David Gibbs

General Manager, Prestige Hotel & Conference Centre Vernon BC

David Gibbs | General Manager, Prestige Hotel & Conference Centre Vernon BC

I have been in the Hotel Industry for 25 years.
I have worked in 9 hotels in Canada + Internationally.

My first job/position in the hotel industry was washing dishes in the Atlantic Restaurant at the Keltic Lodge-loved it! I was a 16 year old surrounded by waitresses, one of the best jobs of my life! Unfortunately, I think I broke way too many dishes so I was transferred to the grounds crew after only a few weeks.

The number of times I have...

opened a hotel: 2
renovated a hotel: 10
removed a dead body: 1
escorted a guest off the property: 10
driven a guest to the hospital: 1

What does it take to be a GM? What’s involved day to day?

Every day is different. Just when you think you have everything under control something (or someone) changes or a new challenge comes your way. Being able to adapt to the changes while keeping each member of your team pulling in the same direction is probably the most important thing. Equal respect for guests and staff alike probably help too. Daily hands-on interaction with staff and guests alike is crucial.

My caffeine fix: Coffee. 1 extra large black coffee per day, some days a second one is needed but never after 12pm!

The Hotelier (or person) that has inspired me the most is…
I have had the good fortune to work with some terrific people. You definitely take something different from each of them. Alex MacClure, former GM at the Keltic Lodge and Andries Flierjans, Rooms Division Manager at the Banff Park Lodge, would be at the fore of my list but many many people over the years have taught, encouraged and inspired me; whether they realized it or not.

My most embarrassing encounter with a hotel guest was…
The worst I can remember, although I am sure there have been many…I was working as a GSA, guest comes to the desk to inquire about drycleaning, wants to confirm that our drycleaner is reputable as his shirts are “$300 shirts” . The bellman pipes up asking him why he feels the need to spend $300 on his shirts, causing a bit of a verbal confrontation which I had to get in the middle of. Pretty uncomfortable. That bellman did not work for us much longer, last I heard of him he was a Philosophy student…go figure!

My most famous hotel guest was…
Lots over the years; Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley stand out. The GSA that checked them in was so nervous she could barely function by the end of it; pretty fun stuff. “Hi, I’d like to check in please…William Joel” We had no idea they were coming.

My most bizarre special request from a hotel guest (or staff member) was… As the years pass, the bizarre requests seem to become the norm or at least less surprising and a new bizarre takes over but I do remember the older gentleman who was coming for 2 or 3 nights and asked that we please remove the bed and replace it with a comfortable chair as he could not sleep laying down and wanted the extra floor space provided by removing the bed.

Best CANADIAN hotel for a entertaining/fun/dirty/wild weekend:
Anywhere in Banff in my opinion. It’s just such a fun town where I have had some of the best times.

The best advice given to me:
Maybe not the BEST advice, but I have been coming back to this one for years and years: Under promise, over deliver. It’s catchy and it always holds true.

My biggest pet peeve when visiting “other” hotels is cold, unfriendly frontline staff. It amazes me that in many hotels the room attendants are far more cheerful than the front desk agents.

The Hotel amenity I can’t live without is coffee.

The worst feeling in the world is disappointing a loyal guest.

If I had to do it all over again, I would freeze time -as a bellman in Banff in my early 20’s…some of the best years of my life! But since that is not possible, I would not change a thing. Every experience molds us and makes us what we are. Regrets are just a waste of energy.

Day over Night
Summer over Winter
East Coast over West Coast
Sunset over Sunrise
Quiet over Loud
Rock Music over Classical

The “best hotel story” of my career.
I was working as a bellman one evening and our Japanese GSA radios me to go to a room to look for a missing guest as he hasn’t come down for dinner and the tour guide is worried about him. Her English is hard to understand on the radio and all I hear is “Guest not answering, might be dead”.  I was terrified at what I might find in the room and was actually quite relieved to find him passed out buck naked in the bathtub.
I was so happy to find a living person that the embarrassment didn’t set in until later. He, on the other hand, must have thought I was an intruder or something worse as he bolted out of the tub and went running down the hallway yelling! The female tour guide arrived on the scene and was able to talk him back into his room. That poor girl was in tears with embarrassment.  If you know anything about Japanese culture you would know that I must have heard “Sorry” 1000 times that night. Good times.