Sailing the Seven Seas …with The Private Hotel School alumnus Bibiana Swart

It’s no secret that most of the students from The Private Hotel School (TPHS) have, over the last few years, not only found employment after graduating, but have also found themselves working in all parts of the globe – from Dallas to Dubai and from New York to New Orleans.

Some have even had the luxury of moving around the world, and one such alumnus is Bibiana Swart (25) who graduated from TPHS in 2016 after completing a course in Hospitality Management.

Pretoria-born Swart is currently working as a stewardess on a motor yacht based in Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain. We caught up with her and asked her about her journey so far and life aboard a yacht in lockdown.

What made you study hospitality at TPHS?
My parents and brother all studied in Stellenbosch and it was a given that I would also study there. My brother also attended TPHS and his positive feedback inspired me to enrol for their hospitality management course.

Why did you want to study hospitality?
My family on my mother’s side all have extensive hospitality experience, which they gained over the years from working in hotels and bed and breakfasts. The hotel life, which I experienced as a child when visiting my uncle’s hotel, also influenced me to want to study hospitality.

What did you like about studying at TPHS?
I am a practical learner and enjoyed the practical side of the lectures. It wasn’t just all book studies; we would alternate between classroom and out of classroom studies and practicals. I also appreciated the intimate lecturing setup whereby students were encouraged to participate, give opinions and ask questions without feeling intimidated by a large group of students in a classroom.

Tell us about your journey from graduation to where you are now.
After graduation, I furthered my studies at Cape Peninsula University of Technology with a BTEC Degree in Hospitality Management. From there I went to the UK where I worked in a pub for a while before I found a job as a cook stewardess on a catamaran based in Indonesia. From there I travelled to Lebanon and got a job on a yacht before being offered the job I have now in Palma.

What does your current job entail?
My role includes maintaining the interior of the yacht, housekeeping, laundering, cooking for guests and crew as well as assisting on deck.

What are you doing to keep yourself occupied during lockdown?
I have been fortunate enough to be living and working on the yacht during the lockdown, so my Mondays to Fridays are devoted to the upkeep and maintenance of the yacht. On the weekends, Netflix, online courses, yacht blogs, yoga, social media, video calls and reading books have been keeping me occupied. I have also developed an interest in going green and implementing eco friendly practices and have devoted my time to reading up on ways to make both the yacht and my personal life more eco friendly.

What have you learnt how to cook or bake during lockdown?
I am a cook stewardess so I value this time to enhance my cooking skills. I have experimented with lots of recipes that cater for different dietary requirements; from low-carb to vegetarian, plant based, pescatarian and recipes for no dietary restrictions. I have mostly played around with low carb foods and made low carb sushi, cauliflower mash cottage pie and egg-fried cauliflower rice. And of course, I have also made banana bread however, I made a low-carb version with almond flour and dark chocolate which I serve with homemade peanut butter. To compliment my cooking, I have also challenged myself to focus on food plating. My previous boss once said to me that guests eat with their eyes and that food should both look appealing and be flavourful. For food and plating ideas, Pinterest is my go-to platform and I also follow renowned chefs on social media for inspiration.

Name three things you are going to do once lockdown ends?
There are so many things that I want to do, but my top three are:

  1. Head to my nearest coffee shop, even though no European coffee shop can satisfy my thirst for my all-time-favourite Woolworths flat-white.
  2. Reactivate my gym membership to join the Spinning and Zumba classes
  3. Devour a caramelised onion, mushroom and goat’s cheese burger from our local sports pub.