By Kate Sheppard
Embodying the University of Guelph’s core value to ‘improve life’, the Hotel Association of Canada Guelph Student Chapter (HAC) continually offers students opportunities to experience the lodging industry and increase their knowledge of current events beyond the classroom. An eight-person executive team of Guelph’s HAC student chapter actively work to create engaging student learning events each and every semester. One such event was held on Friday, February 28th, with students visiting some of Toronto’s top hotels, including tours of the Bisha Hotel, Le Germain Hotel Mercer, and the Bond Place Hotel.
The day started at the Bisha Hotel where Rachel Gobin, Human Resources & Executive Coordinator, had an exciting morning planned out. Students were greeted by the leaders from across the property who offered up their professional experience and personal stories. General Manager Aaron Harrison joined the group to share his passion for the industry, provide words of encouragement, and connect with the students through an informal question and answer period. After introductions, two sales managers took students around the property to see the food & beverage outlets, rooms and public areas. As a relatively new property in Toronto, students were impressed with the modern design elements of all the spaces – from the rooftop restaurant Kost, to the rock and roll design of the seventh floor by Lenny Kravitz.
In the afternoon, students were able to enjoy time at Le Germain Hotel Mercer, hosted by Friedrich Wolf, Guest Service Manager. In counterpoint to Bisha Hotel, the more neutral tones of the Hotel Mercer, including the luxurious design of the restaurant, event space, and guest rooms were showcased during the tour. An understanding of the impact construction can have on a property was demonstrated with part of Mercer St. being developed. The two-story suite with a balcony was an impressive room for students to view.
The final stop was the Bond Place Hotel, previously a family owned and operated property, now part of the Silver Hospitality Group. Kevin Lee, Front Office Manager, and Derrick Finbow, Housekeeping Manager, toured the group through different room types while mentioning future changes to the property. As the tour concluded, further advice was gained from each leader on how to succeed in the hospitality industry.
As a bookend, on Monday, March 2nd, the HAC student chapter hosted an “Afternoon with Accor” in PJs Restaurant on the University of Guelph campus. Students in the Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management program had the great opportunity to get up-close and personal with eight senior leaders from Accor North and Central America, including Sara Glenn, SVP of Operations Canada, Caribbean, Central America & Mexico, and Tracey Kalemeris, VP of Talent and Culture to alumnus Ian Ricci, VP of Development Canada & Caribbean. The afternoon was an intimate group of students, faculty, and leaders discussing Accor in depth, and the changing faces of leadership. Valuable insights were gained on the progression of the company and the changing landscape of the hospitality industry. The networking at the end of the afternoon engaged leaders and students in an informal question and answer session.
“We’re proud that Accor offers the opportunity to grow, learn and enjoy the incredible benefits of working with one of the worlds’ leading companies, providing opportunities for our employees to be limitless in their career,” said Sara Glenn. “So many people know Fairmont, but Accor has 14 other terrific brands in eight North American countries, like Sofitel, Novotel, Delano, and so many more. We also have a global footprint with over 5000 hotels in 110 countries, offering a world of opportunity, around the corner or all over the globe. We’d love to see the students of the University of Guelph join us!”
Kate Sheppard is Co-President of the Hotel Association of Canada Guelph Student Chapter.