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It has been a month since school started but it seems like yesterday when I bid goodbye to my summer break! I am missing every moment of my summer break (of my very exciting summer break). I am particularly exhilarated to share with everyone my two-week trip to Chicago!
The Chicago study trip is part of a program for the Masters Students, where the city becomes a living classroom for us and we get real feel for the hospitality industry.
I am glad to have been part of the very international team for the first ever away-from-Bluche master’s study trip. We were a team of five: from Singapore, Uganda, Morocco, France and Greece.
The trip is designed to enhance understanding and cement knowledge. The concepts we learnt in class are reinforced through observations and questioning. During the trip, we had the chance to examine the latest trends in the industry, explore the different styles of hotel properties, in particular, lifestyle and luxury hotels, as well as experiencing the different cuisine offered in the city.
We were very privileged to receive a warm welcome from many hotels including The Peninsula, Four Seasons, The Trump, SOHO House, Park Hyatt, Hilton, Public Hotel, and were given the chance to speak to members of the management teams.
This is particularly useful because you hear first hand their reflections on current challenges they face and During the conversation, I am able to gain a better understanding of the challenges facing them and the strategies they adopt in order to overcome them.
During the trip, we added in unplanned hotel visits to Langham, Loews, W hotel. We asked if we could go on a hotel tour and many of them, without hesitation, showed us around.
Honestly, I am really overwhelmed by the great hospitality extended to us by all of the hotels. We even met some Les Roches alumni at some properties who came out to greet us upon finding out we were from Les Roches. Indeed, I realise that we live up to our name of being one of the best international hotel schools. Les Rochians are everywhere around the world!
As you know, hospitality is not just about hotels, but about many other sectors, including food and beverage. This gave us an excuse to explore really fantastic food in Chicago. If you are in Chicago, I highly recommended that you plan a visit to XOCO by Rick Bayless. It’s simply amazing. The manager at XOCO arranged a lunch appointment with us to taste the fantastic Mexican food which I really hope to go back once more for.
I am sure the pictures tell the stories, though. We even had the chance to do a kitchen tour and also visited their very own rooftop herbs garden.
Frank Lloyd Wright is definitely a ‘must see’ if you are interested in architecture. We learnt about the concepts used by him and how it can actually relates to many principles applied in hotels today. For example, how you can create rooms within a room, how you should have a flow in your design, how you can integrate designs with nature – something I have never thought much about before this trip. We also visited the Art Institute of Chicago, which later was proven to be beneficial to us as we started noticing that almost all the hotels we visited have impressive artwork in their properties. I gradually learnt to look beyond the art pieces to understand the reason behind the display, which gave me a new perspective in admiring art.
While it was only two weeks in Chicago, the valuable lessons and experiences I have gained will last me a lifetime. I am glad to be part of the team and particularly thankful to Fatima, Doris, Dr. Diamantis and Professor Krenzer for making it happen!
Here a video summary of this wonderful experience 🙂
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