Director of Hotel and Catering Services at Tfokomala, Tenson Nkosana says UMP has successfully brought on board experienced staff in all the departments of the hotel.
“The quality of our staff upholds UMP’s value of Excellence as these employees will be required to train Hospitality students to perform the various functions required from an establishment such as ours. This includes hotel management, running a conference centre and a wellness centre, as well as the required catering on both campuses," says Nkosana, adding that the hotel is a testimony to UMP’s drive and motto of Creating Opportunities.
“The hotel has created employment opportunities not only for qualifying candidates but also locals. It also aims to offer Work Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunities to students from local TVET colleges offering hospitality, which furthers the university’s value of Collaboration.
Hospitality and Tourism students will be privileged to use Tfokomala Hotel for learning as a launch pad for their dreams. The foundations given to them will see them rise to become leaders in hotels, hospitality businesses and the tourism industry, not only in South Africa but also in the continent and around the world,” says Nkosana.”
Situated inside UMP's Mbombela campus, Tfokomala Hotel and Conference Centre forms part of the gateway to the famous Kruger National Park, the Sudwala Caves, the Panorama Route and many other local attractions and places of interest in the Lowveld.
“The common challenge with most hotels currently, which was the case with us too, is low occupancy. Continuous lockdowns and the ‘new normal’ of online meetings have affected the business substantially. The bulk of our clientele are business travellers,” he explains.
Hotel with a purpose
The elegant hotel and conference centre, which is run on a commercial basis, has the underpinning concept of aiding hospitality students to acquire practical experience through comprehensive operational skills development when they come for their practicals and WIL at the hotel
“Envisioned as a ‘hotel with a purpose’ – as it also supports the learning and teaching of hospitality students – the University of Mpumalanga launched Tfokomala Hotel to make life easier for hospitality students. As part of the curriculum, hospitality students are expected to go for Work Integrated Learning in the first semester of the second year, and the second semester of their third year.”
Nkosana adds that Hospitality students are scheduled to rotate in all divisions of the hotel under the mentorship and coaching of qualified and professional hotel staff.
“The hotel takes in cohorts of students placed for WIL in the hotel as well as ordinary blocks of classes scheduled for practical orientation in the hotel and conference centre. In this manner, the integration of theory and practice, which is fundamental, becomes easy in the professional preparation of hospitality students. This is achieved through exposing students to the Learning by Doing principle. Students will therefore gain hands-on experience in operational roles in the restaurant, kitchen and all other hotel divisions.”
He adds that the hotel school will also aid research in hospitality and tourism. In this regard, it is envisaged that the Tfokomala Hotel will 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.
“Although other universities in developed countries have teaching hotels, 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. It stands as a stylish testament to South Africa’s creative energy and design innovation. The hotel is committed to providing interactive and dynamic learning environments as well as state-of-the-art educational facilities,” says Nkosana.
@ Story by Lisa Thabethe. Pictures ChrisplPhoto.