JWU Student Blogs

When in Rome...

Over Easter weekend I was lucky enough to spend the holiday in Rome! I had never been to the city before but of course I have heard many amazing things, I was excited to see them for myself. The first day we saw the famous Colosseum and it was as breathtaking as I expected it to be from the outside and then we got to see the inside… seeing something so historical and being able to walk around and explore the whole thing was very eye opening. Since it was Easter weekend there was a festival going on in the Colosseum that expanded through the surrounding streets. There was beautiful music being played, art being painted and food being served for everyone to enjoy. At the end of the day I thought that I had seen what would be my favorite part of Rome, but sure enough the next day I found something I loved even more. My friend and I were strolling the streets early in the morning and as we turned the corner I layed my eyes on what would soon be my favorite thing i’ve seen in all of Europe… the Trevi Fountain. They say when you throw a coin into the fountain and make a wish your wish will come true and you will return to Rome again some day. So of course we each threw a coin in and made a wish! The whole city was filled with positive and exciting vibes and packed with tourists because of the holiday weekend. On Easter Sunday we experienced something very special, we got to see the Pope give mass in the Vatican City. Although there was over 150,000 people there and the Pope was just a small white dot from where we were standing it was very empowering and uplifting to be part of such an amazing thing. The weekend as a whole was everything I expected and so much more, needless to say I did not want to leave on Monday morning!

Sentiero degli Dei

On the Monday following Easter I had the amazing opportunity to walk along the Sentiero degli Dei, translated to the Path of the Gods. I had heard about this amazing trail from a family member that had recently traveled to Italy and have been intending to go since arriving in Castellamare in March. It was difficult to find a way to Bomerano, where the trail started, via public transportation. Lucky for me however, our awesome tour guide, Audrey, arranged for several of my classmates, our professor, and a few of her friends to take a private bus. The wait was well worth it!

Paris, Je t'aime.

This past weekend I had the absolute pleasure of traveling to Paris, France. I had extremely high expectations as to what I was about to experience. After the trip was over I can honestly say that those expectations were met and even exceeded. Paris is such a beautiful place with so much to offer. So many people from all over the world grace the streets filled with culture as well as a balance between modern and old architecture. Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time was honestly breathtaking. I walked up the stairs from the Champ De Mars Metro stop and there it was with all its glory. It was a surreal experience to be standing there looking up at such a world famous marvel. Laying in the grass looking up at such a beautiful structure got me thinking of how extremely lucky I am to be experiencing this at such a young age. Not to be morbid, but I had two close aunts pass away last year alone, and neither of them got to really experience what the world had to offer. To be able to say that I have been to the places that I have been to as young as I am is truly a blessing. We also saw the Palace of Versailles which was so incredibly large. It must be nice to actual have the option of getting lost in your home. I experienced one of the most magical moments of my life in Paris in front of the Notre Dame. My friends and I went to Notre Dame on Easter Sunday at night and we discovered a man using an amp as well as a microphone performing right outside of Notre Dame. There were hundreds of people surrounding him which made him claim that it was the biggest crowd he had seen in the 10 years that he has been a street performer. The reason this was such a magical moment for me was not just because of the obvious reasons like I could see both the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame all lit up from where I was standing. It was magical because of all of the love and acceptance that was in the air at that moment. Everyone was dancing and smiling, forgetting that we are all different but rather focusing on things that are universal, like happiness, love, and acceptance. The world is only so large and in order to survive, we all need to learn how to coexist. I can leave that moment honestly saying that it was the greatest moment of my entire life. It has inspired me and lit a fire in me to spread love and acceptance throughout the world more so than I have before. Thank you, Paris, for teaching me things about myself that I didn’t even knew existed.

Amalfi and Positano, The Dream Coasts of Italy

Last Wednesday, our group went to visit two luxury hotels located alone the coast line, Belmond Hotel Caruso in Ravello that besides the Almafi Coast and Relais & Chateaux on the cliff next to Positano that overlooks the view of coast and Pistano. It is one of the most unforgettable day trip. The road to Ravello and Positano was rugged, where the car had to drive up and down the mountain along the tough mountain roads. The weather was bad too, cloudy, wind, and cold. However, the view along the mountain road was fantastic and the hotels were both very impressive, which made the trip become a pleasant memory for me.

Due to the unique terrain, both of these two hotels are constructed on the cliffs facing the Mediterranean. The price range for both hotels are similar, starting from around €500 per night as average. They are both luxury five-star hotels and both enjoy the same level of fame, but on some aspects, they are very different. The Public Relation person Iolanda Mansi in Hotel Caruso and the Sales and Marketing Manager Agostino Piccolo in Relais & Chateaux gave us the be set explanation of their hotels. Belmond Hotel Caruso and Relais & Chateaux have their own attractivenesses.
Mrs. Mansi divided us into three groups and showed us around Hotel Caruso. When first stepped into the hotel lobby, the elegant painted roof and the chandelier caught my eyes. It was the typical ancient upscale decoration of a Italian roof. There are 120 to 140 rooms available in this hotel for customers. To me, the most impressive part of this hotel is its swimming pool, which is build outdoor on the platform besides the cliff. The pool is big enough and warm enough for guests to swim there even in a cold weather. Guests are able to relax themselves in the warm water while enjoy the entire view of Almafi Coast and Mediterranean. There was a net besides the pool, in case that someone may fall out of the pool by accident.

According to Mansi, the hotel has six free shuttles per day for guests to go to the Almafi Coast, three in the morning and three in the afternoon, of which the schedules are fixed. There are only less than 20% employees in Hotel Caruso are international, most of whom work in the food department. Their biggest markets are guests from United States and United Kingdom, followed by Italian, which means they don’t really need a lot of international employees. As long as some of their native employees are able to communicate in English, there would be no problem. Plus, more native employees will know the local situation. The stratagem increases the employment rate and dramatically promoted the development of local economy in Almafi Coast Area, where almost everyone makes a living on travel and tourism. It was a pity that Mansi didn’t show us how the rooms look like in Hotel Caruso. In my opinion, Hotel Caruso is more of a local traditional Italian-style high end luxury hotel.

When it comes to Relais & Chateaux, Mr. Piccolo gave us a tour of the entire hotel, where all the highlight of this hotel are pointed out. The most impressive part of Relais & Chateaux is how much they pay attention to details and to the conservation of environment. From their exquisite painting on the door of the restroom, to picture that placed at the entrance of the restaurant showing guests the restaurant’s dress code for different meals, everywhere is full of their carefulness to their customers. On the public balcony of Relais & Chateaux, we can not only overlook the breathtaking view on both the coast and the town of Pistano, but also feel the sunbath in the afternoon lining on the retro bench. Many famous people have come to this balcony and sited on the elegant painted bench. Every room has the same possibility to have an amazing view on their own balcony.

According to Mr. Piccolo, the hotel improve itself based on customers feedback every year when it comes to their low season. There are two ways of interact with their customers. One way is through their Facebook page. When guests say something about the hotel, the hotel employees always try to reply and understand what need to be improved. The other way is through the hotel feedback book. Relais & Chateaux learnt that many guests wished that they could have done spa within the facility from their feedback.

It cannot change the outside appearance of the hotel in order to preserve the local natural environment, which give it a big challenge of building new facilities such as a spa. Fortunately, they finally figured out solutions. The rooms on high floors viewing more of the entire coast has less space out of their rooms. Everyone has equal opportunity to choose their rooms based on their preference. They converted an old storage into a small spa and gym with a unique view of the valley. The other thing I learnt from Piccolo is that there should always be a back-up plan. He had an example when a famous person came to Relais & Chateaux one night while all other rooms are sold out. They sold the small room on the top floor of the facility which has a 360 division view of the entire place to her and left her a good impression. This hotel had done a great job on customer service and emergency problem solving.

There are only 59 rooms accommodating over one hundred guests at a time I n Relais & Chateaux Hotel, but there are about 130 employees serving all the guests. Piccolo said that at least one guest will be served with one employee because real luxury hotel is when guests feel at home. The luxury concept showed in that verything was included in Theron rate except for the spa. Their biggest target market are people from United States, French, and Italy. Their two new potential markets are China and Brazil. The other major markets are Russia and Israel. Among all of their guests, 30-40% are repeat guests. Relais & Chateaux Group has other luxury hotels located in other major tourism cities in Europe such as Milan and Paris. All of these elements above determined that Relais & Chateaux requires more international employees than Hotel Caruso. Most employees are expected to speak Italian, French, and English fluently.
As far as I’m concerned, the two Almafi Coast and Pistano are become more and more popular as the people’s living standard improve. There are a lot of potential opportunity for people in Hotel and Tourism Industry. Relais & Chateaux is more attractive to me if I would like to pursue my career along the Almafi and Pistano Coast, because of its international environment. Of course there are more challenges here. Probably before I decided to start my career here, I would come first with my future husband during our honeymoon trip!
Chenlijun Dong (Sherry)

Suit UP!

Hello, my name is Shannen. I am an International Hotel and Tourism Management major at Johnson & Wales University. I am currently studying abroad in Italy. My time so far in Italy has been amazing, I have visited so many awesome places with classmates. Our most current excursion was visiting two 5-star hotels overlooking the beautiful Amalfi Coast.

Ravello & Positano

On Wednesday April 16th, we had the opportunity to visit 2 leading luxury hotels in Ravello and Positano:

Hotel tours in Ravello & Positano - IHTM

Due to my unfortunate ease of getting motion sickness I was glad I decided to take a motion sickness medication prior to leaving for Ravello. To be able to enjoy the absolutely breathtaking views from the bus was amazing.

The Netherlands...

Every time I visit a new city, I have some of expectations or a personal visual representation of the city (which most of the time is very far from reality). But this time I had none. I boarded the plane to Amsterdam with no expectations and no personal depiction of the city. So as we got to Rotterdam late Thursday night I was ready for anything and everything.

The Kingdom of Gods-Athens



I am currently studying abroad in Italy for the IHTM degree. My roommate is here with me and we began planning out our weekend trips a long time ago. Both of us are huge nerds (Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Sherlock, etc…), and London has a lot of nerd-related things, so even though I had already been to London this summer for a few days, I decided to go back for one weekend with my roommate. I am SO happy I made that decision because my weekend in London was one of the greatest weekends of my life.

Quite possibly the best day of my life...

On Sunday April 6th, I joined some local friends, who had invited me to go with them to Slow Food Day in Gragnano. I had no idea what to expect or what I was in for when they picked me up. We started at Castello Lettere where we had some fresh milk and snacks. We then hiked up the very steep hill, where there is a small cave at the top. There were a ton of people going up to the cave, from all walks of life; from the Mayor of Gragnano, to rock climbers, to children and elderly women in high heels. I was fully immersed into the Italian culture. We met a gentlemen on the walk up who was making us flutes out of the tree branches. After we came down from the cave, we returned to Castello Lettere where they were playing traditional folk music and dancing. My friend informed me that most of the Italians that were at Slow Food Day had never seen an American before, which explained why everyone was looking at me. When the Italians realized there was an American, they began to bring us large plates of fresh cheese, and bread and bottles of wine. They were utterly welcoming, giving and extremely nice. The “Bee Man”, who collects and sells fresh honey was there as well. We spoke with him for a long time. He was an extremely interesting person with a wealth of knowledge on bees. Up to this point, the day was unbelievable, little did I know what we were doing next.

All better!

It was a very lousy week for me. Unfortunately, I was in bed with tonsillitis all week. Then to top it off, I got pink eye…what are the odds?! Aside from being sick though, I did have some fun and exciting things happen to me this week.


I had spent exactly one month in southern Italy on my International Hotel and Tourism study abroad program when I went to Amsterdam for a weekend. The main reason for this trip was to reunite with an old friend, the destination was a rather random decision. Consequently, I didn’t have a lot of expectations for the city.

Study Abroad

Ever since my freshman year at Johnson & Wales I have been interested in studying abroad. The chance to experience a different culture and its diverse food and traditions has always appealed to me. Luckily Johnson & Wales offers several programs like the ones my fellow bloggers have been posting about. This year i finally got the chance to apply for study abroad, and I WAS ACCEPTED! Ill be studying in Singapore & Thailand over the summer!


Paris has been the number one place I wanted to visit when I was a child. For its fame of Romanticism, iconic architecture and artistic atmosphere, my classmates and I finally took a weekend trip to Paris as we had planned since day one to experience this glamorous city. When we arrived in Paris, it was already late in the afternoon. After dinner, we went straight to the Eiffel Tower. As I was told that the best time to see the Eiffel Tower was not during the day but was at night. And it’s true! When I looked at the tower with the lights on, it instantly stole my heart.

Brendan Brocato


For the excursion this passed week, we visited the ruins of an Ancient Roman city—Pompeii. It was a lot of fun for me because I’ve heard many stories about Pompeii as I was growing up, and actually standing on the ground of the city was a remarkable experience.

Adventures in Rome


Weekend in Florence!

As soon as I knew that I would be living in Italy for three months, I was immediately overjoyed. Within Europe, Italy has to be one of the best countries to see a variety of different cities and cultures all within one small area. Italy originally comprised a number of independent city-states, and these then developed into their own distinct cities with separate identities. In the north there are Milan, Venice, and Bologna, then moving farther south one will find Rome, Naples, Palermo, and of course Castellammare di Stabia! For my first weekend trip however, I decided to venture into Florence- the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.

When in Rome...

When I left for a short weekend trip in Rome, I had no idea what was in store for me. I knew it was a city rich with culture and history, but it was actually much, much more than that. Upon arriving at Rome, I literally felt like I was in a movie.

Venezia! by Rachel Henry

You may know it as Venice, but its true name in Italian is Venezia (get it right people!). This city on water stole my heart the moment I stepped out of the train station. Its remarkable beauty is evident throughout the entire city, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy. In order to get around, my friends and I had to of course take a boat. We purchased passes for the water taxi for a decent price (30 euros for 48 hours). We immediately jumped into the city dazzled by all it had to offer. Two of the most popular items for sale were Venetian Masks and Murano glass. The masks are pieces of art in their own right,truly exemplifying the cities passion for things made by hand, while each piece of the Murano glass was so intricately made, making them all one of a kind. For someone looking for souvenirs to bring home, Venezia is definitely the right place to look. I was able to buy several pieces of Murano glass for relatively cheap (5 euro). Of course some of the larger works were much higher in price, but for a small trinket to bring home it was perfect. Unfortunately we did not have the chance to ride a Gondola, but when I return (which I will) that will be a top priority. Hopefully it will be with my gorgeous Italian husband and our little bambinos. Until next time, Ciao Ragazzi!

"Eh-eh-o-eh-o...Eh-eh-o-eh-o" {Pompeii}

Being deadly afraid of any natural disaster, I was dreading the excursion to Pompeii. The only thing I knew about this “place” before this trip was that it was destroyed by a volcanic eruption sometime in the past. Never would I have imagined that it used to be an actual city that inhabited 10,000 to 12,000 people and that it was 160 acres big. I still didn’t realized how big it was until I pulled the map and realized that Pompeii was bigger than Castelammare (The city we are staying in).

Cantina del Vesuvio

Ciao Ragazzi !!