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Sandals Montego Bay chief engineer Carwin Lawrence (foreground) and (background, from left) Devran McFarlane, Kamal Davidson and Haynes Lawrence. 
Chief engineer at Sandals Montego Bay Carwin Lawrence (right) points out something inside a breaker box to room technician Aaron Watson (left) and electrician Jermaine Bartley.

The changing face of engineering

There was a time when the functions of the hotel engineering team were relegated to the heart of the house and given little thought except for those unpleasant occasions when structural amenities failed and guests were inconvenienced.

Today, however, the hotel engineering department has evolved beyond a traditional repair-and-maintenance function. At Sandals resorts, engineering teams are leading the way with more knowledgeable management, as the physical structure of their hotels change to meet new traveller demands. They are maintaining the physical plant so as to encourage guest retention and maximum returns on investment while monitoring spend on energy and other resources.

And how are the engineering teams doing this exactly? For the team at Sandals Montego Bay, a greater emphasis on training and a new approach to the hiring process are key.

"Sandals recognises the importance of developing their employees through training, which is why they created the Sandals Corporate University," says chief engineer at the flagship resort, Carwin Lawrence, "and more importantly, it is recognising that this training must take place as the brand continues to expand."

Lawrence also noted that the current expectations for new hires have also changed.

"Many years ago, you had persons who would only focus on one particular area of the operation," he says. "Today, we are looking for multi-skilled workers, we want to develop the most efficient team possible, and that requires persons with several skill sets.

"Approximately 95 per cent of my team is multi-skilled," says Lawrence. "However, they each repeatedly focus on one particular area, so continued training will help to strengthen their knowledge and improving their skills in the other areas of the operation, while keeping them up-to-date with new technology."

Getting recognition

Not only are the engineering teams within Sandals Montego Bay region adjusting well to the growing demands of their industry, but their professionalism and tireless dedication to their jobs have, over the past year, brought them much-deserved recognition.

Earl Cummings, an air conditioner technician in Sandals Royal Caribbean's engineering department, is the current Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association Hotel Employee of the Year and Ultimate Team Member for the Sandals/ATL Group of companies. While earlier this year, the engineering department at Sandals Carlyle walked away with the Department of the Year award for their resort.

This is certainly a new day for the 'maintenance men' of hospitality; they've shown just how important they are to the survival of the industry. They keep the wheels moving forward, and together; they are changing the face of engineering. 

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