By Arra B. Francia, Reporter
MANAGEMENT COLLEGE LARS ELTVIK has opened, managed, and taught in several schools in different parts of the world — from Chile, Dubai, Finland, Brazil, and more — in the past three decades. Now, he’s bringing his knowledge and expertise in the hotel industry to the Philippines, this time as the managing director of the Dusit Hospitality Management College (DHMC) at The Fort in Taguig City.
The 51-year old executive was tapped to open the Dusit Thani Group’s first hotel management school in the Philippines back in 2015. Among his first impressions was the popularity of hospitality education in the country, what with more than 1,000 schools licensed to train students in the industry.
“The competition here is much higher and there are some very good schools, some of them also with good international linkages. We are coming in to the premium segment of hotel and tourism management schools, really aiming to bring the top international partners,” Mr. Eltvik told BusinessWorld in a recent interview.
DHMC has partnered with Switzerland-based École hôtelière de Lausanne for the Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management. To ensure high standards in cuisine, the school has engaged Institut Paul Bocuse, named after the renowned French chef.
Students at the DHMC will experience on-the-job training as the college stands on the first nine floors of the dusitD2 Hotel The Fort Manila. The 27-storey tower offers 125 rooms for the hotel component, and 108 serviced residences.
The tower also houses five restaurants, providing students with the necessary facilities for professional advancements in culinary work. Students are able to witness a hotel’s day-to-day operations, allowing them to learn through hands-on experience.
Mr. Eltvik said this will help address the job-skill mismatch in the industry.
“What we find, when we talk to industry leaders and how they feel when they recruit young people, the challenges are that what they learned are not updated. There’s a gap with what they learned in school… This unique education concept will be very important to bridge this gap between operations,” he said.
Mr. Eltvik noted that with this kind of training, students would be qualified to enter management trainee or supervisory roles by the time they leave DHMC.
For this school year, DHMC will welcome around 12 to 20 students. While this is still a small group, Mr. Eltvik said they are happy with their recruitment for the year, noting that the focus is always on quality.
Since the group has yet to finish construction of the dusitD2 Hotel, Mr. Eltvik said they will first hold classes at the Dusit Thani Manila in Makati City.
“We’re fitting out learning kitchens here are Dusit Thani. We’re fortunate that the space is available,” he said, adding the DHMC facility will be ready by the second semester of this year.
The Dusit Thani Group is banking on the expected influx of tourists here in the following years.
The Department of Tourism reported last July that tourist arrivals hit an all-time high of 3.7 million visitors in the first half of 2018, 10.4% higher from a year ago. The tourism department earlier projected that international tourist arrivals could hit 7.4 million this year, higher than the 6.6 million seen in 2017.
With this in mind, Mr. Eltvik said the country needs more operators that could not only handle the growing number of tourists but also provide quality that’s at par with international hotels.
“These days people travel more often and more widely, so when an international traveler comes to the Philippines and they stay in a hotel that has a certain standard, they have the same expectation as if they are going to Bali or Hawaii or Paris. I think we have a great opportunity in the Philippines to strive to have the same standards here,” he explained.