Steve White

General Manager, Holiday Inn Conference Centre Edmonton South AB.

Steve White GM Fortis Properties

I have been in the Hotel Industry for 34 years.
I have worked in 7 hotels in Canada + Internationally.

My first job/position in the hotel industry was Front Desk Agent

The number of times I have...

opened a hotel: 1
renovated a hotel: 3
removed a dead body: 3
escorted a guest off the property: 12
seen a ghost in a hotel: 4
kept “it” confidential: 50
driven a guest to the hos pital: 4
dealt with an “Act of God”: 2
performed Housekeeping Duties (made beds, scrubbed toilets): 10
taken a sick day: 3

What does it take to be a GM? What’s involved day to day?
To be a GM takes persistence, patience, understanding, creativity, business acumen, people skills, technology awareness/knowledge, social site understanding, hotel operating knowledge, market knowledge, government and political knowledge and involvement, understanding and identifying new trends, community involvement, corporate responsibility, environmental stewardship, safety minded, mentor, “master-delegater” and most of all a great and understanding spouse!

The three things I can’t live without are:
1-My wife
2-My team
3-My first coffee

My caffeine fix: Coffee-only two a day in the early am but I have to have them!

When I wake up, the first thing I think about is occupancy and then whether the fire alarm will go off unexpectedly.

The Hotelier (or person) that has inspired me the most is my Mom and I think she would of made one hell of a hotelier!

My most embarrassing encounter with a hotel guest was when I was  a Night Auditor. I was conducting floor patrols when I spotted a man on a guest corridor stumbling about only in his underwear and trying to gain access to various guestrooms by trying the door handle. I recognized this guest as he had only checked in not long ago. When I reached him and asked what he was doing he said he came out of his room to get some ice and his door closed behind him and he had no key. Now that I think of it he didn’t have an ice bucket with him either.

My most famous hotel guests were; Rod Stewart, Kenny Rogers, Tina Turner, Charley Pride, Actors, Prime Ministers, Governors and other politicians, Famous Athletes and Royalty. Hosted State Dinner for Princess Diana and Prince Charles in the hotel. Hosted Queen Elizabeth for three nights in the hotel and had a private audience with her and Prince Phillip before their departure.

My most bizarre special request from a hotel guest.
I was sitting in the club floor lounge one morning chatting with the club floor manager when she informed me that a guest sitting in the lounge was dressed in a suit however had no shoes. She said his shoes went missing during the overnight polishing process by the night staff. The guest called me over, noticing I was with the hotel, and started to tell me about his missing shoes and that he had a meeting to attend. He looked down at my shoes and said,  “You are about the same size as I am”. I said, “Size 8?” He said,  That is perfect. Do you mind if I borrow your shoes for the day?” I stepped out of my shoes and returned to my office in socks only. I never did see those shoes again.

Best CANADIAN hotel for a entertaining/fun/dirty/wild weekend: Any hotel with the right person. A couple of older hotels in Toronto ring a bell…

Best CANADIAN hotel for a shopping trip: Fantasyland Hotel in Edmonton and shopping at West Edmonton Mall. Royal York Hotel in Toronto while on a shopping spree in downtown and on Young Street.

Best CANADIAN convention hotel: Royal York and Queen Elizabeth..

Best technology innovation in hotels: “I’m that old that the alarm clock radio was a great innovation!” Guestroom entry via mobile phone is a great new feature as well as checking in before even arriving.

The best advice given to me: “Get out of the hotel industry” I was told. I didn’t listen to it and I am the person I am today!

My biggest pet peeve when visiting “other” hotels is “me” – I can’t help but looking and checking the hotel “up”, “down” and all “around”!

The Hotel amenity I can’t live without is the ironing board. I am an ironing freak and just have to have it and it is the first thing I check for and to see it’s good condition.

The worst feeling in the world is taking a bottle of water from the room attendant’s cart and she catches you..

If I could change one thing about the hotel industry, it would it be?:
“Give me a 30 hour day”! Seriously, I would like to raise awareness of the industry at an earlier stage to junior high school students so they can consider the Hotel Industry as a career.

If I could meet one person (alive or dead) it would it be Mr. Isadore Sharp – Founder Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

If I had to do it all over again.. I would! 

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

The “best hotel story” of my career.
First night on my own as a Night Auditor. Manual audit in 1979 and using the best posting machine ever made – The NCR 4200. It was a 133 room hotel and the machine broke down about half way through the posting of room and tax; manually, room by room. I had to phone the Chief Accountant at home at about 3:00 am. He answered and as I was telling him what happened he fell asleep on the phone. I was yelling over the phone to try and wake him or maybe his wife might hear me. I hung up and called him again 15 minutes later, when he answered and he told me I must go downstairs to the accounting office and wheel the other NCR 4200 machine that was used by the A/R Clerk up to the front desk. He said, by the way, the alarm may ring and if so there is a key behind the door of the Chief Cashiers office to silence the alarm. Of course I go down, the alarm sounds, all throughout the hotel, and you guessed it, there is no key!  I phoned the accountant back who called the Assistant Accountant who came down to the hotel to silence the alarm. I managed to get all info transferred and audit balanced by 7:45 a.m.

Strangest items left in Lost & Found and not claimed:
– crutches
– set of false teeth
– a prosthetic leg
– $1000 cash