It is a sunny Tuesday in December. A group of smiling students dressed in suits crosses the entrance door of the university campus Les Roches, in Marbella. They talk about Christmas holidays, when they will have to travel, crossing half the world, to meet their families: one of them will flight to Costa Rica, another will flight to Nepal. English is the common language.
The international atmosphere can be felt as soon as you enter the hall of the main building, where students of 76 nationalities meet every morning before the beginning of class. This cultural diversity is one of the distinguishing marks of Les Roches, a private hotel management school created in Switzerland in 1954 which opened its doors in one of the main centers of Spanish luxury tourism, Marbella, in 1995. Since 2004, it is also based in Shanghai, China, breaking into the Asian market. This prestigious university is the cradle where future managers of hotels, restaurants and other companies related to top international tourism are trained. This is where managers of companies such as Kempinski, The Ritz-Carlton, Marriot or Hilton, among many others, are educated.
Les Roches Marbella is a hotel school where students have the opportunity to practice the different areas of the industry: catering, cleaning, cooking, customer service… All the imaginable jobs in a hotel are represented here and are performed by the students themselves since the campus is a hotel simulacrum. Students live and study on campus during the first year. From their third semester, they can stay in the surrounding residential areas.
They perform all kinds of tasks, from taking out the trash to managing a team, creating a menu for one of the restaurants and serving it or cleaning a room knowing what product is appropriate for each space. That is, learning how things are done by doing them oneself: practice, practice and practice is the philosophy followed by this renowned school, rated as one of the best hospitality and tourism institution in the world and ranked as the world top 3 concerning employability. Therefore, it is remarkable and, at the same time, understandable that many theoretical lessons are given in demo rooms, which reproduce typical spaces of a hotel.
In this way, this system implies also a good dose of humility for students since, in addition to developing skills for management, finance, protocol or human resources, they learn how to work in all the hotel departments, even in the cleaning room or in the kitchen. They learn about the operation of a hotel from the inside and this is essential for their entering the labour market in the future.
“To know if a bed is well made, if a dish is correctly executed or if a room is not properly cleaned, you must have done it yourself,” states Mano Soler, the school Operations and Student Services manager and former student of Les Roches Marbella. He adds, “beyond the typical tasks that they must perform in their future jobs, the main objective is to develop skills for working as a team.”
The different academic programmes offered by this university are based on American academic systems and are divided into semesters. Students can start their training in September or February every year, when the courses begin: the university degree in Global Hotel Management, which lasts three and a half years, or the postgraduate courses in International Hotel Management, whose duration ranges from one year (the shortest one) up to 15 months (the longest).
All these programmes combine months of theoretical lessons with internship stays abroad. The students of Les Roches have the opportunity to travel around the world for periods of several months to carry out their internships in places as diverse as Thailand, New York, London, Saudi Arabia or Shanghai. They also have the opportunity to study at Les Roches Switzerland or Les Roches China for one semester if they wish to change campus. Enrolling in this prestigious school offers students a whole range of opportunities and experiences.
As for the internships, renowned international companies attend the school to recruit students from Les Roches for their teams. A high percentage of students, around 95%, receive brilliant job offers before graduation, with an average of five offers per student, according to the school. Career opportunities are numerous, and hundreds of companies visit the campus in order to recruit their future managers. Not only large hotel chains visit Les Roches to seek excellent professionals of the hospitality sector, but also more and morecompanies such as Apple, Qatar Airways, Booking, Valentino or Louis Vuitton select alumni of the school for their management positions.
These brands sell experiences and therefore, they need professionals trained in social skills, who are able to empathise and understand clients so as tosatisfy them. And this is exactly what is learnt in Les Roches: creating happy experiences for their future clients. According to this philosophy, Les Roches provides students with activities to develop their emotional intelligence. This way, students value the opportunity to know the inner working of a hotel but they are also aware of their great personal development since they have at their disposal tools for getting to know themselves better. These are the details that make a difference and have positioned this university in the international top 3.
In addition to services for personal care, as the psychology service, they also cultivate values beyond academics. Les Roches has mandatory volunteer programmes for all students. During their stay in the school, they carry out volunteer work with non-profit organizations in Marbella, raising funds through solidarity events.
When a student crosses the doors of the university campus in Marbella, they are making their way to a new universe that will change their conception of the world. Multiculturalism, trips to other corners of the world, new friends, personal and professional knowledge. However, beyond all that, they are granted the opportunity to build their own happiness.