STAY Magazine, Vol. 2 Issue 6

Page 1

INNvestment Canada Q3 2022: Colliers Hotels

Choice lessons, one year later with Brian Leon

Build diversity in hospitality & combat labour shortage woes

An immigration plan to grow the economy


Nov/Dec 2022 Volume 2 Issue 6


Big Picture New Media

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Editor-in-Chief Stacey Newman

Director of Sponsorship & Advertising Mike Egan Art Director Jayesh Bhagat


Jade Prévost-Manuel, Carter Hammett, Jim Byers, Allan Lynch, Stacey Newman

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STAY is published six times per year by Big Picture New Media (BPNM), a subsidiary of Big Picture Conferences. For 25 years, Big Picture has been hosting the Canadian Hotel Investment Conference (CHIC) and other go-to conferences and events for Canada’s hotel industry. Subscription price: $110 per year, most single issues $18.95.

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Editorial Advisory Board

Robin McLuskie Managing Director, Hotels, Colliers Hotels

Brian Leon President, Choice Hotels Canada

Brian Flood VP and Practice Leader, Hospitality and Gaming, Cushman & Wakefield

Scott Richer VP, Real Estate and Development (Canada), Hyatt Hotels

Ed Khediguian Senior VP, CWB Franchise Finance

Bill Stone President, Knightstone Hotel Group

Gunjan Kahlon VP Franchise Sales and Development, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

Judy Sparkes-Giannou Co-Owner, Clayton Hospitality Inc.

Deborah Borotsik Senior VP, Beechwood Real Estate Advisors

Alan Perlis President, Knightstone Capital Management and CEO, Knightstone Hotel Group

Alnoor Gulamani President, Bayview Hospitality Inc.

Christina Poon General Manager Hotel W New York – Union Square

Phil Thompson Business Lawyer

Sandra Kanegawa Owner, Heritage Inn Portfolio, X-Dream

November/December 2022 CONTENTS 18 On
Hôtel Épik Montréal
Sicoli 4 Editor’s Note 5 Intelligence Western Canadian Lodging Conference 2022 – Takeaways 8 Navigating Crisis Hotel Port aux Basques, surviving Fiona 13 Feature Choice lessons, one year later: An interview with Brian Leon, CEO, Choice Hotels Canada 18 Profile Visiting Sofitel Mexico City Reforma, offering bleisure rooted in culture 24 Human Resources Recruit-Ability: Workers with disabilities remain an untapped resource 28 Human Resources Building diversity in hospitality and combatting labour shortage woes 30 May We Recommend 34 Innovation Part Two: All aboard the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection “Evrima” 37 Immigration An immigration plan to grow the economy 40 Intelligence INNvestment Canada Q3 2022 from Colliers Hotels 45 34 INNvestment Canada Q3 2022: Colliers Hotels Build diversity in hospitality & combat labour shortage woes Choice lessons, one year later with Brian Leon An immigration plan to grow the economy NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2022 November December 2022 | | 3
the Cover
Located in the heart of Old Montreal’s iconic architecture. Photographer: Silvio

Retrospective 2022: WCLC & wisdom gained





MARKS OUR FIRST ANNIVERSARY. We’re very proud of this accomplishment and grateful for your support and engagement.

Our goal in publishing STAY is to bring you unique, genuinely informative, provocative and industry-specific content that is relevant to Canada’s hotel sector.

We could not do this without our discerning readers, exceptional contributors, nor without the generosity of the subjects of our coverage who’ve trusted us to tell their stories.

In retrospect, 2022 has been a very good year. Generally, I think we can state that the last 12 months have been punctuated by tenacious optimism and true grit—in terms of recovery, we dug in. I would also argue that being able to congregate again, meet face-to-face, and spend time together has recharged our social and industrial batteries.

The Western Canadian Lodging Conference (WCLC) was 2022’s final big hotel industry event in Canada. We reconvened in Vancouver for a stellar program from our parent company, Big Picture Conferences. Plenary sessions led by the experts among us provided vital insights about the industry in Western Canada, as well as the rest of the country. These sessions comprehensively addressed the months behind us as well as the outlook for the year ahead.

I leave you with the following INTELLIGENCE from one of WCLC’s esteemed panellists, he is also a member of STAY’s editorial advisory board—Ed Khediguian, senior vice president, CWB Franchise Finance.

I’d also like to acknowledge our editorial advisory board members who have provided our team with invaluable, substantial contributions to our coverage and the publication on the whole. Your oversight ensures the exceptional quality and credibility of our content; each of you has gone above and beyond to shape STAY Magazine…thank you.

4 | | November December 2022


What does the past tell us about lending and transaction volumes as we say goodbye to 2022?


The following Canadian hotel intelligence takeaways come to us through the “lending” lens as per Ed Khediguian, senior vice president, CWB Franchise Finance.

WE DO BELIEVE THERE IS A LOT of cash capital on the sidelines that's wanting to place investments in hotels. So as the opportunities come up, we see a lot of liquidity despite interest rates. We are optimistic about the number of buyers that are out there looking for good opportunities.

There are some Covid fatigue sellers that we will see— not selling for any reason besides the fact that maybe this is just the right time within their cycle of ownership and Covid simply nudged the situation

There will be a variety of reasons, whether it's estate planning or owners trading assets. We have seen quite a bit of product in resort markets and we are seeing a pickup probably in full service coming next year. We don't feel that interest rates are going to be a big push for people selling unless it's very market and asset specific.

If owners have held on this long during what we call the worst crisis in history, they're going to try to hold onto their assets and work through this interest rate environment. In our view, we don't see a huge flood of

November December 2022 | | 5

sales because of that. Overall, volume is looking like it might be similar to this year, if not higher next year.

Interest rates are obviously an important component here. Picking up on that, availability of debt is very important for fueling transaction volume. Who's lending, what are the terms and how is that affecting transaction volumes next year? To put it in context, in the 10 years prior we saw quite a bit of acceleration in liquidity and sophistication in the availability of lending to the hospitality sector right through to 2018, and 2019, which was actually very positive for hospitality. Some of the later lender entrants exited as we entered into the pandemic—those that did remain focused their appetites on the higher end of the market. We're seeing a gap in the mid-market in terms of lending, which is positive for us in a specialized space. We are focused on that mid-market.

To a certain extent, hospitality investments are natural inflation hedges to an investment portfolio. While exposed to operational inflation, hotels are able to drive average daily rates up in the face of inflation pressures much more rapidly than other longer-lease real estate investments. Factors including the attrition of supply in markets create a positive—a tailwind—that will support a profitable stabilization of the sector, which will eventually contribute to the expansion of liquidity as lenders who previously exited return to the market to seek that demonstrated hedge. In the next year and a half to two years, you'll see a resurgence of liquidity from a lending perspective, both from a total exposure appetite perspective as well as expansion in structure. There were concerns going into the pandemic on the impact of the environment on asset values, but given the erosion of the supply pipeline, combined with the amount of equity capital that is interested in deploying into the space, values of existing assets were able to sustain themselves despite the temporary erosion of operating metrics.

The real focus right now from a structure and leverage as well as portfolio management perspective is on debt service and debt coverage covenants and capacities. Through the pandemic, the challenge was managing the regulatory impact and oversight of loan deferrals and managing the regulators’ patience. Now as we get to recovery, regulators are becoming a little less patient. Lenders are focused on underwriting that's centred on debt service coverage and more liquidity, whether at the asset level or the broader group level.

In 2022, I think we were all playing the value guessing game. It's the asset class that just was hit the hardest and tough to value because you want to look at your 2019 numbers and then where you were in 2020, and 2021, it was very hard to see where stabilization was. But I think everyone's been very pleasantly surprised about how this year's turning out.

The next question: Is 2022 the right number to use for cap rate, has that stabilized? High-level, higher interest rates, with all things held constant, will result in higher capitalization rates for valuation purposes. However, the availability of equity liquidity and return hurdles as well as the availability of investment assets will affect where effective capitalization rates will land. Less new supply focuses greater capital to deploy against existing assets, which supports values. The impact of broader market liquidity and appetite for the sector will affect the direction of those rates. It’s also asset specific, where in its life cycle a property is, does it need capital? Is there any excess land or any other factors that affect value?

Valuations have held this year. There's been sustained investment demand and a strong recovery for the industry. Is that sustainable? Are our cap rates going up? That's a question we get asked a lot. We are certainly starting to see the upward pressure in cap rates but the balance between the supply of capital to invest in the sector and recovering performance metrics driven by the

6 | | November December 2022

acceleration of ADRs has sustained valuations despite the increase in capitalization rates.

There is a question of whether that ADR growth is sustainable and if there is some risk to cash flow. We will see some upward pressure in capitalization rates. But, that's also offset by the ADR. So, it’s not that values are going down at this point, it's more that they're just being supported by ADR growth because we've seen such stellar ADR growth this year.

I wouldn't say that interest rates and managing that is the number one strategic issue in the industry. Having access to capital/liquidity to be in a position to be able to take advantage of opportunities, on the other hand, is a strategic issue in this environment. The West is a great example, the pandemic created an opportunity and a lot of folks moved investment into Alberta and B.C.

People are certainly getting creative. As Canadians, generally, our leverage is low, especially compared to the U.S. where you're financing up to 80 plus per cent in creative ways. We have been a conservative market. There's a lot of liquidity and equity tied into these assets and it does make an impact on cash flow. The reality is we are a small market that is well capitalized, with private investors buying the lion’s share.

For more Canadian hotel intelligence, please see INNVESTMENT CANADA Q3 2022 on page 40 and watch for follow-up articles on topics discussed at WCLC 2022.

November December 2022 | | 7


CATHY LOMOND IS THE OWNER AND OPERATOR OF Hotel Port aux Basques. She is a champion of Newfoundland hospitality, recognized for her work in the tourism industry by her peers at Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador as well as a member of the executive leadership council of the Hotel Association of Canada. As it turns out, Lomond is also remarkably adept at navigating crisis.

Lomond’s hotel is located in Channel-Port aux Basques, N.L. With 46 rooms and three suites; two meeting rooms, a

restaurant and lounge, Hotel Port aux Basques found itself at the epicentre of one of the hardest-hit Canadian communities by post-tropical storm Fiona.

On September 24, 2022, the storm “caused violent winds exceeding 100 kilometres per hour, torrential rainfall, flooding and downed trees, and resulted in several deaths,” the Insurance Bureau of Canada said, as reported by CBC News. “The bureau said the storm also washed at least 20 homes into the ocean, primarily in Port aux Basques, N.L.”

Multiple homes in Port aux Basques have been destroyed due to a storm surge. (Rene Roy/Wreckhouse Press)
Navigating Crisis 8 | | November December 2022

Lomond feels that she was incredibly lucky, having escaped significant damage from the storm. She explains that the areas of town most affected were along the shoreline. “It was the storm surge that created the havoc that we endured,” she says. And, because it remained operational, Hotel Port aux Basques became a hub for media, military and NGO personnel, and politicians; a communal kitchen and commissary for reporters, rescuers and rescuees alike.


Before Fiona was even a blip on the radar, the hotel was in the midst of its Covid recovery. “Our business as of May just went nuts with the amount of bookings. I mean I've been doing this for over 40 years. I've never seen that we would've been filled in May from tourism to the area,” exclaims Lomond.

She attributes this to pent-up travel demand. Lomond says the hotel was busy straight through May until Fiona. “It was an amazing last five months, business-wise.”

Lomond has owned the hotel for well over 20 years. But she started working there as a teenager. She was studying to be a nurse when she took a summer job in the hotel’s restaurant. “I enjoyed it so much. Broke my mom's heart when I went home and said, ‘I'm not going to go there and do nursing,’" says Lomond. Instead, she enrolled in university business courses. “I just knew that this was what I needed to do. And it's all I've done for the last almost 45 years.”


The night before the storm, Hotel Port aux Basques wasn’t full; social media had deterred some travellers and the ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland was cancelled because of the impending storm. Lomond says that about 25 per cent of her rooms were unoccupied. “But we're used to storms, we have the preparation model that we follow when any storm hits—we are probably in one of the windiest locations in all of North America,” she explains. “We're a little rocky corner of the ocean, so we get the ocean currents and we get the ocean winds from the gulf and the Atlantic. But when we get those warnings... when the screen turns red, we have our own protocol inside that we use. We have a flashlight for every room in the hotel with a number on it. We make sure our generators are up and running. We have one that

runs the front desk and one that runs all the lighting in the kitchen, so we can still feed people. Any employees come prepared to stay if that should happen,” says Lomond. During storms, out-of-town employees are not expected to drive in treacherous weather, so there’s a contingency schedule and the supervisor has a backup. All staff bring in overnight bags just in case.


Lomond says that she “came down” the morning of September 24th and the winds were already churning the seas, but at that time she had no idea what was happening along the coastline. The hotel was experiencing power surges and outages. This was hard on the equipment. Lomond instructed staff to switch off all of the computers. Within an hour or two, when the pictures started showing up on their phones through social media, Lomond and her staff were in shock. She explains that “it’s a ten-minute drive from one end of town to the other. Everyone knows everyone.” The news coming in was traumatizing and Lomond and her staff were in disbelief. “We just couldn't grasp the impact of what was happening, none of us was prepared for it.”

Recounts Lomond: “We heard the rumours that a lady did get washed out to sea and everyone would've known her. And then there were a couple more that got in a dangerous part and they almost lost their lives. It was horrific. It was like we were in a movie; I don't know. I can't explain it,” she pauses.

Lomond and her staff had little time to process before they were thrust into action. The town had been evacuated and people were looking for places to stay. “One lady came in really late, we are a hundred per cent pet free, but her husband was going to sleep in the car with the little pet dog. And I went, ‘Okay.’ You just have to be kind to people when they're traumatized,” says Lomond.


Lomond says that she and her staff then embarked on weeks filled with seemingly endless workdays. The power was still coming and going, transformers were down, and there was flooding; electricity and water don't go well together.

Navigating Crisis
November December 2022 | | 9

Navigating Crisis

The people staying in the hotel were gripped by anxiety. Displaced and scared, Lomond focused on simply making sure that they were comfortable. “That's all people need to feel is safe.”

Lomond says that she had most of the media staying at the hotel. Some had come in before the storm thinking it would blow through and be gone in one night. They checked in for one day and most of them ended up staying for a week or more.

“And they're important as well,” states Lomond. The Red Cross was also looking for rooms for staff and displaced people. Lomond liaised with the town to find room for locals in need; she has a longstanding relationship with all the town employees and the mayor, all of whom she says went above and beyond.


How does a town in one of the windiest places in North America rebuild after an “act of God?”

“The Red Cross, the military, and representatives from World Central Kitchen [a non-governmental organization dedicated to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters] came to town. The local Lion's Club was doing meals, we had the Salvation Army doing meals. I was overwhelmed by the amount of support that was there for people in our community helping others,” says Lomond quietly.

At one point Lomond was asked to quote on 150 hot dinners and breakfasts the next day. Between her staff and a cobbled-together supply chain also largely cut off from the world, they pulled it off.

“I tell people I didn't feel stressed, I didn't feel anxiety, I didn't feel... Because I was here in that moment, and anybody that works in this industry, you get so many little bumps in the road and you just deal with it, because you had to make it happen and find a solution. So it wasn't until maybe a week after, I was super tired.” It was then that Lomond started to realize what she had been through.

Through all of it, she says the greatest lesson was to bring compassion to every single act and interaction.

10 | | November December 2022


During the crisis, the damage in Channel-Port aux Basques was all over the news. But as time goes on, there are new headlines that need covering. The small town was still reeling. There was a boil order, which threw a whole new monkey wrench into operating a hotel business. “It's probably one of the worst things,“ says Lomond. Water became the hottest commodity in town.

And then the prime minister was coming. He didn’t stay in the hotel but they had some of his support staff arrive before him. He visited Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and then he came to Newfoundland. “It was foggy here at the time, so he had a two-hour drive because they couldn't bring him by helicopter,” says Lomond.

The prime minister visited the Salvation Army and the people who had lost their homes.

Lomond says there are a hundred confirmed demolitions and probably 40 more buildings being re-evaluated, and the majority of those will be demolished as well.

“We had 13 miles of beautiful white raw beaches along the coastline. They are totally destroyed. The ocean took them away,” Lomond explains that one just can't fathom the fierceness of the sea, its strength and power.

Lomond says everybody will remember the word “Fiona.” She has been working in the tourism industry for decades, and while she wants her town to be recognized, she laments that after Fiona, Channel-Port aux Basques will be known for the loss and unprecedented storm damage that occurred there.

"I could never think of any place in the world, other than where I live, that I would want to live and die," she says, "This is my community. I'm proud of it, I'm a big volunteer, at the community level, provincially and nationally. I'm the Newfoundland rep there on the Hotel Association of Canada Board. I love my community, so I have to make it the best place in the world to live."

Lomond is worried about how the people of her community are doing in the months since Fiona came to her little corner of Newfoundland. The mounting costs of rebuilding,

navigating business and personal insurance claims, many of which don’t include coverage for acts of God—Fiona’s toll on the mental health of the affected is becoming more evident. People are in need, they’re displaced, desperate and afraid. Lomond has employees at the hotel who aren’t allowed to return to their homes. Her employees are like family. “Our homes are our castles, you know? We all grow up, get a house, make it ours and we have all the family history. We have the pictures…” Lomond’s voice trails off. Some of her neighbours couldn't even get into their damaged homes to retrieve family photo albums. They lost just about everything.

In the coming months, Lomond expects Hotel Port aux Basques will remain busy housing those who need shelter, as well as contractors doing repair work. National media will likely continue to come and go for some time yet. The hotel will continue to act as a hub for the cleanup crews, inspectors and the like for at least a few more months yet.

Coming full circle, Lomond believes that the pandemic taught her a valuable lesson—what it was like to be restricted without knowing what was to come. During the first months of Covid, when the hotel was closed, when her staff were worried, those worries were also Lomond's.

Then, following a successful recovery season, her community is levelled by a storm that brings unprecedented damage and loss to the community, and Hotel Port aux Basques provided refuge. Says Lomond, it was her staff who rose to the occasion. She gives them all the credit for getting them through the worst.

Navigating Crisis
November December 2022 | | 11


From the Insurance Bureau of Canada

12 tips for safeguarding your business

1. Check that your business insurance policy meets your company's needs. Speak to your insurance representative to ensure the coverage is adequate and takes into account office space, equipment, inventory, company vehicles and employees.

2. Create a basic emergency plan. Identify the risks or issues, natural or man-made, that your business could face. This plan will define measures to prevent and/or situations to manage that may arise.

3. Identify evacuation routes and an off-site meeting location for employees. Your plan should also include some form of safe structure that shields you from potentially hazardous elements (A.K.A., shelter-in-place location) and emergency exits.

4. Prepare employees for an emergency. It is not worth creating a plan if no one knows about it. Hold an annual drill or exercise to keep staff familiar with the emergency preparedness plan. If necessary, appoint a "go-to person" who in your absence has access to passwords and codes.

5. Assign pre- and post-emergency tasks to employees. For example, one employee could be responsible for stocking the first-aid kit, another for liaising with vendors following an emergency.

6. Stock an emergency kit with appropriate supplies. A basic emergency kit should get you through the crucial 72 hours after an emergency. Visit for a list of supplies to have on hand.

7. Prepare emergency backup power. If possible keep a portable gas generator and extra fuel on hand. Always store fuel in a wellventilated area.

8. Protect critical systems. On computers and networks, install and regularly update firewall and antivirus software. Surge protectors are crucial.

9. Perform consistent data backups using off-site or web-based options. On-site data backups could be lost in the event of a fire or theft. Choose a data backup option that has a proven track record for reliability and system security.

10. Secure the premises. Install water sprinklers and impact-resistant windows and doors. Fasten bookcases, cabinets and large objects to walls, ensuring heavy objects on shelves are anchored from falling. Use safety latches on cabinet doors. Secure computers and cash registers so they won't fall.

11. Establish a business continuity plan. Consider what needs to be done to keep your business running during or immediately following a disruption.

12. Review and update your emergency and business continuity plans frequently. Your plans will need to be adjusted to accommodate any changes in your business.

For more information about choosing the best types of business insurance coverage, including for weather events, visit

Navigating Crisis
12 | | November December 2022



One year ago—for our inaugural issue of STAY Magazine—we spoke to Brian Leon, chief executive officer of Choice Hotels Canada. At that time, he was hopeful but mindfully so. He made some prescient remarks during that first interview; a few of which we revisit here.

We attended the Choice Hotels Canada Conference in September and once again sat down with Brian Leon for his thoughts on the conference, the recovery and his outlook for 2023.

Q: Brian, tell us about the Choice Hotels Canada Conference—the first in-person event since the beginning of the pandemic. How is it going?

A: The conference has been a big success from a turnout standpoint. We've exceeded our expectations with over 390 people attending, which is the largest number of registrants we’ve had. Our last Canadian conference was in 2018, here in the same place (The Grand Hall of

Fallsview Casino Resort, Niagara Falls, Ont.) I'm going to say we probably have 20 per cent more attendees than in 2018.

People are just really happy to be back together. Our objective in putting together the agenda was to be respectful of how valuable time is today, it has been a really busy time in the industry. We created the agenda to make good use of the time together; offering

November December 2022 | | 13

meaningful information to attendees. There are also opportunities to catch up with each other. So many of us haven't seen each other in years.

Q: The breakout sessions at the conference seem to have a common theme—like we’re re-humanizing one another. How does this inform your strategies coming out of the pandemic?

A: I think that the pandemic has taught us an awful lot. I wouldn't want to wish it on anybody again. But some things came out of the pandemic that are going to benefit us all over time. For example, the collaboration that we've had with our franchisees has never been greater. When the pandemic hit, we were all shellshocked. Nobody had ever experienced anything like this before.

We were all trying to figure it out, asking ourselves, “What do we do?” Our approach, not knowing what we were facing, was to sit down in a room with our team because we were shutting down the office.

We said to one another that however long this lasts, whether it's weeks, months, or years, at the end of it all we want our franchisees to say that we are a good

partner for them. That was what was going to guide us. I don't think any of us expected it was going to be as bad as it got. We were candid about what we didn't know. So we were very active with our franchise advisory board; there was a period when we were talking every few days and I talked with our chair every day. It would be difficult to overstate the value that we got from them through the pandemic.

We organized a virtual town hall. We'd never done it before. We were learning how to use Zoom and we had 400 people on the call. It was galvanizing. We started doing those every month back then, and we had a huge turnout for them. We put real effort into having meaningful information for our franchisees, We didn't lay off any staff through the pandemic. Not a person. It was absolutely the right decision for us in retrospect. A lot of people thought we were crazy. Our board was very supportive and we were very grateful.

Q: Fast forward to today, it’s the last quarter of 2022, how are things today?

A: I think our relationship with our franchisees is stronger today than it's ever been because I think they know that we actually care about them. We involved them when

14 | | November December 2022

like everyone else, we had to pivot. We challenged our departments to give us feedback and to tell us what they needed, and they challenged us. Tell us what you can do, we want to keep everybody working, how do you want to pivot?

For example, our franchise services team would normally be going into hotels or doing inspections and working on revenue generation stuff. But nobody was in the hotels. Our services team was re-focused on helping our franchisees navigate through the government grant programs. They put together valuable resource information. A lot was happening in terms of government programs but it was very difficult for hotel owners to navigate through.

One of the things that was sort of ironic and kind of funny—this goes back a couple of years pre-pandemic— we decided revenue management would become a big area of focus for us. So we had already created this resource department around revenue management in the company. It was funny the way it worked out. We hired five or six people and rolled it out in January 2020. This model was built on the notion that franchisees were all going to want to pay for it…then the pandemic hit. Of course, nobody wanted to talk about development at the time.

And we've got this whole new team that we put into place. So, they came back and asked, “Why don't we just offer free revenue management services? We'll start with 15 hotels and offer it free, then we'll go to another 15. And they just kept on doing that.

We reached out to independent hotels across the country and it wasn't anything to do with development, it was at a point in the industry where we all needed to pull together. The materials and resources for our franchisees went to some independent hotels, no strings attached, and helped them access the government programs they needed.

This made our development team feel better because they were doing something, and everyone was contributing. You don't want people to feel helpless.

Seeing everybody together now, you can see the relationships between our team and the franchisees— they’ve become friends.

Q: Brian, when we talked in 2021, you made some prescient comments. You said, during that interview, that you thought we would reach 2019 levels again, but that it would look very different. You went so far as to say that we’d likely see rates surpassing occupancy. How does it feel looking back, knowing you were right?

A: I didn't remember that! I remember thinking that what was coming would be a very different recovery from any recovery that the industry's ever been through before. And that it would present unique challenges. So here we are.

Q: So, what does the next year look like? Because we're still in the recovery, but we're also moving beyond it in many ways.

A: I'm incredibly optimistic about the future of the industry. I mean, there are all of these economic factors happening and we certainly can't control them. They're impossible to predict. When I look at a long-term runway for the business, you have to look at the real positives out there—from a big-picture point of view, I think tourism presents a big, big opportunity for the country. In a meeting I had with the federal minister of tourism, Randy Boissonnault, he said when you take a look at all of the statistical data on tourism in Canada, that on a percentage of GDP, it's about half of what it is in the U.S. Think about that! What an opportunity dollar for dollar. We could double tourism.

Instead of just letting it happen on its own, and since Boissonnault is the minister of tourism and the associate minister of finance, which is very unusual, maybe the government does see an opportunity here. There's so much to see in this country and it’s not all in the major urban markets.

Feature November December 2022 | | 15

A: Looking at the hotel industry long-term at what drives hotel performance, it's very simple economics. It's the supply of rooms and demand for rooms. Everything hinges on those trends, that's what drives RevPAR.

Take a look at what's happened in the last three years. Normally we might have maybe two to three-point growth in rooms. Two, two and a half point growth in rooms every year over a longer period. Then you've got some rooms leaving the market etc.

And we've had this major supply disruption. Because of the pandemic, we had all the hotel projects that were underway, if they were far enough along, they got finished. But many of the projects that weren't far along were put on the back burner for a year or two. It's just coming back now. When you look at the long-term forecast for hotel openings over the next say five years, it's at a way lower rate than it would historically be. On top of that, through the pandemic, around one and a half per cent of hotel rooms in Canada was taken out of inventory and converted to non-hotel use [according to data from Colliers Hotels]. So, you've got a whole bunch of supply out of the market which is one of the reasons why rates are high.

The other thing we are watching for is the business that hasn’t returned to the market yet. Even though we're having this great year, a lot of the corporate and largegroup business hasn’t recovered fully. It will also start to come back and that spills over to hotels.

What does this mean for the future? Well, for the economy, I'm not going to predict whether we're going to be in recession. I fundamentally believe the Canadian economy will be great in the longer term. The country has unbelievable resources. Maybe we hit a recession and maybe that causes a couple of points decline in demand. But it will bounce back. When you take a look at that supply-demand relationship, I believe that we are in for a period of sustained positive growth.

Q: In a broader economic sense, where do you think we are headed?
16 | | November December 2022

Case Study: Sofitel Mexico City Reforma offers bleisure rooted in culture

In Mexico City, business travel is back. So, it seems, is the corporate traveller’s appetite for culturally immersive bleisure experiences.

It’s an overcast Friday in Mexico City, where sleek taxis are ferrying a new cohort of business travellers along the Jacaranda-tree-lined Paseo de la Reforma, or Reforma Avenue, to the porte cochère of Sofitel Mexico City Reforma.

Come afternoon, the travellers will answer emails, take meetings, and put out corporate fires from their hotel rooms or Club Millésime, the work and leisure lounge on the 36th floor. But come nightfall, they’ll celebrate Mexican Independence Day with the rest of Sofitel’s guests at Cityzen—the lively rooftop bar where Mariachis and Mexican DJs plan to share the stage—and savour traditional chiles en nogada and pozole at the hotel’s in-house restaurant, Balta.

The scene unfolding hints at a corporate travel trend recently resurrected from the grave—bleisure travel. A portmanteau of business and leisure, bleisure is the practice of extending or modifying a business trip to incorporate leisure activities.

“Bleisure pretty much disappeared during the pandemic,” says Beth Potter, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC). “But it was a trend that was on the rise prior to the pandemic, and I think that it's one that will come back with a vengeance as we see business travel resume.”

With most countries having eased pandemic travel restrictions, many corporate travellers are dusting off their carry-ons and loyalty cards for the first time in nearly three

Profile 18 | | November December 2022

years. And as hospitality businesses and the corporate travel community push for an industry recovery, one thing is becoming ever more apparent. The corporate travellers of today want bleisure travel, and they want bleisure travel that offers experiences rooted in the culture of the places they visit.

Those experiences can look different depending on the interests of the traveller, say industry folks. For Sofitel Mexico City Reforma guests, bleisure can mean browsing the world’s largest collection of pre-Hispanic coins at the Soumaya Museum or sampling chicharron—fried pork skin—at the Medellín Market before an afternoon meeting. For those taking a few vacation days before or after a conference, bleisure can look like a hot air balloon ride above Teotihuacán’s pre-Columbian pyramids, just an hour and a half’s drive from the property.

“Mexico City is really a city of diversity, in terms of culture, food, and people, […] and there are so many things to see inside the city that it’s worth staying two or three more days after a business trip,” says Sofitel Mexico City Reforma’s general manager, Sylvain Chauvet. He cites dining and cultural experiences—like chef Enrique Olvera’s celebrated Mexican gastronomy restaurant, Pujol, and the Frida Kahlo Museum or Teotihuacán—as the most common experiences that corporate guests request the Sofitel’s concierge to organize for them. “And more and more we see people try to extend [their stay], especially during the weekend.”

Pre-pandemic, business travel was a USD 1.4 trillion global industry. Some say the sector won’t make a full recovery before mid-2026, as labour and supply chain shortages, high energy prices, and inflation drag out its rehabilitation. In Canada, recovery timelines could be anywhere from 2025 to 2027, says Potter, depending on the type of business travel.

Yet according to a recent Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) survey of nearly 600 business travel buyers, suppliers, and other industry stakeholders around the world, corporate travel is expected to grow in 2023. More than 80 per cent of travel suppliers that the GBTA polled expect corporate client bookings to increase next year. A similar number—78 per cent—of travel managers expect

November December 2022 | | 19

their companies to book more business trips. Industry professionals are also expecting to see an increase in bleisure. About 40 per cent of travel managers said they’re seeing more demand for blended travel from employees.

Ask Direct Travel’s president, Brian Robertson, why that is and he’ll tell you that a desire for more experiential travel may be behind the uptick in bleisure. Today’s business travellers, he says, want the leisure component of their bleisure trips to consist of immersive experiences through which they can explore and engage in history, culture, food, community, or whatever it is they’re interested in.

“There's a lot of us who, over the years, probably went to a meeting in a hotel or convention centre, never got to see anything outside of it, and then got back on a plane and went home,” says Robertson. “These days, the thinking is, ‘So if I've got to go to this destination and be there for this event, why shouldn’t I take an extra day at the beginning or the end and really get to see the place that I'm going to?’”

It's something that, post-pandemic, is becoming easier to do, he adds. People who built up vacation time during the pandemic but couldn’t use it how they wanted to, for example, are looking to put their paid time off toward exciting experiences. And with travel becoming more expensive, extending company-covered trips is a no-brainer for business travellers who want to take a vacation but aren’t ready to shell out hundreds, or thousands, of dollars for a flight.

“Air tickets are more expensive right now,” says Robertson. “So, if you can take advantage of a situation where you have to travel for business, but you have the flexibility to have personal time as well, then that's a great opportunity for people.”

The average Sofitel Mexico City Reforma guest stays three to four days, but an extra night or two at the property isn’t the toughest of sells. The 40-story hotel—adjoined to the bones of a Porfirian-style, 1938 French home—is in walking distance of attractions like the Angel of Independence, the National Museum of Anthropology, and Chapultepec Park, a sprawling four-square-kilometre park home to ample walking paths and its very own castle. But it’s also at the centre of one of the city’s business districts, says Chauvet.

To accommodate its corporate clients, each one of Sofitel Mexico City Reforma’s 275 guest rooms is equipped with wide work desks and Bluetooth connectivity. The property has three private conference rooms, a 400-person-capacity event ballroom, a work and leisure lounge, and several options for in-house dining to accommodate the busiest of corporate guests. Factor in its in-house speakeasy, modern pool, and L’Occitane product-stocked spa, and you’ve got a recipe for bleisure, suggests Chauvet.

“[Here], it’s easy to mix business and pleasure,” he says.

Mixing business with pleasure, after all, lies at the centre of the Sofitel brand, alongside a commitment to combining French elegance with local culture in each property’s designs. At Sofitel Mexico City Reforma, the proof is in the pastry. The hotel’s macarons, made in house, are bound by spicy chili paste. At breakfast, Balta serves sweet conchas alongside pain au chocolat. And at Bajel, Sofitel’s fine dining restaurant, Chef Alexi prepares a Mexican-French fusion rendition of the French onion soup by pairing it with Oaxacan cheese froth.

Pre-pandemic, 60 per cent of Sofitel Mexico City Reforma’s business came from corporate travel, says the property’s director of sales and marketing, Julio Gonzalez. When corporate travel came to a grinding halt during the pandemic, his team switched their marketing strategy to focus on the leisure luxury market, which now provides a greater share of the hotel’s overall business. Corporate travel, though, has since ramped up—as of most recent numbers, it accounted for between 35 to 45 per cent of the property’s business. In welcoming business travellers back to Mexico City, particularly those visiting the city for the second or third time, Gonzalez says he’s noticed an appetite for off-the-beaten-path experiences to spice up business trips.

“They want more than just the traditional coffee break,” he says.

These travellers want in on the city’s up-and-coming galleries and local marvels like El Nido De Quetzalcóatl, Mexican architect Javier Senosiain’s dizzying interpretation of the feathered serpent of Mesoamerican lore. Or, if they haven’t yet had the chance, they want to visit nearby

Profile 20 | | November December 2022

Chapultepec Castle, the only North American castle to have served as a residence for European sovereigns.

All things considered, bleisure’s resurgence may have more to do with a craving for work-life balance than anything else, say Robertson and Potter. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, layoffs, lockdowns, and changing employee demands have restructured businesses the world over. While the rise of the remote and hybrid worker economy made it possible for organizations to do business internationally without having to travel, it also gave employees the time to consider what they want out of their jobs.

For business travellers, a category of employees with hectic schedules of back-to-back meetings and time-zone hopping, work-life balance comes particularly hard. Coming out of the pandemic, people want to make up for lost time, says Robertson.

“Companies are [now] saying, ‘Because people are going to travel, we want to be as flexible as we can because we want to encourage them to have that balance and to enjoy life,’” says Robertson. “And if that involves taking a couple days here or there that are owed to them in the first place, then why not do that?”

To accommodate travellers combining business and leisure on their work trips, hospitality businesses should consider creating bleisure packages, whereby hospitality businesses partner with local tourist attractions to offer curated local experiences. These, Potter says, “are going to have to be part and parcel of the offerings going forwards.”

Whether bleisure exceeds pre-pandemic levels, and when that might happen, has yet to be seen. Potter sees bleisure as a trend caught in the middle of an industry juxtaposition—weighing the costs associated with travel against the benefit of doing business face-to-face. But for the establishments prepared to plan for a return to business mixed with pleasure, the yields look promising.

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November December 2022 | | 21

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With employers in Canada’s hospitality sector facing an unprecedented labour shortage, it’s time to consider broadening recruitment initiatives and reaching out to non-traditional communities.

When John O’Connor first interviewed for a concierge position at the Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel, he was eager to share a piece of news with his potential employers. In addition to promoting transferrable skills and suitability for the role, there was one more essential item he wanted to mention that might make or break his chances of getting a job.

He had epilepsy.

“I made them aware as soon as the opportunity presented itself,” O’Connor, 38, says. “I didn’t want to have a seizure before I made people aware of it.”

Employed since August 2022, the affable O’Connor has lived with the neurological condition that affects one per cent of the population— about 300,000 Canadians—for the past two years. It was only after exhibiting some strange behaviour

Human Resources 24 | | November December 2022

while visiting his family at Christmas in 2020 that he realized something might be wrong.

“Apparently I laid down in the middle of the floor and was speaking in tongues,” he recalls. The next day he checked himself into a hospital where he underwent testing and observation for the next week. Looking back, he recognizes that the anxiety attacks he thought he was having as far back as 2012 may have been seizures.

O’Connor works Tuesday to Saturday on the 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. shift. Consistent work hours tend to be a good accommodation for some workers with epilepsy.


“I wanted to make it known that I’m not having a heart-or-panic attack; it’s a seizure,” he says. “I told everyone that you won’t need to call 911 every single

time, so long as I get to a spot that’s safe. I might need a day to go see a doctor, but that’s about all I’ll need.”

Adding to that safety net is the fact that the hotel usually schedules staff trained in first aid, says human resources coordinator Ross McKenna.

“The way we do the scheduling is such that there’s never a time when someone certified in first aid isn’t on site,” says McKenna. Furthermore, O’Connor works shifts when there’s generally lots of staff around to help in the off-chance help may be needed.

McKenna insists that learning about O’Connor’s disability was a non-issue.

“He was very forthright when he disclosed during the phone screening,” McKenna says. “I’d say we’d call ourselves an equal opportunity employer. We try not to let anything deter us during the hiring process.”

McKenna adds that staff receive Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) training as well as all the standard safety education. New hires are taught about respect and anti-harassment.

All of these sound like great onboarding strategies, it’s a pity then that in an industry known for its optics, people with disabilities tend to be last on the Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) list.


According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (policyalternatives. ca) there are over 400,000 workingage Canadians with disabilities out of work, despite their availability. With the country’s current national unemployment rate hovering around 5.8 per cent, the unemployment rate for workers with “mild” disabilities sits at a rather shocking 35 per cent. That figure escalates to 74 per cent when a disability is considered “severe.”

Human Resources
November December 2022 | | 25

And yet, the World Economic Forum (WEF) states the cost attached to not hiring workers with disabilities represents up to seven per cent of GDP in some countries. But there’s a sharp return on investment—including 28 per cent higher revenues—when people with disabilities are part of an inclusive team.

Fortunately, there’s progress starting to be made in some corners of the hospitality sector and movement forward toward building disabilityinclusive teams.

One example is the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association’s (OHRMA) diversity recruitment program launched in 2018, which aimed to increase the presence of workers with disabilities within industry ranks. Working in tandem with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s Discover

Ability program, almost 200 people have been successfully placed in the tourism and hospitality sector.



Another initiative that’s been gaining traction in recent years is training programs offered by the non-profit Hospitality Workers Training Centre (

The Centre, which creates educational programs in response to market need, works with barriered people, including those marginalized by poverty, language, homelessness and disability among other obstacles says director of programs Ruth Rakoff.

“Employers are our clients; job seekers are our constituents,” says Rakoff. “We’ve had some success with people with disabilities. We’re talking about people who can do hospitality work… it’s eight hours a day on your feet.”

Rakoff says the HWTC takes a strength-based approach when working with its clients. “We work with you to uncover your skills. Everyone has something they can bring to the table.”

HWTC trainees need to be able to fulfill minimum expectations, and that includes a willingness to be available for work; show up on time, withstand the physical requirements of the job and maintain a good attitude.

Rakoff says that the burden of disclosure falls upon the worker.

26 | | November December 2022
Human Resources

“The most important thing is safety,” she affirms. “People need to understand the risk factors. For example, someone with mental health issues may present barriers but they may appear to not have barriers present,” she says referring to the fact that mental health is an invisible disability that, like epilepsy, is also episodic.

HWTC clients are supported on a oneto-one basis by a job coach or a career consultant and are eligible for up to a year’s support.

The Centre is also used to reacting reflexively to the fickle and sudden shifts in market demand.

When Covid first hit Toronto’s hospitality industry in 2020, HWTC was able to pivot and within six weeks had established a helpline and a database to support people out of work.

“We needed to change focus and shift support to displaced workers and transferrable skills,” says Rakoff. “A lot of people who came to see me were mid-to-senior managers who didn’t understand they had transferrable skills.”


With the country currently facing unprecedented labour shortages, employers are struggling to fill positions, many of them in the hospitality sector, and yet, the disability community continues to remain a largely untapped resource.

And whether the disability happens to be visible or invisible, permanent or temporary, developmental, physical

or cognitive, employers have an opportunity to cultivate a deeper, more three-dimensional workforce by broadening their recruiting strategies and recognizing that talent comes in many forms.

“We’re dealing with a labour shortage and people don’t want to work in precarious employment,” says Rakoff. “People want security and employers are going to have to change their attitudes.”

Ross McKenna thinks that workers with disabilities offer new ways of seeing in manners their able-bodied counterparts lack.

“I think a person with a disability has circumstances created for them that alter their perspective and allows them to see things differently. That perspective helps them deal with guests in similar situations as just person-to-person interactions. It gives them a deeper understanding of situations.”

For his part, O’Connor finds that a sense of gratitude has been his greatest catalyst.

“When I first started getting epilepsy symptoms I was at a point where I didn’t know which direction to turn. It made me realize you have to be thankful for what you have. I’m grateful to wake up and go to work with these new friends. My situation’s made me more thankful about work. My motto’s become ‘I have epilepsy but epilepsy doesn’t have me.’”.

Carter Hammett is a Toronto-based writer and social worker. He can be reached at

The Canadian Association for Supported Epilepsy Toronto is the the only service offering employment support to people with epilepsy in

Discover Ability Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and

A partial list of community agencies offering employment support to workers with disabilities:
November December 2022 | | 27
Human Resources


Val Upfold is a Toronto-based executive recruiter and HR consultant for the hospitality industry, starting her career as manager and sommelier at Oliver & Bonacini before building the HR department for the company. Throughout her recruiting career, she has worked with the likes of Ascari Group, Don Alfonso and Drake Hotel properties.

Ispend a lot of time in and around the lobbies, boardrooms, and dining spaces of Toronto area restaurants, hotels and hospitality companies. When I look around, I see some diversity in the entry-level positions, but further up the ladder—where the managers and executives are—not so much. We still have work to do.

Last week, over lunch with a friend who works in HR, we talked about the fact her company is currently more focused on filling vacant roles than on building diversity. We didn't have time to dive into the conversation then, but I've been thinking about it ever since. I’m sure many hospitality operators share her viewpoint—and I get where they’re coming from—it can feel too overwhelming to consider anything beyond getting staff in the door right now.

Everyone in our industry is struggling to find staff right now – for all positions and at every level. Unemployment is at an all-time low; as of September, our national jobless rate sat just above five per cent. The Great Resignation hit hospitality so hard that some operators are cutting hours because they can't fill roles. But rather than looking at diversity as a ‘todo’ that we can get to once we sort out our staffing problems, I see it as part of the solution.


As a hospitality recruiter, I know exactly how shallow the current talent market is and I see how tough it is for the leaders trying to run and staff their restaurants, hotels and hospitality companies. It’s never been more important to take advantage of every available avenue for building teams—drawing from more diverse groups of people will give you access to a wider talent pool.

Human Resources
28 | | November December 2022

People are naturally drawn to work with others who share similar backgrounds and characteristics, so when you have a more diverse group of people working in your business, you attract a broader range of applicants. Not only that, but as you build diversity, your brand becomes more attractive to a wider range of customers as well. Your customers demand more these days than just the experience they’re paying for at the moment. They want to know what your company stands for—what the values are behind your brand and diversity ranks high on the list.


The hospitality giants have put all kinds of forward-thinking, awardwinning initiatives in place to move the needle on diversity, but measures like gamifying the online recruitment process, setting up foodservice forums, and sponsoring minority groups are likely beyond the reach of many smaller operators.

What I want all hospitality leaders, recruiters, and HR professionals to hear though, is that there are simple things you can do to seek out more diverse hires even if you’re a small, independent operation with limited resources. Adjusting your mindset and your approach around hiring and promotion can be super-effective for promoting diversity in your organization. Check out the list below for 3 easy things you can get started on right away.


Instead of hiring people that will fit into your company culture as it currently stands, start thinking about what they could add. Remember, the goal is to

make things more diverse, not bring in more people who fit the current mould. Think about what you want to add and recognize that it will come in a different package than what you’re used to. For example, if creativity is an important part of your culture, recognize that the way you look at creativity won’t be the same as someone of a different ethnicity or orientation.

Try doing panel interviews or adding an hourly employee to your recruiting process. Make sure it’s someone whose life experience, background, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation is different from yours. Involving a diverse set of people in your hiring process will help you see things from a different perspective, so you can add people who complement your culture with different viewpoints and voices, rather than adding more of what you already have in place.


We all have beliefs that shape the way we see the world, and without us even being aware, they affect the decisions we make. Our unconscious bias can cause us to treat some groups of people differently and put diverse hires at a disadvantage in our hiring process. It’s helpful to be aware that your first impression may not be the best indicator of who should end up in a position if you want to hire for diversity.

To counter unconscious bias, discuss it with the selection team to build awareness of how it plays into your hiring process, and consider bringing in an outside trainer to do bias training with your management team. Taking steps like these will give visible

minorities a better chance at joining your company and rising through its ranks.


We naturally feel more comfortable talking to people who are like us –who come from similar backgrounds or who share the same culture or life experience as ours. To mentor for diversity, we need to set intentional goals with senior employees and managers—goals aimed at taking someone under their wing who is different from them.

Diversity-focused mentoring can be a powerful way to broaden the types of people you move up the ladder. As visible minorities move up in your company, it will become easier for those that follow – when junior employees and prospective hires see diverse representation in top positions, it tells them they can get there too.


If we want to achieve different outcomes—ones that lead to stronger teams—we need to change our mindset and our approach. This isn’t the time to put diversity on the back burner. It needs to be centre stage. Regardless of the resources at your disposal, and no matter what size of hospitality company you run, it is possible to hire and promote for diversity. It will help your recruitment efforts, satisfy your customers, and even help boost your bottom line.

November December 2022 | | 29
Human Resources

Book Review

Labor Crisis in Hospitality, Tourism and Event Industry Finding Innovative Solutions for Recruitment and Retention of


From the author: The Hospitality, Tourism and Event Industry is an immense sector that involves economic activities that directly or indirectly contribute to or depend upon travel, tourism and events. This sector contributes greatly to a country’s gross domestic product.

The Hospitality, Tourism & Event Industry globally is finding it challenging to attract and retain Millennials. A strong hospitality industry is fundamental to global economic prosperity. Demographic statistics show that because of lower birth rates, people aged 15-24 are declining in developed nations thus resulting in a shortage of available resources to fill jobs in the hospitality industry. This issue is now a crisis! Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the discussion was about Labor Shortages however, the pandemic has pushed it to a Crisis, although there is a silver lining where organizations have been forced to adopt innovative practices.

The central question my book will address is what do you need to do to attract and retain Millennials who will become 75% of the workforce globally by 2025 which is just around the corner. For the past forty years, I have dedicated my working life to the hospitality, tourism and event industry as an entrepreneur, academic and consultant. I am familiar with the various facets of training and managing human capital which is so critical to the success of

your organization and the industry as a whole. For those of us so closely immersed in the industry, be it restaurant managers, executive chefs, hotel leaders or airline crew, we are witnessing this shortage and are faced with a new challenge of understanding the broadest demographic available to enter our workforce yet without much interest to do so: Millennials.

I wanted to understand why Millennials are choosing to either leave the industry or reject entering, so I listened to them and the insights from our conversations form the core of the discussions and recommendations in this book.

The findings from my conversations with Millennials led to eight key factors that affect Millennials’ job satisfaction which I will cover in detail in each of the chapters in this book. They are inconsistent application of organizational policies by supervisors, culture of favouring seniority, opportunities for advancement, baby boomer culture, communication, training & development, compensation, human connection & work-life balance. My hope is that you will benefit from paying close attention to the themes that emerged from my research for this book.

May We Recommend
30 | | November December 2022

Nomadix hospitality solutions

Nomadix Inc., a tech firm in hospitality and multitenant industries, showcased its suite of solutions at the Western Canadian Lodging Conference in Vancouver, October 24-25, with partner MBSI WAV LLC. The company continues to focus on its expansion throughout Canada by working closely with partners to create better, more connected experiences across the region.

Nomadix’s event showcase included:

Nomadix Networks: A portfolio that includes internet gateways and a range of complementary wireless WLAN Access Points, WLAN Controllers and LAN Switches, which creates an end-to-end network solution from a single vendor for procurement and support at an unbeatable performance-to-cost ratio.

Nomadix Alerts: A wearable 2-in-1 staff safety device that helps safeguard isolated workers from threats and harassment—including fall detection—while providing Wi-Fi analytics as employees roam around the site.

Nomadix Casting: Allows guests to automatically pair their personal devices to their in-room TV when they connect to the hotel Wi-Fi and then easily cast their preferred shows and other content from thousands of other popular streaming apps. It eliminates the need to remember passwords and the security concerns of logging into public devices.

Angie by Nomadix Voice Assistants: The multilingual digital concierge (available via both in-room devices and mobile app) helps fulfill guest requests, answers common questions about the property and creates a contactless, next-generation hotel experience. Angie combines multiple devices (e.g., alarm clocks, telephones, Bluetooth speakers) and integrates with other in-room IoT and smart technology. Its natural language voice AI engine allows hotels to control questions and responses to assist stretched staff and provide upsell and advertising revenue.

For more information on Nomadix hospitality solutions, visit:

May We Recommend
November December 2022 | | 31

foliot furniture

Manufacturing differently since 1991, Foliot furniture’s mandate is to create adaptable and stimulating environments that help us live better. Foliot has been a trusted name in the educational industry for over 25 years. Its first furniture line was developed for daycares and elementary schools. In 1997, the company began working with universities to help them meet their growing student housing demands and to reimagine their learning environments.

In 2009, Foliot expanded into the hospitality business and is known for its innovative laminate furniture and its ability to produce original, quality products that are cost-effective, reliable, durable, and delivered on time.

Foliot’s hospitality products are designed for high performance, engineered to meet hospitality and brand-specific construction requirements, with competitive lead times and price points.

May We Recommend
32 | | November December 2022



AS HOTEL DIRECTOR for the new Ritz-Carlton yacht, Evrima, MarieElise Lallemand is a hospitality pioneer. She is the first hotelier to be responsible for a hotel brand at sea. For decades the cruise industry has divided its staff into sailing and hotel crews. But while these brands were recognized for their cruise product, they didn’t partner with or launch an accommodations brand. The accommodation function has historically been secondary to the cruise.

Lallemand has the unique role of translating an iconic luxury brand from land to sea. The challenges, situations and operations are unique. Nonetheless, Lallemand says, “We really brought the Ritz-Carlton culture and service standards to the yacht. We live by the credo, motto, employee promise and service values. We

replicate this on a daily basis.

I have my line up every day at 10:15 and every day I pick an item on one of the blue cards. For November 14th it was ‘I own and immediately resolve guest problems.’ Every day we discuss how we enliven this service value and about the brand values.”

Given the return of the cruise sector and announcements by two other luxury hotel brands to launch their own yachts, there is no room to be slack about standards.

Lallemand’s background—and passion—is luxury hotels. Before being head-hunted by The Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection she opened a Mandarin Oriental in Marrakech and managed Mandarin Orientals in Washington D.C. and London as well as other European luxury properties.

“I was skeptical at first, but along the recruitment process, it struck me that this was the first luxury hotel doing this type of thing. I realized this was a once-in-alifetime opportunity to be able to learn and grow. I know how to run a hotel on land, but there are so many things to learn running a hotel at sea.” Other motivating factors included the beautiful setting on the yacht, at sea and ports of call.

The 149-suite Evrima has a total crew complement of 243. “There are 56 in the nautical and technical team[s]. The rest fall under me,” says Lallemand.

The 180+ crew members she oversees as the hotel director include a sommelier (Evrima has a 15,000-bottle wine cellar), 15 bartenders, 40 F&B service staff, a 41-member culinary team, 36

34 | | November December 2022

housekeepers, 11 entertainers (musicians, DJ and artists plus art concierge), 14 guest services specialists, 10 spa staff, five in administration, two in information technology, three handling shore excursions, two boutique workers, plus a doctor and registered nurse in the medical centre, which includes a two-bed ward.

In addition to their regular functions, everyone has secondary emergency roles. She says, “on the yacht you are your own firefighter, your own first responder. If something happens you can’t call anyone. So, every week we go through an exercise in different places on the yacht, for different scenarios, whether on board or weather/destination related.” There’s a lot to learn for someone whose only previous cruise experience was at 25 on a 30-cabin boat in the Caribbean.

Provisions are another ongoing challenge. Lallemand says, “You need to plan your provisions two months in advance, you have to think of your menus, of your quantities, everything has to have a role, we can’t extend walls. If you receive two of something you can’t always send it back so it’s preparation and planning for provisions because it’s a critical aspect of being able to deliver the experience to the guest.”

Turnaround days when guests are disembarking and embarking present another unique set of challenges. “With a hotel, you always have your lobby and reception desk, and it’s always the same city. The terminal in Lisbon is not the same as in Barcelona or in Bridgetown, so you always have to prepare for it and the layout and the services. Sometimes you have to go to customs and immigration,

sometimes you don’t. Sometimes the terminal is far away from where the ship is docked and you have to organize a shuttle. You don’t know if you will dock starboard or portside because the shelves for the provisions are not the same. So, there are always a lot of aspects linked to where you are, the ship itself and the tides and levels of the tides. In the Caribbean, it’s not that much, but two weeks ago we were in Lisbon and we had a conveyor to load provisions but the tide was bigger than anticipated and we couldn’t use the conveyor anymore,” she explains. This meant calling in a set of small mobile cranes to complete loading.

“Sometimes when you arrive in port you arrange to offload everything from starboard because you always offload the garbage first and then the provisions are loaded.

Marie-Elise Lallemand, hotel director, Ritz-Carlton yacht, Evrima.
November December 2022 | | 35

But suddenly the harbour master says no you have to moor port side so have to move everything. All these things you have to think about when you run a hotel at sea.”

What hasn’t been a challenge is filling positions. The company received over 40,000 applications for approximately 250 positions. The hires represent the one per cent serving the one per cent.

Lallemand says, “More than half of the staff have worked on a ship before so they know what the living and working conditions are.” It is a lifestyle choice for some—either to work at sea to support a family at home or see the world. How Evrima’s [crew members] are treated is setting a new standard for sea-based employment. On large cruise ships, crew and staff live and socialize on below water-line decks. In port, they may have three hours of free time, a third of which is lost in the crowd of passengers and crew

disembarking at the same time. While Evrima crew quarters are still on lower decks, the yacht has allocated the top deck—deck 11—a crew-only recreation space with a sun deck and bar/disco. Lallemand plans to introduce programming, like yoga. Plus, since Evrima has longer port calls, the crew has more shore time. One breakfast server on Evrima’s christening cruise said it was great to be able to linger over coffee in a café in Tenerife, and not have to rush back to line up to board the ship.

Evrima also allows couples to work on board. The only condition is they can’t work in the same department. “They have to work in different departments, you cannot be a subordinate to another.”

Lallemand arrived in July at the shipyard where Evrima was still a construction zone. “What it took to go from a construction site in July to be able to deliver what we are able to deliver today in terms

of culinary and guest experience is fascinating, as is what it takes to have this ship sailing. It’s difficult to fathom what is involved behind every little thing to keep us safe and what we can’t see behind the walls.”

About the interview

Allan Lynch interviewed Lallemand for STAY Magazine on November 14, day 10 of Evrima’s 13-day christening cruise from Lisbon to Barbados. Lallemand is soon to go on leave and says she wonders what will happen while she is not on the yacht.

READ “Part One: Led by a Canadian executive, Ritz-Carlton launches its yacht collection”

36 | | November December 2022




• A long-term focus on economic growth, with just over 60 per cent of admissions in the economic class by 2025

THE CANADIAN ECONOMY HAS EXPERIENCED one of the fastest recoveries from Covid-19 among advanced economies but is now facing critical labour market shortages causing uncertainty for Canadian businesses and workers.

The federal government has released Canada’s 2023–2025 Immigration Levels Plan. The plan positions immigration as a strategy to help businesses find workers and to attract the skills required in key sectors to manage the social and economic challenges Canada will face in the decades ahead.

Last year Canada welcomed over 405,000 newcomers—the most ever welcomed in a single year. The government has set targets in the new levels plan of 465,000 permanent residents in 2023, 485,000 in 2024 and 500,000 in 2025. The plan also brings an increased focus on attracting newcomers to different regions of the country, including small towns and rural communities.

• Using new features in the Express Entry system to welcome newcomers with the required skills and qualifications in sectors facing acute labour shortages such as health care, manufacturing, building trades and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)

• Increases in regional programs to address targeted local labour market needs, through the Provincial Nominee Program, the Atlantic Immigration Program, and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

• Reuniting more families faster

• Ensuring that at least 4.4 per cent of new permanent residents outside Quebec are Francophone

• Support for global crises by providing a haven to those facing persecution, including by expanding the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot

November December 2022 | | 37



With a focus on regional immigration, this plan builds on ongoing work to strengthen Canada’s immigration system and spread the benefits of immigration to communities across the country, including supporting the vitality of Francophone communities outside of Quebec.

Regional economic immigration programs, like the Provincial Nominee Program, are meant to contribute to the sustainable growth of our country. This year’s plan outlines year-over-year growth so that Ottawa may continue to support provinces and territories in attracting the skilled newcomers they need to address the labour shortage and demographic challenges in their regions.

Over the past year, the government has reportedly made improvements to address key challenges faced by those using the immigration system and will continue to streamline and digitalize the immigration system to further expedite processing and give users the experience they expect and deserve.

This plan aims to cement Canada’s place among the world’s top destinations for talent, creating a strong foundation for continued economic growth, while also reuniting family members with their loved ones and fulfilling Canada’s humanitarian commitments.

“Last year, we welcomed the most newcomers in a single year in our history. This year’s Immigration Levels Plan will help businesses find the workers they need, set Canada on a path that will contribute to our long-term success, and allow us to make good on key commitments to vulnerable people fleeing violence, war and persecution.”

– The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

• The Immigration Levels Plan is a projection of how many permanent residents will be admitted to Canada in a given year and sets targets for overall admissions per immigration category. Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Minister must table the plan in Parliament each year.

• Immigration accounts for almost 100 per cent of Canada’s labour force growth, and, by 2032, it’s projected to account for 100 per cent of Canada’s population growth.

• Canada’s aging population means that the worker-toretiree ratio is expected to shift from 7:1 50 years ago to 2:1 by 2035.

• During the 2021 Census, nearly 1 in 4 people counted were or had been a landed immigrant or permanent resident in Canada, the highest proportion since Confederation and the largest proportion among G7 countries.

• Just over 1.3 million new immigrants settled permanently in Canada from 2016 to 2021, the highest number of recent immigrants recorded in a Canadian census.

• The Immigration Levels Plan considers extensive engagement with provincial and territorial representatives, as well as public opinion research and stakeholder consultations.

• The Action Plan for Official Languages –2018-2023: Investing in Our Future provided nearly $500 million over five years in support of official languages, including $40.8 million for Francophone immigration initiatives.

• Canadians across the country can see how newcomers are benefiting local communities through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s Immigration Matters campaign.

• Under the Canada-Quebec Accord, Quebec establishes its own immigration levels.

38 | | November December 2022
a temporary foreign worker 2023‒2025 Immigration Levels Plan and Supplementary Information 2022 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration 2022 Stakeholder Consultations on Immigration Levels
Accord Plan to modernize
immigration system November December 2022 | | 39
path to a
Canada Hire a permanent foreign

INNvestment Canada Q3 2022

Colliers Hotels

Intelligence 40 | | November December 2022

Q3 transaction highlights

Hotel investment sales rose to reach over $520 million in the third quarter, outpacing Q1 and Q2’s $180 million and $385 million totals, respectively with a strong showing of higher ticket price assets boosting overall volume, led by a handful of urban hotels that were acquired for alternate use or redevelopment.

Year-to-date volume is now pacing at approximately $1.1 billion with just over 70 per cent acquired for ongoing hotel use.

No distressed sales occurred in Q3, with only four recorded for the year in the second quarter, comprising just 1 per cent of year-to-date volume.

Through the third quarter, price per key metrics averaged $140,300. When excluding alternate use deals, hotel price per key metrics averaged $130,000, on par with comparable 2019 metrics for the same period.

The cost of capital has no doubt increased throughout the year due to the rising interest rate environment. Headwinds in the capital markets are expected to impact overall activity in the hotel transaction market to some extent. Fortunately for the sector, a strongerthan-anticipated rebound of both top-line and bottomline performance at the operational level is providing much-needed relief to owners and is also positively impacting hotel transaction activity.

November December 2022 | | 41
Source: Colliers Hotels

Q3 operational update

Travel came roaring back over the traditionally peak summer months across Canada in the third quarter. While the recovery has not been even for all asset classes and markets, on a national basis top-line revenues have outperformed 2019 levels since June.

Pent-up demand, largely fueled by domestic travel, drove a sharp rebound that has been well received by lodging investors and the industry.

The vast majority of remaining travel restrictions have ended, notably all border requirements, including vaccination, mandatory use of the ArriveCAN app, and any testing and quarantine requirements

for travellers entering Canada as of October 1st which should support increasedw international tourism to the country.

Despite a series of airport challenges that began in the spring and were chronic through the summer, air travel is nearing pre-pandemic levels.

Longer-term labour shortages are expected to normalize, and increasing cross border travel should continue to help buoy large cities and resort destinations across the country.

Additional immigration targets recently announced by the Federal Government are also a step in the right direction.

Source: STR
42 | | November December 2022
Canadian Hotel Monthly RevPAR Recovery 2022 vs. 2019

Q3 transaction list


(1) Acquired for conversion to alternate use.

(2) Sale details confidential.

(3) Two property resort portfolio. Leasehold interest. Sale details confidential.

(4) Acquired for eventual redevelopment to a larger upscale hotel.

Note: Trends are based on hotel transactions of at least $1 million.

In the past 30 years, Colliers’ Hotels team has acted on the sale or financing of more than 850 hotels and resorts in all provinces across Canada and the Caribbean.

Toronto Suite 1400, 181 Bay Street Toronto, ON M5J 2V1

Montreal Suite 400, 1800 Avenue McGill College Montreal, QC H3A 3J6

Vancouver Suite 1900, 200 Granville Street Vancouver, BC V6C 2R6

Calgary Suite 900, 335 8th Avenue SW Calgary, AB T2P 1C9

Nassau PO Box 59223-281 Nassau, The Bahamas

Source: Colliers Hotels
November December 2022 | | 43
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Victoria, B.C.

At STAY Magazine, we’re taking Canada’s temperature. We’re asking owners, operators and managers across the country how things are going for them and what it’s like in their region. We’re also asking them to read the crystal ball for 2023. Our first installment comes from out West; a conversation with Bill Lewis, general manager of the boutique Magnolia Hotel & Spa in Victoria, B.C.

A: We’ve had an amazing summer. We prided ourselves in getting back to pre-pandemic service levels as quickly as possible, and we’ve been back for a while. I’m sitting on a lot of tourism boards and I see what’s happening. We’re blessed that we’re a little smaller (than some hotels) because we can scale up faster. If you have 500-1000 rooms it’s a multi-year challenge.

Q: What are your numbers like?

A: We’re actually ahead of prepandemic numbers in both occupancy and rates. We’ve had four months in a row in record territory. Fall is

usually quite strong in Victoria, and we expect strong numbers through midNovember. The buildup to Christmas and the holidays are usually good. Then January-February-March it slows down. But those are good months for renovation projects. We have 20 bathrooms to re-do and deep cleaning and painting to do, so it’s okay. We’re transitioning from leisure to business this time of year. We’re starting to see the beginnings of decent-sized conventions coming back. They’ve been one of the last things to trickle back, but it’s starting to happen, with larger groups and conventions coming back in better numbers. I see it on the streets and in restaurants. We don’t take huge blocks of people because we’re a small hotel. But we get lots of requests for

buyouts of the restaurant. We’ve had a couple of weddings, too.

Q: Is staffing an issue for you?

A: Staffing is a challenge for some positions. Some areas are harder than others, such as housekeeping and kitchen staff. But we’ve generally been able to keep full staff through the summer and into the fall. We haven’t had to limit occupancies or services, but it’s been close at times. Some businesses in Victoria have had to limit things due to staffing. You see more restaurants only open five days a week and almost nobody is open for lunch. Our restaurant, The Courtney Room, is open for lunch, however.

Independent Voices
November December 2022 | | 45
Q: How's the recovery going for your hotel?

A: We’ve been giving people a wage increase twice a year. The demand is high enough for Victoria that things have worked out fine for us financially.

inclusive places in Puerto Vallarta and the Mayan Riviera. The prices compared to a few years ago are probably 25 per cent higher. A place that was $2,000 three years ago is edging close to $3,000 now per person. I told our kids, “Keep an eye on it; there are limits.”

Q: What’s your take on the coming year?

Q: Were you surprised at how quickly travel has rebounded?

A: Yes, I’d say the recovery has been a lot faster than anyone expected for sure. We expected a decent summer. No question we thought we’d see strong numbers, but maybe not like this.

A: Prices have certainly risen. We wanted to be at a point where getting great rates and we could take care of our people. We want them to want to work here. We have strong HR platforms and we can develop people from within. We’ve been able to do that the last little while. I’ve been looking at trips for the family and there’s some sticker shock. We’ve looked at all-

A: I have a pretty good feeling for next year. We’re still seeing a lot of travel demand. FIT, cruises, lots of demand. I’m hearing promising signs for 2023 from a travel and convention perspective for Vancouver and Victoria, and we hope to build off that.

A: I’m a little hesitant given potential health concerns. We do worry about a hiccup, but we haven’t seen one yet.

Independent Voices 46 | | November December 2022
Q: Have you increased wages to keep staff?
Q: Does that mean higher prices?
Q: I take it you don’t want to say we’re out of the woods, right?


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