In the past, I have managed branded and non branded hotels and resorts including and not limited to Quality; Holiday Inn; Radisson; Deerhurst Resort; Sandalwood Suites; Pinestone Resort and a few others over a 25 year career!
I have been in the Hotel Industry for 25 years.
I have worked in 19 hotels in Canada + Internationally.
My first job/position in the hotel industry was at The Domain of Killien Resort in Haliburton Ontario. By day, I did the accounting and marketing, and by evening I was on the line with Cordon Bleu Chefs. This was a family business built on passion and hard work-a great training ground. Oh yes, of course on weekends, I was on the front desk!
The number of times I have…
opened a hotel: 6
renovated a hotel: 14
removed a dead body: 2
escorted a guest off the property: 4
seen a ghost in a hotel: 1
kept “it” confidential: 2
driven a guest to the hospital: 2
dealt with an “Act of God”: 4
performed Housekeeping Duties (made beds, scrubbed toilets): 100
taken a sick day: 1
What does it take to be a GM? What’s involved day to day?
Strategy, execution, and measurement. A genuine love of people and respect for all team members. Listening, problem solving, and excellent Interpersonal skills. Integrity. Vision. A love of full bodied red wine. A love of culinary wizardry. Appreciation for good Controllers and Sales Managers. Ability to live in the moment…..and be ready to change each day as it unfolds. You must be a good orchestra leader, innovator, and inspirational. Oh, did I mention Red Wine?
The three things I can’t live without are:
My caffeine fix: Coffee- one full rich bold cup a day.
When I wake up, the first thing I think about is sadly, checking my iPhone. Then I think about how lucky I am to be alive and how I can seize the day!
The Hotelier (or person) that has inspired me the most is Isadore Sharp in the Industry. My mother in life.
My most embarrassing encounter with a hotel guest was:
A VIP guest (who was the President of a company I worked for in a new open) did not have towels in his room. When I personally delivered them, he had a bed sheet wrapped around his waist which accidentally fell to the floor.
Best CANADIAN hotel for a entertaining/fun/dirty/wild weekend: any and no comment!
Best CANADIAN hotel for a shopping trip: any because we all know tourists love to shop from those CTC reports….but Toronto and Montreal hotels rank highly.
Best CANADIAN hotel for business travel: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
Best CANADIAN convention hotel: Deerhurst Resort-rocks!
Best CANADIAN airport hotel: Sandalwood Suites which has just been branded….Airport Park on Orbitor Drive-very special team members.
Best CANADIAN resort: Deerhurst Resort.
Best RESTAURANT in a CANADIAN hotel: Gladstone Cafe-Toronto.
The best advice given to me is work hard, be passionate, value employees and create a winning culture, strategize, deploy, measure Rev Max Strategies, enjoy red wine, help employees to succeed and you’ll win! It’s not rocket science- lead, inspire, motivate and do it with authenticity, and integrity. Don’t be afraid to fail a few times.
My biggest pet peeve when visiting “other” hotels is arrogance.
The THREE Hotel amenities I can’t live without are;
2.Complimentary high speed wireless
3.An AMAZING bed
The worst feeling in the world is to not meet budget (ha ha). External factors that are out of your control like SARS.
If I could change THREE things about the hotel industry, it would it be;
1. higher ADR strategies in Canada.
2. more women in senior leadership roles
3. lenders who took more risks investing in our industry
If I had to do it all over again, I would do exactly the same thing. Live it, love it, learn from it, teach it. I feel blessed about my experiences and hope to do it in good health for many years to come.
Day over Night
Summer over Winter
West Coast over East Coast
Sunset over Sunrise
Quiet over Loud
Classical Music over Rock
The “best hotel story” of my career.
One night, at Deerhurst Resort, I said to my Assistant OPS I can smell a Tornado and we need to prepare! Sure enough, 15 minutes later with 700 staff and a full house of over 1,200 guests a tornado ripped into the property. Guests continued to casually lounge, pull up in their cars and were not aware of what was happening. The Director of Ops started to valet cars and as quickly as possible get everyone inside and safe. One guest pulled up in a luxury car, a Porsche or Ferrari, and he declined valet. The Operations Team was able to convince him and once inside he asked for a free drink for the honour of letting us park his car and save him from a Tornado!
Such a diverse industry, with so many stories from ghosts, to exotic pets to hookers….conferences with intoxicated guests (one who was 250 pounds and had a heart attack on the dance floor–not funny), sampling Shania’s CD UP before it went public.