City College Norwich students stage Holiday Inn hotel takeover
They made the beds, booked the guests in, served them their drinks – and organised the small matter of a charity dinner for 150 people.
Yesterday, students from City College Norwich completed their annual takeover of a four-star hotel.
But this was not the kind of work experience where youngsters sat back and watched the professionals – these budding hoteliers really got stuck in.
The takeover took place at the Holiday Inn Norwich North on Cromer Road and involved 80 hospitality and catering students from the college.
From manning reception and preparing meals, to shifts as housekeepers and managers, they were given the chance to experience every aspect of running a large hotel.
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Towards the end of their second day, the Holiday Inn's general manager Devin Grosse said: 'It's great. I've been chatting with a couple of the students just now and it's so useful to them to see everything they have learned in theory being put into practice.
'That's why the link between City College and us is so useful. It gives them a good insight into the industry but also lets them see all the different roles available.'
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But it was last night when the work got really serious as the students prepared and ran a charity dinner for 150 guests.
The event was in aid of Hospitality Action and the college's Student New Opportunities Fund.
With a room full of guests including the head of the hotel school Steve Thorpe, City College principal Dick Palmer, industry experts and their parents, the youngsters were keen to impress.
The students took control of every aspect of the night from preparing the meal to serving it, with just a couple of supervisors on hand to make sure they stayed on track.
Mr Grosse said: 'I imagine they were more nervous than they were showing – but for the most part it's a great opportunity to do it all themselves in a safe environment.'
Last night, the two-day takeover was hailed a success.
Hospitality student Emma Seaman, who shadowed general manager Mr Grosse, said it had given her plenty to think about.
The 17-year-old, from Bawdeswell, near Reepham, said: 'Coming in and seeing the operation of a busy hotel is very beneficial as you get to gain an insight into the industry and get to see all the different roles that are going on behind the scenes. The experience from today has really shown me what a career in the hospitality industry has to hold and I am looking forward to seeing what the future brings.'
Sarah Rope, a 16-year-old student on the hotel reception programme, said she thought the takeover would be a big boost for her CV.
The teenager, from North Walsham, said: 'Today has been a fun and different experience that has really opened my eyes to all of the different things that working on a hotel reception desk involves.
'This has definitely given me the opportunity to gain the vital work experience that my future employers will look for.'
The hotel takeover is an example of one of many relationships the college has formed with local businesses to ensure their vocational courses give students a real taste of working life.
Steve Thorpe, head of the hotel, hair and beauty school at City College, said the hotel's willingness to hand over the reigns to students showed the strength of that link.
Are your students involved in an exciting project? Contact Victoria Leggett on 01603 772468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org