WATCH out, he has a lot of energy, more than you and I put together,” cautioned Gerald Hougardy, the director of the Paul Dubrule Hotel and Tourism School, as we walked in to meet the school’s founder and namesake, 77-year-old French hotel magnate Paul Dubrule.
Testament to Dubrule’s energy is the racing bike hanging on the wall which commemorates a 15,000-kilometre ride across three continents Dubrule made in 2002 to attend the school’s opening.
Dubrule rode the same bike in the school’s rally on Sunday, March 27.
The great man was in town as part of his annual visit and to sign a memorandum of understanding between the school and L’École Hotelerie de Lausanne in Switzerland.
But at the last moment, the signing had to be postponed, and Gerald Hougardy will fly to Switzerland today to wield the all-important pen.
The delay in signing the agreement has not dampened Dubrule’s enthusiasm, and he told 7Days that once the global agreement is in place, there can be an exchange of teachers and trainees between the schools in Switzerland and Siem Reap.
Dubrule’s experience and contacts as co-founder and chairman of the Accor hotel group, which operates over 4000 hotels in 90 countries, was instrumental in arranging the partnership which he said will be an asset to the Siem Reap school.
The Paul Dubrule Hotel and Tourism School provides culinary and hospitality training to over 200 students each year, many of whom gain employment in Cambodia’s best hotels.
The agreement signed between the Dubrule School and Lausanne came after Dubrule moved to Geneva in 2006 – he said the two schools have been talking about a partnership for some time.
The agreement coincides with an expansion of the Paul Dubrule school’s amenities, aimed at increasing the student body to 300.
Dubrule said students pay for roughly one-third of their tuition costs, and the rest is either covered by scholarships or by fundraising. He said: “At the end, if they cannot match the cost they call me.”
“And we do, I have to admit,” chimed in Accor International Hospitality School director Fabrice Tessier, who travelled to Siem Reap with Dubrule to observe a new tour guide training program at the school.
Dubrule said his original ambition for students who finish a 10-month course of study at the school is to gain employable skills and eventually work at hotels around the world.
“We want people to go from no or low jobs to high jobs, not only in hotels in Siem Reap but in other countries. Already we have former students in Thailand and France. You cannot achieve big things if you do not have a big dream.”
And what is Monsieur Dubrule’s dream? “My big dream is that one day a former student of this school will be the chairman of Accor, and why not?”