Saira Hospitality, a 501c3 nonprofit, announced this week that its first permanent hospitality school will launch in spring 2021 in collaboration with The Monastery Boutique Hotel in Wheeling, West Virginia. Together, Saira and The Monastery will work to create enhanced learning and development opportunities for those in the local community who are unemployed or underemployed, ultimately providing jobs to successful graduates within the luxury hotel and its community spaces. With the help of Saira, The Monastery will be able to achieve its aim of creating a unique offering that is authentic to the destination, where guests, staff, and community members alike are invited to explore and expand their horizons.
The launch of a permanent school is a significant milestone for Saira, which aims to educate hospitality brands on how to give before they take, create stronger bonds with locals, and disrupt the industry’s traditional recruitment processes, which tend to overlook locals in favor of international applicants or poaching from competitors. This milestone follows four years of curating pop-up hospitality schools in collaboration with brands such as Bunkhouse, Four Seasons, Habitas, Rosewood, and Virgin Limited. To date, 250 students have graduated from Saira Hospitality’s free programs and are now pursuing career opportunities that would have previously been unavailable to them. Saira reports that its hotel partners have seen a 100-percent return on investment and benefit from an expertly trained, passionate, and engaged workforce of locals with a deep understanding of local customs, activities, and geography.
The permanent school, which will be based in Wheeling’s architectural and historical gem, The Scottish Rite, will offer a 10-week program covering topics from service qualities and loyalty programs to wellness and emotional intelligence. The varied curriculum focuses on improving communication and soft skills through experiential learning lead by specially trained lecturers and industry experts. In the first year, three programs for up to 36 students each will be offered with a look to increase this number from the second year onwards. The permanent school will also benefit from Saira’s long-term partnership with Cornell University’s online learning platform, eCornell.
“The launch of a permanent school allows us to expand on the ripple effect we see from our pop-ups by continuing to truly benefit the community over time, take on more students, and provide enhanced support for past graduates to progress their careers,” said Harsha L’Acqua, CEO and founder of Saira Hospitality. “I couldn’t be more excited to continue our journey challenging the status quo of the industry. We have plans for the school to be self-sustainable in the near future, creating a new model for free-of-charge, high-quality hospitality education for communities globally.”
“Partnering with Roxby Development on our first permanent school feels like a perfect fit for Saira Hospitality,” L’Acqua continued. “Our partner could not be more passionate about revitalizing Wheeling and West Virginia as a whole, bringing a taste of luxury and lifestyle hospitality to the community and inviting them in.”
The original Wheeling Monastery is currently being transformed into a hotel space with 18 keys, a restaurant, a bar, and multiple indoor and outdoor event spaces, which will be used for community programming. The interiors highlight the monastery’s architectural beauty and original features.
“I highly admire the work the Saira Hospitality team do to drive change in the industry and knew they were the missing link to really bring The Monastery and our vision for a transformative hospitality experience which brings out-of-town guests and the community together,” said Jeffrey Morris, founder of Roxby Development and The Monastery. “The Wheeling community is already excited about what’s to come; they are open-minded, welcoming, and filled with the hospitality gene. We can’t wait to launch our first program with Saira Hospitality and look forward to welcoming our first guests to this unique hotel and its community spaces in Spring 2021.”