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The Corporation

Posted: 28/03/19

Industrious students take the lead at a Nottingham hotel

Travel and tourism, catering and hospitality students from West Nottinghamshire College have enjoyed a very successful week running a busy hotel in Nottingham with seamless professionalism.

  • Students who worked as heads of hotel departments, with Julie Oliver (fifth left), head of HR at Crown Plaza, and Helen Wilcockson (fifth right), curriculum manager
  • Colin Watson cooks ocean pies for over 80 lunchtime diners
  • Amy Salmon, Julie Oliver and Jess Darwood-Brown in one of the hotel's bedrooms checking cleanliness standards
  • Abi Greenwood and Sam Street worked dilligently as food and beverage assistants in the bar and lounge
  • Jess Vick and Jess Darwood-Brown took up the roles of front of house manager and general manager respectively
  • From chefs, to receptionists and general manager, the students relished their time at Crowne Plaza
  • HR Manager Julie Oliver shared information about IHG hotels and the many career pathways available
  • Just a little cake prepared by the student chefs
  • Neve Anstee, food and beverage manager was filmed by media production students about her role at the hotel
  • Over 40 students took over Crowne Plaza enthusiastically
  • Nareece Buxton with head receptionist Bina Patel
  • Media production students interviewed students throughout the week

More than 40 students were hand-picked for a ‘take-over’ exercise at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Wollaton Street, Nottingham (18-22 March). They fulfilled almost every role from general manager, concierge and house-keeping assistant, to linen porter, chef, bar assistant, and catering and events supervisor, along with managerial positions across HR, finance, house-keeping, food and beverage, and reception.

Students were shadowed by hotel staff to gain practical experience of operating a large, fully-functioning hotel to complement their college-based training. It was also part of InterContinental Hotel Group’s (IHG’s) National Hotel Takeover in partnership with People 1st and their programme designed to encourage more young people to work in the hospitality industry.

Throughout the week, television and media production students from the college filmed the activities and events as they unfolded, ready to edit a feature documentary on the work experience with a difference.

The college’s lifestyle curriculum manager Helen Wilcockson said: “Our students were a true credit to the college during their week at the hotel. I watched so many of them use great initiative as they were immersed into new roles in a setting that many have never experienced before.

“They truly relished the experience and throughout the week I saw chefs, managers and supervisors in a range of trades absolutely shine and develop those all-important employability skills.”

Jessica Darwood-Brown, who is studying on the Level 3 Diploma in Travel and Tourism, took up the role of general manager. She said: “Working at Crowne Plaza gave me a lot of experience that you don’t get in the classroom. You get to see what everyone else is working on across all departments and have the chance to inter-connect your job roles.

“It’s given me such a great insight into the industry. I found that speaking to guests and other managers really boosts your confidence.”

Amy Salmon took up the role of housekeeping manager. She said: “Keeping up with high standards is paramount in this role. With 210 rooms you have to maintain cleanliness and effectively lead the team which ensures each and every room is looking immaculate every day.”

Level 3 Professional Cookery student Colin Watson spent his week as head chef. He found it a very different environment to the college kitchens, preparing and cooking over 200 lunches on the first day.

He said: “At the hotel it’s a very different style of catering but such great fun. Myself and other chefs all worked very hard and got along well. It’s given me a great insight into careers in catering.

“At college we run a functioning restaurant, but in the Crowne Plaza there are many different areas of food service, such as breakfast, room service, bar meals, restaurant meals. Everyone works so hard each day. Even though we’re students, we had to make every effort and do the best we could do as there were paying customers eating our food.”

Level 3 Hospitality and Supervision and Leadership student Neve Anstee became the food and beverage and conference manager for the week which saw her managing staff across two very busy restaurants.

She said: “As a manager there’s lots of responsibility and you have to be ready to answer their queries as well as be there to reassure guests.

“Working in this busy environment, allocating teams of staff between the two restaurants has really developed my organisational skills – it’s really boosted my confidence.”

The hotel’s human resources manager, Julie Oliver, said: “I received so many positive comments back from our team about how mature, helpful and confident the students were. I hope we have given them an excellent experience and an opportunity to decide on a career in hospitality.”