My “destination paradisiaque"

The operational internship: my 5-star experience at a 5-star hotel

"I have worked at the most luxurious hotel in Mauritius and I was good at my job, I was wanted at my job, I have seen the ins and outs of the job. Nothing scares me anymore!"

Eugenia Kudryavtseva, second year student, recently came back from her operational internship and shares her experiences and life lessons in her blog!

My operational internship journey began way back when, at the start of 2022 when I had my interview with and received an internship offer from LUX* Grand Baie, a five-plus-star resort in the magnificent island of Mauritius. After signing the contract, I had to patiently wait for my visa application all the while trying to do my research on the destination and the hotel I chose.

girl with curls and yellow sunglasses, wearing a brown shirt 'i love mauritius', sitting on a rock near the sea

My “destination paradisiaque”

I never planned on pursuing my first internship so far away from home and the location of the hotel, as breathtakingly gorgeous as it is, was not the sole reason I shot my shot with LUX* Grand Baie. My primary interest was in the brand of LUX* itself, their philosophy, the concept of the new kind of luxury they were promoting. LUX* Grand Baie happened to be the newest property launched in the island (hence in need of personnel) and the most available option at the time. The interest turned out to be mutual as the exotic destination of Mauritius is extremely popular among Russian speaking tourists. Me being fluent in Russian among other languages was a big part of the added value I could bring to the hotel. 

My department of choice was Front Office. I did not have enough passion for gastronomy and the restaurant business to choose for F&B and Front Office seemed like the most interesting option to me from the beginning. By design I have a slightly milder personality and identify as an introvert. And even though being introverted does not signify a lack of social skills, I wanted to take on a challenge and really enhance my communication skills. 

The first look at Mauritius

Having arrived in Mauritius I couldn’t believe my eyes, I kept pinching myself to make sure I was not dreaming every time I was looking out at the horizon faced with the majesty of the Indian ocean extending thousands of miles forth. Starting off in the work environment was a whole different ball game, however. The relaxed style of work and communication displayed by my team took some getting-used-to but my impression of the people here overall has been very positive. On the personal level I felt most welcome and at home. 

The reality check

The grain of salt to my experience was the fact that I felt like the training I was given was not equal to the training that my fellow colleagues receives and aspects of the job I was expected to know from the get-go weren’t covered in the program. Learning on the job, as frustrating as it is, has become a norm for me. To my fellow HMSM students awaiting their internship I would highly recommend taking the matters into your own hands when it comes to your training. Express your training needs, ask questions, don’t be afraid to make mistakes to learn from them; rinse, repeat. You are the only one responsible for the quality of your learning experience even though you will have the school’s support.

If I could go back in time and do one thing better, it would be managing my time with intention. Torn between my sense of duty and my spirit of exploration and curiosity, I found it very difficult at times to maintain a work/life balance which as I learned is not a priority within the hotel industry in Mauritius. I learned about the importance of self-care, of having healthy eating and sleeping habits, of setting clear boundaries between work and my personal life. However, while at times I was completely drained by all the unrealistic demands and requests of the customer segment I was oriented towards, I also started to feel like my team could trust and rely on me to do this job as I went along. 

Eugenia Stage 2.png

The best part

Over the course of my internship I have become the hotel’s go-to person for dealing with Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking guests. There have been numerous times when the guests would ask for me specifically upon check-in because their friends had told them about the hotel’s FO employee who can provide service in their language. Some of my colleagues would even introduce me to the guests as “the star of the team” and it made me feel so appreciated. The most valuable takeaway I got from this experience overall is without a doubt:

a) the experience of living half a world away independently; earning money, controlling my budget, exploring a new culture and feeling comfortable within it; it’s as if the global borders have been blurred for me after this journey
b) the boost of professional confidence. I started out without much work experience in the hotel industry and a lot of professional anxiety and fear of inadequacy. Fast forward to now: I have worked at the most luxurious hotel in Mauritius and I was good at my job, I was wanted at my job, I have seen the ins and outs of the job. Nothing scares me anymore!

In conclusion, I believe that this might have been one of the most eye-opening educational experiences of my life. Not without its challenges this internship has set direction for me both personally and professionally. 5 stars for the wisdom and the lessons I learned that have brought immense value to my life!

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