The 76th annual Hotel Ezra Cornell (HEC) weekend of “panache” officially ended yesterday at a breakfast in the Statler Hotel. There, HEC student directors handed back the ceremonial key of the hotel to its regular personnel.
The weekend engaged around 400 students in “taking over” the operations of the Statler while hosting leading hospitality benefactors for a variety of events, according to Scott Weisz ’01, the managing director of the weekend.
David Butler, dean of the School of Hotel Administration, said in a speech during Saturday’s Gala at Chateaux Blanc, that the hotel’s ceremonial key is so “large and heavy” because of the many talents that hotel students use in order to create the weekend.
“[The students] have indeed demonstrated that they can produce the complete hospitality experience, stimulating the five senses, and the mind,” Butler said.
He noted one of the weekend’s recurring themes, education within entertainment.
Along with Friday’s Cirque du Panache, a circus-centered reception, an afternoon Asian tea, wine tasting and other culinary focused events, the weekend’s coordinators added educationally-driven programs on Saturday.
These were primarily to illustrate “the more well-rounded student,” Weisz said.
“Obviously the operational side of things, running the hotel, that’s very well known, but you don’t see that there’s a great deal of academic knowledge within the students here. I think that we were able to showcase that,” he said.
Although all the educational events were successful according to coordinators, guests particularly enjoyed Experience Innovations, a seminar produced by Master of Management in Hospitality (MMH) graduate students.
“Experience Innovations has been designed as an interactive forum of renowned industry executives, HEC guests, professors and students that will challenge our industry’s status quo,” stated the MMH’s pamphlet for the event.
Innovations featured experienced hospitality speakers including B. Joseph Pine, the co-author of the business book The Experience Economy.
“All the educational functions, which were our focus, were very well- received and I think guests have really agreed with the direction we’re heading … and felt that the events they attended were worthwhile,” Weisz said.
Guests attending the weekend’s main function, the Gala at Chateaux Blanc, also agreed with Weisz and approved of the HEC board of directors’ addition of educational functions.
“[Innovations] was one of the best attended functions; it was standing room only,” said Dennis Sweeney of the consulting firm Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co., Inc. Sweeney was also an industry advisor to coordinators for the weekend.
Faculty, industry guests and staff found the weekend a good way to wind down their week, interacting with and supporting the HEC and the Hotel school in the process.
“[The gala’s] great. I’ve been here every year for ten years so I thought I’d come tonight,” said Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations.
Michael Mitchell ’99, who now works for the business development firm Arthur Andersen, agreed.
“I think it’s delightful to be able to get the educational events with seeing friends and influential people in our industry and also meeting with companies,” Mitchell said.
“We work for Marriott, so we’re keen on relationships … we want to support this one, this program,” said James Deranek, manager of college relations for Marriott hotels.
Some HEC volunteers said that while they were pleased with giving their time for the hotel and the events, they could have used some support with the weekend’s busy workload.
“It’s been pretty hard work but it’s been fun,” said Sarah Daniels ’04, a volunteer who served patrons during the Gala. Students volunteered for the events as well as for working in the hotel performing all duties except those of the custodial staff.
Allen Weiss ’01, an HEC public relations director commented on the process hotel students undergo to establish the weekend.
These steps include the election of the 17 member HEC board of directors, some of whom earn college credit for planning the weekend.
For Weiss, the HEC weekend is worthwhile because of the attention and appreciation of hospitality industry leaders.
“What’s great about these events is that you have [industry leaders] walking by you … people who’ve been successful in our industry,” Weiss said.
Archived article by Carlos Perkins