Times are a-changin' at Resorts of Ontario

ROO Conference organizers from left: Jo-anne Snyder (Beachwood resort); Jason Traviss (The Commodities Group); Heather Ford (Green Acres Inn); Bob Law (The Briars Resort); Sharon Mahussier (Spectacle Lake Lodge) and Eric Miglin (Killarney Lodge). Missing is Sandy Brough of Southview Cottages Resort. Photos: Lisa Makin.

ROO Conference organizers from left: Jo-anne Snyder (Beachwood resort); Jason Traviss (The Commodities Group); Heather Ford (Green Acres Inn); Bob Law (The Briars Resort); Sharon Mahussier (Spectacle Lake Lodge) and Eric Miglin (Killarney Lodge). Missing is Sandy Brough of Southview Cottages Resort. Photos: Lisa Makin.

By Colleen Isherwood, Editor

ORILLIA, Ont. — For the first time, the new president of Resorts of Ontario is not an resort owner/operator, but rather regional director at Clublink, Canada's largest owner and operator of golf clubs and resorts. Granted, Jerry Feltis has lots of hotel management experience in his background too. 

He takes over from Dianne Hounsome, who has steered the association through the a tumultuous two years of labour legislation changes, as the Ontario Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne passed Bill 148, which made all kinds of changes to the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act. Then the PC government of Doug Ford passed Bill 47 — a much more business-friendly bill that necessitated its own set of changes. 

From left: David Sammut (Grace's husband); Grace Sammut and Kevin Forget of Destination Ontario, emcee at the Oscar-themed President's Evening.

From left: David Sammut (Grace's husband); Grace Sammut and Kevin Forget of Destination Ontario, emcee at the Oscar-themed President's Evening.

As she handed over the reins to Feltis during the President's Evening and Reception, Hounsome made an analogy stressing the role of Grace Sammut, managing director of ROO, who has been at the association for almost 30 years. “We are the car, and Grace is the driver,” she said. She also paid tribute to ROO's office staff members, Michelle Duff and Mary MacIsaac, who have been there almost as long as Sammut.

A fifth generation owner/operator of Bayview-Wildwood Resort, Hounsome also announced that she would be taking some time off from the resort starting in September, and that her nephew Jason Stanton will take over her responsibilities. “I've had a patient family, husband, children, etc. How many times have I had to leave a family event because something was happening at the resort?” Bayview-Wildwood was sold to new owners recently. 

She will still stay on the board at ROO. Hounsome also noted that for the first time in many years, there would be no one with the surname Downing on the board, as Mark Downing completed his term.

Dianne Hounsome and her gavels, presented by Jerry Feltis at the President's Evening, which had an Oscar Night theme.

Dianne Hounsome and her gavels, presented by Jerry Feltis at the President's Evening, which had an Oscar Night theme.

Hounsome welcomed Feltis as president and accepted her award for being president, but was reluctant to hand over her gavel. “The woman lives to have a gavel — there's one on the award, but that's not enough,” said Feltis, presenting her with her own gavel as a gift from the association.

Resorts of Ontario was established in 1942, and its members include resorts, lodges, country inns, American Plan resort hotels and housekeeping cottage resorts. Resorts of Ontario‚Äôs mission is to serve, represent and further the collective interests by providing marketing, membership and advocacy services for the resorts, lodges and inns of Ontario's tourism industry.

The sale of Bayview-Wildwood is one of the changes among members of the Resorts of Ontario organization. The Briars resort was also sold recently, and former proprietors of the family-owned business, Sheila Maxwell and Hugh Sibbald, are seeking new opportunities. In this issue of Canadian Lodging News, there is news about Hockey Valley Resort, owned by the Adamo Family, that was recently sold to Sunray Group. 

With all the changes afoot, Feltis noted that it makes sense that ROO has mandated Peter Watson and Sean Billing to undertake a review of the association's role over the next two, three or five years. Watson and Billing participated on a panel at the conference on dealing with the labour shortage. Read more.

While change is constant, ROO has a solid membership base, and for the past four years has partnered with FOBBA (Federation of Ontario Bed and Breakfast Association), hosting their conferences jointly. FOBBA is the organized, law-abiding side of the Bed and Breakfast sector.

Roger Brooks.

Roger Brooks.

The conference consisted of timely presentations on labour law changes, how cannabis legislation impacts business, labour shortages, best practices and social media. Then on the last day of the conference, Roger Brooks of Roger Brooks International, had a presentation titled “Be Extraordinary,” that provided an in-depth analysis of members' websites. This is the third year Brooks has been featured at the ROO conference. He was back by popular demand, this time via video link.

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