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    This September, Paul Russell brings his brand of luxury seminars customised for top Indian hotels

    If you can list instances where you thought a hotel’s staff needed better training, you will agree with Paul Russell who saw so big a void, that he created an academy to address it. The former hotel manager turned director of food and beverage (at hotels like Savoy London and St Regis New York), started the UK-based Luxury Academy in October 2012. “In a nutshell, we are a training academy for luxury hotels. We have courses for the staff — from waiters and bartenders, all the way up to managers,” he says, before expanding on what they offer. “There’s a Rock Star Leadership course for people who want to hone their leadership skills. We’re also doing a British Finishing School, that teaches you confidence, interaction and conversation skills,” he shares, adding that these two will be a part of the seminars they are conducting in New Delhi and Mumbai, this September.

    Paul_and_ShanineFour stars & above
    With the luxury hotel market booming in India, Russell says that they are talking to names like the Leela, Marriott and Hyatt among others. And about the hospitality industry here, he says, “A positive is the hospitable nature ingrained in the culture. And you have a huge workforce too.” But the level of international exposure he feels, is the downside, and this is the gap they hope to fill. Incidentally, the second director of Luxury Academy, Shanine Jajh, is of Indian descent. She is looking forward to her first trip to the country and will be conducting the seminars along with Russell. And while Russell agrees that there are other training companies, he points out that they train across industries, while the Luxury Academy is “not equipped to train below four stars.”

    Culture shock
    Talking about key areas that the hospitality industry needs training in, Russell points out that the sense of informality prevalent nowadays needs to be addressed. Being trained about different cultures is also vital today, he says, adding that it’s not just the guests that come from different cultures, but also the hotel staff. “London is a multi-cultural city. What works for one culture may be rude to another,” he says, adding that this is where their cultural diversity courses (that are crafted specifically to suit the requirements of the hotel) come in.

    The seminars take place on September 1-2 at the India International Centre, New Delhi, and September 8-9 at the Bombay Exhibition Centre, Mumbai. Details: eventbee.com/v/luxuryacademy/boxoffice

    -Ryan Peppin

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