At a time when competition for jobs continues to be a major factor affecting people in St. Lucia, particularly the country’s youth, the Sandals Resorts Hospitality Training Programme (HTP) has been giving hope to scores of young men and women, promising to open doors to a brighter future.
On Friday, December 16, 2016, 73 young men and women graduated from the St. 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,” Weekes said.
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 provides a basic understanding of the hospitality industry for young Caribbean nationals.
Weekes attests 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 of our best. 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 realize now that the Sandals training…and the certificates that we would hold so proudly…were worth every sacrifice.”
The Sandals experience also left Weekes with an appreciation for how important good service was to supporting St. Lucia’s tourism product.
“One of my fondest memories will be my golden moment of serving an elderly couple. They had both retired and had dreamt for quite some time about visiting St. 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.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is that personal responsibility to take care of our customers and give the guests more than that 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,” Weekes explained.
The Sandals Hospitality Training Programme targets individuals between 18 and 30 years old with no formal experience or training, as well as school-leavers who wish to further their studies in hotel and/or tourism disciplines.