Tim Lilleyman

Past GM, Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort – St. Lucia


Tim Lilleyman

I have been in the Hotel Industry for 35 years.
I have worked in 7 hotels in Canada + Internationally.
As a Hotelier, I have lived in 2 countries (excluding Canada).

My first job/position in the hotel industry was peeling potatoes in my parents restaurant when I was 11 years old. First job in Canada was as a Chef Tournant at the Hyatt Regency (Yorkville) Toronto.

The number of times I have…
opened a hotel: 4
renovated a hotel: 10
removed a dead body: 0
escorted a guest off the property: 5
seen a ghost in a hotel: 0
kept “it” confidential: 100
driven a guest to the hospital: 1
dealt with an “Act of God”: 5
performed Housekeeping Duties (made beds, scrubbed toilets): 21
taken a sick day: 3
What does it take to be a GM?
Being visible and accessible to guests & staff. Keeping calm (or appearing calm) when all hell is breaking loose. Keeping The Owners happy by delivering the bottom line every day. Getting out to play golf occasionally.

The three things I can’t live without are:
1-My wife and kids.
2-My Newspaper
3-My cell phone.

My caffeine fix: Tea
15 cups of tea a day & 1 trip to Starbucks for a bucket of coffee.

When I wake up, the first thing I think about is kissing my wife.

The Hotelier (or person) that has inspired me the most is Hans Gerhardt. I joined Hyatt Regency Yorkville in 1974 as a tournant in the kitchen. I would see this wonderfully dressed man working with clients and I decided I wanted to be like him. Luckily in 1982, I was hired by Hans Gerhardt. He taught me everything I know about the art of hospitality and has been a mentor ever since.I am grateful for his kindness and friendship.
My most embarrassing encounter with a hotel guest.
I sold the Toronto International Film Festival on the idea that they should switch to the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel because we had 15 high speed elevators. On the biggest day of the Festival,the elevator company decided to do maintence on at least 3 elevators at the same time. A press conference for Director Kevin Spacey‘s new film started late due to the elevators. The result was that he seem to enjoy taking many strips out of me.
My most famous hotel guest was Keith Richards. He came into Toronto for his drug bust at the Westin Harbour Castle. I was amazed to see him in the hotel elevators. No one had mentioned it through the grapevine. When I asked the front desk manager about our famous guest, he ripped the reservation system apart to find out what name he had registered under. He was sure we were going to get raided.
My most bizarre special request from a hotel guest was when I took over the position as a Hotel Director, my first request was from a well-known person in Toronto. He requested a hotel key be left at the bell desk with no name on it. It took a few minutes to figure out what was happening but the penny (key) dropped quickly enough.
Best CANADIAN hotel for a entertaining/fun/dirty/wild weekend: Le Centre Sheraton in Montreal. Great dinner,wonderful room,exciting city.
Best CANADIAN hotel for a shopping trip: Four Seasons Yorkville
Best CANADIAN hotel for business travel: Park Hyatt Toronto
Best CANADIAN convention hotel: The Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel
Best CANADIAN airport hotel: Sheraton Gateway Toronto
Best CANADIAN resort: Chateau Montebello or Hotel Algonquin
Best RESTAURANT in a CANADIAN hotel: Truffles in The Four Seasons Yorkville or the Winter Palace at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel
Best technology innovation in hotels: Wi-Fi

The best advice given to me.
When attending an executive committee meeting ensure that you present yourself in the best way. It’s the only opportunity for the Managing Director to judge you.

My biggest pet peeve when visiting “other” hotels is when you are booked into a room that has not been checked (i.e lights that do not work, bathroom is dirty, newspapers that were ordered and not delivered). Clubs floors so full there are no seats.

The Hotel amenity I can’t live without is room service- such a treat that hotels are starting to eliminate.

The worst feeling in the world is arriving at a hotel and they can not find your reservation.

If I could change one thing about the hotel industry, it would it be rate transparency. Hotels are worse than airlines for rates being all over the place. ALT at the Toronto Airport has a rate of $149.00 year round, I hope it works.
If I could meet one person (alive or dead) it would it be Winston Churchill.
If I had to do it all over again, I would stick with one chain.

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

The “best hotel story” of my career.
As the GM of a Hotel in St. Lucia, I arrived to find one villa and two hotel rooms had slid down the mountainside after construction. The slide pushed the earth under the seawall causing restaurant to move into a 45 degree angle – this situation remained status quo for a month – making for interesting conversation with guests at the Manager’s cocktail party! The sewage pipe broke loose from its mooring in the ocean, the result resembling the Lochness monster – flapping in the waves. It took some fast talking to convince the scuba team to secure the situation with raw sewage floating in the vicinity! Then there was the kitchen fire where someone forgot to turn off the propane valve. The Assistant GM, ran to the rescue, through the woods, to turn off the propane pig. His shoes – stuck in the mud were never found … but that is another story!