Hospitality’s rising stars from a Cheshire College South and West are planning to take over the running of the Devonshire Fell Hotel, located in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales village of Burnsall for two days this February.
In a bid to support the next generation of hospitality professionals, and to raise the profile of the hospitality industry, the Cheshire College students will be responsible for running of the whole property, including the hotel’s reception and guest check in, the preparation of freshly cooked seasonal dishes, the serving of food and beverages, room service and not forgetting the bar too.
The students will gain invaluable practical experience of what it is really like to work in and manage a small but busy hotel, to complement their classroom-based knowledge and college-based skills training. Their work will be overseen by the hotel’s experienced team members, who will be on hand to encourage and perhaps even fine tune their delivery, ensuring that this becomes a valuable yet enjoyable experience for both college students and paying guests alike.
This two-day hotel takeover will take place on Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th February and is the result of a symbiotic project, hatched by John Holden, Food & Beverage Lecturer at Cheshire College, South & West, and Richard Palmer, Managing Director of Devonshire Hotels and Restaurants.
The students taking part are studying Level 2 Professional Cookery Level 3 Professional Cookery Level 3 Food and Beverage Service, Hospitality Supervision. They include rising star Leah Castleton, who has been world skills finalist for the last two years and is now in her third year at the college.
John Holden, who is responsible for all Front of house training in the college’s Academy Restaurant, explained more about this exciting hands-on collaboration:
“Our learner’s study at the college and to work in a well-regarded hotel such as The Devonshire Fell really helps to equip them with the knowledge and skills that they will require for full time employment in the future.
The hotel takeover will be an invaluable experience for the students and I’m sure that the guests will enjoy the novelty of having talented students working hard to provide them with a memorable stay. They have had some hands-on practise as our facilities include both a 2AA Rosette, and a AA Rosette standard Academy restaurant at our Crewe and Ellesmere Port campuses respectively, where the students learn to prepare exquisite culinary creations. We are proud to have been awarded AA College Restaurant of the Year for two years (2017-18 and 2019-20)”
Richard Palmer, Managing Director of The Devonshire Hotels and Restaurants Group added, “We are delighted to be inviting Cheshire College students for this hands-on learning experience. Our team are also looking forward to providing valuable on the job training and sharing of their knowledge and experience. I can relate very much to how this will benefit the students as I started with the company as a trainee myself in my late teens. In those days I worked behind the bar serving drinks. I hope that the hands on experience will empower the students to embrace all that the hospitality has to offer and maybe even become hooked just I did! I will certainly be there in February to offer my support”
Guests are invited to participate in this amazing experience for a discounted price of just £75 per person including accommodation, a la carte dinner and breakfast. The standard promises to be exceptionally high. Chef students have already participated in a ‘Master Chef’ style cook off, to determine the three course menus on offer, and this was overseen by the hotel’s Head Chef, Ollie Edwards, who along with Nikki Haddow, the General Manager of the hotel, judged the various dishes; and a canapé selection has also been created especially for this event.
The ‘Hotel Takeover’ complements the work of the Group’s ‘Devonshire Hospitality Academy’ which is now in its second year, and which gives new starters a thorough grounding and apprenticeship, whatever their age as they embrace a hospitality career with the group. Participants enjoy classroom study and online learning alongside their new roles at one of the Group’s several hotels and inns across the regions of Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
The project also contributes to raising industry profile and morale, as the industry has faced incredible adversity in recent years due to several factors, not least Brexit being followed by the pandemic. In 2019 the industry was worth £59.3bn and represented 3% of economic output. This figure is estimated to have reduced to 2% in the years 2021 and 2022. The sector was the most badly hit by the pandemic and yet in the 3 months leading to Feb 2022, there were 166,000 vacancies for employment*. As many people have turned away from the industry, it is especially important for this and other similar projects to showcase the variety of roles and the fulfilment and job satisfaction that can be found within the hospitality sector.
(*stats taken from a Research briefing published May 22, by Hutton, Irvine and Foley ‘Hospitality and Covid-19’ commissioned for The House of Commons)