Caribbean connection: Hotels work to help housekeeper complete internship

Caribbean partnership: From left, Rooms Dvision Manager at The Sandpiper, Henderson Wallace, Le Plaza Hotel’s Melicienne Drouillard, and head housekeeper at The Sandpiper, Yvette Clarke. The team welcomed Drouillard at the resort to complete a free internship that proved hard to get to due to visa issues.

It’s a Caribbean connection.

A Haitian housekeeper saw the power of inter-Caribbean collaboration last month, when two hospitality organizations in Haiti and Barbados respectively, made her internship opportunity happen.

Management teams at Le Plaza Hotel in Haiti and The Sandpiper Resort in Barbados, worked together to help Melicienne Drouillard — a 16-year veteran at Le Plaza, earn some valuable training when her trip kept running into roadblocks. The situation could have been resolved with assistance from the U.S. State Department, but this would have been a missed opportunity to show that the Caribbean can rely and benefit from cultural likeness, said the general manager of Le Plaza.

“Turning to the United States for help always seems like the the easiest option however, although we speak different languages, Caribbean nations have similar cultural behaviors, and skills are often easier to learn without having to jump through cultural barriers,” said Marc Pierre Louis.

Unfortunately for Drouillard, a housekeeper, not having a United States visa proved difficult to travel, and an additional last minute cancellation nearly forced her from missing out on the internship. But in the nick of time was some luck, added Pierre-Louis.

“She was initially scheduled to go through the Dominican Republic but her flight was canceled a couple of days prior to her departure,” said Pierre-Louis. “But she was granted a last minute temporary visa to go through Guadeloupe.”

In an effort to facilitate her travel, Pierre-Louis and his team reached out to the management at The Sandpiper and the developers of the internship and informed them of their situation. Together they worked to lobby and eventually secure Drouillard’s visa to Barbados, according to Pierre-Louis.

Through Guadeloupe, Drouillard was finally able reach Barbados and complete her two-week program where she learned interpersonal skills and safety measures. And most importantly, a chance to experienced tourism on a bigger scale, according to Pierre-Louis.

“People management skills were a priority but we were also trying to get her to experience hospitality service in a country that has a thriving tourism industry,” he said.

Pierre-Louis said he would like to see more similar collaborations among hospitality organizations in the Caribbean, and hopes that it opens doors to foster these connections through programs.

“We have a lot we can learn from each other. Some islands are better at boutique luxury resorts while others are known for large scale operations, but we all have human resources and sustainability challenges,” said Pierre-Louis. “Exchange programs are a great way to share and transfer best practices as well as develop strong inter-island relationships.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected] Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.
Drouillard and members of The Sandpiper’s housekeeping staff, where she would learn additional skills as part of an internship to bring back to Le Plaza Hotel.

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