CELTIC Manor assistant housekeeping manager Grace Fitzmaurice honed her people skills in a 400-pupil boarding school in her native Ireland before taking on a role at the five star resort.

Grace, aged 56, who started working at Celtic Manor almost 14 years ago as a room attendant, says she has enjoyed every minute of her career at the award-winning resort.

“It’s just such a fantastic place and I have a really wonderful job. No two days are ever the same and you get to meet some truly wonderful people from fellow colleagues to some of the world’s most famous celebrities, sports people and rock stars.”

Understandably Grace won’t divulge secrets or foibles about any of ‘her’ guests but admits she has met them all during her long and diverse career at Celtic Manor.

“We get everyone staying at Celtic Manor Resort which all adds to the excitement and joy of working here. International rugby stars, footballers, golfers, film stars, rock stars, entertainers, politicians - you name them we’ve looked after them here.

“I’ve met loads of famous people over the years. Sir Paul McCartney is the one who sticks out more because he did make a comment saying ‘Oh I’m loving your accent’ so I answered back ‘I love yours too!’. When President Obama was here during Nato it was a very exciting time. During the Ryder Cup I was assigned to the American team’s floor so I was bumping into Tiger Woods and the rest of them all the time.”

Plumping a feather filled pillow in the Presidential Suite Grace adds: “I do have a favourite guest, not a celebrity but a couple that I met here 10 years ago. He was born here in the Manor House when it was the Lydia Beynon Hospital. He comes back every year for his birthday which is always very special.”

Grace is pleased with the way her career has progressed over the years.

“I started as a room attendant. Then went to self-checker, from self-checker to supervisor, then to senior supervisor and then assistant manager.

“I found it quite easy to progress in my career. Once you show an interest and determination to succeed there are a lot of courses laid on for associates here. You are encouraged to go forward with it. The training we get is intense, it is brilliant.

“I just love the Celtic Manor. There’s no doubt that there is pressure to ensure you consistently provide a five star service for each and every one of the guests. That’s part of the job and part of the excitement.

“The opportunities are here for anybody willing to work hard and to show their interest in the job. You have to enjoy the job, you will get a bad day but it is very seldom. Ultimately it is the pride of being able to say ‘I work at the Celtic Manor’, you need that pride.

“I believe the Celtic Manor has a way of getting into your blood. It doesn’t matter what age you are, if you’re young it is a great place to put on your CV, the prestige goes with the job.”

‘We treat everyone as if they are a VIP’

PUBLIC area manager Penelope Inggs has a background in sales and marketing. She has worked for an airline and also in the steel industry as well as having run her own cleaning and recruitment businesses.

Recently arrived in the UK from South Africa, the 49-year-old’s role is to ensure that everything the public uses in the resort is always in a pristine, five star condition.

“My first visit to the Celtic Manor was to have a coffee in Merlin’s Bar. I just fell in love with the place and decided to apply for a position. I met with the executive housekeeping manager at a recruitment day here and I was delighted to be accepted.

“The facilities here are absolutely amazing. The main challenge is that the area my team looks after has a 24/7 demand. At no time can any area be left because we get new guests all the time and you have got to make sure you meet the five star expectations for every one of them.”

But what about VIPs?

“To be honest, it’s very difficult to see who is a VIP or celebrity and who is not when they walk through the door. So the rule of thumb is: treat everyone as a VIP.

“Training here is absolutely unbelievable. They really want you to further yourself. It really helps you to grow. The opportunities here are fantastic.

“The Celtic Manor definitely encourages you to work on any passion you might have so you can excel. Some staff members are happy to stay where they are but the opportunity is always there - it’s just a matter of grabbing the chances.

“Challenge is constant. It changes from one minute to the next. You have to stay on your toes to make sure you meet expectations, especially within the public area.

“For those looking to join Celtic Manor, I would encourage anyone to apply. It’s an amazing place to work.

“The facilities offered are incredible and it’s such a beautiful environment to be in. The other thing is the mix of cultures - you get to meet lots of different people, guests and staff.”