B.H.M.S. rewarded its top 12 students with the highest scholastic achievements and the best professional attitude - that carries the label of "best likely to succeed" with an all-expense paid trip in May to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Dead and very tired, twelve students boarded the Airbus A300 Saturday morning last bound for the Sunshine State not knowing what to expect! They arrived equally dead and tired but excited as they answered questions put to them by US Immigration officials. All came through but one, and after a two hour wait, continued to the hotel in Ft. Lauderdale but not before a major food shopping spree at a supermarket as no one had any dinner yet. The missing student was delayed by Homeland Security and came by taxi! A quick dip in the ocean, a quicker dip in one of the many swimming pools and then all joined for 'T' bone steaks around the barbecue. Those that could, joined for a night at a speak easy called "Soprano's" where dueling pianos kept everyone singing and dancing until the early morning hours.
The next day was spent leisurely on the beach and in a shopping mall looking at the newest Apple products and iwatches no one could yet buy. Rootbeer floats and banana splits followed by dinner at a harbor side beach bar complete with chicken wings and barbecued ribs. Monday saw the group tour Key Biscanye, Miami and South Beach. The 'art deco' district with its' numerous new luxury hotels made a huge impression - the weather near perfect!
The group left early the next morning for Cape Kennedy. They arrived around noon and amazed by the size and magnitude of the U.S.space program. For some, it was the highlight of the trip that ended at 6 PM only to travel to Orlando and check in to the Marriott Hotel at Lake Buena Vista. A dinner of burger and shakes at the local Steak & Shake ended an exciting but tiring day only to be followed by a day and the most magical place on earth, the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. In the evening the group went to a Greek restaurant, the "Taverna Opa" that offered live entertainment and dancing. For some, that was the highlight of the trip as well and the food was excellent on top of it!
The following day saw the group invade Disney's Hollywood Studios - exciting attractions to detract from the brutal heat. At night, the group went to a Disney themed restaurant called "T Rex" where one could feast on 'T' bones and oversized ribs with an occasional meteorshower or growl from a hungry dinosaur dripping over your head. Then quickly across the street to see the new "Avengers" movie with unlimited popcorn and drinks!
The group left their hotel late on Friday morning with little breakfast only to stop in Ybor city next to Tampa. Some Florida history came in to play here, as Ybor City was for years the center of American / Cuban trade and set to go again. The "Columbia" restaurant is not only the world's largest Spanish restaurant but has been operating under the same ownership there since 1905. Wonderful dishes and pitchers of Sangria made the two hour lunch very special (incl. Cuban cigars)!
The group continued across the Tampa Bay Bridge to St. Armands circle on Lido Key for their final night in Florida at the Sandcastle Resort. Rooms overlooking the Golf of Mexico and a great pool bar allowed everyone a chance to wind down and contemplate their trip back to Europe. "The Blue Rooster" hosted the group that evening with traditional southern fare and a great rhythm and blues band that allowed all to dance with local folks to round out a truly "American" week!
On the last day, it was off through some of the most remote and endless terrain Florida has to offer, crossing the Everglades on Alligator Alley straight back to the Galleria Mall in Ft. Lauderdale for more and final shopping. By 19:50 everyone sank back into their seats as the Airbus A300 lifted off from Miami bound for Zurich!
Some comments of the students after their return:
Charlie Ong: “I would like to take this time to thank you for an amazing trip. It was one of the most memorable vacations I ever had. Unfortunately, I was not able to say this personally when we left Miami. But I just would like to say that I enjoyed the whole experience and appreciate that you still allowed me to join even though I was staying in Dubai. The places we visited and the restaurants were very interesting. Maybe I'll come back to grab a shake in that Steak and Shake place or whatever the name was.”
Valeriia Sergeeva: “I would like to thank you for such an amazing opportunity to explore the sunshine state of America. All our group appreciate your effort and time you spent with us there. Our trip was a great adventure we will never forget. It worth to admit the most impressive parts of it were landscapes of Florida and our evening in Sarasota's restaurant with live music. Thank you very much for everything you have done for this trip”!
Balazs Gyorgyi: “I would like to just say thank you very much for inviting me and to spend with you in recent days. I really felt good. It was one of the best. Once again, thank you for everything. Have a safe trip back home. I wish you all the best and look forward to hearing from you soon.”
Martina Ivanovska: “With a bit of delay, but I would like to give you my feedback and appreciation for the lovely trip you organize for us. The trip to Florida was just a dream that I could strive for the rest of my life. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explore different side of the world and different touch of hospitality. Everything was so well planned and organized which allowed me to enjoy the trip maximum. Thank you for the mail from Mrs. Angela, it was so nice to hear her feedback. She was really kind and helpful and the accommodation was perfect. We had all needed and everything was just so tidy and clean. This was a different experience from the 5* hotels, and thank you for making our stay there fun as well as getting to know each other better. My favorite part from the trip was the nice food especially the Columbia and the Greek Restaurant, it was really delicious and they made us feel welcome. Disneyland was just one more childhood dream, which I fully enjoyed. Related to Sarasota, I am speechless, the hotel and the beach were awesome. I loved this place. Gratitude for rewarding our hard work, as well as for the "no-limits" excursion, I really appreciate it. Gratitude for Mr. Nissim too, it was a good experience to hear many life advice from him. Mr. Nissim made our long drives fun, useful and he always took care of us. Thank you once more for choosing me and giving me the opportunity to have a great holiday. It was the best trip I ever had!”
Crystal Ko: “Thank you for giving me such once-in-a-life-time opportunity to visit the US with the schoolmates and teachers. We enjoyed so much with your arrangement and the program did let us learn a lot of different cultures relating to hospitality. Once again, thank you very much.”
Karolina Meus: “I would like to say thank you for such a great opportunity you gave us. We had a wonderful, magical and unforgettable time. Everything was perfectly organized and very interesting to see! After one week I am still so excited and reminding all the moments with the smile on my face, I feel so happy! I am very pleased, that I was one of those students who were chosen, now I am even more motivated to study and work hard in order to make my dreams to come true (Actually visiting Florida and Disneyland was my dream for a couple of years). I am not disappointed at all. Florida and Disneyland were even more amazing that i imagined. Now I can say from my own experience- Disneyland is a magical place, where all you want is to smile, wish and believe, that all the dreams and wishes will come true and Walt Disney is the most powerful man in the world because he created something, which makes billion of people smile every single second. Fantastic, isn't it? As a hospitality student it was very interesting to observe all the restaurants (especially Colombian one), hotels and Disneyland from a "professional" point of view and check all the aspects to understand how it works. So, this trip was very useful for me as well, I got a lot of new ideas and inspiration. I am so happy and thankful for everything You did for us, really! I will miss that trip, our "its okey" jokes, singing and dancing in the car and our team, B.H.M.S. Family."
Thierry Lo: “Thanks for picked me become one of the eleven student to travel to US. It's such an amazing time to be there. Everything in Florida is prefect. Every meal are so find, specially the one floating the napkins, the girls dancing on the table, it had so much fun that night. Also the activities are very interesting, the Disney time and beach time I love the most. I really appreciated Mr Terry spend so much time for planning and especially take care of Tiago and me. I'm extremely satisfied with the whole trip and so happy to spend a pleasure time in America with the nice people! Last but not least Thank you again!”
Artur Frolov: “I want to say thank you for the beautiful and very interesting week during the trip to Florida. That was a huge achievement to gather all these great people together. I am happy I could learn about each of them more. I am very glad that I could be so much time with you, ask questions, learn from your life experience and might share my own experience. I really appreciate it very much and it was a pleasure to spend the whole week with you and our party. The trip itself was organized very well: all the time interesting activities, fine places, almost perfect timing and agenda. It probably was one of the brightest trips I have ever had.”
Simran Desai: “All of us had a great time getting to know more about the American culture and food and we really appreciated all the effort that you had put into it. I especially enjoyed the two days in Orlando. It was my first time at Disneyworld and it exceeded all of my expectations. I also liked to hearing about the little facts that you told us along the way which we would have never known of otherwise.”
The GM of the Napoli-Belmar Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale: “The kids were excellent. I even received nice comments from my other customers how well behaved they were and very tidy too.”