Hans Gerhardt

Past GM of Sutton Place Hotel, Toronto

Hans J. Gerhardt

I have been in the Hotel Industry for 55 years.
I have worked in 10 hotels in Canada + Internationally.
As a Hotelier, I have lived in 4 countries (excluding Canada).

My first job/position in the hotel industry was a Cabin boy on a freight ship.

The number of times I have…

opened a hotel: 2
renovated a hotel: 12
removed a dead body: 4
escorted a guest off the property: 10
seen a ghost in a hotel: 0
kept “it” confidential: 0
driven a guest to the hospital: 3
dealt with an “Act of God”: 3
performed Housekeeping Duties (made beds, scrubbed toilets): 20
taken a sick day: 5

What does it take to be a GM?
Times have changed; it used to be more emphasis on direct guest contact/relations.  Day to day you need to inspect hotel operations, communicate with staff & guests alike, review financial, operational and sales marketing goals/objectives.

The three things I can’t live without are:
1] communications tools
2] a great assistant
3] a clear mind

My caffeine fix: Coffee, but only at breakfast, sometimes after lunch or in the afternoon.

When I wake up, the first thing I think about is did I rest well and if not, why not and will try improve next night.

The Hotelier (or person) that has inspired me the most is 1970’s Toronto Hyatt Regency‘s GM Franz Schutzman.

My most embarrassing encounter with a hotel guest was calling actor Jack Lemmon Mr. Melon.

My most famous hotel guest was Sophia Loren

My most bizarre special request from a hotel guest (or staff member) was from the worlds fifth richest man to introduce him to Charles Bronson to show him his gun collection.

Best CANADIAN hotel for a entertaining/fun/dirty/wild weekend.
Depends on the mood/purpose/location.
Downtown business: TRUMP Hotel Toronto
Shopping: Park Hyatt and new Four Seasons Toronto
Sightseeing/visiting/theatre: Sheraton Centre Hotel
Romance: The Old Mill Inn or The Hazelton Toronto, I love the old Fairmont Hotels in Banff, Quebec City and Ottawa

Best CANADIAN hotel for a shopping trip: Toronto: Park Hyatt, Hazelton and new Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. Montreal: Ritz Carlton
Best CANADIAN hotel for business travel:
Depends on rate: high: Ritz Carlton or TRUMP,  medium Marriott or Sheraton
Best CANADIAN convention hotel: Toronto Sheraton Centre Hotel
Best CANADIAN airport hotel: Sheraton Airport Toronto
Best CANADIAN resort: Fairmont Banff Springs
Best RESTAURANT in a CANADIAN hotel: EPIC at the Fairmont Royal York Toronto. I have not tried Boulud at the Four Seasons yet.
Best technology innovation in hotels voice mail, energy conservation technology, Wi-Fi computer technology integration

The best advice given to me.
Always be clean, practice good hygiene.  Be early, never late, Dress smart keep an eye always on your guests and respect the guest territory ‘you are only working here because of the guests you serve’.

My biggest pet peeve when visiting “other” hotels is staff talking to each other, ignoring the guests.

The Hotel amenity I can’t live without is soap

The worst feeling in the world is being ignored as a guest

If I could change one thing about the hotel industry, it would it be to make it more personal, again.

If I could meet one person (alive or dead) it would it be our late son Ralph www.ralphgerhardt.com

If I had to do it all over again, I would spend more time with my family

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

The “best hotel story” of my career.
Read my book HotelBiz! [ www.hotelbiz.com ] it’s full of these kind of stories!