snack.
  7. Say more than a “hello” to guests or patients located in your general work area.
  8. Volunteer to help a teammate or supervisor with a task or work order so everyone in your department can leave on schedule.

 

Turn your holiday work shift into an experience you wouldn’t mind repeating. And, help others to feel the same.

 

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Your hotel’s or hospital’s paintshop doesn’t close just because it’s a legal holiday.

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Thank you, holiday shift painters, for staying on the job.

 

And thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painting Them: Food Courts and Snack Bars

A commercial food facility, above all things, must serve food and beverages that are widely known, and appeal to the diverse tastes of the public.

 

What type of atmosphere works best to stimulate that hunger for food, or thirst for a beverage?

 

Do you have an established theme? The 50s décor with its juke box, vinyl-cushioned booths and roller skating servers, was a popular style in its day. A well-established theme will keep the patrons, guests, and visitors interested. Coming back for more! And, create a great place for conversation and socialization.

 

Most food courts, whether at a hotel or a mall, are designed for guest comfort. The design should correspond with the surrounding décor. It should incorporate some of the same elements in décor, color, textures, tone, etc. And, all elements used should stimulate the appetite.

 

“Spaces” within the food court: Eating/drinking, socializing, studying, resting.

Special construction elements: Solid woods, steels, metals, laminates; glass, heavy plastic; slip-proof flooring; one level, no steps.

Special features: High traffic, specialty clusters in bigger space, opps. for lots of mingling.

Special needs: Smooth surfaces and corners; no residual fumes/odors; pleasing aesthetically; high durability; easy cleaning and sanitizing; obstruction-free traffic areas;

Exposure: Water, cleaning agents, grease, high heat, etc.

Design elements: Graphics, stripes, geometrics; inlay pieces; food-inspired paintings/murals; original paintings; illustrations.

Color schemes: Bright accents; subtle touches. Inviting, and conducive to dining. Welcoming! Uplifting, cheerful, and relaxing. Also, great for conversation, reading, listening to music.

 

Bring life to your food service area. Here’s how!

 

1. Utilize scenic paintings or photos related to leisure and travel. People love to envision themselves there.

TIP: Hang printed and enlarged photos of enticing scenes on the hotel property. Flowers, plants, brook, fountain, rest area, etc. Hang small paintings found/donated by staff members.

 

2. Paint wall graphics to increase the element of creativity, and to reduce blank wall space.

HINT: An original wall graphics was hung on the walls of two adjoining restaurants, and corridor that connected them. It was the creation of a local paperhanger/patron.

 

3. Vary wood tone colors used on tables and chairs.

TIP: Tables in light oak with laminate, tile, or block tops, chairs in dark oak or even painted.

 

4. Use track and neon lighting with various combinations of colored lights to create mood appropriate for area’s theme. Examples: Friendly, business-like, folksy, formal, romantic.

TIP: The right lighting also enhances the appearance and appeal of the food and beverages. And, the entire area!

 

5. Heavy-textured vinyl wall covering adds to the atmospheric mood.

TIP: Commercial-grade wallcoverings clean well. They’re very durable. They retain color and finish/texture longer.

 
6. Surrounding guests with a sense of memorabilia tends to instill sentimentality and comfort.

HINT: Old kitchen utensils and cooking pots, laundry aids, photos, tools, small implements, etc. lined the walls of The Wagon Wheel in Merrillville, Indiana. Eating there was like eating at a grandparent’s circa 1800s kitchen table.

 
7. Convey a sense of realism by using a system of murals.

TIP: Continuous murals are fun. Example: A walking trail, or farmer’s market, or big garden.

 
8. Refer to the “psychology of colors” to see what colors stimulate an appetite best.

TIPS: Red – Hot foods, romantic drinks; Blue – Cool foods, relaxing drinks; Green – Nature.

 

Above all, you want the food court and/or snack bar to make every patron feel comfortable, and unrushed. Totally welcome there!

 

It’s all about atmosphere. The service. And, definitely, the food, beverages and snacks.

 

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“Food without atmosphere is like tacos without spice.” Rdh

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.” Copyright 2015.  Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

 

Painting It: Hotel Painting Priorities

“First impressions” are so important. Everything that the guest sees is a potential priority.

 

The engineering department knows this. And it is the painter’s responsibility and goal to achieve the highest level of aesthetics he or she possibly can.

 

PRIORITY 1: STRUCTURAL APPEARANCE AND CONDITION, TOGETHER.

 

The hotel painter wants and needs to ensure that all paintable surfaces are in good repair. No holes, no cracks, no rotting and/or splintered wood.

 

A hotel is constructed of drywall, plaster, acoustical elements, wood products, masonry, metals and glass. When one or more of them become damaged, exhibit wear or deteriorate from exposure to the environment, the surfaces need to be repaired, or replaced.

 

PRIORITY 2: WELL-ORGANIZED PAINTING MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE.

 

The hotel painter wants and needs to have a plan for taking care of basic painting around the property. And, he or she has to be able to follow that plan on a regular basis. At his or her discretion.

 

Below is one example of a painting maintenance schedule, adaptable to any hotel or resort.

 

  1. Hotel’s entrance: Clean (pressure wash), then touch up or full paint wall surfaces.

 

  1. Lobby areas and restrooms: Clean, then touch up or full paint, repair wall covering of walls.

 

  1. Guest rooms: Touch up or full paint all surfaces inside.

 

  1. Exterior of guest rooms: Clean, then touch up or full paint wall areas adjacent.

 

  1. Interior ceilings: Clean, then touch up or full paint.

 

  1. Exterior walls and ceilings: Clean (pressure wash), then touch up or full paint.

 

  1. Parking lot areas: Paint as needed.

 

PRIORITY 3: SPECIAL PROJECTS.

 

The hotel painter needs, sometimes, to focus on an area that needs special attention, or renovation. In these cases, his or her priority is transferred to the immediate goal at hand.

 

When this occurs, planning becomes paramount for the painter and the others of the engineering department.

 

Working closely with management is essential for the overall success of every project – structural, scheduled, or special.

 

Always, it is the team effort, commitment, and bond that allows the priorities to be completed effectively.

 

Remember, we all have concerns and priorities. And, we have to juggle them, the best that we can, as part of our daily routine.

 

Let’s do it together.

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Keeping a hotel looking great, and in good condition, is an all-team members/all-staff priority!
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Thank you, everyone, for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

 

Copyright 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

“ERIK, G.M.”

Erik (not real name) had been the hotel’s general manager for over twenty-two years. I’d been told that he’d worked his way up from front desk clerk.

 

Few persons knew that his first job with the hotel had been “maintenance man.” When the engineering department consisted of three persons: engineer, painter and maintenance worker.

 

Erik learned the hotel business – hands-on – from the ground up. Literally. Without a college degree to back him up.

 

He had worked in nearly every department during his career. Thus, he possessed more than a basic awareness of each department’s function, and each worker’s job description.

 

Erik was one G.M. that a hotel staff/team member could not fool. He was one G.M. that every staff member could count on to understand what he or she was talking about, and was up against.

 

More than likely, Erik had been there, too.

 

We met in 2005, when I worked on two painting projects at his hotel. Erik got upset because one of the sub-contractors came to the site every day, and yelled – “bullied” – his own men.

 

One morning, Erik must have had enough. When my contractor came around and criticized my buddy’s and my paperhanging, he was confronted by the G.M., and two men wearing expensive dark suits.

 

In May, I received an email from Erik, through linkedin.com. Now retired, he said that he’d heard about the most recent job offer back at my old hotel. He gave his “30-second staff sales pitch.”

 

What shouldn’t have surprised me was how much he knew about that hotel’s operations. About the painting work that needed to be done there. Also, about the hotel painter’s job with any hotel.

 

Erik’s second starting job at his hotel had been “painter.” In fact, he had set up the paint shop there. He had established its “job description.” He had stocked its inventory shelves. He had written the guidelines that every painter since him has followed.

 

He told me something else that shouldn’t have surprised me either. His first job at – not with – his hotel was as a painter. A card-carrying IUPAT/IBPAT member, employed by a union commercial contractor in the area.

 

“Talking shop” with Erik has been a tremendous experience. He has been able to offer feedback from many vantage points within a hotel organization. Including as general manager, and painter.

 

Being able to “talk shop” with someone like Erik has been a well-timed gift!

 

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“A kind, gracious problem-solving attitude can save years of tears.”  Anonymous

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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.” Copyright 2015. Robert Hajtovik. All rights reserved

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