A hotel where the staff are all on training courses – from apprenticeships to degrees – could open in Oldham in 2015 if plans get the go-ahead.
Hotel Future would be a fully functioning 120-bed hotel doubling as a full-time vocational training establishment.
A surface car park has been identified for the £40m hotel on the proposed new civic square in central Oldham. The plans are backed by a joint venture between Oldham Council and Manchester Hoteliers' Association. The council is putting the land into the scheme and funding will be raised by the hoteliers. Details of funding sources have yet to be confirmed. Roger Stephenson Architects designed the new hotel and convention centre.
"This is a completely new idea which we expect will roll out across the UK and maybe beyond," said Stephen Miles, general manager of the Radisson Edwardian in Manchester and chairman of the MHA. Miles is part of the Hospitality Employers' Consortium that is putting the Hotel Future proposal together.
He added: "The key difference is that this is not a catering or hospitality college; it's a real luxury hotel that will succeed on its own merits. It just happens that at every level, apart from General Manager and Heads of Department, the staff will be apprentices, experienced hospitality staff seeking to gain skills and others looking to take a degree to enhance their careers."
Hotel Future will offer four levels of entry starting with 100 apprenticeships – 50 awarded as scholarships – each year. Team Leader level will offer further education for those already employed in the sector and seeking to move up the ladder. Middle Management will study for BTEC short-term courses aided by the Disney Foundation. Finally the Executive Programme will offer university Degree and Business School Qualifications.
"We have the backing of two of the leading universities, Oldham and Manchester Business Colleges and the Disney Foundation," said Miles, "as well as Hilton, Marriott, Malmaison, Carlson Rezidor, Radisson Edwardian, Rocco Forte and other major hotel groups.
"This is a very serious undertaking with major backers and qualifications gained at Hotel Future will be respected not just in the UK but throughout the world."
Oldham's Queen Elizabeth Hall will be refurbished and linked to the hotel to create a conference and meeting centre.
"The location is also a huge plus for us," said Miles. "The new Metro line means it is 20 minutes from Manchester's city centre – and Oldham's position on the motorway network means students from Cheshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire are all within easy commuting distance."