I am meeting today with Nancy Kupka, Director of Human Resources at the beautiful Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills.
We first met in 2008 when Vatel Los Angeles was about to be launched and Peninsula was among the first properties to host Vatel interns in Los Angeles. Since then, Nancy carefully “hand picked” more than 40 talented Vatel students who had the privilege to be mentored by some of the most rigorous professionals in the industry.
The Peninsula Beverly Hills operates at full occupancy most of the year and provides 24 hour check-in Check-out to demanding high profile guests and Hollywood celebrities. In addition, the staff must keep the highest standards and render flawless guest services in the most difficult and stressful conditions. This remarkable ability to provide unforgettable guest experience in the most exquisite environments earned the Peninsula Group the most impressive recognition ever bestowed by Forbes Travel Guide: in 2019, Peninsula made history by being the first and only Hotel Group granted a 5-Star rating to each and all of its properties worldwide.
An insider joke says; “if you can make it at Peninsula Beverly Hills you can make it anywhere.” It is especially true for almost half of the Vatel interns whom Nancy has been able to either hire in Beverly Hills after the MBA program or relocate to an other Peninsula Hotel abroad. These “stars” as Nancy likes to call them, have been hired in Peninsula Tokyo, Hong kong, Paris, Manilla and Bangkok. Some, like Arthur now Assistant Food and Beverage Outlet Manager at Peninsula Chicago, were able to come back to the USA a few years later. This year Clara who just ended her training as F&B Manager will be the lucky recipient of an additional period of training at Peninsula Paris before moving on to Peninsula Shanghai and Antoine who completed his training as Supervisor at the Roof Top Garden earned Nancy’s recommendation to pursue his career at Peninsula Tokyo.
A lasting collaboration for more than 10 years must have some fundamental reasons and I was curious to explore these reasons with Nancy;
What makes Vatel interns so attractive to one of the most luxurious and VIP filled hotel in the country?
To Nancy, in addition to their excellent education in the field of hotel management, the students’ flexibility, eagerness to learn and genuine positive attitude is key. The training involves typically placement in the Operational Division that best suits them – either F&B or Rooms. The Vatel trainees must learn all procedures and standards and are usually able to handle supervisor or managerial positions within a few months. Today Alisson and newly recruited Adrien are on schedule so we had a chance to meet briefly for a quick update.
Alisson will be ending her 12 month training in the Rooms Division at the end of the month. She started her internship as Housekeeping Assistant Manager and is now working at the Guest Relations department. This is a very special department where there is no limit in the ways you can make a guest experience unforgettable. I cannot resist to tell you the story of this little girl who left her Teddy Bear before heading to the airport. The Guest Services team took the Teddy Bear and took pictures of the bear looking for the little girl in all departments of the hotel, with the Chef, the Housekeeper, the Gardener, Servers… then they created a book with all the pictures and sent it back with the teddy bear to the little girl. This family will probably never forget that incredible moment when they received the package!
In the F&B Department Adrien is starting as Supervisor at the very busy Living Room. Already, Nancy has spotted Adrien’s positive attitude with both the guests and his team. A fast learner and a professional attentive to details, Adrien will surely be promoted before the end of his training.
It is with great appreciation that I wanted to report our collaboration with the Peninsula Group through our wonderful relationship with Nancy Kupka. This is an example of a truly ideal win-win situation where the Hotel, the Students and the School’s combined resources are acting for the best of each party.
By Nathalie Plaire-Virovac
Program Director and Relations to Hotels
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