The time honored tradition and columniation of a year of hard work is finally here! The first day of the 93rd Hotel Ezra Cornell was a buzz of guest registrations, hotelie reunions, and final touches leading to a successful welcome under the Design Team’s paper and cardboard stars.
Although the focal points of Thursday’s activities began in the evening with Cocktail in the Atrium, HEC’s true kickoff began in the Statler Hotel with a glimpse at the future. The first event of the afternoon was the Student Entrepreneurship Showcase highlighting the new and innovative projects founded by current and past Cornell Students. Several student startups were on display at the exhibition, featuring products across a wide range of industries. Of course, the majority of entrepreneurial projects dealt with the hospitality sphere including Rewardzzz, a universal points exchange system, and Milesahead, a luxury travel concierge service. In addition, the exhibition included food product and environmental sustainability concepts. We look forward to hopefully hearing more from some of these groups on Saturday at the Cornell Hospitality Business Plan Competition.
While the Showcase was engaging, the true HEC magic began at Opening Cocktail, which in many ways resembled a cocktail itself—a blend of flavors and colors mixing, mingling, and swirling around in a kind of dance. While alumni, faculty, guests, and industry leaders caught up and reminisced on the days of hospitality past, current students were hard at work ensuring smooth and polished service. The specialty drinks of the evening, courtesy of our Beverage Team included a sweet, crisp Pomme Blanc and a bold, tangy Cu Sour.
The highlight of the event was certainly Dean Walsh’s welcome and the exchange of the coveted “Statler Key” from the hands of General Manager, Richard Adie to those of HEC General Manager, Jaimie Kim. Mr. Adie described Kim as the embodiment of “grace under pressure” which she demonstrated through eloquent and inspiring words of welcome. Kim touched on the motivation behind this year’s HEC explaining, “A Sense of Place will explore the shift from an age of information to an era of experience by finding what connects guests to the strong identity, character, and authenticity of a place.” Kim further warmed our hearts in extending the hospitality only a hotelie could in concluding with, “We hope during your short stay at our home, whether it is your first time, or one of many times, you find “A Sense of Place” with us.”
The evening concluded with a packed Student Experience Dinner at Terrace Restaurant. The event was filled with a sense of anticipation and excitement for the weekend to come. The room was bustling with students, as those who had participated in the day’s events and those preparing for upcoming events came together to share in the HEC student experience and interact with HEC guests. The menu was comfort itself, including southern country favorites like chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and cobbler with ice cream. Each warmed our hearts and bellies as we communed over a successful evening and looked to the successful weekend to come which is sure to be the Best Ever!