Igor Travels Abroad

"In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take."


Leave a comment

Student Life, Promotion Day and Masterclasses

Mid-terms have finished and the second part of the school has begun. I did well in most classes and got the majority of A’s, 2 B’s and a C, which was bad because that was the class I felt most confident in, but now realized I needed to study more for it.

It usually works out that way in school, the most challenging are the most rewarding and better grades and I don’t think I did well and the things I think I did super well in, I didn’t. Either way, it was a good wake-up call because I know I can do even better in that class.

Classes went well this week and student life is great. I love being here and it feels like school is becoming like a big family day by day. Nevertheless, the stress is starting to get to me a little bit due to the class load and how many projects are coming up. Nevertheless, it’s a healthy challenge to learn proper time management and organize myself properly and do well.

The usual daily life went well we had our banquet promotion which we did with our group to get people to register and practice for promotion day (a day when we promote tickets for our banquets, and the winners get to go).

Afterwards, we held our the promotion day today, getting the last registrants in with our amazing class. We had a lot of fun and got the students involved in doing the limbo in the middle of our cafeteria which we attempted to transform into a jungle for our Africa Banquet. It was hilarious and cool.

Next up, this evening was Chinese night which was very fun and delicious with sweet and sour pork, rice and many other yummy foods from China. It was really yummy and our students decorated Gate 85 (our cafeteria) to be Chinese.

Afterwards, we had our red wine masterclass where we had a professional teach us about amazing red wines from the Bordeaux region of France and we tried many wines and learned about their history. We had a lot of fun tasting wines and winding down a little bit after the stress of the week.

Last but not least, to complete our Friday evening, I went with a walk with my friends by the lakeside as the beautiful sunset set over the blue waters of Lake Geneva, behind the majestic Swiss Alps.Now, I’m off to watch some movies with a friend and enjoy my Friday night and look forward to sleeping like a baby with the rainy weather outside.

 

 


Leave a comment

Studying Abroad, Goodbye America and Hello Switzerland

The Friday before last, I had a blast with my little sister and family. We went rafting at the US National White Water Center, where we hit some big waves and paddled like crazy. It was so much fun and not only did we end up soaked at the end of it, we really had a ton of fun. Afterwards, we went rock climbing and did a lot of other fun things!

After packing my bag, I guess I was ready to depart the following morning. Or was I? Definitely not! Dad took me out to get an amazing American breakfast at First Watch. I had cheese grits, whole wheat bread with fresh jam, the most amazing omelet and their famous, Million Dollar bacon, which is literally bacon topped with maple syrup, cayenne and brown sugar. It is too die for! Afterwards, we headed to the airport. I never like leaving my family so it’s always difficult to say goodbye as well as leaving my home. Nevertheless, it was time and I had to leave.

 I kicked back and relaxed on the airplane and had an apple cider ale and enjoyed the sunset. 

8 hours later, I arrived in Frankfurt and boarded the train to go to Switzerland. I prefer going through Frankfurt, as I usually save $700 or so booking through there and can get some rest and enjoy the quiet ride through the German countryside. Plus, there is a great Starbucks at the Frankfurt airport. 🙂

Either way, a few hours later I arrived in Montreux, where I would be starting school on Monday. I arrived at the reception and was warmly greeted and received by the school. I then went to my dorm room, which was located at the most unusual location, Igor Street (named after Igor Stravinsky).


As I was exhausted, I got some rest and woke up the next day to attend the reception and introduction. There I met my school colleagues, class mates and teachers. I was sincerely impressed by how nice everyone seemed to be at the school and the diversity of the students from all over the world. I got my schedule and got ready for school!

 

The first day went really great. I met a few of my teachers and they were all very supportive and helping me get adjusted to the new school and classes. Honestly, one of the main reasons why I decided for Hotel Institute Montreux was by how much the staff seems to support the students on their educational journey and also cause them to challenge themselves and become better. And the students are really awesome. Not only did I feel welcome here but also started meeting many great, smart and interesting people my age. Of course, I’ve only been here for 2 weeks now, but so far, it’s only getting better and better. The Swiss culture is still a challenge as places close early and things are pricey and it’s very different from home. Nevertheless, the school has a very international and even somewhat American atmosphere to it and I like it. We even had an ice-breaker where we literally broke huge pieces of ice with a hammer, ate delicious food and got to know one another.

My friend Daniil and I breaking ice together 😀

The courses additionally have been very practical. For example in sales and marketing, our teacher partnered with a local business where we are doing a marketing case study for them to help their marketing efforts. This is really exciting, instead of just sitting in class and only learning theory where one easily forgets the next semester what they learned. Many projects are going to be due, but practical ones, such as organizing an 80 person event for our convention and event class. Overall, I’m taking some great classes such as resort management, financial / managerial accounting, sales and marketing, convention management, principles of management, front office management, operations, information technology management, housekeeping management.

When not at school, I’m busy working out at the local gym (yes, the school even provided a free membership for gym, gym classes, sauna, steam room, etc!) as well as hanging out with my friends which I have very quickly made, doing fun activities around Montreux, playing video games with friends in the student lounge or even walking into the middle of a movie being filmed at the local bar.

There are so many activities and events being organized at the school, it’s hard to keep up with it all. For example, I just completed a Champagne Masterclass organized by the Champagne Society of France and next week we are learning about cigars in another class and real estate by an entrepreneur and many other great things. Overall, I’m still getting used to it all, but I like my school and my classes.

 We even did some very fun activities in class, such as learning about leadership in management class through….legos. You might think that sounds absurd, especially I did at first, but I actually learned something. Our team had a manager, assistant manager and employees. The goal was to have the employees rebuild a lego construction given to us by the teacher by the manager telling the assistant manager who would tell the employees what to build. The catch is, no pictures were allowed and only the manager could see the lego build. What would seem like child’s play, was not so easy, if very challenging. Simple assignments like these were really fun but also challenged our communication and made us think critically and creatively on how to come up with solutions.

My favorite part as well is that our class sticks together for all the different lectures and subjects taught. This is awesome not only because I have an amazing class, but also because we get to know each other better and really become a team. It’s a truly awesome education and I’m loving every minute of it.

I’m now going to go enjoy my Easter weekend, after a long week at school and can’t wait for Monday. Stay tuned until next week, I can’t wait to update you on some amazing new activities, pictures and possibly travels on the weekend!

Have a wonderful Easter weekend and talk soon!

Igor


Leave a comment

My Internship at Gstaad Palace – Home Away From Home

I know that I should have kept my blog up the past few months but they have been so busy that I really didn’t have the time or energy to do so.

Now that my internship is coming to a close for my studies and I have a day off, I wanted to sit down and write about my internship. It really has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far and now being at the train station looking up at the majestic Gstaad palace glimmering in the backdrop of the Swiss Alps, I really now begin to realize how much I will really miss it.

The past few months I have really grown close to the Palace, to my team, and my amazing coworkers and leadership who have taught me so much about not only business and hotels but also life, how to treat others and the real definition of responsibility, proper hard work and true hospitality.

I have had my ups and downs, my struggles and challenges and also highs and elated moments where I did an amazing job and life was great, which I will share. But overall, it was truly life changing. So in a nutshell, here is my synopsis and story of my internship in Gstaad, working in a Palace in the heart of the Alps, just out of a winter wonderland fairytale. Let’s begin!

I am studying international business and hospitality management with a focus on finance at Hotel Institute Montreux

Studies in Switzerland are very practical as they require a semester of school where one learns the theory and practical side of hospitality such as how it all works “on the books” and in the classroom. We even learned how to make our own hotel and restaurant and actually did it out first semester! Then comes the real world, where we separate from our friends and find internships anywhere in the world to learn the practical side of hospitality and work for 4-6 months. It is a hard, difficult process with tough hours, minimum pay, and yet one learns so much and really sees the theory in action and uses it.

Due to an amazing circumstance of events, I somehow was lead to finding my internship. More specifically, I had a coffee with our previous Airbnb host from Switzerland named Monika, one of the most incredible, kind and hospitable persons I have ever met. If you ever do travel to Switzerland, you definitely have to come to her cottage La Tranquille overlooking the beautiful waters of lake Geneva and majestic Swiss alps.

She told me about this amazing, almost magical place in Gstaad which I was awestruck by. After our conversation, I immediately called HR and applied and within a week and after visiting, I had the job. I would be working as a front office agent for one the most prestigious hotels in Switzerland and of the world. Gstaad Palace is also one the last privately owned and operated hotels in Switzerland of its stature.

I started in November and learned how to run a reception and finances for over a month and a half before the winter season began. Since Gstaad Palace is a privately owned hotel and also seasonal, we opened our winter season on December 21, 2018. Before this, I learned the basics, how to do check-ins, check-outs, meet standards and do financial accounting and balance the books as well as many other things.

The cool season began with a hot start, with Nile Rodgers and Chic coming to the Palace and preforming for our guests. Christmas was nearly there, snow was falling, and the landscape transformed into a winter wonderland of snow with the white palace walls beaming down overlooking the town of Gstaad.

Guests of every stature and walks of life came, from near and far to enjoy drinks by the fireplace in the lobby bar, or dine at our authentic restaurants and experience the Palace first hand. Additionally, they came to party at the Green Go, our famous or should I say infamous night club. Finally, many enjoyed authentic fondue and raclette in our Fromagerie, once a World War 2 bunker that housed Switzerland’s gold.

Families came where we already prepared Christmas trees for them and decorated for Santa’s arrival and the Palace was full of life and joy. I felt like I was living in a fairytale. Christmas and New Years was incredible. Us trainees decorated the Palace and transformed it into our theme “Arabian Nights”

I quickly learned how to work with others, smile, and deliver an incredible experience to our guests to make them come back time and time again while doing my best to learn the ropes of what it really takes to handle a reception and finances and be responsible for my job. I found a movie from the palace and attached it below.

I have many memorable stories that will last a life time from the Palace, but my favorite would have to be to see the family tradition of the Palace come to life again and again and be passed from generation to generation. One guest that I checked in came with his mom and dad, his wife, and daughter. His mom brought him to the Palace growing up and now he was bringing his daughter. 3 generations of family tradition in a place that stays still to the ever changing and hectic world, where people come to finally have a breath of fresh mountain air, relax and feel truly at home. That is the Palace tradition and it is like a second-home and family atmosphere.

Even the leadership treated us like family. For example, even the owner / general manager and vice director invited us to have lunch together and get to know me and my other colleagues more.

I loved my internship from day one to now. My colleagues are the most incredible people I have met and their kindness, instruction, knowledge, humor and teamwork brought me closer everyday. From having the most amazing boss to incredible teams from the Concierge, Guest Relations, Sales and Marketing, Food and Beverage, Room Service, Housekeeping and so many more, I will ever be grateful for the short but most sweet time I had.

Of course there were hard days, and days when I made mistakes. There were days where I wanted to take the sheets and pull them over my head and go back to bed, yet I did anyway. And it was so worth it.

Thank you Gstaad. Thank you guests. Thank you team. It was amazing!

Now, I will go home on vacation with my family on an incredible cruise in the Gulf of Mexico and be back in April, refreshed, alive and ready to start a new chapter of my life: Year 2 of business and hospitality school at the incredible Hotel Institute Montreux, located on the beautiful waters of Lake Geneva.

Many adventures await so make sure you are subscribed and stay tuned for the future.I promise to keep my blog much more active now and keep you updates with my amazing travels, adventures and journeys more often, as I did when I did my CBYX exchange program. (:

What is a situation that recently challenged you or has been rewarding for you in your life? Leave your comments below.

Until soon and take care.

Yours Sincerely,

Igor

PS: I recently ran to the top of a mountain and was able to capture this photo. I think it’s very nice and wanted to share it.