Zoe Bridger, Gleaner Intern
The University of Technology (UTech) is building an exciting new facility for students in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (SHTM). A fully functioning, 10-bedroom, 20,000-square-foot hotel is in construction to provide students with world-class training in all aspects of their chosen field.
The project, funded by Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), UTech and the Government of Jamaica, is expected to cost in excess of $300 million.
Nigel Cooper, lecturer at SHTM, explained: "No other institution in the English-speaking Caribbean has the extent of these facilities. There is no need to go to culinary schools in North America; everything here will be first-class."
Proudly sitting with the architect's drawings in front of him, Cooper continued: "The hotel rooms will be arranged according to four different styles; European, North American, Asian and Caribbean. In this way, students will be exposed to leading international designs and settings."
As well as 10 rooms in varying styles, the hotel will boast 7,000 square feet of culinary labs, a restaurant able to seat 108 guests for fine dining or 250 guests in banquet style, a front desk, a lobby, and a large conference room. The hotel will be built and run as an exact replica of a normal working hotel and will enable students to gain valuable experience in every aspect of hotel work.
The university's current restaurant, Lillian's, is still very much in operation and the present culinary labs and training rooms will remain available for the students to use. "This new building will expand existing facilities, not replace them," Cooper explained.
Just like Lillian's, this new hotel will be open to the public, and with more than 700 students in the school, Cooper doesn't expect to have any difficulty finding guests to occupy the rooms: "We don't think there'll be much need to advertise with so many students telling their family and friends."Building work is expected to be complete by around September 2013 and, of course, there will be a grand opening event. Room rates are still being finalised and potential names for the hotel are top-secret.
"This project has been on the books since 2006," Cooper explained, "and the entire school is very pleased that it's now a reality."
With building work taking place all around the school, the impression given by UTech's SHTM is that it is very much on the move, growing larger and more prominent both in size and ability.