The Housekeeping Olympics Are Real and Have Been Happening for 30 Years
It was a dramatic week for hospitality workers in Las Vegas earlier this month. Hotels around the city were preparing for the F1 Grand Prix. The Culinary Workers Union was organizing a potential walkout. While hundreds were fine-tuning their bed-making skills for the 2023 Housekeeping Olympics on November 13.
The Indoor Environmental Healthcare and Hospitality Association has organized the games for over 30 years, but like much of the internet, we’re just finding out about it too.
We’re not alone in thinking this would be more entertaining than the F1 race, (and probably more relaxing).
At the Michelob Ultra Arena at the Mandalay Bay, seven teams from Las Vegas hotels competed alongside a housekeeping team from the Department of Defense and two groups from Canada. In the end, the Bellagio was crowned the winner.
Some team members have been at their hotels for decades, proving that not everyone can make a clean bed. “My whole life I’ve been doing beds,” Febe Rodriguez told the Washington Post. “I can do it with my eyes closed.” A guest room attendant, she’s worked at Bellagio for 18 years and took the gold for bedmaking this year.
A potential strike almost stopped the games from happening
Rodriguez is an active member of the Culinary Workers Union too. She is one of the executive board members of the union and its 53,000 members. It is one of the most powerful unions in Nevada and Rodriguez has been an active part of their outreach.
In 2022, she was one of many members who went door-to-door canvassing for the Democratic Party ahead of that year’s elections.
But her work at the Olympics is just as important to her, especially on the tails of a win for the union. “Last week we were angry,” she told The Post. “But now we have the contract, so that makes the spirit wake up.”
Three years later, the Housekeeping Olympics were back for the first time since before the pandemic
Other than making beds, contestants also participated in a mop relay, vacuuming race, buffer pad toss, and other challenges. The Olympics usually take place every year and people can come watch for free as these cleaning professionals compete. Like the other international Olympics, competitors are welcomed with a parade before facing off in the competitions.
In the past, the event has had around 5,000 contestants. This year it was a few hundred but they were just as spirited with competitors dressing up for the event.
Some were in all camouflage, others wore shirts that said “I Love My Job, My Job Is Important,” on the backs.
That’s exactly the kind of message the IEHA is hoping to send with these games. As Executive Director Michael Patterson explained in the press release announcing the event, the game “highlights the importance of excellence in the cleaning industry and recognizes the hard work and dedication of the participants.”
The Las Vegas contest has even inspired other housekeeping competitions in other cities like Denver and Banff in Canada.
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