NZST caught up with 2022 graduate, Siubhan McPhail, to find out what it's been like working for Ritz Carlton Beach Resort in Naples, Florida.
New Zealand School of Tourism has equipped Siubhan McPhail with the skills to take on the tourism and hospitality industry in the US.
Siubhan is a 32-year-old from Dunedin who has visited as many countries as her age.
After graduating with a Level 6 Diploma in Travel and Tourism Management in 2022, she was offered a job at the Ritz Carlton Beach Resort in Naples (Florida) through International Working Holidays.
“I was super excited but also very nervous to move to Florida especially as I’m from Dunedin which is only the seventh largest city in New Zealand,” shared Siubhan.
After touching down in sunny Florida, Siubhan was “left speechless” by the beachside resort’s beauty.
Siubhan was immediately welcomed with exciting news: “I was told I was going to be an event concierge. I was super excited and a little shocked that I was given this amazing opportunity.”
No two days are the same for Siubhan. Her role responsibilities range from gathering banquet orders, working directly with guests to host booked events, setting up lavish ballrooms, facilitating weddings, and more.
“There is so much going on in each department with new things happening every day. From the outside looking in, you can easily overlook how many different departments it takes to run this amazing hotel.”
Siubhan’s adaptive abilities were put to the test when Hurricane Ian hit Florida.
“The power of the wind could have taken someone off the ground.”
Siubhan and her colleagues had to evacuate guests to the nearby golf resort to ensure they were safe and away from the surging ocean. They worked tirelessly serving food and drinks without power.
“The bar was so full with nonstop service all day. We continued working until 2am. We tried to make the best out of a challenging situation, laughing as we found our rooms in complete darkness.”
The resort and surrounding areas were extensively damaged. Luckily, Siubhan and a couple of her friends managed to secure jobs at the picturesque Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee based in Georgia for the remaining seven weeks of their visas.
“I got to meet some amazing people and I hope to keep in contact with them once I am back in New Zealand. For now, I am looking forward to seeing them again in Naples in July 2023."