Student LifeMy Internship at Gstaad Palace

Here’s the story of my internship in Gstaad, working in a Palace in the heart of the Alps, straight out of a winter wonderland fairytale.

Now that my internship is coming to a close for my studies and I have a day off, I wanted to sit down and write about my internship.

It really has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far and now being at the train station looking up at the majestic Gstaad Palace glimmering in the backdrop of the Swiss Alps, I really now begin to realize how much I will really miss it.

 

The past few months I have really grown close to the Palace, to my team, and amazing coworkers and the leadership team who have taught me so much about not only business and hotels but also life, how to treat others and the real definition of responsibility, proper hard work and true hospitality.

I have had my ups and downs, my struggles and challenges and also highs and elated moments where I did an amazing job and life was great, which I will share. But overall, it was truly life changing.

Student works at Gstaad Palace

 

Let’s start at the beginning…I am studying International Business and Hospitality Management with a specialization in Finance at Hotel Institute Montreux .

Studies in Switzerland are very practical as they require a semester of school where one learns the theory and practical side of hospitality such as how it all works “on the books” and in the classroom. We even learned how to make our own hotel and restaurant and actually did in the first semester!

Then comes the real world… where we separate from our friends and find internships anywhere in the world to learn the practical side of hospitality and work for 4-6 months.

I found my internship with Gstaad Palace through an amazing circumstance of events. I was having a coffee with a previous Airbnb host from Switzerland named Monika, one of the most incredible, kind and hospitable persons I have ever met. If you ever do travel to Switzerland, you definitely have to come to her cottage La Tranquille overlooking the beautiful waters of lake Geneva and majestic Swiss Alps.

She told me about this amazing, almost magical place in Gstaad which I was awestruck by. Gstaad Palace is one the last privately owned and operated hotels in Switzerland of its stature.

After our conversation, I immediately called HR and applied and within a week after visiting, I had the job. I would be working as a Front Office Agent for one the most prestigious hotels in Switzerland and of the world.

What to expect from an internship in Gstaad

 

I started in November and learned how to run a reception and finances for over a month and a half before the winter season began. Since Gstaad Palace is seasonal, we opened our winter season on December 21, 2018. Before this, I learned the basics, how to do check-ins, check-outs, meet standards and do financial accounting and balance the books as well as many other things.

The cool season began with a hot start… with Nile Rodgers and Chic coming to the Palace and preforming for our guests. Christmas was nearly there, snow was falling, and the landscape transformed into a winter wonderland with the white palace walls beaming down overlooking the town of Gstaad.

LIVE show in Gstaad

 

Guests of every stature and walks of life came, from near and far to enjoy drinks by the fireplace in the lobby bar, or dine at our authentic restaurants and experience the Palace first hand. Additionally, they came to party at the Green Go, our famous or should I say infamous night club. Finally, many enjoyed authentic fondue and raclette in our Fromagerie, once a World War 2 bunker that housed Switzerland’s gold.

Families came to enjoy the prepared Christmas trees for them and decorated for Santa’s arrival and the Palace was full of life and joy. I felt like I was living in a fairytale. Christmas and New Years was incredible. Us trainees decorated the Palace and transformed it into our theme “Arabian Nights”.

I quickly learned how to work with others, smile, and deliver an incredible experience to our guests to make them come back time and time again while doing my best to learn the ropes of what it really takes to handle a reception and finances and be responsible for my job.

Dinner in Luxury restaurant Gstaad

 

I have many memorable stories that will last a lifetime from the Palace..., but my favorite would have to be seeing the family tradition of the Palace come to life again and again and be passed from generation to generation. One guest that I checked in came with his mom and dad, his wife, and daughter. His mom brought him to the Palace growing up and now he was bringing his daughter. 3 generations of family tradition in a place that stays still to the ever changing and hectic world, where people come to finally have a breath of fresh mountain air, relax and feel truly at home.

Even the leadership team treated us like family. The Owner/General Manager and Vice Director invited us to have lunch together and get to know me and my other colleagues more.

I loved my internship from day one. My colleagues are the most incredible people I have met and their kindness, instruction, knowledge, humor and teamwork brought us closer every day. From having the most amazing boss to incredible teams from the Concierge, Guest Relations, Sales and Marketing, Food and Beverage, Room Service, Housekeeping and so many more, I will ever be grateful for the short but most sweet time I had.

Of course there were hard days, and days when I made mistakes. There were days where I wanted to take the sheets and pull them over my head and go back to bed, yet I did anyway.

And it was so worth it.

Thank you Gstaad. Thank you guests. Thank you team. It was amazing!


Igor Miller, Hotel Institute Montreux

Igor Miller is a current student at Hotel Institute Montreux studying his Bachelor of Business Administration in Hospitality Management

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