Adventures in Portugal: Hospitality Students Loving Lisbon

Editor's Note: Liz Cunningham, a student majoring in Hotel & Lodging Management, shares her experience, in her own words, about a class trip to Lisbon, Portugal. Liz and several other students from JWU’s Providence, Denver and Charlotte campuses spent 5 days in Lisbon as part of their International Hotel Operations course. Associate Professors  Jane Boyland, International Hotel School, Providence Campus, and Sharene Reed, College of Hospitality Management, Denver Campus, led the trip.

JWU Hospitality Students at the Santa Maria de Belem Church, Lisbon, Portugal

As students on the 3rd annual class trip for JWU’s International Hotel Operations course, my classmates and I were awarded the great location of Lisbon, Portugal (known as Lisboa by its citizens). At first, when our professor announced this was our destination, I was apprehensive. Portugal is a location I would always rule out of my travel book because of the language barrier. I was surprised to find out that about 80% of Portugal’s country can speak another language — predominately English!

A bakery in Lison, Portugal.

On day 1 we met up with our classmates from the Denver and Charlotte campuses and were instantly treated to one of Portugal’s most famous pastries, pastel de nata. This flaky, warm, melt-in-your-mouth custard cup was allegedly brought into this world hundreds of years ago by Pastéis de Bélem, a Libson bakery and a “must” for breakfast and pastry. Its copying cohorts were found at every bakery, breakout session and breakfast plate over the course of the trip.

Seeing the sites in Lisbon, Portugal.

Over the week we toured various 5-star resorts and hotels that were all unique, except for the similar concept of preserving the environment and the rich Portuguese history and charm of each location. We had the opportunity to tour a past home of the singer Madonna at the Pestana Palace Lisboa, an old, famous palace; the Pestana Cidadela Cascais, an old bunker-turned-art hotel; and the São Lourenço do Barrocal, an old farm and vineyard that, in 2019, will be a 100% sustainable hotel. These were my top 3 favorite locations.

Hospitality students enjoying Lisbon.

The most amazing part of this trip was the notoriety of the speakers who we had the chance to meet and hear presentations from: Luís Araújo, president, Turismo de Portugal, and Ana Mendes Godinho, Portuguese secretary of state for tourism. They told us about Portugal’s 10-year tourism plan. One of the most amazing things to hear, as a millennial, is that the country is working on having free WiFi at 97% of their historic sites. This would not only help visitors at these sites by making them more accommodating, but it would also help with the country’s strong dependence on organic marketing — marketing that is strictly based on using social media.

JWU students take a sit down break in Lisbon.

On one of the last days of the trip, we had the chance to explore downtown Lisbon. A group of my friends whom I knew from my 2 years as a student at JWU’s Denver Campus, and a new friend I made in my class in Providence, and I decided to walk down to the water and soak in our memorable experience. We sat along the Rio Tejo river and looked at the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge and Christ the King monument across the water, talking about our memories of the trip that was soon coming to an end, over wine and gelato. It’s wild to think that most of the students in our class had an amazing trip that included many firsts: first time in Europe, first time flying on a plane, and first time eating a bunch of different mystery cod dishes. It was a day I won’t forget and a country I will always remember. Eu Vou te Amat pra sempre (I will love you forever), Portugal. If you don’t find me in America after graduation, you might have an idea where you could find me.

JWU student taking in the view of the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge in Lisbon.

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