HAC: New board structure because it's 2019

TORONTO — The Hotel Association of Canada conference featured CBC's Suhana Meharchand as host, and unveiled the  more inclusive HAC Board of Directors — because it's 2019!


HAC host Suhana Meharchand, national news anchor with CBC News Network.

HAC host Suhana Meharchand, national news anchor with CBC News Network.

By Colleen Isherwood, Editor

TORONTO — The Hotel Association of Canada annual conference, held Feb. 27 and 28 at the Delta by Marriott Hotel Toronto Airport, featured Suhana Meharchand as host. Among the many news stories at the conference's the announcement that HAC has updated the structure of its Board of Directors to be more inclusive.

Alison Evans, interim president of the HAC, told the assembled hoteliers and suppliers that, “After considerable assessment, research and design, our board and then membership approved a new membership model that will diversify and grow HAC’s financial base to support long-term strategic advocacy and other programs. 

“This initiative allows us to increase our engagement channels and ensure a more diverse board,” she announced.

Of particular importance, earlier in 2019 HAC put a new diversity policy in place with a goal of reaching at least 20 per cent female representation by 2020. HAC is pleased to report that this goal was met one year early, an important milestone for the governance of the Association. The 2019 board includes five women members.

Although Evans did not specifically say it, the move towards having more women on the board makes sense — because it's 2019!  Back in 2013, when CLN prepared the HAC 100th Anniversary Magazine, Nora Fortis, then of Fortis Hotels, looked at a photo of the Board of Directors, and laughed because there she was in a pink suit, surrounded by a sea of men in black.


At one point the HAC Board of Directors consisted mainly of presidents of provincial associations and their chairs, plus some representatives from hotel brands and management companies. 

The new board will include 20 voting members consisting of five ownership companies, three management companies, six provincial associations and six corporate brand members. There will also be direct non-voting members including affiliates, city hotel associations, educators and students; and indirect non-voting members consisting of independent hotels and branded properties.

Jonathan Lund new HAC chair

Jonathan Lund, regional vice-president, hotel operations for IHG, is the new chair of the Hotel Association of Canada for a three-year term, taking over from Vito Curalli, executive director Canada, Latin America & International Sales for Hilton Worldwide, who has held the position for the past two years.

“Jonathan has been a valued member of our Board since 2016, and during that time the association has
benefitted greatly from his leadership and expertise,” said Evans. “As we
continue to implement our strategic plan, Jonathan will continue to bring immense value to the

With more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry in both Canada and the United Kingdom,
Jonathan leads the Canadian team to support over 200 Canadian owned and managed hotels operating
under eight brands in the Americas region.

“The hotel sector – and the world in which it operates – is evolving,” said Lund. “I look forward to working
with the members, the national Board of Directors and staff at the Hotel Association of Canada to make
effective changes to benefit the hotel and lodging industry.”

“I would like to thank Vito for his exceptional leadership and service as chair, guiding the Hotel
Association of Canada through the development of our strategic plan,” said Evans.

The Hotel Association of Canada’s 2019 Board of Directors includes:

Jim Bence, president & CEO, Saskatchewan Hotel & Hospitality Association; James Chase, president & CEO, British Columbia Hotel Association; Tony Elenis, president & CEO, Ontario Restaurant, Hotel & Motel Association; Xavier Gret, CEO (président-directeur general), Association Hôtellerie Québec; Scott Jocelyn, president & CEO, Manitoba Hotel Association; and Steven Watters, executive director of operations, Sawridge Group of Companies (Alberta Hotel &
Lodging Association).

Provincial Associations:

Corporate Brands:
Sara Glenn, senior vice-president, operations, Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean, AccorHotels; Neil Hornsby, director, marketing & strategic partnerships, Best Western Hotels & Resorts; Brian Leon, president, Choice Hotels Canada Inc.; Jonathan Lund, regional vice-president, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG); Irwin Prince, president & COO, Realstar Hospitality; and Roz Winegrad, AVP, owner and franchise Services, Marriott Canada.

Management Companies:
Anthony Cohen, EVP & partner, Crescent Hotels & Resorts Canada; Philippe Gadbois, senior vice-president, operations, Atlific Hotels; and Suzanne Gatrell, president & CEO, Kingsbridge Management.

Ownership Companies:
Lydia Chen, president & CEO, InnVest Hotels LP; Mark Hope, vice-president, development & revenue strategy, Coast Hotels; Didier Obeuf, vice-president, pperations, Groupe Germain Hôtels; Robert Pratt, president and CEO, Sandman and Sutton Place Hotels; and Marc Staniloff, president and CEO, Superior Lodging Corp.

Vito Curalli, executive director, Canada, Latin America & International Sales Hilton Worldwide; and Sarah Law, regional director, franchise operations, Americas Radisson Hotel Group.

The HAC board meets four times yearly to discuss a
broad range of industry and association-related issues. The 2019 Board of Directors was elected by
HAC’s Voting Members in accordance with HAC Bylaws. 

A focus on women

The conference did have something of a focus on women — with the witty and energetic Meharchand serving as host, serial entrepreneur Michele Romanow as one of the keynote speakers, a session on sex trafficking (where 95 per cent of the victims are women), and a special Sip and Social inspired by the women in Canada's hotel industry and sponsored by Marriott immediately following the conference.

HAC Award of Excellence Winners

HAC Award Winners and Sponsors.

HAC Award Winners and Sponsors.

The Humanitarian Award, sponsored by P&G Professional, went to Cambridge Suites Hotel, Sydney, N.S., and was accepted by Michele Bianchini, GM.

The Human Resources Award, sponsored by JRoss Hospitality, went to Campus Tower Suite Hotel, Edmonton, and was accepted on behalf of Steve White, GM, who could not attend.

The Green Key Environment Award went to Pacific Gateway Vancouver Airport, and was accepted by Dan Morin, director of engineering.

The Aspiring Hotelier Award went to Megan Reid, Delta Hotels by Marriott Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort, Victoria, B.C.

The Most Impressive Hotel Repositioning Award, sponsored by HVS, went to Embassy Suites by Hilton Toronto Airport, and was accepted by Dr. Steve Gupta, founder and chairman of Easton's Group of Hotels.

The Revenue Performance Team of the Year Award, sponsored by IDeaS, A SAS Company, went to TownePlace Suites by Marriott, Red Deer, Alta., and was accepted by Linda Hunter, GM.

Atlific Hotels was well-represented among the winners, as Cambridge Suites Hotel, Sydney, N.S., and TownePlace Suites by Marriott Red Deer, Alta., are both run by Atlific.