November 4th was back to school day at Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach as a winsome and eager group of Fort Lauderdale High School students spent part of the day with our industry insiders to learn about the hospitality industry. We were thrilled to host these young folks as part of Broward County’s “Adopt a School” program, a perfect embodiment of Sonesta’s Culture of Caring.
It was more than a casual visit. Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach is a member of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA), which has long had its eyes on educating the next generation of hoteliers. It’s been formally pursuing that goal through its Educational Foundation (FRLAEF). Eduardo Fernandez, General Manager of the hotel is a strong advocate of education and training and so was more than happy to offer a seminar-of-sorts to students of FRLAEF’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Program (HTMP), part of an industry-recognized curriculum designed to prepare juniors and seniors for careers in the hotel industry.
The larger umbrella under which FRLAEF falls is the Florida ProStart program, developed in the 1990s to respond to the booming need for hospitality workers. Since then, its scope has widened beyond the Sunshine State, but many students have found Florida – as a leader in the tourism sector – to be prime training ground. Today, Florida ProStart encompasses more than 30,000 students and teachers at 238 schools, offering a two-year program in management, operations, culinary techniques and more to high school students. It’s a hands-on, vibrant way to get some very promising careers underway. Best of all, it helps both the students who are passionate about the hotel industry and the industry itself.
But back to November 4. Beyond just a tour and a friendly meet-and-greet, the students were there to dive into the minutiae of Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach. They attended sales meetings, management meetings and participated in a Q&A session with the General Manager and Director of Operations. The end result was an insightful and rewarding real-world view of the hotel industry, one that the students will take forward with them into their careers.