Student Takeover: South Downs College students run The Langstone Hotel for a weekend

Students from South Downs College took over the running of The Langstone Hotel in Portsmouth for a weekend

South Downs College and The Langstone Hotel teamed up this month on a unique project to develop young people's industry skills when a group of students took over the running of the entire Portsmouth venue for a weekend.

The project, which is now in its fifth year, saw the students take a number of key roles across the hotel including catering, housekeeping and front of house. 

With hospitality industry employers often bemoaning a lack of skills in young people who apply for roles in the sector, particularly in hotels, the event is the latest in a number of initiatives which have thrown students into the deep end in order to truly learn what it takes to run a hotel.

“The students did so well," said Clint March, general manager of the 148-bedroom hotel. "They were extremely professional and it was very difficult to tell them apart from the hotel staff. The guests didn’t realise that the takeover had taken place.”

The event served to do more than simply increase the skills base of students - across the weekend they welcomed 520 guests, served 1,750 cover and made over £38k in revenue.

Student Takeover - Slideshow:

The hotel positions were advertised to the students who then had to complete an application and interview process organised by the college and the hotel's management team.

Control

In previous years staff have been on hand to support the students – but this year the number of staff was dramatically reduced, leaving the students totally in control.

Lorraine High, one of the guests who dined in the four-star hotel's restaurant over the weekend, went to thank the head chef for her meal only to discover she had been catered for by students. "I was totally amazed at the standard of food that we were served.

"Every aspect of the meal was first class. The presentation, content and the service were of the highest level expected of fine dining.

"I had no idea that it was students who were responsible for such exceptionally high quality food and service. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of them for their contribution to a memorable meal and I wish them all the very best of luck for the future," she added.

The project is the latest in a number of schemes designed to give students hands-on experience and job opportunities in the hotel sector. 

A Manchester hospitality training provider last year bought a hotel in the city in order to train students and earlier this year the Edge Hotel School - believed to be the first school to provide degree-level studies entirely within an operational hotel - welcomed its first batch of students.

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