I have been in the Hotel Industry for 35 years.
I have worked in 7 hotels in Canada + Internationally.
My first job/position in the hotel industry was a banquet busboy in New Westminster where I got most of my early cross training in many departments of the hotel.
The number of times I have…
opened a hotel: 1
renovated a hotel: 6
removed a dead body: 2
escorted a guest off the property: 12
seen a ghost in a hotel: 0
kept “it” confidential: 25
driven a guest to the hospital: 4
dealt with an “Act of God”: 2
performed Housekeeping Duties (made beds, scrubbed toilets): 30
taken a sick day: 0
What does it take to be a GM?
Each day is different as your job is to take each day and maximize the guest experience. This means working with your team, the guest, your suppliers to address problems and resolve them, find new ways to make the experience better and find new ways to get the guest to chose your hotel over the competition.
The three things I can’t live without:
1- My blackberry,
3-Meeting our guests and exceeding their expectations
My caffeine fix: Coffee. I have two (ok, maybe three cups on some days) each morning.
When I wake up, the first thing I think about is the excitement of what the day will bring. While some days are busy and full with plans, it is the unexpected, nice or not, that makes each day different and keeps me coming back to work.
The Hotelier (or person) that has inspired me the most:
Isabel Hoare, she worked at the Royal Towers in New Westminster, She instilled and inspired me to meet and exceed our guests expectations that “no” was not an answer for guests so it challenged you to find solutions. She had spend 20 years in the military and 20 in the hotel industry including an executive assistant at the Royal York in Toronto.
My most embarrassing encounter with a hotel guest.
I was assisting a guest with luggage and went to the wrong room, opening the room on a guest changing.
My most famous hotel guest.
I have had each Prime Minister from Trudeau to the present stay at one of my hotels over the years.
My most bizarre special request from a hotel guest (or staff member).
During Expo 1986, a assistant had not booked her bosses clients hotel rooms and needed 6 on the busiest day in Vancouver. They sent me a courier package with $200 to overbook my hotel and fit in their guests but wanted me to also arrange personal visits for them. I sent the money back, squeezed them into the hotel and gave them a couple ads from the newspapers to do their own bookings!
Best CANADIAN hotel for a entertaining/fun/dirty/wild weekend: Prince George Hotel in Halifax. They know how to party in that town and the historic properties area is great for food and bars and arts scene.
Best CANADIAN hotel for a shopping trip: Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria. Great shops and restaurants in a fantastic setting.
Best CANADIAN hotel for business travel: Royal York in Toronto. They are a great hotel for internal business needs and services.
Best CANADIAN convention hotel: Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver. The staff there are amazing. I have been at many events around the country and it is the best service I have experienced.
Best CANADIAN airport hotel: Fairmont Airport Vancouver. It has a great location and the service is amazing.
Best CANADIAN resort: Banff Springs Hotel in Banff. You can’t beat the scenery at that property and service.
Best RESTAURANT in a CANADIAN hotel: Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant. It has an amazing view of the city and great menu.
Best technology innovation in hotels: The new touch card locks, occupancy sensors and Wi-fi high speed internet
The best advice given to me.
Don’t take things personally and make sure you keep a personal life. I have used both to ensure the stress of everyday does not keep me from enjoying the great job and have fun doing it.
My biggest pet peeve when visiting “other” hotels.
When the staff seem indifferent. I spent a lot to go to the TPC Sawgrass on a VIP package and the Front Desk indifference at check-in killed the excitement I was expecting.
The Hotel amenity I can’t live without: Wi-fi and Flat screen TV.
The worst feeling in the world is…. I hate not being able to correct and make a guest happy during their stay. Nothing worse than seeing a guest truly leave unhappy with nothing you can do to change their mind.
If I could change one thing about the hotel industry, it would it be…
I would hope we can stop giving everything away for nothing. We undervalue our services in the mid-market.
If I could meet one person (alive or dead) I would have liked to have met Terry Fox. His story inspires me everyday!
If I had to do it all over again, I would have taken a few more changes in business in regards to working my way to an ownership opportunity. I had a couple opportunities that I was not willing to gamble with my kids so young, that now I realize they were great opportunities that I let go.
Day over Night
Summer over Winter
West Coast over East Coast
Sunrise over Sunset
Quiet over Loud
Rock over Classical
The “best hotel story” of my career.
We had a pre-grad dance at our hotel and during the evening things got a little out of hand. My security staff had a new employee and when a fight broke out, I interfered to break up two guys fighting. The new security person then came in to assist, not knowing who I was, he lifted me off my feet with one arm under my chin and held me there. I did not know what to do so finally shoved my name badge in front of him at which time he then dropped me. The rest of the staff teased him for months and also myself.