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JIS News

The 20 year-old Runaway Bay HEART Hotel in St. Ann continues to be a leader in the training of persons for the hotel industry, both locally and internationally. This facility is also famous as a garden property, offering excellent hospitality service, predominantly by a young Jamaican staff.
“We have had a lot of partnerships with overseas entities and we are the first hotel with a training institution to have ever become green globe certified and this is not just in the Caribbean but throughout the world,” Manager of the hotel, Janet Dyer, tells JIS News.
“We also won the Caribbean Sustainable Tourism award in 2005 and this was not a small feat for us because we went up against all the major hotels throughout the Caribbean,” she adds.
A graduate of the hotel in 1988, Miss Dyer says she is a living testimony of the motto, ‘skill is power’, noting that after much advanced training and strong determination to achieve her goals, she was the first female in Jamaica to have ever become a designated certified hotel administrator.
Miss Dyer points out that more than 300 students attend classes at the training institution and that a shift system is in place to facilitate students who are not able to attend during the day.
“We have been spreading our wings to provide training for foreign students as well,” she says, adding that students from countries such as Cuba and Chile have accessed training at the school.
Outlining the courses offered at Runaway Bay HEART, the Manager says they include food and beverage management, food preparation, house keeping, fruit and vegetable carving, ice carving and cake and pastry making.
She informs that the training has been expanded to include Spanish, which is now being taught as a compulsory subject.
“With the new hotel developments coming on stream, we have to be geared to the time,” she says, citing the Club RIU Hotel that was recently opened in Mammee Bay, and the Bahia Principe Hotel, which is now under construction in Discovery Bay.
“An impact survey was done in regard to meeting the needs of these new developments and so we saw it necessary to include Spanish in the curriculum, so that our students can have that edge when they go out to seek employment,” she notes.
Miss Dyer tells JIS News that the students are exposed to other aspects of learning to include French, voice and speech, computer skills and entrepreneurial skills, and that German would be added soon.
To ensure that the workforce that will be needed in the sector by the year 2007 is well prepared, Miss Dyer informs that they have developed off-site institutions, where persons can access the theoretical side of the training, then come to Runaway Bay HEART in order to access practical training.
“We have partnered with the Marcus Garvey Technical High School, where the grade 11 students are being provided with the Level 1 training. They are then assessed by HEART, so they can graduate with Level 1 certification from the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET),” she says.
To prepare students from just being able to acquire line level jobs, Miss Dyer points out that they have also partnered with the Culinary Institute of America in an effort to allow chefs to be able to acquire training up to a Level 5 standard at the school.
“We try to ensure that when our students leave here, they are competent to go out and take on the task that will be required of them in the world of work,” she says. Facilitator at the hotel, Richard Mitchell, tells JIS News that he is proud to be working at the hotel, knowing that he had accessed training there some years ago. “I enjoy working here because it gives me a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Runaway Bay HEART Hotel and training Institute is the number one training institute in Jamaica and it is setting the trend for the wider Caribbean,” he says.
Food and Beverage Instructor, Navia Campbell, tells JIS News that she was also trained at the Runaway Bay HEART Hotel and that she feels honoured to know that she is able to impart knowledge to the trainees who are currently attending the school.
“It gives me a great feeling when I see my trainees out there in the working world and I know that I had something to do with their achievement,” she says.
Level 2 trainee, Kayon Sinclair, holds the institution in high esteem. He says that the training has changed his life dramatically, in that it has made him a more rounded individual.
“Once an employer sees on your resume that you were trained at the Runaway Bay HEART, the doors of employment are opened. What I say is true because I have had that experience,” he tells JIS News.
Marketing Representative, Shorna Myrie, says that the Runaway Bay HEART Hotel “is Jamaica’s best kept secret”. She notes that the facility offers a number of services, which include the planning and executing of weddings and banquets as well as arranging conferences or corporate retreats, adding that guests are well taken care of on their visits.
“We have a lot to offer here at the Runaway Bay HEART Hotel, where we seek to touch the hearts of our visitors as we continue to make our mark in the hospitality industry,” she says.
The Runaway Bay HEART Hotel and Training Institute is a full service property operated under the aegis of the HEART Trust/National Training Agency (NTA).