Phenomenal response to Tourism in Schools Programme, says Sandals Ochi GM
With their gaze firmly fixed on the future, Sandals Ochi Beach Resort in St Ann recently rolled out the red carpet for 30 students and two lecturers from the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), as part of the resort’s much-touted Tourism in Schools Programme (TISP).
Carol Bourke, general manager of the hotel, was a picture of excitement as she welcomed the students to the resort, and expressed hope that they would find the experience quite meaningful. She described as “phenomenal” the response to the programme to date.
“The Tourism in Schools experience aims to give hospitality and secondary education students the opportunity to observe the day-to-day resort operations and expose them to skills they would need to excel in today’s dynamic industry. This is important as many have done the theory but haven’t been exposed to the practical aspect,” Bourke said.
The UTech team attended a high-energy presentation covering key topics including food and beverage, spa and guest services. Students also benefited from motivational sessions hosted by the hotel’s management team.
Well-received presentations were delivered by, among others, Neil McLeish, assistant food and beverage manager; Jennie Core-Brown, Red Lane Spa manager; GM Bourke and Lyndsay Isaacs, regional public relations manager, who has worked with Sandals from her time as a student.
Much of the presentations centred on the growing number of job opportunities in the hospitality industry, Sandals being no exception. After that the UTech team were hosted on a tour showcasing the resort’s modern and key selling points and its luxury rooms and suites. The group was also hosted for lunch at the Sky Terrace Restaurant, one of the 16 dining options at Sandals’ largest Caribbean property.
“This is my first time at Sandals and hopefully not the last,” said Aesha Gardener, a student who could not contain her enthusiasm. “I am a fourth-year student studying hotel and resort management and I found the various presentations by the staff to be quite excellent.
“Each speaker had something new, informative and enlightening to share. I definitely learnt a lot and I am happy to be here. I also hope to work here in September when I finish my programme,” Gardener added.
Bryanna Webster, first-year student in Culinary art and management, also commented: “It’s my first time at a Sandals Resort and the staff is welcoming. I certainly want to join this team and work when I finish my studies.”
Sherona Noble said: “I am a food service lecturer and coming to Sandals today I have been reminded of what true service really is. I feel the loyalty to the brand, not only in the persons who have been so gracious to us and the students, but also it seems to come directly from the top. The general manager was so inspirational in just that short time that she spoke.”
Rose Marie Headley-Smith, lecturer from the Papine, St Andrew-based UTech School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, said: “The experience for me today was certainly not a surprise. I have been engaging with Sandals for some time now regarding field trips and internships and I knew it would have been my choice for students to have the experience because the standards have been consistent.”
The TISP represents one of the many community outreach initiatives spearheaded by Sandals geared towards creating opportunities and exposing students to the hospitality and tourism industry.