If you or a loved one has ever suffered from a medical emergency, you would know how hard it can be. And it’s worse if the patient is in a foreign country, especially when next-of-kin are continents away.
This year, two extraordinary hotel service staff went above and beyond their call of duty to care for their guests in their hour of need.
Today, they will be recognised at the National Kindness Service Gold Awards – an annual awards ceremony that aims to recognise service staff who have excelled in the past year to make their guests’ stay as pleasant as possible.
The Pride speaks to the two winners to find out what motivates them to care so deeply for their guests.
He reunited a schizophrenic guest with her worried father
For 37-year-old Lomboy Raymond Rodriguez, who has worked with Crowne Plaza Changi Airport for five years, his motivation is pure and simple.
“I was raised by my late papa to treat everyone as I would my own family,” the Filipino club lounge executive says. And it was his solid upbringing that made him go to the aid of a guest during her medical emergency.
Earlier this year, Raymond was tending to a particularly disoriented guest.
“From my first interaction with Louisa, I knew something was amiss,” he reveals. As Raymond engaged her in light conversation, he found out that Louisa (whose full name we are not disclosing in order to protect her privacy), who was in her mid-20s, had left home in Sweden without telling anyone, that she suffered from bouts of acute psychosis, and that she had left her medication back home.
Louisa also told Raymond she had a flight back to Sweden booked for later that night. So that day, when Raymond finished his shift at 2am, he decided against going home and popped by the airport terminal instead.
There, he was met with a frantic and disoriented Louisa – she had misremembered her flight details. Her flight had left hours ago – around lunch time. By the time Raymond found her at around 3am, she had been wandering around the airport, dazed and confused, for over half a day.
Thinking quickly, Raymond took multiple steps to ensure her comfort and safety. He immediately brought her back to a room at the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport. During their previous interaction, it was revealed that Louisa was a fan of lists. So Raymond wrote her a list of things to do – take a bath, change into fresh clothes, nap, and wait for his call – in order to keep her occupied. He then video-called her worried mother, who told Raymond that Louisa ’s father was flying to Singapore to pick her up.
The hours-long search ended only a little before sunrise. Yet, Raymond doesn’t remember feeling fatigued that night. He was so worried about Louisa that he simply couldn’t rest until he helped her in her time of need.
Later that evening, Raymond was back at work and ushering Louisa’s father to her.
“When they were finally reunited, the first words she said to her father were, ‘Dad, let’s go home’,” Raymond recalls. The intense memory of this encounter still touches Raymond, who admits it is one of the highlights of his 15-year long service career.
Louisa’s father offered Raymond a tip as a token of appreciation. And although Raymond admits he left his home country for monetary opportunities, he turned it down.
“For me, the moment itself was priceless. I don’t need my guests to ‘pay me back’. I would rather they pass the love forward,” he explains.
And while Raymond went truly above and beyond for his young Swedish guest, he tearfully admits that this reunion “is what I wish I could do for my own sister – my own family”.
Almost two decades ago, a series of unfortunate events left him and his two siblings orphaned. As the eldest sibling, Raymond left to work overseas so as to provide for his family, who are still based in the Philippines.
“My younger brother, who is 26 years old, has been asking me to come home for the longest time,” Raymond says. “And while I miss them, I can’t go home just yet.
“I haven’t told them about this award yet, but I’ll show it to them when I receive it. This award will make them understand more of what I do, and why it’s so worth it for me to be where I am.”
He treats elderly guest like his own father and visits him in the hospital
Having worked for Sheraton Towers Singapore for over five years, guest services executive Ernee Parizan Ramlee has met with a vibrant mix of guests.
And although the 30-year-old greets each guest with a welcoming smile, he admits he shares a special affinity with elderly guests and goes out of his way to ensure their comfort.
One of his favourite guests is the London-based elderly Mr Paulding, a regular at Sheraton Towers. (We are not disclosing his full name in order to protect his privacy.) For over a decade now, whenever he visits Singapore, Paulding would stay at Sheraton Towers.
One day, while staying at Sheraton Towers, the 84-year-old suffered a tumble. When Ernee found out, he rushed to the scene of the accident and accompanied him to the hospital. There, Ernee stayed by his side for hours and left only at 11pm when he was satisfied that Paulding would be properly cared for.
Ernee also took the initiative to call Paulding’s London-based son and provide him with updates on his father’s condition. He shyly reveals that Paulding’s son was incredibly grateful for his help throughout this ordeal.
On another occasion, Paulding was recovering from surgery in a hospital in Johor Bahru. When the Johor Bahru-based Ernee found out, he decided to pop by during his day off with his family for a quick visit. The short visit lifted Paulding’s spirits considerably, Ernee recalls with a smile.
Today, Ernee and Paulding’s friendship goes beyond their staff-and-guest relationship. When Ernee got married, he invited Paulding to his wedding. Ernee’s one-year-old son also calls Paulding “grandfather”.
Many other guests have also written in to compliment Ernee on his helpfulness and kindness. And while he admits it feels nice when his efforts are recognised, a part of him doesn’t understand the fuss.
“To me, I’m just doing my job,” Ernee says earnestly.