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The Trendiest New Hotel Amenity Is Taking Guests Back to High School With Language Classes



On a recent visit to the Seychelles, I tried my best to pick up a bit of the local language, Seychellois Creole. But despite the help of Jemmy Bibi, my butler at the Mango House Seychelles, LXR Hotels & Resorts, I only managed a few words, such as bonjou (hello) and grangou (hungry).

I unfortunately missed out on the hotel’s free Creole lessons, which are offered every Tuesday. According to general manager Giuseppe Ressa, who came up with the idea for the casual classes, the point is to give guests a richer appreciation of the history and culture of the islands, where many residents also speak English and French. “This program allows guests to have a deeper connection with the people,” he says. 

These days, many high-end hotels are leaning in to languages for the same reason. Consider the Royal Mansour Marrakech, the legendary 53-villa hotel in Morocco’s beguiling Red City. It offers Arabic instruction at Le Jardin de Lila kids’ club, and children can also sign up for calligraphy sessions to learn the language’s elegant script.

A world away at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, on the island of Hawaii, guests of all ages can study at its Kaʻūpūlehu Cultural Center. Attendees learn multisyllabic Hawaiian words and the diacritical marks that are a key feature of the language, says Kaʻaiʻōhelo McAfee-Torco, the property’s cultural leader. “After an hour,” she explains, “I could give them any Hawaiian word and they’d feel comfortable with it.”

Cruise brands are also climbing on board. Many Norwegian Cruise Line ships offer language classes as one of their destination-focused enrichment activities, says NCL president David Herrera. “You want to learn how to speak Portuguese? It’s happening,” he says. Royal Caribbean International also makes language classes available on some ships, depending on the itinerary. 

Auberge Resorts Collection included language classes in its Work, Learn, & Play program, which started in 2020, with an emphasis on remote learning. Back then, Auberge guests could log on for Spanish lessons while staying at its two resorts in Los Cabos, Mexico: Esperanza and Chileno Bay. Today, guests can study in person, with private tutors.

Spanish-language classes are also held at Amanera, a 25-casita resort in the Dominican Republic. The Wednesday lessons take place during cocktail hour, to help guests relax and encourage conversation, says general manager Lionel Valla. “Most of our guests really want to learn some Spanish,” he says. “What matters is that they feel a sense of place.”

A version of this story first appeared in the July 2024 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline “The New School.” 



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