During the mid-semester break, my friend, Vonny and I chose to spend our 9 day-long vacation in United Kingdom. After some research, we chose to visit Edinburgh, Manchester, Bath and London to visit different types of British cities.
It was one of my favourite holidays to date as we had a diverse range of experiences – from staying in multi-bed hostel rooms to a homely Bed & Breakfast; from visiting museums to enjoying ourselves at a thermal spa. It was really enjoyable to plan the itinerary as we had the opportunity to apply our new insights and appreciation of the hospitality and travel universe. I thought of highlighting some of the things we would not have done if we hadn’t studied at Les Roches.
Whiskey – the Scottish know their stuff!
After learning about the process that whiskey is made, Vonny and I thought it would be interesting to join a whiskey tour in Edinburgh to learn more what makes Scottish whiskey unique. It was really great to put learning into practice, as we had the chance to see the equipment used as well as the whiskey to taste! We also visited the world’s oldest whiskey collection, with the six bottles which started the whole collection and were more than 100 years old each!
Bed & Breakfast – hospitality with class and style
To vary our hospitality experience for this trip, we chose to stay in three different types of accommodation providers – bed & breakfast (B&B), two hotels and a hostel. We were treated like royalty when we were guests at the B&B establishment in Edinburgh. The room itself was a reflection of typical architecture during Georgian times: high ceilings and a comfortable and welcoming bed. The lounge in which we had breakfast, had book collections and random trinkets from the early 1900s, many family heirlooms, which the owner had meticulously collected over the years. Breakfast was made with love and was absolutely divine, served in silverware. Vonny and I had a taste of what it feels like to be on the other end of service, and were inspired to spread such warmth as we continue on this career path.
Back-of-house tour – a sneak peek into a luxury hotel’s operations
One of the benefits of attending Les Roches is having the opportunity meet with hospitality professionals from various companies and properties around the world. Prior to arriving in London, I got in touch with the Director of Food and Beverage at the Bulgari London to arrange for a back-of-house tour of the property which was opened in May 2012. It was eye-opening to learn about the process and skills required in setting up a new hotel. Despite being purpose built, many problem-solving skills were required to create and implement proper standard operating procedures to ensure smooth operations. As one of our school projects was on kitchen design, Vonny and I certainly found the visit helpful in terms of bridging the gap between theory and practice.
Some other highlights include visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia, the Palace of Holyrood and Windsor Castle to learn more about the history of the English Monarch. We also enjoyed finding our way to Hogwarts through Platform ¾ at King’s Cross Station and visiting the Harry Potter movie studio, watching a live performance of Les Miserables and taking photos with the cast members, and eating and shopping to our heart’s content!
I have never considered working in the United Kingdom before this, but after having experienced English hospitality, I am now interested in returning to the country to be part of it, to learn more and to share! Leading up to job opportunities next year, I have been attending various company presentations and will be sharing my insights in a future post.
All in all, it was a memorable trip, and I feel especially privileged to have created and shared these wonderful memories with a new friend. Indeed, as Tim Cahill said, ‘a journey is best measured in friends, not in miles’.