“Becoming part of a community and feeling at one with it is an integral part of the learning process.”
This year, the Hotel Management School Maastricht is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Another fun fact is that the school’s Teaching Hotel is now 10 years old. With students also moving into the first building in the brand new Student Residence on campus on 16th August, the year 2020 is a special one for the HMSM.
What is the first thing visitors notice as they drive onto the hotel management school’s campus in Maastricht? On the right, they will see the magnificent castle housing Teaching Hotel Château Bethlehem with hotel, restaurant and bar facilities. To the left is the education building and, straight ahead and a little further on, they will see building work going on. It is here that a completely new Student Residence is being constructed to replace the old one, providing 390 modern residential units for first-year students.
Living is learning
Living is learning – this is the idea behind the hotel management school’s campus. The education building is where students receive theoretical training in subjects such as management, hospitality and marketing. But when they leave the education building and cross over to the Teaching Hotel, the learning continues. Working in the restaurant, at reception and in the bar of this hotel with exceptional designer rooms, they become hosts to its guests, putting into practice what they have learned just over the way, without leaving the campus. But there is more to this concept.
Living, learning and spending time on campus
The Student Residence is integral to the student learning pathway. Students are required to live on campus in their first year, the idea being that living, working and spending time with their fellow students from both the Netherlands and abroad leads to the creation of an international learning community. And that this community then allows students to practise a number of vital skills, such as taking responsibility – for themselves, for each other and for the facilities, keeping them in good, usable condition. Living in this community also helps them to find the right balance between their studies, their own time and social activities. The new Student Residence was designed to reinforce this concept of community, with the rooms centred around a communal area. The communities are divided across three buildings, all situated around a courtyard. This design stimulates social interaction between students. “Becoming part of a community and feeling at one with it is an integral part of the learning process,” explains Ad Smits, Dean of the Hotel Management School Maastricht.
'The time of my life'
So, what do students think about living, working and spending time within a learning community? Ad Smits has no hesitation in answering this. “In the future, when they look back on that first year on campus, they will say ‘It was the time of my life’. It provides a safe environment while at the same time creating the beginnings of a network that will often last a lifetime. This is also a vital part of our strategy: we want the learning communities that form at the hotel management school to grow to become lifelong communities.”
The second Student Residence building will be ready in October, with building number three due for completion in January 2021. The official opening is planned for May. Ad Smits is sure of one thing: “We have every confidence that yet more generations of new students will later say: ‘That was the time of my life’.”
Credits: Jules Coenegracht