MISSISSAUGA — Peter Eriksson, general manager of the 374-room Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale, has seen many changes since he arrived at the hotel from Sweden, almost two years ago.
Previously known as the Delta Meadowvale, it became a Hilton in 2015, shortly after it was purchased by Barney River, a private real estate investment and management company based in Toronto, which also owns Hilton Toronto and the Westin Harbour Castle.
“It was a very quick transition, as the owners already had a relationship with Hilton,” Eriksson told CLN in an interview. “It was very quick and very successful. The hotel has performed really well from a financial and guest services point of view.
“It's a very warm hotel, and the team is exceptional, and that is our absolute strength,” he added.
The hotel has completed the first phase of a multi-year renovation. The new, bright, airy lobby was designed by Toronto-based Chapi Chapo Design. Set on 15 acres of landscaped parkland, the resort-style conference hotel has also enhanced its grounds, and outdoor guest and meeting spaces.
“The lobby refurbishment was a big change,” Eriksson said. “It needs to be simple and straightforward — a light, bright, quiet, busy space. There's no need to rush [all the renovations] at once. The owners have a long-term philosophy, working step by step to improve hotel performance.”
“We live off groups”
The hotel has 40,000 square feet of meeting space. “We live off groups,” said Eriksson. “We need sports teams and associations on weekends. It's a transient area known as “pill hill” because of the number of pharmaceutical companies. There are a lot of transient, business guests.”
Despite the waterslide and gym, the Hilton Mississauga/Medowvale is not a family destination per se. “Mississauga is not a weekend destination like Niagara-on-the-Lake,” Eriksson said.
Eriksson and his team are taking a creative approach to meetings. “We have live barbecues and music, and we have an ice cream bike that can be used for indoor or outdoor events. “Simple ice cream, packaged in a certain way, turns into a fun experience.”
Back of the house
“We need to make sure people are comfortable in the setting, to do the small things that make people come back. We want to make sure the team enjoys it — that's equally important.”
To this end, the renovation has also extended to the member areas for the hotel's team of 200. They repainted the change areas, which are now brightly lit and pleasant. “If it's good for the front of the house, it's good for the back of the house,” Eriksson said. In addition to the change areas, there is a team member restaurant and a relaxation room with soft seating, computers and books.
They are also looking at changing offices to include standing/sitting desks. “I'm 6' 3″ and I have the same desk size as someone half my size,” Eriksson said.
Lagom in a Canadian context
Eriksson came to Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale from the five-star Hilton Stockholm Slussen in Stockholm, Sweden. He talked to CLN about the Scandinavian concept of Lagom (sense of balance, of things being “just right”) compared to Canadian hospitality.
“Lagom is a phrase that is almost laughed at in Sweden,” he said. “It means average, in the middle. Things are minimalistic but not too minimalistic; things are durable, just right. You'll find very few Swedish people who are larger than life — they're mild mannered, in the middle.”
“As a society, Sweden and Canada are quite similar. Weather-wise, we're fairly similar. Canadians are extremely friendly, open to change and helpful. It's easy to get into the society. My kids didn't speak a word of English when they came, but it's so easy to get into things.
“Hospitality here is warmer, friendlier with more service, not as efficient. We've taken away middle managers jobs to save even more time [in Sweden], but that's almost more stressful. It's more relaxed in Canada.”