The acclaimed hospitality training program created by David Bowd of Salt Hotels in partnership with Master Waterfront Developer iStar, has returned to Asbury Park for its fourth year.
The program consisted of 8 weeks of training every Saturday morning from 9 AM to 1:00 PM beginning on February 16th and culminating on April 6th. Classes were held at the Boys and Girls Club of Monmouth County at 1201 Monroe Avenue in Asbury Park.
The programs completion was timed around the upcoming opening of Asbury Ocean Club Surfside Resort & Residences, a luxury boutique hotel and mixed-use condominium project opening its doors this summer.
The acclaimed hospitality training program created by David Bowd of Salt Hotels, and funded by iStar, was conceived with the goal of giving anyone in the community – of any background, experience-level, age, race, and orientation, the opportunity to receive training by the best in the business for free.
With New Jersey’s unemployment at its lowest (4 percent) since 2001 and the state losing 2,600 jobs in December 2018, Salt School serves as a strong force for fueling jobs within the community. This year, the program will offer hospitality training to up to 220 participating locals, ultimately hiring up to 80 at the new property and additional staff at both The Asbury Hotel and Asbury Lanes.
Over the years, more than 200 locals have received diplomas from Salt School, with the inaugural program in 2016, which launched in tandem with the The Asbury Hotel opening, ultimately employing over 100 graduates in total. The program is a testament to iStar’s investment in the community, dating back a decade with initiatives that include the Summer Experience Crew training program, as well as their contributions, along with their vendor partners, totaling nearly a quarter of a million dollars to local organizations like The Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth County.
By simply answering “why do you want to attend hospitality school?” via an online form, locals are given the chance to learn from Bowd, a renowned hotel innovator who has three decades of experience, having worked with names like Ian Schrager and Andre Balazs. Inspired by his own personal experience in hospitality – having no formal education and getting his start as a bellman at age 15, Bowd describes Salt School as “a chance to give back to the industry we love through the mentorship I myself was fortunate to receive in my early days.”
Salt School has seen so much success that the program has been carried out at all Salt Properties, which in addition to The Asbury Hotel include Salt House Inn, Eben House, and The Chequit. Bowd, who also serves as a Principal of west elm Hotels, is bringing the Salt School concept to the new brand with the launch of west elm Academy. The training program will be executed during hotel launches slated for early 2020 in more than seven cities including Detroit, Minneapolis and Oakland.
The School culminated with a formal graduation at Langosta Lounge and a job fair which was added last year due to demand from local businesses and allows remaining graduates the opportunity for hire and equip local businesses with trained staff.
There were a wide variety of participants ranging in age from high school through middle-age and even retired or semi-retired adults, looking for part-time employment.
What they learned – Salt leaders and industry trailblazers teach students all aspects of hospitality. Curriculum focuses include: the business of hospitality, the guest experience, food and beverage management, talent and human resources, revenue management, hospitality and the law, sales and marketing and social media.
When asked what they like most about the program, one student replied, “The service culture of the Salt Hotels, not just making each guest feel welcome and cared about, but also treating coworkers as if they are valued customers in order to build an atmosphere of teamwork hospitality. “
Do they feel ready to work in the hospitality industry? “Yes, and I would say that the Salt School re-framed for me how to think about the hospitality industry.”
Most of this information was provided by Katherine Hartley of NJFPR.COM