Students at South Downs College have boosted their hands-on hospitality experience by taking over the running of the Langstone hotel in Portsmouth for three days.
Operated by BDL Management, the four-star, 148-bedroom Langstone was overseen by more than 40 students aged between 17 and 19.
With 19-year-old Karl Giles (seen here on the right) at the helm in the role of general manager, the students staffed two weddings, a large conference and a birthday party, prepared and served nearly 1,500 covers and cleaned a total of 455 rooms.
To staff the Hayling Island hotel - which includes a two-AA-rosette restaurant, fitness centre and Synergy Beauty Academy - 43 positions were advertised to the students, who had to formally apply and be interviewed by the college and hotel management.
After the takeover, an awards ceremony recognised the hard work of all of the students involved in the project, with a number of the prizes presented courtesy of the initiative's official sponsor, Kenwood.
Neil Taylor, chief operations officer at BDL Management, explained that this was the second time the company had hosted the student takeover. "We were told that we couldn't beat last year's excellent results but all of the students proved that they have what it takes to succeed in our dynamic and fast-moving industry," he said.
"The initiative is a fantastic opportunity for hospitality students to get a hands-on taste of the variety of positions within a hotel environment, while helping to develop a talented and multi-skilled future. While we get the chance to spot the star performers and meet potential employees, we are also able to give something back to the industry.
The experience of being so hands-on in a working environment has helped many of last year's students from South Downs College gain jobs - including Sandy Lowe, who has now been employed as junior operations manager at the Langstone.
The Langstone hotel was also recognised for the initiative, winning the "Young People" award at the Springboard Awards for Excellence 2011 and the "Amazing People in a Sustainable Business Partnership with a School or College" award at the Education Business Partnerships (EBP) Awards 2011.
By Janet Harmer
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