TWO Austrian schoolgirls have joined the team at a top North East hotel, to gain first-hand experience of the hospitality industry.

For 10 years, Matfen Hall Hotel, Northumberland, has offered work placements to pupils at HBLW School in Saalfelden.

And Claudia Leitinge and Laura Winter are the latest in a string of pupils to take part in a three-month summer placement at the award-winning hotel.

The girls are currently studying hospitality, media, computers and languages and hope their placements at Matfen Hall will help towards their final exams next year.

Since they arrived they have worked in the hotel’s Conservatory and Library Restaurant, serving customers, laying tables and learning the skills of silver service and have also helped out at a variety of events, such as weddings and birthday parties.

“The guests are very different over here, they’re very polite,” said Claudia, 17, who hopes to extend her experience by working at the hotel’s reception and, like 18-year-old Laura, hopes to travel before going on to university or college.

“Although it is hard work and there is a lot to do and learn, the people we have worked with here at Matfen have been so helpful and kind – they have provided such good support.”

Before they arrived in England both girls were concerned that living and working in a foreign country would be difficult and Laura said: “our friends said that the first two weeks away from home would be the worst.

“But the staff at Matfen have been really supportive and have definitely made us feel like part of the team.

“We have really enjoyed exploring the area too, the location is ideal – we’re close to Hexham and Newcastle, and are surrounded by the beautiful countryside”

Matfen Hall offers three internships each year to UK and international applicants, who are keen to find out more about the hospitality industry and Managing Director, Bernard Bloodworth, said they are integral to the hotel’s success.

“It is very much a two-way street and we can learn as much from our young placement holders as they learn from us,” he said.

“The industry is constantly evolving and our links with HBLW, in particular, are very important to us.

“It’s pupils have been, without exception, enthusiastic, friendly and committed to learning and it’s been a great pleasure to host Claudia and Laura this year – they have been great additions to our team.”

For further information about Matfen Hall Hotel call 01661 886500, email info@matfenhall.com or visitwww.matfenhall.com.

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