2019 Trend Alert - Developing a Worldly Hospitality Culture to Drive World Class Guest Experiences


I had some time to reflect upon how lucky I was to work at Normandy Farm Hotel and attending our company holiday party made me understand why. In attendance were my colleagues and their families, all celebrating the joy of the season and the common respect that we have for one another. What added to the richness of the day was the blending of cultures as evidenced by attire, language, menu, and religious celebrations. Yes, we are the proverbial melting pot, and by my rough estimation, over 28 countries are represented at the farm. So how does that translate in to a world class hospitality experience for our guests?

1. There’s an inquisitive nature of hospitality professionals to learn about diverse cultures and how to make our guest’s experience comfortable with an American twist. “Mi casa, su casa”, or in English “My house is your house”. Many hospitality workers are also migrants so the chances of you hiring a staff member from a different culture are high. There may be language barriers to overcome, but the most important element is the attitude and respect you have towards each other.

2. The art of entertaining has been defined by our diverse influence of management, both front and back of the house. Our executive chef, Chef Mtele “Abu” Abubakar, is from Kenya and has been preparing farm to table cuisine since he was 10 years old in a village with no refrigeration. Chef Sam, Executive Pastry Chef from Jordan, trained in Paris and brings a blend of European influence. Add the rich cultures of the Caribbean Islands, South Africa, India, Asia, and Mexico and the opportunity to leverage diversity for innovation is the cornerstone of worldly hospitality at Normandy Farm.

3. Wedding ceremonies are rich with customs and traditions so it is imperative that a strong level of trust is established between the event coordinator and client. Years of experience and formal training is required to attain a level of confidence to serve clients of all backgrounds. While it is a Jewish custom to get married under a “chuppah”, and Indian couple weds under a “mandap”. Adapting to ethnic menus can also be a challenge unless your cultural intelligence is above par. Jewish menus may request a kosher style menu (no pork or shellfish), while it would be inappropriate to offer beef on the Balinese Hindus menu.

4. Holidays and religious observances around the world can greatly influence the hospitality experience of your guests as well as staff. For instance, the Muslim observance of Ramadan requires fasting after sunrise till sunset, therefore adjusting meal service times might be in order. For those of the Jewish faith, the holiday of Passover forbids consuming leavened products; therefore matzo should be available in addition to bread. And for those of the Roman Catholic faith, the consumption of beef or fowl on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during lent is forbidden. When preparing meals for a diverse clientele, all of us have to exhibit cultural intelligence, 365 days of the year.

About Karen Mandel

Karen Mandel, Sr. Business Development Manager at Normandy Farm Hotel & Conference Center draws from her forty plus years of global marketing experience to bring a melting pot of ideas and observations to corporate and social gatherings. Karen has used her expertise to create indelible positive impressions to her clients and coworkers alike.


Normandy Farm Hotel and Conference Center | Located just 25 minutes from Center City Philadelphia and situated in the heart of Blue Bell, Pa.,Normandy Farm Hotel and Conference Center is more than a meticulously restored American landmark—it's a fully wired, high-tech hospitality venue. Relax on our grand terrace, sip a cocktail in America's oldest silo, play a challenging game of golf on our championship course, plan an event with us or dine on our delectable farm-to-table cuisine. It all adds up to One Historic Experience.

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