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Olivier Beck

F&B Trainee
Gran Meliá Fénix, Madrid

“Even though I mostly start at 6 o'clock in the afternoon and finish in the middle of the night, I feel sad thinking about having to leave the hotel, my colleagues and last but not least Madrid which was already in my heart after only a couple of months."

5 months in Madrid
"The first year at Hotelschool The Hague was my first experience of living independently and outside of my small home country Luxembourg. I must admit I was quite nervous when I got accepted at the Gran Meliá Fénix Hotel in Madrid for my Practical Placement. Not only the thoughts of working for such a big company as Meliá International Hotels (especially since the Fénix in Madrid belongs to the top brand of the chain), but also the fact of getting to know a new city, a new language and most of all a whole new culture, made me excited and a bit insecure at the same time.

August came and before I could even spend more thoughts on my adventure, I was already in the very middle of it. Loaded with 2 big suitcases I arrived in this enormous metropolitan city of Madrid with over 3 million citizens. "Foreign culture, foreign language, foreign habits!" - those were my thoughts the first days.

Spanish people turned out to be very easy-going, making it a lot easier for me to get accustomed to my new situation. Not only at work, but also in the streets and in shops people tried to help me where they could, especially when they noticed my language skills in Spanish left a lot to desire.

In the hotel - after having been told I was going to work in the bar (Dry Cosmopolitan Bar, one of the most famous cocktail bars in Spain). I got welcomed and taken into the team so cordially and genuinely that I could not believe what was happening. The whole bar team, from my supervisor to the fellow colleagues, they were all welcoming from the beginning. Even though my Spanish was quite poor and work experience quite scarce, I was thrown into the cold water. In other words: the first day of work, my supervisor handed me a tray and said: "Table 4 is yours!"

Hardly remembering from the small introduction which one of the over 50 tables was table 4, I somehow managed to take the order of the guests and serve them with only minor understanding problems.

At that point, I could not believe how they tried to teach me things, but looking back I must say: this kind of learning was the best and most efficient way I can imagine now to remember things. Even though I had a couple of tricky situations like misunderstandings with guests or things I did not do the way that was expected from me, I must say that I am infinitely glad to have known a working team so helpful and kind that every time I got told something, it burned itself like a mark in my daily working habits. The fact that I was given a lot of responsibilities (like serving people in a high-class cocktail bar) made me pick up a lot of tips, tricks and know-how. Even though my shifts are quite hard (I mostly start at 6 o'clock in the afternoon and finish in the middle of the night), I feel sad already thinking about having to leave the hotel, my colleagues and last but not least this city which was already in my heart after only a couple of months."

Campus The Hague

Brusselselaan 2
2587 AH Den Haag
Tel +31 70 351 24 81
E-mail info@hotelschool.nl

Hotelschool

Campus Amsterdam

Jan Evertsenstraat 171
1057 BW Amsterdam
Tel +31 20 851 29 00
receptionam@hotelschool.nl