Gabriella Cole, a luxury hotel operations major at Niagara University, is spending her summer immersed in the Italian language and culture while building her hospitality skills at a luxury hotel with the school's College of Hospitality, Sport, and Tourism Management's (CoHST) Lake Como Program.
Gabriella is learning the international hospitality management industry at one of the world’s most luxurious locations as she builds relationships with the Italian students who will attend Niagara in the fall as part of the CoHST's exchange program with Universita Insubria.
Each summer, since 2004, students from CoHST have worked in nine of Lake Como's luxury hotels in northern Italy on the border of Switzerland. Among the participating properties are the world-renowned Villa d’Este, commonly called “Hollywood on Lake Como,” in Cernobbio; and the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, “the jewel of Lake Como.” The Villa d’Este has been ranked as the best hotel in the world. Both hotels are ranked at the top of the list for resorts in Europe by Condé Nast and Travel + Leisure magazines.
Students must complete training in Italian to participate in the 10-week, full-time work program that focuses on developing superior customer service skills. In addition to immersing students in a different culture, they learn to address the needs of "discriminating" guests at luxury properties.
For three years, prior to the start of this program, Niagara University assisted the Universita Insubria in developing its hospitality and tourism program and worked with the Lake Como Hotel Association and the Lake Como Tourism Association to make this program possible. As part of an agreement with the Universita Insubria, 10 hospitality and tourism students from there study at Niagara University each fall.
"With the strong linkages that have developed between Niagara University and the Lake Como community, the two regions have discussed the possibility of a sister city relationship," said Bridget Niland, Ph.D., J.D., dean of CoHST. "The key point for the students is that they are living and working in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. They often visit Rome, Venice, and Florence during their stays abroad. Living in paradise and building marketability — how can you lose, and you may even see George Clooney at his Lake Como villa!"