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Day Six

By Hospitality in the Caribbean 2024

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Our last day.

We took a tour of Sandles Dunns River. This property was so beautiful. Everything overlooked the water, and we could view some of the rooms. With the view and service, you definitely get a well-paid experience. There are multiple restaurants to dine from, all beside each other. We talked a lot about their internship program during this trip, and this is where I would love to shadow departments. Sandles is the true definition of luxury. From their spa to personalized care, I would recommend this resort to many people. We had an amazing lunch here and met with the general manager.

After our return, we had our farewell dinner. Students were selected to give speeches on their experience during this study abroad. I tried more authentic Jamaican food, such as pumpkin rice.

I am genuinely grateful to have experienced this trip and met with such great people. Although I am not a hospitality major, I have gained much interest in the career field. I hope to go on a trip like this next year. I made such amazing friends with whom I hope to keep in connection. I plan to apply for the internship and gain more experience in the departments I shadowed. I recommend this study abroad for anyone interested in business operations. This is also the perfect trip for someone to gain experience in study abroad. Now that I have experienced this week-long study abroad, I feel more comfortable trying more extended opportunities.

Day Five – Six

By Hospitality in the Caribbean 2024

Day Five:

In preparation for our study abroad, many students and others were able to donate school supplies to Boscobel Primary School. My expectations were very different from what I saw at this school. Not many teachers are available, so some students must stay home. It was a very small school that had many students. The class of four and I were able to complete the worksheets together. We surprised the kids with new bookbags and other supplies. You could tell the teachers and students were very grateful. This was my most meaningful experience on this trip.

We ended the day at the Luminous Lagoon. This experience was exciting, and I enjoyed myself. Every movement we made in the water glowed. I wish I had stayed in the water longer!

Day Three – Four

By Hospitality in the Caribbean 2024

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Day Three:

Excursion Day!!

We had a very early start, but it was made up on the ride to the first excursion, Blue Hole. Blue Hole was very fun, even though I didn’t feel comfortable jumping in the water. There were many opportunities to sit in the water while I watched my classmates jump from such heights. The guides were very alert and wanted to ensure everyone’s safety. Afterward, we went river tubing, which I fully participated in. The guide contributed significantly to our fun. He spun us while we were going down the tough waters. This was my favorite excursion. Finally, my classmates went zip lining. We returned to the bus and picked up authentic Jamaican food on the way back to the resort.

In the evening, we had a tour and dinner at Sandles Ochi. Everyone was dressed in white for the white night. The tour included three properties in one and the central laundry room. There is a chapel at the end of the pier that has a clear aisle.

Day Four:

My favorite day on the whole trip. After breakfast, as a team, we meet with the following departments. I was able to shadow Cost Control. In Cost Control, there is a “grocery store” that the restaurants and bars have to buy from. The weights and costs are double-checked to ensure everything is correct. The bars have a “one in, one out” type of program. Bars must send empty bottles to be checked off and then replenished with the same bottles. Cost Control is essentially innovatory. I learned so much from this department experience; everyone was very inviting.

Next, I was able to shadow Weddings. I learned about the packages offered and how someone books a wedding at Beaches or Sandles. The team was very friendly and informative. I would definitely be interested in working in all these departments long term.

Day One – Two

By Hospitality in the Caribbean 2024

Day One:

Landing in the beautiful Jamaica began the start of an amazing spring break and study abroad. After Immigration, we were guided to a lounge for those waiting to go to Beaches and Sandals. We even had our own bus for the long ride to the resorts. We were greeted with drinks and cold towels. I finally met my roommates in person and explored the resort after we were shown to our room. While having lunch, I witnessed a Jamaican take on Sesame Street characters at their afternoon show while children in the audience joined them in dance. I ended the day by joining my classmates at the fire/circus show.

Day Two:

We started the day early for a meet-and-greet with Raven, the head of the department of sales. Raven took us on a tour of Beaches Ocho Rios, where we learned that the hotel offered 222 rooms in 16 different types. There is a total of seven different restaurants that feature different cuisines. After our tour, my favorite part was meeting with the department heads of those we could not shadow. I loved hearing from HR and accounting. My first department orientation was environmental health and safety. Jardin, the department head, informed us about every aspect of her job and why it was necessary. This department handles licenses and safety measures. Randomly, she has to audit the different departments to ensure they are updated with information and regulations. Did you know they have to have a license for every kayak they have? She even goes to court on behalf of the resort to update licensing.

We ended our day at the welcome dinner with the department heads. The food was amazing, and I learned so much. Jolon, the department head of entertainment, did a fantastic job hosting us.

DAY 6

By Hospitality in the Caribbean 2024

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On our last day in Jamaica, we attended the newest resort on the island which is Sandals Dunns River Resort. Extremely beautiful and luxurious property that offers anything you can imagine not only is this resort with a high occupancy expected for the next three years but its facilities are structured for the best experience you could ever imagine. We were immediately greeted by the general manager and his entire team showing us that Sandals is determined to take care of us on any resort we go. This trip has been an opportunity and an experience of a lifetime it is no secret that it was an extremely fun trip, but I could definitely say that we have learned so much while attending this study abroad. Sandals Resorts offers amazing opportunities for all hospitality students. Their business model is based on what the founder Butch Steward said: “if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life”. I agree with what he was saying and, in our industry, whether it’s long hours or weekends you have to do what you love. I extremely enjoy my trip to Jamaica and if I had to do it again I would do it exactly the way that I did it.

DAY 5

By Hospitality in the Caribbean 2024

This day was a day that I believe nobody will forget, we began the day by going to an elementary school not only to just give a donation but to have the experience of actually going to the school and meeting the children was just amazing. It is very sad that some of these schools in Jamaica have to think about supplies as something that can be uncertain and in some cases a luxury. So, by being able to make a donation on behalf of FIU and the Sandal Foundation was a moment none of us will forget. Each one of the students got to spend time with the kids and doing small tasks with them was extremely touching. Afterwards, this same night we went to the luminous lagoon where I was able to experience for the first time a lagoon, when you’re in the water it automatically changes to a bright neon color. Amazing!

DAY 4

By Hospitality in the Caribbean 2024

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On day four we got to have the day to work on the department we chose. I had the opportunity of working with food and beverage for half the day and the second half of the day I was working with entertainment. It was also a special day for the resort because they have their annual celebration for their employees and the way that Sandals Resort does this is that they have awards for their best employees of the year. Not only does this include gifts like a free week at any sandal’s property, but I feel that it’s even more important that they recognize their employees for their hard work. Working on food and beverage I got to assist one of the restaurants at the property learning their logistics of how to handle both the front and back of the house. A typical restaurant at the resort would have one hundred people dine in during the night. I got to speak to the waiters and personally, I wanted to see what their main goal was while doing their job. I could genuinely say that they all said that it’s about the guests and everything they do is for the guests. I love that because it shows how much they care for the industry of hospitality. Afterward, I went to work for entertainment and in this department, we got to learn about everything that keeps the guests at the reserve for the entire day. Logistically speaking they must have events morning afternoon and night to make sure the guests are not bored and are enjoying their stay at a maximum.

DAY 3

By Hospitality in the Caribbean 2024

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At the beginning of our third day in Jamaica, we had excursions. I was extremely nervous and scared of doing all of these excursions I’ve never done them before, but I have to say that they were all fun.  We started by jumping into a river which I was excited to do and I was one of the last ones to do this. But I have to say that once you jump in you’re in the water it is a beautiful natural experience of the beauties of what Jamaica has to offer as a country we did this a couple of times when their first excursion and each time was extremely nice you feel connected to the nature of the country. Secondly, we went tubing which was my favorite out of all the excursions not only because you get to see the nature of Jamaica but also because it’s an extremely interactive activity with your colleagues. Lastly, we had zip line, this is the one I was most afraid of, but I have to say that it was extremely nice to do it. After the excursions we had time for ourselves at the hotel until 4:30 where we had to prepare a tour for the Sandals Ochi Resort. We had the opportunity to visit this resort and have an entire tour. I love the concept of this property it is a couples-only resort, and you have to be 21 or more just to stay in it was extremely luxurious and nice. The resort is divided into two they have one side of the resort on one side of the street and the other right across. The entire property was so beautifully done that it was just great to be in. Even by the beach, they have a pier with a small Chapel where couples get married almost every day at this hotel. It was certainly a property I would love to work on.

DAY 2

By Hospitality in the Caribbean 2024

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On our second day of the trip, we started the day by meeting with all the managers although the resort for obvious reasons wouldn’t share the financials however were able to meet the financial controller and the revenue management team and how they seek their investments in management was good to know. We also had an entire tour of the Beaches Ochi Rios Resort. Not only is this resort a palace to stay in but it accounts for so many restaurants, bars, and entertainments that it is made for you that you don’t have the necessity of leaving the property. I also had the opportunity of being designated to the housekeeping department where I learned the logistics on how to operate housekeeping when you have a 220-room hotel with 100 occupancy year all year. Also to make sure that all guests receive their daily service but also as a priority, the incoming guests don’t have to wait for rooms to start their vacation. I was also assigned directly with a housekeeper to learn the standards of there are rooms and the small details behind the cleanliness on which the housekeeper takes the time to make sure the guests have a wonderful room to stay in. We concluded that day with a welcome dinner hosted by the general manager and the corporate operations director of Sandals Beaches. We got to try the local cuisines of Jamaica which I was extremely excited to have. I got to eat jerk chicken, rice and peas, Jamaican patties, and my favorite oxtail. We also had members of the Sandals corporate university and one of the graduates as well who is currently an assistant food and beverage manager.

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