Amcham: Kindly tell our readers about the history of the School and how it came to be.
Michel Lanners: The history of the Ecole d’Hôtellerie et de Tourisme du Luxembourg (EHTL) dates to 1949. At that time, most businesses were passed down from father to son, but the industry professionals were aware of the need to offer their children structured training and development which came with recognised certification; hence, the hotel school was born.
At first, the emphasis of the training was to offer practical courses in the culinary arts; the professionals union, known as the “Syndicat des Aubergistes et Cafetiers Organisés du Grand Duchy de Luxembourg (SACOL)” financed an oven, and the school was set up in a newly renovated building in Diekirch. The SACOL initiative was supported by the municipality of Diekirch and the Ministry of Education.
On the 6th of March 1950, the school welcomed its first pupils – all seven of them! It continued to grow rapidly By the mid-1970’s, it was clear that the existing school was becoming too small to support the number of students, and consent was given to start the construction of a new, larger premises at Rue Joseph Merten. The foundation stone was laid on the 24th of March 1981, and by now entirely owned by the State, the school was named “Lycée Technique Hotelier Alexis Heck” (LTHAH). The school remains at this location today and was renamed in EHTL in 2018 for strategic reasons.
The original aim of the school is still at the heart of the curriculum : to develop the skills and talents that hospitality and tourism professionals need in today’s dynamic environment. EHTL remains the only establishment in Luxembourg to offer full-time courses in the HORECA sector, and the only one to offer the possibility to study tourism.
The students benefit from a high-quality learning environment combining theory and practical learning. EHTL campus facilities include kitchens for the skilled disciplines as well as a restaurant, bar, and cafeteria in which the students can hone their practical skills. The theoretical knowledge is gained in the classroom using role playing techniques and simulation programmes to allow students to apply the knowledge and deepen their skills. Since 2018, EHTL has evolved and became an iPad school where every student receives at the beginning of the studies a personal device in replacement of traditional books. Generally speaking one has to observe that training tends to last longer and that’s also why we adapted and completed the schooling offer with some more academic orientations in the hospitality sector.
What certification do your successful students receive after passing their exams?
EHTL offers a wide range of training courses for students from the classical and general secondary education systems. Diplomas leading to careers in the restaurant, hotel or tourism industry include Certificat de Compétences Professionnelles (CCP), Diplôme d’Aptitude professionnelle (DAP), Diplôme de technicien (DT), Diplôme de fin d’Etudes Secondaires Générales (ESG) and the Brevet de technicien supérieur in hospitality management (BTS). High-quality curricula is combining theory and practice and is highlighting team spirit, autonomy, and responsibility. From the beginning of the academic year 2022, it will be possible to follow a BA in Hospitality Management in cooperation with the Université de Lorraine: this training takes place on the job, over a period of two years.
In order to provide optimal preparation for an international career, English is accentuated as the language of instruction in the following courses: DAP International Caterer, BTS Hospitality Management and the Bachelor’s degree.
EHTL also offers continuing education courses organised with renowned partners. Aimed at professionals and the general public, some sessions are available in the evening.
As you are the only Hotel and Tourism school here in Luxembourg is the demand greater than the places available?
It has been well-documented that the COVID pandemic has hit the global hospitality and tourism industry hard, and the fact is the HORECA sector is experiencing a labour shortage like never before.
Despite the undeniable influence of the pandemic, and in contrast to the current trend of enrolment in other hotel schools, the demand for training at EHTL has remained stable. That is down to the quality of the curriculum and the opportunities which are available to the students after they complete their studies.
However, students residing in the south of the country can take more than an hour and a half in the morning to come to Diekirch, which is discouraging for them, and penalises us. Plans are underway for a new boarding school, which will increase the accommodation capacity and therefore allow the school to accept more students. With the opening of an annex on the site of the Château de Sanem, we will be able to be closer to the pupils in the south of the country, where there is a real potential for our courses.
You recently participated in the Universal exhibition in Dubai which was a huge success, did your students enjoy being there?
It was an unforgettable and even life-changing experience for the 32 students who participated. We can look back and say that we sent children to Dubai, but they returned as young adults.
As the only hotel school to have sent students to Dubai, I can say we made the right choice. Of course, the preparations were extensive, and somewhat complicated. The students went out to Dubai in 3 teams and spent between 9 and 11 weeks there accompanied by teachers, all whilst continuing their studies. They really showed themselves to be true ambassadors, not only of the school, but also for Luxembourg.
They worked in both the kitchen and in service alongside Mr Kim Kevin De Dood, a 2 Michelin-star chef and a teacher at EHTL, and other guest chefs from Luxembourg.
Did the visiting public in Dubai enjoy Luxembourgish food?
Yes, very much according to the feedback received. In fact, there were many returning guests, as well as first-time visitors who came having heard about the good reputation of the restaurant. I hope that everyone who had the opportunity to eat in the restaurant took as much pleasure from the dishes as I did.
The concept for the Schengen Lounge restaurant was developed by the school in consultation with the CGIE Expo2020. The Michelin-starred chef and teacher at EHTL, Kim Kevin De Dood, created the dishes with the aim of showcasing both Luxembourg’s traditional cuisine, and its diverse, multi-cultural populace. Chef De Dood took classic dishes such as Kniddelen (dumplings) and Gromperekichelcher (potato cakes) and gave them a thoroughly modern twist.Other dishes were a celebration of regional and international ingredients – beef short ribs with yuzu and trout with ginger and fennel.
All the recipes were compiled into a recipe book, “The Schengen Lounge” which the school published (in French and English) last year, it is available to view online or purchased directly from the school.
At the beginning of the year, you signed a partnership with the House of the Grand Duke. Can you explain to our readers the significance of this decision and how it will help your students?
It is a great honour for us to sign a partnership with the House of the Grand Duke. Over the next few months, the students will take part in events held there. The educational aspect of this partnership goes beyond simply putting them in a professional situation. It gives them access to extraordinary experiences, as service at the Grand Duke’s Court is governed by strict protocol, unlike the traditional service taught at school. We are incredibly grateful and proud of the trust placed in us by the House of the Grand Duke. Partnerships such as this are important for the renomée of EHTL. They allow the students to become immersed in the reality of the sector and contribute to the promotion of the school.
Do you work in conjunction with any local hotels?
Hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and many other players in the hospitality sector are key partners for EHTL. They are primarily involved in our students’ work placements, which are an integral part of their training. Students are trained by hospitality professionals who help them gain confidence, refine their skills, and acquire new ones.
EHTL can rely on professional exchanges; through on-site company presentations or in-class addresses.
The professional partners also have an advisory role; notably in the development of the school’s curriculum, but they can also act as external experts in specific areas of the profession, such as training for the airline computer reservation system (GDS).
Can the general public visit you? Do you have a restaurant?The doors of EHTL are always open and we are happy to show the school and the range of courses to not only future students, but also to people interested in our training courses. EHTL has a training restaurant in the centre of Diekirch which is open to the public for lunch during the school year. Anyone wishing to book a table can do so via the EHTL website.
What are the next big things you are planning?
The ambition of the Leitmotiv of EHTL (ndlr: Striving for Excellence) has to be pursued on three axes:
- Enhancing the quality of teaching and learning by focusing on courses and curriculum.
- Developing the marketing of EHTL by participating at the next Expogast in November, but also through exclusive products you can buy online (olive oil, wild pepper, wild oregano, salt and some very delicate home-made specialities).
- Promoting the attractiveness of the hospitality sector in Luxembourg. There are indeed many very interesting job opportunities in hospitality, and I am convinced that we still have room to progress.
The EHTL is definitively a school on the move and in constant development. I invite you to visit our website (www.ehtl.lu) or to follow us on social media to get a more detailed picture of who we are and what we offer.
 Alexis Heck (1830 – 1908), is considered to be the father of Luxembourgish tourism.
Amcham would like to extend our thanks to Michel Lanners for this interview!