The humble, two-star Concourse Hotel at Los Angeles International Airport is undergoing at $65-million renovation, with a plan to emerge this fall as a four-star Hyatt Regency hotel.
As part of its effort to upgrade, the hotel's management decided the staff needed some enhancements, as well.
But instead of wholesale layoffs, the hotel teamed up with the city of Los Angeles and Unite Here Local 11, the union that represents the hotel workers, to offer on-site training classes. The lessons, provided by the nonprofit Los Angeles Hospitality Training Academy, were paid for with a $100,000 grant from the city.
Last week, 24 housekeepers graduated from a class on English as a second language that was held twice a week for four months at the hotel.
Kitchen workers are also learning butchery and sauce making, among other culinary lessons, while the hotel's bartenders are taking classes in mixology — the art of mixing exotic cocktails.
Jeff Rostek, the hotel's managing director, said investing in the workers will increase their commitment and pride in the hotel.
"Our goal is to become one of the best hotels in Los Angeles, and this is going to help," he said.