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The Swiss Hotel School 2017 Graduate, Gareth Kunz

The Swiss Hotel School 2015 Graduate, Nontu Mabena
3rd April 2020
The Swiss Hotel School 2018 Graduate, Darshan Pillay
20th April 2020

Growing up, I was always curious about a lot of things. One of those things happened to be how on Earth a hotel could operate with so much going on all the time. Through high school, my attention to customer service and service quality progressed, and when it was time to finalise university studies, I decided to put my curiosity and skillset together. Research lead me to the Swiss Hotel School, South Africa. They were the most internationally recognised diploma in South Africa! (Now a Bachelors, congrats guys!). After my first year was packed full of on-campus practicals and industry internships, I was quickly working through my curiosity checklist and taking in all the information and advice SHS had to offer.

One year on and I found myself in Guest Services at an exclusive skiing resort in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado where I further developed my attention to detail with guest experience and guest satisfaction for 6 months. This was an internship-abroad encouraged by SHS. What better way to gain experience than by traveling? After all, that’s what our guests are all doing.

From learning 10 different napkin folds in 10-minutes to developing and operating one of the best restaurant projects SHS has seen! The peers I shared my SHS experience with were always supportive and encouraging. I was fortunate enough to lead the PANDA team to great success only because of these same peers! A ton of work, a ton of experience and a ton of memories! With the perfect balance between theory and practical, it’s easy to see why so many SHS alumni are at the places and in the positions they are now.

Post-graduation I went back to The Local Grill, one of South Africa’s most respected steakhouses. This is where I picked up my first mentor; Steve Maresch. My understanding of customer service was minimal compared to what Steve had taught me, alongside leadership and business in general. I’m a strong believer in mentorship, and I have found it very useful in the hospitality industry. I’m now lucky enough to find myself in the very same mountain range, the Rockies, only way further up north in Canada! Steve and I are still in communication and I have since developed relationships with 2 more mentors in hospitality and business respectively. I have been here for one year with Marriott International, and have already been promoted from Operations Supervisor to Food & Beverage Operations AGM – a position I have wanted since my internships around South Africa. Marriott is also moving in a direction where their F&B outlets are independently branded and it has been an amazing opportunity being part of developing one of these flagships.

In my spare time, you can find me snowboarding through the Rocky Mountains in towns like Banff, Lake Louise and Kananaskis. In Summer you can find me floating down the river with friends, or hiking through some of Canada’s most beautiful mountains! My career is yet a puppy, but I have grabbed opportunities with both hands and put the work in. Hospitality isn’t easy but so rewarding! It’s an industry that allows for fast, on-the-go learning and growth. It’s a challenging industry in these tough COVID-19 times, but this is just another opportunity to learn a side of the business hardly anyone has seen before. So take it all in!

Gareth Kunz

Food & Beverage Operations Assistant General manager