Dwayne Stratton

General Manager – Holiday Inn Lethbridge ( Fortis Properties)

Dwayne Stratton
I have been in the Hotel Industry for 20 years.
I have worked in 6 hotels in Canada.

My first job/position in the hotel industry was Maintenance but it was more like a Porter. I did everything from help with luggage, setting tables, taking out garbage, security, from mopping floors and everything in between.

The number of times I have…

renovated a hotel: 1
removed a dead body: 1
escorted a guest off the property: 6
driven a guest to the hospital: 1
performed Housekeeping Duties (made beds, scrubbed toilets): 100
taken a sick day: 0

What does it take to be a GM? What’s involved day to day?
Anything that can happen in a hotel would be considered day to day. No two days, heck, no two hours are alike so you have to learn to adapt to what is happening and prioritize from there. You could be talking to guests one minute and who knows what the next. GM’s have to be able to switch gears quickly and think on their feet.

The three things I can’t live without are:
1. Caffeine – coffee in the veins works on those long tough days
2. Over the Top Busy Times – sitting around isn’t in my vocabulary – out of control works way better. If I have too much time to think I fear the list would grow too long and nothing would get done.
3. Day to Day Challenges – I really enjoy solving challenges and involving my team in doing so. The foundation of our business is built on challenges arising and solving them to provide superior service to our guests.

My caffeine fix: Coffee- 4 cups on average

When I wake up, the first thing I think about is how many walk in’s did we have after I read that last report (before going to bed). Damn, I hope we sold out!

The Hotelier (or person) that has inspired me the most is my Mom. She worked in a hospital for 25 years and only took one week off in one of her last 5 years of working… and only because she had a very bad stomach flu. That’s committment, that’s drive.

My most embarrassing encounter with a hotel guest.

We were installing stamped concrete at our front hotel entrance, so we closed the main entrance and used our banquet room entrance for a few days. Wheelchair accessibility was a concern due to a curb so we created a temporary wooden ramp.  One day, I was checking on things and noticed an elderly gentlemen struggling to get his wife up the ramp in her wheelchair. I offered to assist, grabbed the foot rests, pulled up and accidentally ripped the foot rests off. There I was, standing there,  in a horrible disbelief,  holding the foot rests, watching the gentleman slip back down the ramp. It was a scene out of Seinfeld. The lady was quite alright, but the gentleman proceeded to the front desk to report me to the GM. To his surprise, I was the GM. What a day!!!

My most famous hotel guest was Meg Ryan. I was the resturant manager and I headed over to her table for a quality check.  One would think it’s pretty easy to say “How is everything with your meal?”  Right? No. Instead I mixed up all my words, babbled on and she simply said “Everything’s fine”. How about that for a first impression?  Needless to say I didn’t get her number, LOL.

My most bizarre special request from a hotel guest was when I was asked by a guest where he could pick up a couple of dirty girls and where to buy new shoes. I guess he was planning to take them dancing. Ya, that must be it. LOL.

Best CANADIAN hotel for a entertaining/fun/dirty/wild weekend.
I hear in its day the Fantasy Land Hotel in the West Edmonton Mall was the place to stay (although, I have never been).

Best CANADIAN convention hotel: Banff Springs – excellent convention center, awesome hotel and in the mountains.

Best CANADIAN resort: Jasper Park Lodge. With your room (not in the main building) you get the real sense of a Grand Canadian Lodge Vacation. Love the rooms around the lake with majestic views, wildlife and peace.

Best RESTAURANT in a CANADIAN hotel: EPIC – Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Just something about sitting in that lobby and enjoying a high priced meal.

Best technology innovation in hotels.
Express check-out.

The best advice given to me: Less is more!!!

My biggest pet peeve when visiting “other” hotels is lights not plugged in. Crawling around in the dark to find electrical outlets isn’t fun.

The Hotel amenity I can’t live without is toilet paper. Ever wonder why some hotels have phones in the washrooms? Never wonder again.

The worst feeling in the world is telling a child the water slides are not functioning.

If I could change one thing about the hotel industry, it would it be:
Add a “no-make-over” rate just slightly below the regular rate. Guests could still have it if they want it, they’d just pay more for the housekeeping. When I stay in hotels I’m always a DND but that’s the old executive housekeeper in me I guess.

If I could meet one person (alive or dead) it would it be  Abraham Lincoln. Just read a book about his leadership- never been a leader quite like him since.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have been more mobile earlier in my career. Seeing multiple hotels, brands and cities has been great but I spent 10 years in one location and looking back now, I should have moved along much earlier.

I prefer…

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

The “best hotel story” of my career.
When I was an Executive Housekeeper at a Canadian Resort, we had speciality cabins with multiple rooms, including a grand area, guest rooms, kitchen, etc. These cabins were more like houses and were very popular. One day, we had a high profile guest and his family staying in the cabin and we had to clean it quickly as they were waiting in the lobby. The place was just trashed from a party the night before with cans, bottles, garbage, etc. all over the place. I mean it was upside down from what was no doubt a very successful party. We were pushing the staff to get it done ASAP when we received a call from the front desk that the guests were on the way.   We quickly performed a final walk though and exited the cabin before they arrived.

The next day, I accompanied the room attendants into the cabin. Upon entry, I noticed a huge joint in the mouth of the stuffed moose hanging above the fireplace. Trust me, it wasn’t from the current guests, it was from the party group on the previous stay. We didn’t notice it when we updated the cabin nor did the current guests from the night before. What are the chances? The moose head takes up half the room and is the focal point for the cabin. Considering what we sometimes face as complaints, how could something so obvious go unnoticed by so many people? Priceless.