The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

At a time when com­pe­ti­tion for jobs con­tin­ues to be a ma­jor fac­tor af­fect­ing peo­ple in Saint Lu­cia, par­tic­u­larly the coun­try’s youth, the San­dals Re­sorts Hos­pi­tal­ity Train­ing pro­gramme (HTP) has been giv­ing hope to scores of young men and women on the is­land, promis­ing to open doors to a brighter fu­ture.

On Fri­day, De­cem­ber 16 some 73 young men and women grad­u­ated from the Saint Lu­cia HTP, which is de­signed to give Caribbean Na­tion­als an op­por­tu­nity to build the req­ui­site skill sets for the Hos­pi­tal­ity In­dus­try.

Dur­ing the Grad­u­a­tion Cer­e­mony at the San­dals Grande St. Lu­cian, one of the suc­cess­ful grad­u­ates, Ms. Soul-Ann Weekes, spoke of a ten-week jour­ney that trans­formed her life from some­one with no ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try to some­one who felt con­fi­dent enough to carve out a fu­ture in hos­pi­tal­ity.

“I must say that this pro­gramme sur­passed any ex­pec­ta­tions that I had ini­tially. I be­gan as a mere green shoot, some­times unsure of my­self in the wind of ac­tiv­ity and of­ten feel­ing vul­ner­a­ble.

"To­day, I stand as a much more con­fi­dent per­son be­cause of this train­ing pro­gramme. I en­tered with the goal to learn as much as I can from those who knew more than me. Af­ter thou­sands of ques­tions, I left the But­lers lounge more con­fi­dent in my abil­i­ties as a work­ing pro­fes­sional. I will now add very, very proudly to my re­sume that I was trained by the best. I was trained by San­dals Re­sorts In­ter­na­tional.”

The San­dals HTP pro­gramme ex­poses par­tic­i­pants to a wide range of skills in­clud­ing train­ing in Food and Bev­er­age, Rooms, Rev­enue, Fi­nance, En­gi­neer­ing, Water­sports and Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The aim of San­dals is to en­sure that the Re­sort has pro­vided a ba­sic un­der­stand­ing of the Hos­pi­tal­ity In­dus­try for these young Caribbean na­tion­als.

Soul-Ann at­tested to her rig­or­ous train­ing: “I am truly proud of ev­ery sin­gle one of us for com­plet­ing this pro­gramme. Some of us had to over­come many chal­lenges to be here and to keep giv­ing our best shot.

"I am par­tic­u­larly proud of those (as they con­fided in me) who were com­ing from fi­nan­cially de­pressed sit­u­a­tions but stuck it through. I’m sure that we all re­alise now that the San­dals train­ing, and the cer­tifi­cate that we would hold so proudly, was worth ev­ery sac­ri­fice.”

The San­dals ex­pe­ri­ence also left Soul-Ann with an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of how im­por­tant good ser­vice is to sup­port­ing Saint Lu­cia’s tourism prod­uct. “One of my fond­est mem­o­ries would be my golden mo­ment of serv­ing an el­derly cou­ple.

"They had both re­tired and had dreamt for quite some time about vis­it­ing Saint Lu­cia. They had ar­rived on is­land full of high ex­pec­ta­tions and I was ex­cited to join my team mem­bers in meet­ing those ex­pec­ta­tions. As a re­sult, this cou­ple not only left sat­is­fied, more than that, they pre-booked their next va­ca­tion with San­dals. It is that per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity to take care of our cus­tomers, and give the guest more than he or she ex­pects, that truly moves me.

"The fact that they would com­mit to spend­ing their hard-earned money on my lit­tle is­land sharp­ened my per­spec­tive. Not only was my ser­vice cru­cial in en­sur­ing that this beau­ti­ful cou­ple left sat­is­fied, I was also help­ing my coun­try.”

The San­dals Hos­pi­tal­ity Train­ing Pro­gramme tar­gets in­di­vid­u­als be­tween 18 and 30 years old who have no for­mal ex­pe­ri­ence or train­ing, as well as school leavers who wish to fur­ther their stud­ies in ho­tel and/or tourism dis­ci­plines.

Soul-Ann Weeks de­liv­er­ing her tes­ti­mo­nial dur­ing the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony for the Hos­pi­tal­ity Train­ing Pro­gramme.

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