Shangri-La SuZhou hotel(SLSZ) is located in the SuZhou New District. SuZhou is a major city located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province, adjacent to Shanghai. It is one of the fastest developing cities in China, has over 2,500 years of rich history. The integration and conflicts between traditional and modern culture make this city very unique.
As one of the most luxury five star hotels in Suzhou, SLSZ has 410 rooms, include 275 Deluxe Rooms, 86 Horizon Club Rooms, 29 Premier Suites and 20 Serviced Apartments. At the first floor, the hotel has a Lobby Lounge, it provides 78 seats and offers cocktails, wine, soft drink, snacks and the library, next to the Lobby Lounge is the hotel’s Café Soo, “Soo” is the pronunciation of “Su”. Café Soo has 196 seats and provides breakfast/lunch/dinner buffet. As SLSZ has a lot of Japanese customers, a Japanese restaurant is available in the same floor. At the 2nd floor are three ballrooms and a Chinese restaurant – Shang Palace, it offers different Chinese cuisine. Spa and gym are located at the 5th floor. The building includes totally 51 floors. From 6th floor to 27th floor are lending to other companies. Guest rooms are available from 28th floor to 51th floor. The Horizon Club Lounge is located at the 48th floor and servers only from floor 43rd floor to 48th. After one month working at the concierge (June 6th to July 11th), I moved to Horizon Club Lounge and started supporting the Food and Beverage section (another section is front desk).
Different department has different shifts. In Horizon Club Lounge there are four types of shifts-A,B,D,S. Because Horizon Club Lounge provides breakfast buffet from 6:30am to 10am, colleagues of shift A need to start working from 6am to 3pm, Shift B is from 14:15 to 11pm, mainly support the “Happy Hour” dinner buffet, Shift D is the manager’s shift which is from 8:30 to 17:30. Shift S is from 7am to 11am and 5pm to 9pm.
Here is a day in my life of the shift B
After lunch I went out from home to the bus stop. It was 12:45pm when I got the stop. The bus arrived very soon. It took me about half an hour to get the hotel. After I changed my uniform, it was about 1:45pm. It took me quite a while to wait for the elevator – because it located at the 48th floor. When I got Horizon Club Lounge it was nearly 2pm. I walked around to check the whole area and stayed at the Horizon Club front desk to wait for my colleagues. Another shift B colleague Grace arrived at 14:10.
Shift A Sandy and Joy handed over to us. Ten minutes later, Grace and I went down to the Back Office. Front Office includes six small departments. They are front desk (FD), back office, business centre (BC), service centre (SC), concierge and horizon club (HC). All B shift staff from each small FO department will get together at the back office before we start working every afternoon. The duty manager Peter shared the customer information with us. The occupancy was around 70% and there were several VIP arrivals need to pay attention. Grace reported that our coffee machine was broken and we would take the coffee machine from business centre to replace ours. Peter agreed because BC rarely uses it. The department meeting ended at 2:35. I went to the BC to get the machine and grace went to floor B1 to get our linens.
One of the major tasks of B shift is to prepare for the “Happy Hour” and tomorrow’s breakfast buffet. Grace needed to stay at the front desk to do same paper work and handle guest’s check in/out. I stayed in the kitchen to fold the napkins. I need to prepare for 76 seats; each needs need to 2 napkins which means I need to fold at least 152 napkins. Besides these, I also need to prepare the tableware for today’s evening and tomorrow morning. It was a very “boring” and “lonely” two-hour period. Sometimes we will have some guest come in and request for some snacks and soft drinks. But because we only serve horizon club guests (Floor 43rd to 48th) and most of them are business travelers, very few customers will come during the afternoon. 16:57, the S shift Amy came and I went to have dinner. We have 30 minutes to finish it and have a little rest. When I went back, everything was set perfectly. We have five hot dishes, fresh vegetables and salads, smoked salmon, fruits, nuts, desserts, ice-cream and cheeses.
All of these food and drinks are free during these two hours. My job is to lead customers to their seats, offer drinks, add dishes and take empty plates. I will also chat with the customers to get their comments and suggestions. Some regular customers and long-stay customers are very familiar with us. We usually have around 30 customers per evening, and today there were 27.
After the “happy” hour we need to put everything back to the kitchen. It took Grace and me half an hour to finish it. After this, one of us will count the drinks to calculate the cost and another one will count the tableware in case if we lost anything. When we finish this it was about 21:00. Shift S need to move some clean plates to the outside because we need them for tomorrow. Amy’s tasks were all done after she finished this. My next mission is to set the table. I need to change the linens on the table, put egg menu, pepper and salt, toothpick, sugar, and jams on the middle of the table with a strict order. This task took Grace and me about an hour. About 22:15, everything was done. I can finally have a rest. About 22:45, I started to close the area. All the air-confectioners needed to be closed, the meeting room, two side entrances, kitchen, two storages all needed to be locked. Grace was at the front desk to close cashier. It was almost 11 o’clock; we called the security to come up to check everything. When I got home, it was almost twelve o’clock. There are many details I do not have enough time to explain. My supervisor said that it usually took a trainee two to four weeks to become familiar with the Horizon Club Lounge F&B section and only after three months a trainee can start touch front desk tasks.
Here is the picture of my supervisor Betty
and the manager Annie
I was just accepted by the Shangri-La Hotel and Resorts Corporate Trainee program. It is a 16-month training program. From August 15th, I will start my first phase at Shangri-La Suzhou Hotel with a two-month Hotel Orientation. I will go to ten departments to get a clearer understanding of hotel operations. It is really a good chance for me to see how things work at a hotel and experience the Shangri-La philosophy.