One of my best friends, Lauren, is a luxury hospitality management student at Glion Institute of Higher Education in Montreux, Switzerland and her life is freaking amazing. From the beautiful Swiss mountain location of her home campus to her far-flung internship in Hong Kong, Lauren is learning the ins and outs of the hospitality industry from experts in the field and has relayed her experiences to me.
Take a moment and evaluate how content you are with your current academic situation. OK, now contact your advisor, grab your passport, and read on to discover the legit fairytale that is luxury hospitality studies.
First off, Glion is ranked in the top three hospitality management schools in the world. THE WORLD. The campus includes the school, a simulated hotel, and five restaurants which are used for practical lessons. Also, the location is gorgeous. You can gaze across Lake Geneva at the Swiss and French Alps while you do your school work (Glion-1, your school-0).
You might be thinking, “Well I could just study hospitality in America...” but that would prevent you from the distinctly European extracurricular activities that Lauren and her friends participate in. Let’s start with their weekly wine club, or oenology club if you want to sound posh, which features events such as cheese and wine pairings, vintage Gruyere cheese tastings, and restaurant and vineyard trips. If traveling is more your style, you could just go on Glion’s sponsored excursions to Milan, Paris, Europa Park in Germany, or skiing in the Alps.
Don’t be fooled by the opportunities to jet-set around the world drinking Champagne though, Glion has a prestigious academic reputation. Students study business, hospitality, tourism, several languages, and practical-based learning.
The practical-based learning includes working in the kitchen, service, front of house, concierge, and housekeeping. Some tips to get you through your practicals: polishing the silver is a serious task that requires a restart if water stains are spotted, but when you are assigned housekeeping, that means an easy week. You can just roll out of bed and begin cleaning without following the strict daily business professional dress code.
Hong Kong Internship
Glion students participate in two internships throughout their studies and Lauren’s first placement is at SPOON restaurant at the InterContinental hotel in Hong Kong. The 1-Michelin Star restaurant overlooks Victoria Harbor and offers skyline views of the city which are illuminated nightly in a light show. Not too shabby for an undergrad internship location.
Lauren works as a hostess, waitress, and bartender in the restaurant where she has to wear white gloves to serve food. Clean and sophisticated presentation is everything in the luxury hospitality world and that explains why the hotel has suits made specifically for each worker and has them dry cleaned everyday. The icing on the cake of this über classy joint is the fact that ceiling is covered in silver spoons.
Even with all of the pomp of living and learning in a luxury environment, Lauren is totally down-to-earth about her future plans. She hopes to design and oversee sustainable hotels and promote international ecotourism. Sustainable hospitality is a growing field and places such as Gaia Boutique Hotel offer an environmentally-friendly luxury experience.