Thursday, June 16, 2011

So work begins

We survived our breakfast with head people from Hilton including Rick Schultz Senior Vice President for the Focused Service Division of Hilton Worldwide and Mike Bennett himself, as well as our respective GM's, Donna Forde and Kevin Eichman. Everyone was really nice and excited to have us join the team, which put us at ease straight away. Rick and Mike explained how big of an opportunity we had in front of us and encouraged us to take full advantage of it, as well as to make sure we see as much of Charleston as possible. The breakfast took place in Virgina's on King Street, which is one of the many restaurants owned by Bennett Hofford, and is named after Mike's mother. The breakfast was delicious and we had our first encounter with traditional Southern food. "Grits" were served, which is made from corn and resembles both egg and porridge.

From there we went to our hotels with our GM's, where they gave us a tour and a brief rundown of the hotels' history. After signing some paper work and getting our schedules for the week we were given the afternoon off to sort out some loose ends. We used this time to set up bank accounts and aquire some transport. The bike shop in town proved to be way too expensive, so we decided to go to Walmart. However, the closest Walmart is in Mt. Pleasant, which is a fair bit away without a car, and involves crossing a huge bridge. Having taken a cab to Walmart we faced the daunting task of cycling home over the bridge. The girls managed to secure a lift home in a pickup truck while Don and Caleb decided to brave the bridge. 2 hours later the guys appeared in the apartment complex drained and exhausted, but proud of conquering the intimidating structure.
For the next few days the gang completed the online training package that is compulsory for all employees before they can be trained in at the front desk. Once we were familiarised with the system we were trained in on the front desk, dealing with customers and taking calls. While Meadhbh and Caleb went into the Hamptons weekly schedule immediately, Don and Bev are spending the week in the Sales Department and start at the front desk next week. The shifts available are 7am-3pm and 3pm-11pm, both having their perks depending on whether you want to sunbathe or head out for drinks.
Our workmates are all very friendly and embraced us from the first day. We've had a week filled of social events, getting to know our new friends and it has been a blast!

We were also really lucky to get tickets to the Spoletto Festival, an annual two week event in Charleston where artists and musicians come from far and wide to perform. We went to see a Gospel Choir which was really good fun.

Charleston is a beautiful city that is filled with fun things to do. We're all really excited to see what the rest of the summer holds for us.

Last night the immpossible happened, IT RAINED IN CHARLESTON! After two months without rain, we witnessed a torrential downpour with thunder, lightening and all the cinematic special effects. And this morning the sun is shining and it's like the storm never happened. Never a dull moment in Charleston.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Finally here

Hey, Meadhbh, Beverley, Caleb and Don here. This is our first of many blog entries. We hope you enjoy them all and we are truly looking forward to our adventure here in Charleston South Carolina and working with the Mike Bennett Internship.

After interviews and a lot of anxious waiting around we've touched down in Charleston... seems like so long ago when we actually applied for the internship. One phone call we all wont forget for a long time was from Patrick saying we had got the place. We quickly started the procedure of applying for Visas and booking our flight. The exams out of the way and everything in place we all met up in Terminal 2 in Dublin airport, which is actually pretty cool. We flew Dublin to Atlanta and Atlanta to Charleston where we were met by Pete and Brandon the general mangers from the 2 hotels. They were standing waiting with 2 signs with our names, they made us choose which was better. Pete won that round. The guys were great. Helpful, funny and great to talk to. From there we got a taxi with to our apartments to quickly drop off our luggage. The apartments are pretty cool and right beside the pool. Fully furnished, A/C, which is a dream in this temperature and spotless. From there we all got shown around the two hotels briefly and then we moved on to get food and a few drinks with Brandon and Pete which was a good laugh and a great chance to get to know them. After being up for over 24 hours we could no longer stay awake so we headed back to our apartments and fell into bed.

Saturday morning we called into the hotels to get maps and meet other staff. We then spent the day wandering around the city trying to figure out where everything was and see some of the sights. Kevin, the manager of the Hampton Inn gave us vouchers to go on a horse and carriage tour, which was pretty cool as it gave us a chance to see all the main sights without having to walk for miles. We walked around some more after and grabbed a bite to eat. Saturday night was brilliant too. One of our new colleagues from the Hampton Inn met us and showed us around a few of the more popular bars. Everyone is polite and very welcoming. We are slowly getting used to the heat but its so tiring. I guess we will get used to after a while...

Our first meeting is tomorrow morning with Mike and the general managers. We will be updating this blog quite frequently so stay logged on to check our progress!