27 November 2020

Director of the Hotel and Catering services, Mr Tenson Nkosana says the hotel and conference centre will aid learning by acquainting hospitality students with comprehensive operational skills in hospitality through practice in the Tfokomala Hotel.

“The integration of theory and practice is one of the fundamental principles in the professional preparation of hospitality students. To achieve this, the Hotel focuses on "Learning by Doing" for students to gain hands-on experience in operational roles in the restaurant, kitchen and all other hotel divisions,” he says.

Mr Nkosana adds that students will be scheduled on a rotational roster to cover all four major operational areas of the hotel namely, rooms division, food and beverage, kitchen practice and the functions and events coordination.

“These would be students placed for WIL in the hotel or ordinary classes scheduled for practical orientation in the hotel and conference centre." 

As part of the curriculum, hospitality students are expected to do their practicals at hotels but during lockdown the school of hospitality faced challenges placing students for WIL because movement was not allowed. Sadly this year most hospitality establishments were closed and students’ contracts were terminated.

UMP Head of the School of Hospitality and Tourism, Dr Oswald Mhlanga, says the hotel is aiding learning by acquainting hospitality students with comprehensive operational and technical skills in hospitality.

“Already hospitality students are benefitting in five teaching domains are; Work-Integrated learning, Operations and observations, Case studies, Student Projects, and Research.

“The hotel is the first teaching and research hotel of its kind in a developing context, particularly in Africa. Although other universities in developed countries have teaching hotels, the UMP’s approach is unique in that the Hotel is a purpose-built hotel that completely integrates teaching, learning and research in a full-service environment," says Dr Mhlanga.

He further explains that the hotel will also bring convenience to the school by providing support for academic research and will be used as an innovation incubator to advance the digital economy in the hospitality industry.

“The opening of the hotel will assist in teaching and learning in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. It will also support different teaching modalities in the school, namely, Work-based learning (WBL), Project-based learning (PJBL), Problem-based learning, Work directed theoretical learning (WDTL) and Hotel simulation (HS)."

"This is very important especially for a technical qualification such as Hospitality. Hotel rooms will be used as “prototype” guest rooms for research purpose. Various research themes will be tested in the guest rooms, namely; Wellbeing, Technology, and Sustainability,” he says. 

UMP hospitality management and tourism students love that they are doing their practicals in a hotel at a university.

Hospitality student Sibongile Mathebula says, “When I did my practicals at the Tfokomala hotel they were different from the ones we did in class. At the hotel we also have all the right equipment which makes you feel like you are in the workplace,” she says.

Another student Jessica Vilakazi says the hotel has assisted them because they are able to anticipate the challenges.

“Having a hotel in the university was a good idea since it is preparing us for the pressure that lies ahead. We are able to estimate how much effort to put in, since the industry is broad and one needs to be very flexible and active to get the work done.”

The hotel school will also aid research in hospitality and tourism. It will also create and facilitate more in-depth research into the application of advanced concepts in the field of hotel management for the advancement of the entire industry.

The Tfokomala Hotel and Conference Centre offers accommodation from executive suites to classic double and twin rooms. It serves breakfast and lunch. The establishment is also equipped with a bar that is open from 10am to 9pm week days. For bookings, call: 
013 002 0400 or email: 

@ Story by Cleo Makhaga. Pictures Supplied