Q: Cecilia, New Stewardess, 21:
I’ve been offered a housekeeping position for the summer- but in a villa on land! Do you think it will help my yachting prospects to have this kind of villa experience? I’ve done heaps of dockwalking and had a couple of interviews but I’m not having much luck yet on the yacht job hunt. I still have a fair bit of money left to wait it out, as I saved really hard for a whole year before coming here. The villa is huge and the owner is really famous apparently, so I’m guessing it will be helpful to have worked for someone like that. But I already had hotel housekeeping experience, so would this really add that much more to be worthwhile? I’m worried that I might be giving up on my dream too soon if I take it!
A: The Crew Coach:
It can be challenging when we’re offered a job- but it’s not quite the one we were after. In an industry as competitive as yachting, I think it’s valuable to see absolutely all high-end hospitality experience as a stepping stone towards the yachting goal, even if you feel it’s a bit of a detour from your original dream of spending this summer on a superyacht.
As such, I’d say that a housekeeping role in a large villa for a high-profile owner is a really viable opportunity for you, and one that will stand you in really good stead for a large yacht position come the autumn hiring season. You must remember that although you have hotel experience in housekeeping, you don’t have the experience of working as personal staff for Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, which is very different.
Doing a season in the villa should give you the following skills and knowledge:
- How to clean like you’ve never cleaned before, thereby raising your standards to yacht level.
- How to care for expensive fabrics, fine materials and objects.
- How to work and live in a luxury villa team under a head housekeeper/butler etc.
- How to behave professionally and discreetly around a high-profile family as part of their household.
These four skills are extremely transferrable to yachting, so when it’s time to update your CV after the villa, focus on these elements.
There are also lots of advantages to working in a villa that you should keep in mind, including more dependable time off and a bit more freedom to explore the South of France. I’d strongly recommend that you stay in contact with the crew agencies and hang out with yachties during the season so by the time autumn comes around, you’re a familiar face and therefore the first person people think of when a role comes up. Also, everyone in your boss’s circle is connected in some way or another, so that family you’re working for on Cap d’Antibes or wherever it is will probably be well-known in yachting circles, and this villa owner may even have their own yacht. Regardless, your CV will be much, much stronger for having that villa name on it.
It’s competitive out there, and while you have lots of money saved to hopefully outwait the competition, the season is getting underway and many yachts are completing or have already completed their hiring. You have to weigh up the possibility of spending all that money you spent a year saving, or taking the really valuable opportunity right in front of you. You’re very young, if I may say so, and if a career in yachting is really what you have your sights set on you have plenty of time to make that happen. This villa role will be a great learning experience and think of it as being a perfect apprenticeship for that great yachting job you’ll be in a great position to get next season.
If you elect not to take it and decide to hold out for a yachting job, make sure you have strongly highlighted your housekeeping experience in your CV to show it was at the highest luxury level possible. For instance, focus on VIP guest contact if you had it, teamwork in pressure situations, and an ability to work fast but with extreme attention to detail.
What do others think, I’ll be interested to hear your comments below!