While we regularly profile our students, we’ve rarely heard from their parents – the people trusting us with their children’s education – until now. In the first of a new feature series, we meet Laurent Gourbeyre, whose son Thomas is coming to study at our Marbella campus this Fall.
A career switcher at the age of 40 following a successful stint as a computer engineer, Laurent Gourbeyre swapped the city for the mountains, and a salaried position for the life of an entrepreneur, in order to run his own hotel: the 5-star Hôtel L’Hélios & Spa in Meribel, France.
Having built a successful business over the past 13 years, Laurent is delighted his son Thomas is looking to excel in the hospitality industry by completing his studies at Les Roches Marbella. And it’s not just the innovative focus of our education that appeals; Laurent is keen for the industry adopt more of the kind of professionalism and entrepreneurial spirit Les Roches fosters in students.
“We need to rethink the hotel and restaurant trades because they were established by Escoffier and Ritz in the 1890s and have changed little since,” he says. “This has been a problem in recent decades and is one that innovation can help solve.
“But the bulk of the work is more substantive. We must review and adapt all processes to the major challenges now facing us, such as CO2 emissions and environmental protection, and bring more structure and professionalism to the trade.”
Laurent is clear about what needs to change in the industry and the role schools such as Les Roches can play in revitalizing it.
“The lack of professional structures with qualifications over the past 40 years has led to many establishments either not being up to scratch or being ones to completely avoid,” he adds. “It is the duty of the top chefs, premium schools like Les Roches and the great hotel groups to rethink everything, starting with creating an international association of hoteliers and restaurateurs equivalent to the ones we have for doctors, lawyers or architects.
“We also need professional qualifications that open up access to key restaurant and hotel roles and not just at the management level. And to really shift the industry into the 21st century, we need to abandon the culture of long hours, innovate some of the more arduous tasks out of existence and treat junior staff better.”
Discover why the world’s most admired hospitality companies come to Les Roches to recruit our Bachelor students.
Technology – and its limits
While Laurent’s professional background means he is ready to embrace technology in the quest for success, he is realistic about its limits.
“As a former engineer, I always pay attention to what tech can add to our profession,” he says. “And I’m fully aware of the benefits of good, automated customer, personnel and revenue management systems.
“But these are solely focused on money and don’t address the fundamental problems of our industry, which are more people-oriented. A warm welcome, a comfortable bed, a good table and a fine bottle will always be more appreciated by the customer than the best computer systems!”
That Les Roches gives students a good grounding in all aspects of the industry while retaining a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship means Laurent is confident Thomas has chosen the right school.
“The best schools offer a much broader and demanding spectrum of studies, a better overall experience and have a world-renowned tradition of excellence.”
“What’s interesting for me is that Les Roches is not just a business school,” he explains. “It recognizes that the hotel and restaurant industry covers much broader fields of activity than simple marketing. If you look at the INSEE definition of commerce – companies or establishments whose main activity is to resell goods without processing them – that does not apply to hospitality. Hotels and restaurants are more about entrepreneurship and craft than just commerce.
“The best schools offer a much broader and demanding spectrum of studies, a better overall experience and have a world-renowned tradition of excellence. Getting there is already an achievement, while staying at the top is a daily requirement.”
According to Laurent, after it was clear Thomas would follow him into the hospitality industry, the choice of Les Roches Marbella was not a difficult one.
“He wanted to experience a mix of cultures, schools and networks to get the best out of each and, after a few years on the shores of the North Sea, Thomas was attracted to a school further south, particularly in Spain.”
“Thomas chose Les Roches to complete his training after excellent stints at the hotel school of Thonon Les Bains in France, followed by a bachelor’s degree at the highly demanding Hotelschool The Hague in the Netherlands,” he notes.
“He wanted to experience a mix of cultures, schools and networks to get the best out of each and, after a few years on the shores of the North Sea, Thomas was attracted to a school further south, particularly in Spain. He considered a few options, but he chose Les Roches without too much hesitation.”
Asked what his hopes are for Thomas at Les Roches, Laurent could not be clearer.
“Let him be happy – life is too short! As John Lennon said ‘When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I answered: happy. They told me that I had not understood the question, I replied that they had not understood life.’”
- Thank you, Laurent! And we look forward to speaking to more parents of future leaders in the coming weeks.