By Terry Trucco
A hotel on high ground with power, water, room service and a big bathtub can be a great place to ride out a hurricane – if you’re a guest.
But what about the people who work there? “It’s definitely a lot more fun to stay in a hotel during a hurricane than work in one,” says Daniel Jones, a former employee at a luxury hotel in Orlando, Florida who writes the popular travel blog The World of Deej.
We asked D.J., as he signs his blog posts, what it’s like to be on the job at a hotel when a big storm strikes.
+ How many hurricanes occurred while you were on the job?
We had two storms pass through during my adventure in the hotel business. One was a moderate tropical storm and the other was a hurricane.
+ Why are hurricanes no fun for hotel staff members?
If you show up to work before a storm, you’re more or less committing to be there for the duration. This could make for some very lengthy shifts stretching into days instead of hours. An event like a hurricane requires that a hotel staff member be a “Jack of all trades,” which is already somewhat inherent to the business. During a storm, a hotel might have entire departments not be able to make it to work and as a result may pull from others to keep things running.
+ How does that work?
During one storm we had phone operators delivering room service and front desk staff assisting housekeeping with deliveries. It’s during these events that the strength of your team really becomes important, and thankfully I was part of a pretty great one.
+ Did the hotel put you and other staff members up during the hurricane to keep things running smoothly?
We set aside two rooms for staff to use to shower and rest. After working 24 hours straight, nothing felt so good as a hot shower.
+ Did you encounter any guests who made unreasonable demands during a hurricane?
Overall most guests are understanding during storms, but there were always a few exceptions. Thankfully we didn’t experience much disruption in service overall, so there wasn’t much for them to be upset about.
+ How do hotels make sure they don’t run out of food, drink and other basics during a crisis?
It is impossible to fully prepare for an event like Sandy. Hotels rely on so many outside suppliers for food, linen, etc. that if there is a disruption which goes beyond a day or two they will most definitely begin to run short.
+ Did your hotel ever lose power while you were on the job?
Thankfully no, but less than two weeks after I left the hotel a new storm passed through, and they weren’t so lucky. Guess I timed that one just right.