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LodgingNews February 2016 | Vol. 13 | No. 1
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Magnuson ready to expand in Canada
Tom and Melissa Magnuson.
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LONDON, U.K. — Tom Magnuson of Magnuson Hotels wanted to make sure the global hotel company he founded with his wife, Melissa, had its ducks in a row before they expanded to Canada. He says they’re ready now. “We wanted to make sure we had our brands right before we expand with our friends to the north,” said Magnuson, whose company is based in Spokane, Wash., as well as London, U.K. “We do have that now — we’re not 60 years old; we’re a younger, cleaner, more contemporary company.” Growing up in Wallace, Idaho, not far from the Canadian border, Magnuson had a condo in Red Mountain, near Rossland, B.C., for many years and has many fond family memories of those times. There are five Magnuson Hotels in Canada so far including: Magnuson Hotel Creston in Creston, B.C., and Magnuson Hotel Grace Inn in Quesnel, B.C.; plus three independent properties, Skyline Motel, Kamloops, B.C., Travellers Inn, Summerside, P.E.I. and Relax Inn,
hoteliers have the same overhead. Collingwood, Ont. “We offer hotels a way to get business from On Feb. 3, Magnuson Hotels celebrates its 13th birthday. The company now has 1,100 outside the local area at the lowest cost. It’s a hotels in the U.S. and Canada, including 150 cost relief for hotels built as a Hilton, Choice, Magnuson-branded properties and the balance Best Western or Wyndham — we can deliver made up of independent associates who want to all of the franchise-type services such as PMS, keep their own name, but have access to Mag- distribution and brand support — at a flat fee.” And yes, Alberta is one area Magnuson is nuson’s highly managed service platform for intargeting. dependents, Magnuson says. Magnuson says they handle property imThe company has signed a deal with Jin Jiang, and with Louvre hotels, owned by Jin Jiang, provement plans (PIPs) with “encouragement for a cross-distribution platform, much like the and love.” For example, other brands might airlines’ marketing alliances. Combined inven- require an 85-room hotel to install 85 new flattory with these hotels adds up to 600,000 rooms screen TVs. Magnuson would suggest that they or 6,000 hotels. “We’ve gone from Canada, U.S. start with 20, and set those units up as premier and U.K. hotels in the middle of this year, to rooms. Then, once they have the money, they can go buy some more. expand to 50 countries,” explains Magnuson. “One thing we’re proud of is our 48-hour The reason for their success is that “we identified a universal need in the marketplace — brand approval,” he notes. “If a hotel wants to how can I as a hotelier drive the most business make a brand change and renovate, other brand approvals can sometimes take six months.” at the lowest cost?” Magnuson says. The company offers a simple fee structure of 5 per cent of gross revenue, compared to 12.5 per cent for the average midscale brand in the U.S. and Canada, Magnuson adds. “During the last few years in Alberta, anybody could make money, but when times change, the down cycle becomes a lot more challenging since Magnuson Hotel, Creston, B.C.
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Hotel GrandeAllée Ascends
QUEBEC — Choice Hotels Canada now has a presence on Quebec City’s main drag since Le Grande-Allée Hotel & Suites has become the 13th property in The Ascend Collection. “It’s a 100-plus-year-old real historic gem, right in the heart of Old Quebec, just outside the wall,” said Brian Leon, managing director of CHC. He added that owner Jean-François Côté, president of Hôtels Nouvelle France, has done a good job updating the hotel and that it is in great shape. Hôtels Nouvelle France is a group of four hotels and two restaurants, located in and around Old Quebec. “We’ve had a great run with Ascend. Two years ago, there were six and now there are 13 and more in discussion,” Leon noted. “It’s a reflection of owners seeing the value of the Ascend program, because it offers global presence but with a local identity.” Continued on page 7
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AHLA fights Fox Creek business fee hike
Dave Kaiser, AHLA EDMONTON — The Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association in early January asked its members to help fund the legal challenge the AHLA launched last November against the town of
Fox Creek, Alta., over a huge hike to local hoteliers’ business license fees introduced in April 2015. “The town doesn’t have the authority to collect this fee, which actually meets the criteria for a tax,” AHLA president and CEO Dave Kaiser told CLN. AHLA’s 890 members are being asked to contribute a one-time fee of $3 per guestroom to help fund the legal challenge to “help defeat this bylaw and create a legal precedent that protects all hotels in Alberta,” according to the AHLA’s newsletter. Any collected money not used in the legal defense will be refunded back to AHLA members. In late April, 2015, Fox Creek city council voted to increase hoteliers’ business license fees from $75 to 4 per cent of each property’s annual room revenue, which in some cases works out to as much as $100,000 — an increase of over 1,000 per cent. “This is outrageous,” said Kaiser. Hotels are the only local businesses subject
to the increased license fees. The town, said Kaiser, justifies singling out hotels for the hiked fees by saying that the money is needed to fund infrastructure such as roads and sewers that are stressed by the influx of hotel guests. Kaiser counters that hotels generate economic activity, with guests spending money locally, and adds that “hotels are already paying property taxes.” Located about 260 km northwest of Edmonton, Fox Creek is an oil patch and forestry town with a population of just over 2,100, and has about a dozen hotels with a total of 685 guestrooms. Kaiser said AHLA is concerned that if the new law goes unchallenged, it “could set a bad precedent.” As of this Jan. 12, AHLA was awaiting the town’s response to its challenge. “Our legal counsel did extensive research and we’re quite confident we have a strong position,” said Kaiser.
Historic cellar part of Alt St. John’s ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Construction started last month on the 148-room Alt Hotel on St. John’s waterfront that will incorporate elements of the historic Marshall Brothers cellar which stood on the site. The expected completion date is first quarter of 2017. “St. John’s has been on our radar for quite some time — we have been looking at the city for at least five or six years,” Hugo Germain, director of development for Groupe Germain told CLN. “We have national expansion in mind, with our goal of  hotels from coast to coast. We go to areas where we feel there is activity for both business and leisure. St. John’s has a good mixture of leisure and corporate, especially with the addition to the convention centre which will open soon.” The site is unmatched, Germain said, nestled between Raymond’s Restaurant and the Fortis Building on the northeast corner of Water St. and Prescott St. “We have a direct line of site to The Narrows, and in the summer we will have the best view of the icebergs. We are very excited about the location.” In each of its projects, Groupe Germain works with architects to provide hotels with local flare. In this case, the architect is Lemay Michaud, which has designed other Alt and Le
Artist’s rendering of Alt St. John’s.
Germain hotels, plus Hilton properties. In this case, keeping the historic cellar was not an option as it had been exposed to the elements for many years, but they kept some of the brick and stone materials from the cellar. “We worked hand in hand with the city to keep the spirit of the cellar,” Germain said. At the entrance to the hotel, there will be a line delineating where the cellar was located, and inside the entrance to the hotel the cellar footprint will continue to be marked by brick detail in the floor. In addition, a feature wall in the hotel lobby will display a montage of tactile materials excavated from the cellar, as well as historical photographs and descriptive text. “We’re very pleased to welcome Alt Hotel to the downtown core of St. John’s,” stated Dennis O’Keefe, mayor of the city of St. John’s, in a news release. “We’re impressed with Groupe Germain Hotels’ conscientious efforts to ensure the site’s heritage is celebrated.” Each Alt hotel has a feature wall: at Toronto airport it consisted of instagram photos gathered through a contest; in Winnipeg a local artist provided a mosaic showing photos of that city; and in Montreal there was a photo contest for local youth. As in other Alt hotels, the project will feature
BRIEFS Australia looks at regulation of Airbnb-type properties NEW SOUTH WALES, Australia — Australia’s peak accommodation body, Tourism Accommodation Australia, welcomed the New South Wales government’s commitment to addressing the issues caused by the expansion of the new so-called ‘collaborative’ economy, but called for the urgent introduction of safety and operational regulations for commercial short-term accommodation operators similar to those governing legitimate operators. The dramatic growth of unregulated short-term accommodation, fuelled by Internet booking sites such as Airbnb, has seen the original concept of “room sharing” morph into a channel allowing commercial operators to rent out multiple properties without meeting many of the safety, insurance, taxation, body corporate, strata, council and state regulations imposed on other operators of commercial short-term accommodation. In NSW alone, Airbnb offers 15,000 listings, and recent analysis both in Australia and overseas has determined that 25 to 35 per cent of ‘hosts’ are operating as commercial nonresident landlords using the sites as a way to circumvent regulations.
Abu Dhabi hotel claims world’s fastest Internet
Hugo Germain, Groupe Germain. geothermal heating and cooling; heat recovery from indoor air that is vented outside and from the water used in commercial washers; energyefficient lighting, and a direct digital control system for ventilation, heating and cooling. The project also has space for a 2,500-squarefoot restaurant and a local coffee shop. “We will have a pretty interesting lobby opening up to the harbour with the best view in the city,” Germain said. The 4,000-square-foot meeting space will also connect to a terrace facing the harbour. Other Groupe Germain projects include an Alt in Calgary’s East Village, that should break ground at the end of March or beginning of April and open in late 2017. The company is also adding an Alt Hotel to the River Landing area of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 2018. The property will be a key feature of the city’s River Landing development project, currently under construction in the south downtown business district. Alt Ottawa is accepting reservations for April 1, 2016 and Le Germain Ottawa is expected to be completed in late 2017 or early 2018.
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Managers of the Jannah Burj Al Sarab in Mina said they recently had their Wi-Fi upgraded to 1.2 Gigabytes per second (Gbps), putting them ahead of every other hotel to have tested their speed on the website http://www.hotelwifitest.com, which tests and rates Internet speeds available at hotels around the globe. According to the website, there is no hotel nationally or internationally that comes close to Jannah Burj Al Sarab’s Internet capabilities. Prior to the upgrade, the hotel’s Internet speed was 270 Megabytes per second (Mbps), which was still higher than the world’s average Internet speed of 100-250 Mbps.
Connecting America marketing program launching in spring OTTAWA — There are over 19 million Americans in 12 U.S. cities with direct air access to Canada who are keen to visit this country in the next two years. Designed to turn these dreamers into visitors, Connecting America is Destination Canada’s new marketing initiative launching in the U.S. in spring. Together with businesses and destinations across the country, Destination Canada is ready to invite American travellers to Look Up and see Canada as their next destination. Innovation and working closely with partners and their own brands will be key to the program’s success. At the same time as the hospitality sector works together to increase general U.S. leisure travel to Canada, industry and Destination Canada’s research indicates there’s great opportunity to drive even more business from sectors like skiing, angling, culinary, golf and festivals and events, just to name a few. For this reason, the organization has launched a new program that’s looking to co-invest in creative marketing proposals from tourism sectors that will drive incremental business into Canada.
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No desks in guestrooms? I love most of the transformations that have taken place in hotels over the past 10 years — more friendly lobbies, grab and go meals, more plug-ins in guestrooms, pops of colour, bigger better televisions and more. But I’m less than enamoured with the idea of eliminating desks from guestrooms. Scott Anderson, president of High Country Hospitality, expressed my sentiments exactly. At 75, he acknowledges that he may not quite fit in the millennial category all the hotels seem to be courting these days, but he takes issue with hotels that have taken the work desks out of all their guestrooms. “I’m 75 years old. I can’t sit on the floor and boot up my laptop. Don’t take all the desks out,” Anderson told the Editors and Experts Panel at the Vantage Hospitality conference late last year. “Is the hotel industry going overboard?” asked Stephanie Ricca of HotelNewsNow.com, part of the same panel. “The industry overcompensates and over-generalizes. The early adopters take out the desk or get a standing desk.”
David Eisen, editor of Hotel Management and Hotel Design Quarterly, said millennials are not a homogeneous group. “They’re individuals. Anyone who builds with only millennials in mind is short-sighted,” he told the panel. And Vikram Singh, hotelier, blogger and consultant, noted, “You can’t just gut the property to one standard.” To be clear, Marriott is not removing desks from hotel rooms, said Matthew Carroll, vice president of the Marriott brand.“What we are doing is we’re trying to evolve how those work surfaces are implemented in the guestroom,” Carroll said recently on Skift.com. “It’s not about eliminating desks. It’s about how you evolve, how that work surface gets implemented. How do you respond to that guest who is much more untethered, much more movable?” Holiday Inn Express has also introduced its “Formula Blue” design concept, featuring more streamlined rooms, that launched last year. As part of that concept, IHG looked at whether it should move away from the traditional desk, according to Jennifer Gribble, vice-president, Americas, Holiday Inn Express. Holiday Inn Express’ research included
two model rooms — one of which had a desk, and one that didn’t. Guests walking through the rooms revealed a lot of dissatisfaction with the room that didn’t have a desk. So, why not treat the desk versus no desk situation the same way as the shower versus bath situation — keep some rooms for the people who still like baths or desks. Here’s my take. Millennials are important, but the baby boomers are still a sizeable group. The United States census numbers released last June said millennials, those born between 1982 and 2000, number 83.1 million. Their size exceeds that of the baby boomers, which is 75.4 million — not an insignificant number. And what about Generation X? I am a boomer. Travel — both business and leisure — is a huge part of my plans over the next 20-30 years. I could probably manage without a desk on a leisure trip. And I have become quite good at juggling a laptop (with a mouse and mousepad) on a plane or at one of those hightop desks with plug-ins found in airports or hotel lobbies. I have even learned to write whole stories on my iPhone. But I’d still like a desk in my room, please. Colleen Isherwood, Editor
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Your next executive chef Hotel restaurants have a proud tradition of being the best a city has to offer. There was once a time when such establishments were known as more than just stopovers for travellers unwilling to venture outdoors; they were bustling social hubs for the community, with each citizen united by exquisite cuisine. This was the era of the carving station serving chateaubriand for two, Caesar salad with dressing made by the waiter tableside and flambéed desserts, all while live music dribbled across the airwaves. Today, however, this isn’t a guarantee. Excellent restaurants can be found nearly anywhere, and even though hotel restaurants in the luxury segments have matured significantly, they are nevertheless engaged in a perpetual war for culinary dominance with just about every other upscale purveyor in the area. As every brand sharpens their accommodations, amenities and service levels, restaurants become key differentiators. There’s fundamental logic to this. Food consumption is core to our existence, forging permanent memories. And if you somehow forget the decor or the size of the suite you recently stayed at, chances are a great meal will still be top-of-mind. From a social media standpoint, nothing is as tweetable or likeable on Facebook
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as a photo of a just-served dinner entrée or dessert in its full regalia. The quantity of these photos is significantly greater than the number snapped of guestrooms or even views from the hotel room. I’ll even wager that a property’s overall TripAdvisor rating can be reduced or enhanced based upon guests’ experiences at the inhouse restaurant.
Four characteristics that make the executive chef At the core of any restaurant operation is the executive chef. He or she is the spark plug that generates those “wow” dishes that create lasting memories and images for your guests. As the restaurant experience continues to evolve, so too does the role of executive chef. Your exec’s responsibilities in the front of the house are as important as those in the kitchen. So, what skills should you look for during the selection of this most critical position? 1. It’s all about the food. The is the most obvious: can your chef deliver a menu that sets your property apart and can it be done within the context of your property’s strategic operating plan? It used to be that the GM could interview a prospective chef in the kitchen, as if the ability to wield a knife and manage heat was sufficient. This is a fundamental skill, but nowadays it’s insufficient as a hiring criterion. 2. It’s about balance and teamwork. No matter how high profile the chef, he or she
is but one person amongst a team working in this department. Your chef has to respect the contribution of others and partner effectively with your F&B director. Lone wolf chefs rarely last long and tend to leave an incredible mess in their wake. 3. Personality. Being executive chef is no longer just about being a chef. Larger than life, your chef’s capabilities transcend the kitchen, dining room and even the property. Your exec has to be as comfortable in the front of the house with guests as he or she is in the back of house with the staff. The chef has to be able to work with your PR team, share recipes, pose for photos and, ultimately, be accessible. 4. Your chef must generate social sparks. Social sparks are those items that are worthy of sharing. Now more than ever, chefs have to be a part of the social fabric of your organization. In other words, your chef has to be an outgoing activist, embracing your social media programs and sharing his or her behind-thescenes approach to making the restaurant a true business differentiator. Your chef has to be as comfortable with his smartphone as he is with your back-of-house technology. Larry Mogelonsky is the founder of LMA Communications Inc. (www.lma.ca), an awardwinning, full-service hospitality consulting and communications agency. His work includes three books Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?, Llamas Rule and Hotel Llama. Contact: email@example.com.
PHILIPPE GADBOIS Atlific Hotels & Resorts MARK HOPE Coast Hotels ELIZABETH HUESTON Sysco Guest Supply Canada Inc. BRIAN LEON Choice Hotels Canada Inc. ROBIN MCLUSKIE Colliers International Hotels BRIAN STANFORD CBRE/PKF DR. DAVID MARTIN Ted Rogers School of Hospitality CHRISTINE PELLA Serta Mattress Company TONY POLLARD Hotel Association of Canada ANDREW CHLEBUS LG Electronics CANADIAN LODGING NEWS VOLUME 13 · NO. 1 · February 2016 Canadian Lodging News (www.canadianlodgingnews.com) is published 10 times a year by Ishcom Publications Ltd., 2065 Dundas Street East, Suite 201, Mississauga, Ont. L4X 2W1 T: (905) 206-0150 · F: (905) 206-9972 · Toll Free: 1(800)201-8596 Other publications include the Canadian Chains and Buyers’ Directory as well as: P A C I F I C / P R A I R I E
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Storytelling gives RTO12 the Explorers’ Edge
We’re Lighting Up the Northern Skies
Above: Cruise at Sunny Point Resort. Left: James Murphy, executive director of RTO12.
By James Murphy Home to iconic destinations like Algonquin Park, Muskoka, Georgian Bay and more than a dozen provincial and national parks, Regional Tourism Organization 12 (RTO12) — also known as Explorers’ Edge — is blessed with stunning natural landscapes and fantastic tourism amenities to promote. But with less funding than bigger tourism promoters in other parts of the province, it’s had to find creative ways to level the playing field. Two years ago, Bracebridge, Ont.-based RTO12 took a hard look at its efforts and realized it needed a new marketing approach if it was ever going to compete against the likes of Toronto, Niagara Falls and Ottawa for domestic and international visitors. Rather than putting resources primarily into campaign-style ad buys at specific times of the year, RTO12 began investing its energy and creativity into a content marketing strategy that runs throughout the year. Developed in partnership with its agency, Toronto-based Kuration, the marketing strategy uses traditional old-school storytelling techniques to capture the imaginations of visitors, promoting the pieces on its website via social media — especially Facebook. RTO12 generates all of its content in-house, building it around a central narrative that showcases the region’s greatest draw as “the great Canadian wilderness just two hours north of Toronto.” The strategy focuses primarily on the shoulder seasons and features differentiated experiences and regional travel products. The results have been remarkable, allowing RTO12 not only to compete against bigger destinations with bigger budgets, but also to outperform them in many categories. With the two-fold objective of building new audiences for the region and increasing refer-
rals to individual tourism operators, RTO12 saw an immediate jump in traffic to its website and outbound links. In 2013, the first year RTO12 launched its content marketing strategy, a record 300,000 unique visitors turned to its new website. Last year that number more than doubled, to nearly 700,000. Even more impressive, outbound referrals to tourism stakeholders climbed from 47,000 in 2013 to 118,000 in 2014. The numbers for 2015 — still being finalized — are even more impressive. This past September alone, we had 122,000 visits to our site — up 34 per cent over the previous September. More importantly, we had almost 30,000 outbound referrals to tourism stakeholders in our region — up from 9,700 the previous September — or more than 300 per cent. RTO12 has also partnered with numerous local tourism promoters, such as Golf Muskoka, the Resorts of North Muskoka and the Kearney Dog Sled Races, to help them kickstart their own content marketing programs. The beauty of content marketing is that a small organization or tourism operator with a limited budget can still get phenomenal results. Arguably what matters most is that you have an interesting story that will attract online eyeballs. How does content marketing lead to visitors booking into resorts, hotels or B&Bs? It’s all part of a bigger marketing engine. We know that quality content leads to increased time on our site — especially longer copy pieces. Once we have eyes on our content, we try to move readers onto a business site, to our booking widget, or to our newsletter sign-up, where we can segment folks according to defined personas and then add them into a lead nurturing program using Hubspot automation and email marketing. We are confident that this continuous engagement will ultimately lead to more visitors booking overnight stays in our region and help us stay ahead of our competitors. James Murphy is executive director of Regional Tourism Organization 12, also known as Explorers’ Edge, the regional tourism organization for Algonquin Park, the Almaguin Highlands, Loring-Restoule, Muskoka and Parry Sound.
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February 2016 | 5
Drink rethink Mixology specialist Lawrence Picard drew on Asian influences to create a sophisticated cocktail menu at East restaurant/bar, in the Renaissance Montreal.
will draw attention to any audience, by combining carefully calculated techniques and ingredients,” he said. Hewing to the theme of East’s pan-Asian food menu, Picard’s cocktail program (the launch menu features seven of his creations) draws on Chinese influences, along with flavours and ingredients from throughout Asia. For example, the East signature cocktail features Hennessy VS cognac, sake, lime juice, lemongrass syrup, pomegranate, egg white, and “is not gender-specific, and blurs the lines between male and female,” said Picard. Another cocktail takes its name from a term, “Hai Pai,” coined by a group of Beijing writers in 1920 to criticize some Shanghai scholars and the styles of embracing or admiring western capitalism and western culture. The Hai Pai Fizz features Ap-
pleton rum, kalamansi sour, mango purée, ginger beer and ginseng bitters. A variation on the Negroni, Asian Boulevard combines Glenmorangie 10 Year Old Scotch whiskey, Campari, Martini Rosso, sake and kumquats. For the Shanghai Politain, Picard created a drink targeted at “Sex and the City fans who love Cosmopolitans.” Those Cosmo-loving guests will experience a cocktail made from Belvedere vodka, sake, ginseng bitters, lime and a purée made from dragon fruit, elderflower and raspberry. Rounding out East’s drinks menu is a list of about 60 wines; a handful of champagnes; a short list of beers and aperitifs; and spirits. Picard took great care in developing East’s cocktails. Beginning in summer, 2015, he began consultations with the hotel about the cocktail program, and typically, for each cre-
ation, undertook five rounds of tasting and fine-tuning. In addition, he trained East’s six bartenders and 15 servers on how to make each cocktail, as well as how to produce key drink ingredients such as juices and purées fresh, from scratch. As an additional service, Picard offers what he calls three “30-day warranties,” whereby once a month, he will monitor East’s cocktail list and make any necessary tweaks. Also going forward, he will evaluate the list, every summer and winter, keeping the two best-selling drinks and jettisoning the rest, with the aim of keeping East’s cocktail list fresh. Winter cocktails, for instance, are heavier, and feature more citrus elements and no seasonal fruits. In summer, Picard plans to take full advantage of seasonal fruits, such as berries and peaches, to create lighter cocktails appropriate to the season.
that hosts larger events such as themed Halloween and New Year’s Eve parties. This past December’s New Year’s Eve bash, for example, featured a Downton Abbey theme replete with tea room and 1920s-style dress code. Typically, event and activity admission prices aren’t designed as a big revenue generator, so the hotel keeps prices low (tickets for Come Up to My Room, for example, cost $10). Consequently, events attract people from all walks of life, with the majority being in the 25-to-35-year-old demographic representing those involved in arts and culture, said McCallum. And the events! Held every Thursday since last July in Melody Bar, adult colouring involves the hotel supplying artist-created outlines, along with pencil crayons, crayons and markers. With live music as the backdrop, participants drink wine and colour to their hearts’ content. December’s holiday season ushered in Gladstone Festivus, “2 Weeks of Non-Denominational Cheer” that included a warm clothing drive that offered, as an incentive, a chance to win a night’s stay at the property. There was 12 Beers of Christmas, held mid-December and featuring an ugly sweater theme. For $25, par-
ticipants helped themselves to all-youcan-taste samples of microbreweries’ products, followed by DJs, live music and “Shameless Karaoke.” That event sells out very quickly, said McCallum. For Gladstone Flea, “a curated monthly marketplace without the (thrift store) itch,” the hotel teams up with notable fashion and lifestyle aficionados to jury an organized, handpicked marketplace packed with artist goods, reclaimed vintage, craft, design, jewelry, clothing and more. In early January, the hotel brought back its Get School’d series for an entire week of daily workshops exploring areas ranging from meditation and yoga to “transformative workouts” and Juicing 101, all designed so participants can be “so fresh and so clean, clean in 2016!” Held Jan. 26 and spearheaded by the hotel’s Aussie marketing manager, Australia Day sought to draw from the city’s expat community from Down Under. The event featured Australian trivia, Aussie-style meat pies and sausage rolls, and Australian chocolates, as well as $5 pints of beer. Not to mention the Crochet Workshop…and the Drake vs. Everybody Dance Party…and the Japanese Journal Binding Workshop…
East Signature Cocktail. By Don Douloff When he set about designing the cocktail program at East, the restaurant/bar located in the brand-new Renaissance Montreal hotel, Lawrence Picard had a broad, and exciting, thematic canvas from which to draw. “The inspirations for East’s concept and design are the Old Shanghai World, the cultural exchange, and Asian openness to the Western world during the early 1930s,” said Picard, who, six years ago, founded Nectar & Mixologie, based in Montreal,
specializing in developing bar designs and concepts at restaurants and nightclubs. For East, however, Picard developed the cocktail menu only, and did not participate in designing the space. Renaissance Montreal opened Jan. 18. Although East’s drinks menu is designed to appeal to a broad range of palates, “the attentive connoisseur will notice the classical structure behind each cocktail,” said Picard. “My approach to mixology is to offer signature beverages that are fun, flavourful and affordable. We have chosen to create a cocktail list that
Gladstone’s fête accompli
From adult colouring sessions and themed parties to flea markets and self-help workshops, Gladstone Hotel’s unique activities and events foster deep ties to Toronto’s art, design and music communities. By Don Douloff TORONTO — A glance at the Gladstone Hotel’s recent events and activities calendar revealed the following: Adult Colouring. Get School’d Workshops. Australia Day. Gladstone Flea. This eclectic lineup wasn’t a oneoff, since these sorts of creative and unique events are a regular part of the Gladstone’s year-round schedule, and are in keeping with the property’s artsy, bohemian philosophy. Built more than 125 years ago
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on Toronto’s Queen Street West, the Gladstone, in 2001, was bought by new owners, renovated — artists from across Canada designed all 37 guestrooms — and relaunched in 2005. Since then, the hotel has become a pillar of the city’s Queen West arts scene. “Since launch, the hotel has been presenting events, activities and festivals as a way to bring together art, music and design,” said marketing and communications director Tara
McCallum. Undoubtedly the Gladstone’s highest-profile art-focused event is the annual, curated Come Up to My Room, which showcases the work of artists, designers and collectives from Canada and the U.S., who are invited to provide installations on three of the hotel’s floors. This year’s event, the thirteenth, ran Jan. 21 to 24. Local artists also design the space (typically, the second-floor ballroom)
Days Inn Conference Centre puts Winkler on the map
Days Inn & Suites Winkler Conference Centre. By Colleen Isherwood, Editor WINKLER, Man. – George Klassen of George K Catering, who has had his own catering busi-
A Choice presence in Quebec City Continued from page 1 “There is no Comfort Inn in downtown Quebec. It’s hard for us to establish a presence in that market and hard for an independent to compete with today’s technology. This offers them a global company where they can retain their identity,” Leon said. Ascend rounds out the Choice portfolio by offering an upscale dimension that has strong reward night appeal for loyal customers. It also drives improvements to guest satisfaction scores. “The whole portfolio of Ascend properties is leading the system with extraordinarily high levels of guest satisfaction. The hotels are making a positive impression on people and helping the way people think of Choice generally,” he said. Aurele Schink, general manager of the property, says the hotel dates from 1893, when it was built as a bourgeois home on what was billed as Quebec’s Champs Elysées. It has been a hotel for about 110 years; every room has its own cachet with wood floors or brick walls, with most rooms facing Grande Allée. “It was a no-brainer to become part of Choice,” Schink, who has worked for Choice before, said of the decision to join the Ascend Collection. “They let us keep our discreet signage and all of our cachet.” The hotel had tried working with a local banner before, but Schink was “thrilled” when the hotel owners decided to go ahead with Choice. “We could keep our soul,” said Schink, “and we’ve had a very good pickup in busiAurele Schink. ness.”
ness for more than 18 years and is well-known in the community, will be running Days Inn & Suites - Winkler’s newly-built first-class conference facility. Klassen is excited about the brand new venue. “We’re known for weddings; we have 25 weddings booked and we’ve hosted one already,” he told CLN in mid-January. Outside of the local churches, there is only one other wedding venue in the basement of the Quality Inn, where Klassen operated before he came to the new location. With direct access from the hotel, Days Inn Conference Centre Winkler encompasses nearly 10,000 square feet of meeting and ban-
quet space. The centre can accommodate up to 300 people in a banquet seating. The space can also be divided into three multi-functional meeting rooms that can hold between 80 to 100 people. The banquet room is done in earth tones with wainscotting, darker tan on the bottom and lighter tan on the top. The lighting is soft, with half of the lights dimmable to set the right tone for weddings. The east wall has floor-to-ceiling windows accented with dark brown valences and drapes with subtle specks of gold. Winkler is a city of about 10,000 located an hour and 15 minutes from Winnipeg, and 10 minutes from the U.S. border. “We plan to make people feel like they’re not in Winkler when they come to our facility — like they’re in another environment due to the lighting and draperies and other elements,” Klassen said. Thomas Builders of Winnipeg designed the building, although Klassen takes credit for the design of an efficient kitchen. “We did design our own kitchen — it’s really important because of the service. We need to be able to produce food for 250 people very quick-
ly. We offer very high-end service — my reputation precedes me. My logo says, ‘down to the smallest detail,’ and I stress that to my brides. If the water glasses are half full, we make sure we fill them. It’s the little things that people notice. If we look after the little things, the big things come,” Klassen said. “When we plan weddings, we are almost like wedding planners. We set budgets, and if we know the couple can’t afford something, we don’t recommend it. We do that to gain respect. And if I see people around town, I don’t ever want to feel that I’ve taken them for a ride.” The new business and new centre are working well. George K Catering did 44 Christmas banquets this year, up 10 from last year. “I do a lot of my own cooking — plan, cook, decorate and even do dishes,” Klassen said. “In all honesty, if you want to see what people like and don’t like, do the dishes. You really get to know what people are eating and not eating.” While much of the business is local, Klassen does get some meetings out of Winnipeg, including the Dairy Association and a conference for 150 women that was booked “even before the sod was turned” in January of last year. “We’re known for weddings, and I hope to do 40 to 50 this year. As we get busier, I have to concentrate more on service. That’s my biggest challenge — to keep the level of service as good, and to put Winkler on the map once again.” Located at 395 Boundary Trail, Days Inn & Suites - Winkler features 81 spacious rooms and suites, free Wi-Fi, free Daybreak Café breakfast, indoor pool & waterslide, fitness centre and free guest parking.
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Morning Glory By Don Douloff
Breakfast is usually referred to as “the most important meal of the day,” and for hotel guests, this holds especially true, since the morning repast perennially rates near the top of their must-haves. Hoteliers are answering the call by offering a wider range of breakfast options than ever before, catering to guests seeking healthier options while not ignoring the eggs-with-bacon contingent.
Furthermore, the desire for quality and freshness is increasing. Examples include eggs that are organic or produced in a cage-free environment; fruit that is fresh; and jams that are “lovingly house-made, maybe with a unique flavour,” said Barker.
For his part, restaurant consultant Ned Barker, CEO of Atlanta-Ga.-based Grill Ventures International, said “breakfast is the meal guests are most likely to enjoy at the hotel’s restaurant.” Mexican items remain popular. “Breakfast burritos make for a great ‘full breakfast’ that you can hold in your hand.”
Healthy eating is on the menu at the Marriott Courtyard’s quickservice breakfast. On offer are yogurt parfaits and egg-white omelets, along with traditional eggs, bacon and toast, and breakfast sandwiches, said Rob Hood, corporate food and beverage manager at Atlific Hotels. Properties have added gluten-free pastries, and healthy options such as oatmeal haven’t lost their popularity, added Hood.
Background Photo: DoubleTree Conference Centre, Regina
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Breakfast remains an important business driver for hotels, and operators are responding by offering unprecedented variety.
à la carte favoured Over at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, guests have been increasingly favouring à la carte breakfasts over the buffet option, said the hotel’s F&B director Travis Christ. Whereas guests, in the past, “used to look for value” and would, more often than not, choose the buffet, nowadays, “people like to be more in control of their meal and what they order,” even though à la carte breakfasts typically cost more than buffets. Served in the hotel restaurant, Notch8, the buffet offers healthier items such as chicken/ apple sausage and an oatmeal station with garnishes such as nuts and dried fruits, but still targets indulgent eaters with pancakes, waffles, homemade cinnamon toast and French toast. By March, the restaurant expects to add weekend brunch.
In 2016, Choice Hotels Canada’s Comfort brand will roll out a new breakfast program, expected to launch in March Canada-wide. “When we embarked on the new Comfort brand improvement strategy, the breakfast program was one of the first things we wanted to enhance, because breakfast is a key driver for guest satisfaction,” said Brendan Gibney, director of franchise operations. “Research tells us guests are looking for more healthy options at breakfast,” said Gibney. “We are now implementing additions including Greek yogurt, some healthier cereal, and healthy and hearty toppings like nuts, dried berries and granola to complement current offerings such as yogurt and oatmeal.” Gibney added that “a free, hot, hearty and healthy breakfast really helps influence (guests’) decision to stay with us.”
guest satisfaction driver Similarly, a complimentary hot breakfast included in the room rate “is one of the top guest satisfaction drivers and value propositions expected by consumers in the upper midscale hotel segment,” said Jim Grimshaw, senior director, brand services and product development, Country Inns & Suites By Carlson. Resonating with Country Inn guests are such breakfast items as eggs and breakfast meats, yogurt, waffles and baked goods. But guests’ breakfast expectations are changing, with Grimshaw noting that “there is a trend that more guests seem willing to trade out some variety for higher-quality food items available in convenient ways.”
Trends that could shape Country Inns’ breakfast menus in the future include “the convenience of having items that are more portable for guests on the go; offering alternative proteins such as turkey, chorizo and shredded pork; infusing bolder flavour profiles; and reimagining new options alongside traditional breakfast beverages,” said Grimshaw. Days Inns – Canada franchisees offer an enhanced Daybreak Café breakfast program — brand-name coffee, yogurt and an eggbased protein — providing a standardized, buffet-style morning meal.
Every Days Inn without an on-site restaurant (such as a Denny’s or mom-and-pop eatery, typically managed independently) offering breakfast must provide a Daybreak Café. As of December 2015, 78 Days Inn locations across the country offer a Daybreak Café breakfast. All hotels with a Daybreak Café breakfast must offer at least one egg type (hard-boiled, fried, scrambled, patty, omelet, etc.). Also required are Danone yogurt, a minimum of two Kellogg’s cereals, Quaker Instant Oatmeal along with a minimum of two handheld fruit selections, two non-sweet baked good varieties and one sweet baked good such as a muffin, Danish or croissant.
healthy juices At the higher end of the scale, “healthy is the way to go,” said Guy Rigby, vice-president of F&B, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. “Right now, people are into healthy juices. Some of our hotels are offering specific menus that focus on à la carte, made-to-order juices, along with protein supplements, nutritional add-ons like flax seeds, and so on. We’re also offering creative coffee drinks — people are looking to go beyond a basic brewed coffee these days, and want specialty coffee drinks. Still, the basics are very popular and sell like crazy — most people order a juice, and then feel that they can splurge on a more traditional breakfast choice as well.” “Today’s guests are generally looking for a unique experience in a hotel restaurant,
but for the breakfast period, timeliness is an important factor,” said Nicholas Gandossi, general manager at OPUS Vancouver hotel. “Our focus was to create a deluxe continental buffet that offered more than just your traditional continental breakfast, while at the same time giving the guest the flexibility of eating on their own time schedule. Having the deluxe continental breakfast added on to our room packages at a reduced price was the next step, which has helped increase our room reservations overall.” OPUS Vancouver’s onsite restaurant, La Pentola, also offers an à la carte breakfast menu. Weekend brunch features exotic dishes like kaiserschmarrn (Northern Italian pancake with raisins, pine nuts, cream and
house-made jam) and a breakfast risotto with smoked bacon and poached egg. La Pentola’s general manager, Daniel Burke, pointed out that “people want to be able to eat out even though they are making an effort to eat healthy,” and are looking for gluten-free or vegan or vegetarian breakfast options.
Four Seasons, Pancakes.
Stages restaurant, in DoubleTree by Hilton West Edmonton, offers à la carte and buffet breakfast options. Fully 90 per cent of guests choose the buffet, because of its wide variety of hot and cold healthy items, said executive chef Willie White. Choices include fruit smoothies, gluten-free sausages and housemade granola.
smaller portions Breakfast trends White has witnessed include gluten-free (pastries, and chicken and pork sausages); smaller tasting portions; and customized fruit smoothies.
With the increasing number of funky freestanding breakfast restaurants, “hotels have to up their game at breakfast and really be
Over at Travelodge and Thriftlodge, “our popular items are waffles/pancakes, cold cereal, whole fruit and muffins,” said vicepresident of operations Trevor Hagel. The brands’ clientele (leisure/families) prefers child-friendly items, and fruit and muffins are popular with the core clientele “as these items are good to take along for a snack. We are not experiencing any shifts due to guests preferring healthier options. We have always had a protein option, but our guests seem to gravitate to the more traditional items they would eat on a daily basis at home.”
As Barker noted, “more and more, breakfast is included in the rate guests pay for the guestroom, and this generally does not boost the food bottom line. The foodservice may receive credit for some or all of their costs, but usually there is no ‘credit’ for sales or revenue.”
Since many limited-service hotels offer an inclusive breakfast with the room rate, housekeeping or other non-culinary staff often assist with breakfast preparations. Catering to that need are Tyson Food Service products that enable consistent, safe production of breakfast items.
“Breakfast is the largest-growing daypart in Canadian foodservice. As many lodging chains are ‘breakfast inclusive,’ it is a major focus for operators to control cost while offering the quality consumers expect,” said Iain Grant, director of sales, Tyson Food Service. Hotel and lodging guests want variety in breakfast offerings. “The days of the huge, half-eaten muffin are gone and are replaced by multi-flavours of mini-sweet treats,” said Grant.
In Canada, Tyson’s best-selling breakfast line falls within the Jimmy Dean brand, primarily Jimmy Dean Fully Cooked Breakfast Sausage links and patties and Jimmy Dean Butcher Wrapped Breakfast Sandwiches. Running a close second are Chef Pierre breakfast pastries and Sara Lee cinnamon rolls, with a full line of cooked, thaw and serve, two-bite sweet pastries and muffins, according to Grant.
For this year’s summer season, the hotel’s restaurant team is looking at adding sous-vide seasonal fruits as a healthy buffet option, said White. Also in the works is a feature breakfast non-alcoholic cocktail breakfast-style drink (as a healthy breakfast drink upsell) and, possibly for spring, a tea-infused juice. Days Inn - Yorkton
creative and make breakfast interesting, to retain our in-house guests,” said White.
Shangri-la Vancouver, Mini French Toast.
high dollar earner Although breakfast menus may be changing, the morning meal, with its low food costs, remains a high dollar earner for hotels. “Breakfast is the highest profit centre of the day,” said Rob Hood, corporate food and beverage manager at Atlific Hotels. Properties try to maximize profitability by, for example, promoting sales of waffles, which are inexpensive to produce, he added. Indeed, hotels can “create upsell opportunities that build on existing breakfast consumption habits but enable the guest to enhance their experience,” said Barker. “For example, perhaps juice is included in a breakfast buffet price; (hotels could) offer a small selection of cold-pressed juices for an upcharge. You lift the image of your food quality at the same time.”
DoubleTree Edmonton, Breakfast Parfait.
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IESO can help with lighting retrofits TORONTO — Sean Brady, director of the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) conservation and corporate relations group, says the Ontario utility has a number of programs to help hotels install new, more energy efficient equipment, including lighting. Saveonenergy.ca provides details on how they can save up to 50 per cent of project costs. While hotels have “fairly complex ownership arrangements,” IESO can work with them to manage energy efficiency projects. They can also provide money for energy managers — defined as a person who has experience with energy efficiency and energy projects. IESO offers incentives to help fund the services of an energy manager. This program,which has been around since 2007, has now been rolled into part of IESO’s industrial program. IESO also offers support for energy audits and engineering studies to identify and quantify and help build a business case for energy efficiency. These include productivity, safety,
guest comfort, capital cost estimates and return on investment. “Programs like our retrofit and energy manager programs, can support an number of different types of initiatives,” Brady told CLN. “Lighting is seen as a good opportunity. LEDs are becoming a go-to resource for hotels due to the energysaving benefits, customer comfort, guest experience and a positive ambience for the hotel.” Areas that are receiving attention include the following: • Replacing 90-watt halogen with 10-watt LEDs that use only 11 per cent as much energy, in dining areas. • Vintage lighting formerly achieved with incandescent lights is replaced with 4-watt LEDs that provide the same look and save 90 per cent on energy. • Lots of lighting designers can help match the colour profiles to ensure the look of the area is maintained. • Maintenance benefits are sub-
stantial, and can also apply to guest areas and kitchens, underground parking areas, and exterior signage and lighting. • When combined with control systems and occupancy sensors, lighting changes can help improve safety as well. So what’s next? Brady is impressed with the Internet of things, including rapid advances in control systems and lighting, and the connectability of various devices. Here are his recommendations for hotels: • Talk to your local distribution companies about your hotel’s targets. • Conservation offers a way to manage and control rising electricity costs. • Start asking questions about lighting. Check to see if there is any flexibility in timing of activities such as maintenance — you may get better electricity rates by rescheduling pool and equipment maintenance, for example.
How to make the case for energy efficiency. “If you are operating on a 20 per cent margin, it takes just $100,000 in energy efficiency savings to have the same impact as $500,000 in sales.”
Revamping lighting at Toronto’s Chelsea Hotel
Paul Watson. By Colleen Isherwood, Editor TORONTO — The Chelsea, Canada’s largest hotel, has changed dramatically in the four years Paul Watson has been director of property maintenance for the 1,700-room property. Many of those changes have to do with lamps and lighting. The lobby and 30,000 square feet of meeting space were very dark, with a lot of incandescent lighting — with bulbs and ballasts that are now hard to find. “When you change from a 100watt incandescent to a 12-watt compact LED, there’s a huge difference,” said Watson, adding that guests notice your lighting. “We would get a lot of guest comments. They notice if you have incandescent over LED. A lot of people are conscientious, and
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aware incandescents mean energy is being used foolishly.” When changing lighting, Watson said you have to follow certain size limits depending on the square footage of the area that depends on that light. For example, if you had a light two-metres away, you need 1.9 lux three-metres away to be sufficient. “The hotel isn’t completely done for lighting. Certain areas are done. But if you were in the mechanical room, the hallway to the mechanical room or the garage, those aren’t completed yet.” The areas that are completed are the lobby, the food and beverage outlets, 50 to 60 per cent of the meeting space on the second and third floors, the 27th-floor lounge, 732 rooms in the north tower, balconies for 1,000 rooms and the roofs.
of incandescent versus compact LED. The energy savings are substantial for using a 12-watt LED bulb rather than a 100-watt incandescent, and in some cases a 4-watt LED bulb to replace a 60-watt incandescent light. LED costs more — $5 per bulb versus 37 cents for incandescents. And then there’s the maintenance factor — incandescents might last six to eight months if used all the time, while the majority of LEDs last three years and some up to five years. That means incan-
descents would have to be changed at least four times more often. “There’s big savings, when you consider sending a person up there with a ladder and to change the bulb,” Watson said. LED bulbs also save on cooling costs as they give off much less heat than incandescents. All things considered, changing 100-watt incandescent lights to 12watt LED bulbs pays for itself in six months to a year. “It’s a no-brainer,”
10,000 lights While it’s hard to give an exact count of the numbers of lights replaced, Watson estimates about 4,000 in the lobby and meeting rooms, and about 6,000 bulbs in the 732 renovated rooms — for a total of 10,000. “Each month we are adding more,” he said. In the lobby, they were aiming for a warm white colour, rather than white or the commercial look generated by using cool white lights.
LED: A no-brainer Watson explained the economics
Lighting made a difference to the lobby of the Chelsea Toronto.
according to Watson. In the meeting areas, the lights are equipped with movement sensors and shut down when there is no movement in the room. “This can provide a huge savings, as a lot of times staff would set up for a meeting in the evening and leave the lights on all night,” he said. “These changes show guests that we are going the way we should be going. We’re greener and that will pay off in the long run.”
Hilton’s mysterious “Project Canvas” comes Tru TORONTO — In recent months, Hilton has been alluding to a new brand, dubbed Project Canvas, that would be announced at the Americas Lodging Investment Symposium (ALIS) in January. When the announcement of the new midscale select service brand named Tru came last month, it was something of a fait accompli, with 201 deals signed and 30 in the pipeline. No firm deals in Canada yet, although Hilton says it will roll out the new brand in the U.S. and Canada before going global. So just what is this new brand that Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta said could become as big as Hampton, a behemoth with 2,045 properties worldwide? “It’s a brand aimed at a very specific market, a step below Hampton in the way it’s designed,” said Vito Curalli, executive director, Canada, Latin America and International Sales. “Hampton is now the upper midscale tier segment leader, but as it became more upscale, there was a void, a need for something more midscale in price point. That left a spot open for us to fill.”
In the U.S., 40 per cent of guests stay at economy or midscale properties — a figure that probably applies to Canada as well. The other focus is on young travellers, and while Tru is built to all ages, there is obviously more discussion around millennial travellers, Curalli said. “Simplified” and “spirited” are two words that describe Tru by Hilton, Curalli added. Simplified includes doing the basics well — the bed, the television, the technology integration — at a price point that fits. Spirited includes The Hive, Tru’s vibrant, energetic, 2,270-square-foot open concept lobby. “The Hive reflects the evolution of lobbies into social connection areas, where people can be connected to their devices, but also connected to each other. There’s more food and beverage integrated into the lobby. People can interact, use their technology, eat and drink. “There’s also a Play Zone, where millennials can do more than just sit around. They can play table games, and there’s a huge mobile TV and stacked seating,” Curalli said. The “build a breakfast” concept is a change from the traditional breakfast buffet, and includes a topping bar with 30 sweet and savoury items
Lobby of Tru by Hilton. that can customize bagels, donuts, Greek yogurt and oatmeal. Hilton’s digital key — an HHonors mobile app that provides access to guestrooms, elevators, side doors, the fitness centre and even the parking garage — is part of this new brand. Tru is expected to fill the midscale gap in key cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, but there may be opportunities in secondary markets as well.
“My impression is that it is a great opportunity for the next generation of Canadian travellers to take advantage of a brand that speaks to them,” Curalli said. “It’s a new product that customers can embrace and try something different. The Hive is really new, whether the traveller is corporate or leisure. From a sales and marketing perspective, it’s not just a new brand, but a different type of hotel stay.”
Best Western’s new Canadian development team PHOENIX — When Michael Morton was brought in to oversee Best Western’s North American development team a year ago, the goal was to have the same team respond from the time a hotel applies to become a Best Western until the time they open, including application of the brand, onboarding and opening. “If I can get development done quicker, smoother and more cost effectively, we can meet expectations of our guests, provide good, consistent quality of product and drive investment by owners,” Morton said. In his previous role at Best Western Morton had oversight for part of the process — he spent his first five years repositioning the brand and helping to create its descriptors and the new Vib, GLo and extended stay options. Morton got to meet some Canadian developers at the Western Canadian Hotel and Resort Investment Conference last fall. “Before, we had a regional sales director assigned to cover Canada. We were very reactive — I found we did not have a sense of connection with developers,” he said.
With more than 25 years of hotel development experience, Allan Seigel oversees Western Canada and the territories and parts of the United States, including Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Alaska. Canada has 200 Best Westerns open, with 16 approved deals in the pipeline. Most of the
approved deals are Best Western, Best Western Plus or Best Western Extended Stay, but there are three Best Western Premiers in Timmins and Toronto, Ont. and Vernon, B.C. “We know we need more presence in first-tier urban markets with Best Western Premier, Vib and The BW Premier Collection,” said Morton.
Morton is looking to aggressively grow GLo, the hip, boutique midscale brand. It is particularly suitable for markets where Best Western has presence, but not multiple hotels. “Canada is a big reason for the development of GLo — we have already identified the markets, because we believe there is a market for this midscale brand.”
A sign travellers look up to.
Three regional directors In the last six months, Best Western has changed its strategy to become much more proactive, with some new faces on its Canadian development team. Jack Barry, regional director Quebec and Atlantic Canada, is the one familiar face. During his 36-year tenure with Best Western, he has held various positions within the training, supply chain and development teams. Both of the new regional directors come to Best Western from La Quinta. Fran Wagner brings 20 years of franchising and hotel development experience to the Best Western and works with new and prospective Best Western members to grow the brand in the Eastern U.S. and Ontario.
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February 2016 | 1 1 TL-Canadian Lodging Ad 'A sign travellers...'-7.5 x 6-2.2015.indd 1
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Kori Gryschuk, go2HR, program manager.
Ray Sims, vice-president, HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts.
Oliver Bonke, chief commercial officer, Loews Hotels. BC’s tourism industry human resource association go2HR announced on Dec. 17 the appointment of Kori Gryschuk to the position of program manager, industry health and safety. Gryschuk will be taking over the operational duties for the industry health and safety program from Trina Pollard, who is on maternity leave until 2017. For more than 10 years, Gryschuk has been a health and safety professional at various-sized businesses across multiple industries, including several manufacturing companies and an environmental and engineering consulting firm. Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador announced the appointment of Craig Foley as its new chief executive officer on Jan. 12. Foley joined the provincial tourism industry association in 2001, most recently as manager of membership/networking and technology. “I am very excited to have this opportunity to work with the member-
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Craig Foley, CEO, Hospitality Newfoundland & Labrador.
Gerasimos Ferentinos, GM, InterContinental Yorkville.
Marie-France Bergeron, vicepresident, Palm Holdings. ship and Hospitality NL’s partners to ensure the full economic and social potential of tourism is realized,” said Foley. Foley replaces Carol-Ann Gilliard, who served as CEO for the association since 2008. Gilliard is now the director of tourism product development for the province’s Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development. Public relations veteran Lauralee Dobbins announced Dec. 17 the launch of Write Touch Public Relations, a hospitality-focused firm based in suburban Philadelphia. Previously a senior vice-president with Daly Gray, Inc. of Herndon, Va., Dobbins brings decades of public relations experience to the table. To date, Write Touch’s clients include New Castle Hotels & Resorts; Algonquin Resort, Saint Andrews, NB; Westin Jekyll Island, Jekyll Island, Ga.;Westin Portland Harborview, Portland, Me.; and Historic Hotels of America, Washington, DC.
Lauralee Dobbins, principal, Write Touch Public Relations.
appointed general manager. Ferentinos has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 15 years, starting in operations, then moving to finance, where he stayed for almost 12 years. In 2008, he moved to the InterContinental Budapest as director of finance and business support. In 2011 he transferred to the InterContinental Berlin and, in 2013, was promoted to executive assistant manager. In 2014, he was named hotel manager and subsequently led the property in earning a Green Engage Level 3 certification. I.S.A.C. Hotelier announced in early January that veteran hotelier Christopher Beaton has been named director, strategic sourcing for their purchasing solutions team. Beaton brings with him over a decade of experience as general manager in opening new or renovating hotels of major brands in the lodging industry. Based in Quebec City, I.S.A.C. Hotelier has more than 30 years of hotel furnishing experience.
Christopher Beaton, director, I.S.A.C. Hotelier.
Bernie Kollman, chair, Travel Alberta board of directors. Hotel Internet Services (HIS) announced on Jan. 18 the appointment of Bob Johnson as vice-president of sales. Based in HIS’s Simi Valley, Calif., office, Johnson will be responsible for directing the company’s expansion of its North American sales team and promoting its industry leading Wi-Fi, BeyondTV IPTV VOD Media Streaming Player Systems, and Fusion Gateway solutions to the hospitality market. HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts, a leading global hotel representation company, announced on Jan. 4 the appointment of Ray Sims as the new vice-president of business development for the Americas. The former senior vice-president of sales at GENARES Reservations, Sims has specialized in the hotel central reservation technology industry for the past 20 years. The InterContinental Toronto Yorkville announced on Jan. 11 that Gerasimos Ferentinos has been
IHG’s chief commercial officer of the Americas, Oliver Bonke, has jumped to Loews Hotels & Resorts, effective Jan. 11. Bonke has made a lateral move and is serving as Loews’ first chief commercial officer, overseeing the growth of Loews Hotels & Resorts, Loews Regency and the OE Collection, in addition to assuming responsibility for sales, marketing, guest-facing technology and public affairs. At IHG, Bonke led the Americas commercial team across all top-line drivers of brand, loyalty, distribution, sales, revenue management and
digital and partner marketing. Marie-France Bergeron is the new vice-president of sales and marketing at Palm Holdings. A hospitality executive with more than 25 years of experience in hotels, resorts and conference centres, she manages and oversees the entire division of sales and marketing for all hotels and plays an integral role for their revenue growth, image and position within the marketplace and general public. Prior to joining Palm-Holdings, Bergeron was regional director of sales and marketing, mid-scale hotels, Canada for IHG. Travel Alberta announced on Dec. 11 that Bernie Kollman, an IBM executive based in Edmonton, had been named the new chair of Travel Alberta’s board of directors. Kollman is vice-president for IBM’s public sector division in Alberta. Royce Chwin, CEO of Travel Alberta said, “Bernie is a proven leader and innovator who will help us grow Alberta’s visitor economy to more than $10 billion by 2020.” Luxury tourist train operator Rocky Mountaineer announced on Jan. 18 the appointment of Steve Sammut as president. Since joining Rocky Mountaineer in 2012 as executive vice-president and chief financial officer, Sammut has been delivering consistent growth in both domestic and international markets. Prior to joining Rocky Mountaineer, Sammut held the position of chief financial officer with real estate developer Intracorp Projects Limited.
CK Atlantis president Kosta Tomazos, 58, passes away TORONTO — Hotel industry veteran Kosta Tomazos, president of Toronto-based CK Atlantis Hotel Management, passed away in early January at the age of 58. In 1994, Tomazos was recruited by ITT Sheraton while working as a management consultant with Deloitte and Touche in Greece, and was appointed regional director of finance, North America, based in Toronto. He quickly moved through the ranks and in 1993 was appointed vice-president regional director of finance for ITT Sheraton Hotels. He worked on the Canadian expansion of the Sheraton brand and was responsible for the finance team at a number of Sheraton hotels in Canada and the U.S. In 1998 he became the general manager of the 1,400-room Sheraton Centre Toronto. During this time, Tomazos was appointed area managing director for the Sheraton brand in Canada, with direct operations and financial responsibility for Sheraton’s corporate-owned and managed hotels north of the 49th Parallel. In 2002, Tomazos joined the senior management team of the Starwood North America division. As vice-president Six Sigma, North America, he had direct responsibility for leading the Six Sigma effort across the 220 owned and managed hotels in the division. At the end of 2003, Tomazos left Starwood to pursue business opportunities and since then has worked on a number of hospitality projects in Canada. Tomazos is survived by his wife Mary and children Nicholas, Stephani and Leonidas.
OPENINGS, SALES AND RENOS Dual-branded Courtyard & Residence Inn opens in Calgary CALGARY — Marriott International, Inc. announced that a combined 128-room Courtyard hotel and 97-suite Residence Inn hotel opened in Calgary’s Seton Urban District on Dec. 29. Located at 3750 Market Street SE, the hotels are owned by MasterBUILT Hotels and managed by Atlific Hotels. The property shares an indoor swimming pool with a waterslide and hot tub, a fitness centre, 4,690 square feet of meeting space, heated underground parking and a fullservice spa. The Courtyard Calgary South features four executive suites on the seventh floor that offer almost 900 square feet of living space, soaker tubs and floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Rocky Mountains or city skyline. Residence Inn all-suite brand offers studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites. Designed for stays of five nights or more, each suite also has a fully-equipped kitchen with a coffeemaker, microwave oven and residential-sized appliances. Guestrooms offer large work desks, ergonomic chairs and complimentary high-speed Internet access.
Amenities include a 24-hour fitness centre, business centre, free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and the brand’s Best Brews and BBQ featuring local beers and seasonal barbecue-style appetizers at the hotel’s lounge. Four Points is on track to expand its portfolio of rooms by nearly 60 per cent in the next five years across the globe. Hotels expected to open in early 2016 include South Four Points Chengdu, Anren (China) and Four Points Bandung (Indonesia).
Holiday Inn Ottawa East opens OTTAWA — InterContinental Hotels Group announced on Jan. 13 the opening of the 261room Holiday Inn Ottawa East hotel after a $9 million renovation. Formerly the Chimo Hotel, the property features an indoor swimming pool, fully-equipped fitness centre and a Kids’ Club for children ages 4 to 11, where children can colour and fill out a registration card to ‘check-in’ while being entered to win a monthly prize. The hotel also offers an “Adopt a Friend” program that gives kids the opportunity to adopt a stuffed animal for the length of their stay.
Four Points opens in Barrie, Ont. STAMFORD, CT — Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced on Jan. 15 that its Four Points brand has opened in Barrie, Ont., the banner’s 10th hotel in Ontario. “We’re thrilled to debut Four Points in Barrie as we continue to aggressively expand the brand in key markets across Canada,” said senior vicepresident of specialty select brands Brian McGuinness, in a release. Managed by Easton’s Group of Hotels, the newly renovated Four Points Barrie offers 78 guestrooms, 1,402 square feet of meeting facilities and full-service dining at Wellington Lounge.
Dual-branded Courtyard and Residence Inn, Calgary. In addition, the hotel boasts 8,500 sq. ft. of meeting/banquet space with capacity for up to 180 people. Onsite restaurant Reza’s Kitchen offers casual dining with a contemporary twist. Up to four kids 12 and younger may eat free when ordering from the kids’ menu in the hotel restaurant and accompanied by a dining adult. Additional amenities include free Wi-Fi, easily accessible outlets throughout guestrooms and convenient open public areas ideal for collaboration or post-meeting relaxation.
Parq Vancouver to open in 2017 VANCOUVER — Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, Inc. and Don Cleary, president, Marriott Hotels of Canada introduced parq Vancouver at a luncheon hosted by the Vancouver Board of Trade on Jan. 12. JW Marriott parq Vancouver and The Douglas will be Canada’s first JW Marriott and Autograph Collection properties in one integrated resort. Combined, the two hotels will feature
Four Points Barrie, Ont.
517 rooms and the most diverse suite options at any hotel in Vancouver. Cleary called parq Vancouver, B.C.’s largest private development, a “game changing project,” and cited it as the “one of the most exciting developments in Canada, if not North America.” He also shared details of the 30,000-squarefoot rooftop ‘parq’ with its flexible event and leisure space, urban forest, integrated restaurants, lounges and lifestyle characteristics. The JW Marriott parq Vancouver, which is being constructed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification, the first hotel project of this kind in Canada with this designation, will feature a rooftop spa and the largest hotel ballroom in Vancouver at nearly 16,000 square feet. James Beard nominated restaurateur Elizabeth Blau and her husband, award-winning chef Kim Canteenwalla, will oversee the development of parq Vancouver’s eight restaurants and lounges. Parq Vancouver should open in early 2017.
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D E S I G N F E AT U R E
Prince George Halifax’s $3.5M refresh By Don Douloff TORONTO — Last July, the Prince George Hotel, in downtown Halifax, unveiled a $3.5 million renovation that has transformed the hotel’s public spaces and guestrooms with contemporary design, custom light fixtures and luxury furnishings reflecting the city’s natural surroundings. Taking about a year, the ground-floor renovation refreshed the lobby; added a new lobby bar; added Level Shop, selling snack foods and guest necessities 24/7; renovated Terrace restaurant, which serves Sunday buffet brunch; refreshed the two meeting and event spaces, adding new vinyl, carpet, fixtures and artwork; renovated both sets of restrooms; and added a new wheelchair-accessible restroom. The Prince George opened in 1986 and since March 2013 has been owned by Temple Hotels Inc. and managed by Atlific Hotels. Following the refresh, the lobby is a functional and tastefully designed main foyer outfitted with modern reception pods, high-top communal tables, two guest computers and a living room with lounge seating and fireplace. White mosaic marble and hand back-painted white-glass walls illuminate the space and provide the backdrop for custom lounge furniture. Whimsical chairs, popular for guest selfies, complete the look. Located opposite the front entrance, Levelbar provides a gathering spot for guests and locals alike. Equipped with barstools, mini booths, dramatic purple velvet chairs and an outside deck, the bar animates, and adds visual energy to, the lobby space. Taking five and a half months, the guestroom renovation refurbished the hotel’s 201 rooms (which include 15 suites). Spearheading the guestroom refresh was Vancouver-based Hager Design International Inc. Founded in 1984 by Doris Hager, the company specializes in hospitality projects encompassing hotels and restaurants, including quick-service eateries and pubs. The Prince George’s design brief man-
TOP 5 LIST Five ways to adapt to unseasonably warm weather in winter By Don Douloff, Assistant Editor
GUEST SUITE AFTER dated the new guestrooms appeal to a broader audience and younger traveller. The new guestrooms had to exceed the requirements of guests who expect a high level of sophistication, while respecting the reputation of the hotel and the city in which it operates. The guestroom redesign sought to create a rich and textural contemporary space with a sense of relaxed luxury that reflects Halifax’s natural surroundings. A palette of washed golden oak, shades of grey and deep blue recall the sandy beaches and moody seas that surround the city. The Hager team chose this neutral yet rich scheme, in combination with clean-lined
casegoods in pale oak, so the guestroom look would remain fresh for years to come. In addition, guestrooms had to include up-to-date technology. To that end, the new casegoods were designed to incorporate ease of recharging at both the desk and bedside tables. Other elements from nature such as woodgrain-inspired carpets and cut-velvet leaf fabrics reinforce the sophisticated natural design concept. These elements are paired with bold striped wall vinyl and sofas, elegant contemporary light fixtures and metallic tufted headboards, bringing a touch of Hollywood-style glam to the rooms.
With winter weather so variable these days, thanks to the warming effects of El Nino, hoteliers are often left scrambling. Here are five tips on how to adapt to unseasonably mild weather during the cold weather months. 1. Be flexible. If there’s one thing hoteliers can’t control, it’s the weather, so if temperatures rise, throwing a monkey wrench into guest’s best-laid winter-themed plans at your property, don’t panic. Alert staff immediately about your property’s need to switch gears. Institute your warm-weather-activity backup plan. With luck, some or all of your summer-season staff will be working onsite during wintertime, which will make the transition seamless and painless. 2. Communicate with guests immediately, clearly and effectively. By being up-front about your plans to adapt to the unseasonably mild weather and offering a different slate of activities, you will alleviate guests’ anxiety. Have some fun with it by setting up humourous signs in the lobby or dressing up staff members in swimming trunks and sunglasses, in the lobby, announcing the change of plans while serving iced tea or lemonade, to reinforce the mild-weather theme. 3. Relax your booking policies by allowing guests to cancel same-day and then giving them a credit on any prepaid deposits. Guests book wintertime stays predicated on outdoor, cold-dependent activities. So if the weather is more appropriate to surfboards than snowboards, guests have every right to cancel at the last minute. Cut them some slack and give them that option. Worst case, they’ll cancel last-minute, but will appreciate being allowed to do so, and likely keep you in mind for future visits. Best case, they’ll appreciate the option of last-minute cancellation and still proceed with their stay. 4. Put a fun and creative spin on outdoor activities. For example, if you offer bike trails, you could encourage guests to hold a contest to see who can wear the most outrageous or silly clothing while negotiating the paths. If you provide mini-putt, offer a prize to whoever scores the lowest (and to anyone who notches a hole-in-one). If there’s a tie for lowest score, put those players’ names in a hat and draw for the winner. 5. Challenge your activities director and front-line staff to devise new, never-before-offered activities and events. And every activity doesn’t have to be held outdoors. Adult colouring is trendy — why not offer colouring sessions, providing pencil crayons, complimentary beverages and offering a prize for whoever uses the craziest, most imaginative colours? Or how about an oldfashioned game of charades or Pictionary?
COMING EVENTS Feb. 28-March 1, 2016: Restaurants Canada Show, Enercare Centre, Toronto. Contact: Natalie Mestnik. Tel.: 416-649-4237. Email: Nmestnik@restaurantscanada.org. Website: restaurantscanada.org
taurant Operators Summit (CROS). Hockey Hall of Fame and Hilton Toronto Hotel. Contact: Orie Berlasso. Tel.: 866-887-4453. E-mail: Orieberlasso@bigpictureconferences.ca. Websites: restaurantinvest.ca, restaurantoperator.ca
Feb. 29-March 1, 2016: Hotel Association of Canada’s National Conference. Hilton Toronto Hotel. Contact: Orie Berlasso. Tel.: 866-887-4453. E-mail: Orieberlasso@bigpictureconferences.ca. Website: hacconference.ca
March 1-3, 2016: Hospitality Newfoundland & Labrador 2016 Conference & Trade Show. St. John’s, N.L. Contact: Tania Heath. Tel. 709-722-2000, ext. 224. Website: hnl.ca
March 1-2, 2016: Canadian Restaurant Investment Summit (CRIS) and Canadian Res-
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April 17-19, 2016: Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association Convention and Tradeshow, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Contact: Jor-
dan Mckay. Tel.: 780-436-6112, E-mail: Jmckay@ahla.ca. Website: ahla.ca/convention-andtrade-show April 24-26, 2016: ApEx trade show, Cunard Centre, Halifax. Contact: Chuck Nervick. Tel. 416-512-8186, ext. 227. Fax: 416512-8344. E-mail: Chuckn@mediaedge.ca. Website: apextradeshow.ca April 27-29, 2016: Travel Gay Canada LGBT Tourism Conference. Delta Winnipeg Hotel. Contact: Colin Sines. Tel. 866 300-7556. Website: travelgaycanada.com
May 12-13, 2016: Saskatchewan Hotel & Hospitality Association Convention & Trade Show, Delta Bessborough, Saskatoon. Contact: Warren Nerby. Tel.: 306-522-1664, ext. 2. Fax: 306-525-1944. E-mail: Wnerby@sasktel. net. Website: skhha.com May 16-17, 2016: Canadian Hotel Investment Conference. Fairmont Royal York & Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Contact: Orie Berlasso. Tel.: 866-887-4453. E-mail: Orieberlasso@bigpictureconference.ca. Website: hotelinvest.ca.
JOIN US AT THE Hotel Association of Canada Show Februar y 29 & March 1st Hilton Toronto
C A N A D I A N
Maximizing the Guest Experience
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