From its humble beginnings in 1962 with just 15 students from five nationalities, Glion Institute of Higher Education has today transformed itself into a globally known private hospitality management school. Over 60 years on, it has 1800 students representing 98 nationalities across three campuses in Switzerland and London.
Luxurious Magazine’s Sabi Phagura was given an exclusive tour of two of its campuses in Switzerland.
It’s true – we have all received hospitality countless times. This can come in many shapes and forms, from frequenting a restaurant, checking into a hotel room or visiting a department store. And what’s more, we’re willing to pay for it and are only satisfied when the service meets our expectations.
But how do you learn hospitality? Enrolling on a credible course at a reputable school is a good start.
Glion is ranked among the world’s top five higher education institutions for hospitality and leisure management. It’s also part of Sommet Education (a worldwide leader in hospitality education and accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
Just one look into the Glion campus just outside Montreux, and I had the feeling that this school was something spectacular.
Gastronomic destination – Maison Décotterd within Glion
The Maison Décotterd gastronomic restaurant, with its spectacular view of Montreux and the Vaud Riviera, is one of the first areas you’re greeted with upon entering the campus gates. Located in the former Hotel Bellevue, this 19th-century listed building also houses a bar.
The décor of this restaurant and bar is a blend of modernity, chic and a healthy dose of Belle-Époque. A bistro next to the restaurant is decisively contemporary. Students can be seen carrying out their duties in a very hands-on manner, serving guests (open to the public) as part of their courses.
I began my visit with a chat and dinner with Frédéric Picard, Managing Director of Glion. Prior to taking on the role of Managing Director of Glion Insititute of Education (encompassing two campuses in Switzerland and 1 in the UK), Frédéric Picard spent his career in the luxury hotel industry, both in Europe and internationally.
Helming the Maison Décotterd is Chef Stéphane Décotterd, who was born in Billens, Fribourg. As the son of a local butcher, food has naturally been at the forefront of his mind. He chose to carve himself a career as a chef, together with his wife, after falling in love with the beautiful restaurant located in the centre of the charming village of Brent in 2011.
Within the first year, he obtained two stars in the Michelin Guide and 18 points in the Gault & Millau. But he decided to leave and head to Glion to share his expertise with the students alongside a team of chefs.
His cuisine, in his words, is regional, sustainable and original, yet always evolving. And it’s working. Not only did I enjoy looking at the array of dishes beautifully presented, but they tasted even better. The restaurant picked up its first Michelin star a year after Stéphane joined in 2021.
The students who served me also deserve top marks for their hospitality skills, in my opinion, most of whom have only been at the school for a mere few weeks.
Over at the Lobby Bar, mixologist Lucas Denuzière and his team of impeccably turned-out student bar tenders prepare the perfect drink as an aperitif or a digestif. And, of course, the team are on hand with sommeliers to pick the perfect wine to pair with the menu.
I was incredibly impressed that the bar has embraced the popularity of the mocktails trend by ensuring that a third of its drink menu comprises non-alcoholic drinks. To top it off, Lucas told me his team uses lots of fruit and herbs from the chef’s kitchen to eliminate waste. The ginger and beetroot concoction is an uplifting drink at any time of the day.
Start of student life
At Glion, students can choose from several courses, including Bachelor’s, Master’s and Executive education. And alongside it, they can have an exciting life across Glion and Bulle campuses.
All students begin their studies at the Glion campus with a first semester focusing on the fundamentals of practical arts. They deepen their knowledge by learning from the best. By the end of the semester, they gain luxury hospitality experience, develop guest experience, discover the universe of F&B and immerse themselves in the world of gastronomy.
Unless students are participating in sports, helping in the kitchen or off-duty, they are all polished in office attire while on campus. That includes attending lectures and seminars.
As the school is on the former Hotel Bellevue site, they have all they need at their fingertips to get a real perspective on what life will be like in the outside world. Nguyen Nhat Nam, aged 19 and from Vietnam, showed me around the Glion campus.
He only started his Bachelor’s course in September and became an ‘ambassador’, which means he represents students and raises issues and concerns to people like Yohann Nosten, Student Life Manager. Yohann, who has worked at Glion for seven years, is a port of call for them and helps organise events, especially sporting ones, throughout the year.
As Nguyen gave me a tour of the Glion campus and everything the students can expect from enrolling here, he explained how the place feels like being part of a community.
Downtime is massively catered for with a fully equipped gym, halls to play games such as tennis and basketball and, of course, the obligatory student bar. All these amenities play an important part in encouraging social interaction and feeling part of the community. It’s even more important if you have travelled across the globe and it’s the first time you left home.
The second semester is all about internships. It’s an opportunity for students to get hands-on experience in their chosen field. I was able to attend their fall recruitment day to witness for myself how important the day is on Glion’s calendar.
It’s not just a typical’ career fair’ because the conversations which take place on this day are based on actual vacancies posted in advance to all eligible students.
Glion holds two annual Recruitment days, which are a pivotal part for students seeking internship and full-time roles post-graduation. Recruiters from internationally recognised organisations, as well as local companies, are invited to the Bulle campus, where students can forge important relationships and accelerate their career prospects.
Jacquie Lutz, Head of Career Services and Industry Relations, explained how, together with her team, their main task is to ensure all students are prepared for their internships and their jobs post-graduation. The mission is ‘to guarantee the employability of the students, ensuring that they enter the workplace fully prepared and with the best possible qualities’.
The Bulle Campus is where classroom-based study takes place in the form of lectures and seminars. Dr Eleonaro Cattaneo is the Program Director for the Master’s in Luxury Management and Guest Experience and is responsible for putting together some 25 courses and keeping reading lists up to date available from the campus library.
A published author, Eleonora has extensive industry experience as a consultant and senior advisor for global brands and leading luxury hospitality groups. She looks after lectures, updates seminars and conferences and manages the reading list available at the on-campus library. Classroom reps can go to Eleonora for any concerns they may have.
There’s a thriving community at Bulle. The Hub is the ‘canteen’ where food is hand-prepared by students at the Glion campus. It’s a place for students to head for a bite to eat and mingle with others, offering downtime between classroom studies. It’s a buzzy atmosphere, and the food is delicious – way better than any university campus grub I’ve eaten.
While at the campus, I had the opportunity to speak with several students to get a feel for what it’s like to study here.
Some of the key comments were how Glion gives them a head start in their chosen fields, allows them to get access to professionals in the industry at such a young age, making friends with international fellow students, and the prospect of working in different sectors of the hospitality industry around the globe.
Some students have chosen to continue their lives at the campus in an employment capacity after graduation.
Elisaveta Semjonova is on an internship as a Student Affairs Officer, while Awino Mbeche stayed on as a Press Relations Specialist after completing her studies.
Having a Glion education is a badge of honour for the students. To showcase their loyalty, the Glion brand embellished on hoodies, caps and bags are worn with pride.
It’s hardly surprising when school graduates are being offered more than six job opportunities at the end of their studies via 250 industry partners, which include Hublot, Cartier, Four Seasons, and J.P. Morgan Private Bank.
It is evident from my visit that Glion, as a brand name, puts you at the top of any pile of CVs in luxury hospitality. As one student put it, “This allows you to get your foot through the door – which is often the hardest part.”
Glion Institute of Higher Education – Where and How?
A four-year Bachelors program in Switzerland costs CHF 220,150 including compulsory living expenses. For more information on Glion and the full range of courses offered, visit www.glion.edu.