Royal Roads Tourism

Victoria, BC


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A day in the Life of Alejandra Lemus at the Fairmont Château Laurier

Hello! Bonjour! Hola!

Fairmont Château Laurier (Photo by Alejandra Lemus)

Fairmont Château Laurier (Photo by Alejandra Lemus)

I am currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Global Tourism Management program at Royal Roads and I am completing my internship at the magnificent Fairmont Château Laurier!

Fairmont Château Laurier is located in the beautiful city of Ottawa, Ontario. It was built in 1912 and it has 429 guest rooms. This property it is a landmark for the city and Canada. It has held historic events and has become the second home for many famous people that have transformed Canada’s history.  The hotel it is situated in the intersection of Rideau Street and Mackenzie Avenue.  This location gives the hotel a competitive advantage with its unique views to the Rideau River, Rideau Canal, Parliament Hill, and ByWard Market.

 

Source: Fairmont Château Laurier

Source: Fairmont Château Laurier

Did I tell you that I just moved from British Columbia?! Well, I certainly did. I have the amazing opportunity of living with an extraordinary local family in The Glebe neighborhood. This area has wonderful little stores that every time that you come back, you find something to fall in love with.  The close proximity of my living area to the hotel has given me the opportunity to bike to work as much as possible, and that is how I start my day to work.

Rideau Canal (Photo by Alejandra Lemus)

Rideau Canal (Photo by Alejandra Lemus)

 

From the Glebe, I bike to work for 20 minutes on the side of Rideau Canal. At the beginning it was hard. It has been too long since I biked but the wonderful view of the Canal has encouraged me to keep going.  After parking my bike, and changing into my uniform, I head to the front desk office to report to my shift supervisor and ask for a “pass on” of the day.

 

 

War Memorial ( Photo taken by Alejandra Lemus)

War Memorial ( Photo taken by Alejandra Lemus)

As a trainee, the Guest Services Manager on duty reminds me about certain procedures that they would like me to focus on for the day and encourages me to familiarize myself with guest interactions. After my briefing, I go to the front desk to complete my daily tasks such as: check-in and check-out of guests, complete daily checklist, and assist guests with any requests.  I love my team. They always have a sincere smile on their face and they are always willing to help me without hesitating. I have the opportunity of working with colleagues from Ontario and also from Québec in the front desk department but at the hotel, multiculturalism is truly experienced and embraced.

My amazing team (Photo taken by Alejandra Lemus)

My amazing team (Photo taken by Alejandra Lemus)

Working at the front desk means that every day is different. During my first week, I had the opportunity to assist the FIFA Women’s Word Cup players that were competing in Ottawa. Moreover, every day I have the pleasure of communicating in both French and Spanish. Every time that I had the opportunity to assist a guest in my native language, Spanish; it gives me a sense of pride in my culture. A few days ago, a guest from Puerto Rico told me that he felt fortunate to have been assisted in his native language.  Short but meaningful comments like these; remind me why I love this industry and the part I play in it.  In another instance, a Mexican family that I had assisted asked me if I would be available to assist them for the duration of their stay! The next day, they requested to talk to me, even though they only needed assistance with a small request, they kept calling for me to help them. This reaffirmed that I am working in the right industry and the Fairmont Château Laurier is helping me to keep learning and creating “moments into memories” (Fairmont Hotels & Resorts) for our guests.

 

Burrito Shack ( Photo taken by Alejandra Lemus)

Burrito Shack ( Photo taken by Alejandra Lemus)

During my days off, I enjoy spending time getting to know my neighborhood and the city. A couple days ago, I ate at the Burrito Shack, a Mexican restaurant that believes in buying local products, giving back to the community through school lunches and catering to locals. Yes, their food is delicious.  Additionally, some days off I travel to Montreal to visit my amazing husband and family. I still need to make time to go and visit my relatives in Hamilton, it feels good to be so close to family again, perhaps I will plan a visit in the near future on my days off.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I highly encourage you to visit Ottawa and one of its milestones, Fairmont Château Laurier. There is always something new and wonderful to visit and explore here.

 

 

 

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A Day in the Life of Chido at Atomique Production

Have you ever wondered who thinks of and hosts those amazing music festivals? About who brings you your favourite artists with festivals like Rock The Shores, Phillips Backyard Weekender and Rifflandia? Well last year in 2014, I certainly did as I enjoyed the amazing shows by various talented artists at Rifflandia and so I found Atomique Productions! This production company came to life in 2000, a brain child of Nick Blasko and Dimitri Demers and has since been “Victoria B.C’s leading independent concerts company” (Atomique Productions, 2015). The office is located downtown on Yates and Douglas Street. I walk about 25 minutes to work every day and have sampled some of the finest food Victoria has to offer – Tacofino, Meat and Bread as well as Foo, they are all must try! Depending on my mood, I begin my day by taking a walk at 5am (yay for early risers) and I get to see beautiful sunrises such as this at Ogden Point.

Ogden PointI usually start work at 10am and I check in with Deb or Ellian to see if they have any tasks for me. After I complete the set tasks I then ask people around the office to see if they would like me to assist them. I am just going to dive right in and tell you my favourite part about working for this amazing company, the organizational culture!! It normally takes me weeks to feel like I fit within an organisation but by Day 2, I felt like I belonged. Genuine warm smiles are always on the ready as well as a helping hand. It is never “It’s not my job” but “Let me find out for you.”

If you are wondering about the connection between music festivals and tourism the answer is a resounding tourism drivers!!!! Whether its finding accommodation for artists, transporting them to and from venues, the fans that the artists attract as well as the exposure local tourism businesses get during music festivals. Think about the multiplier effect…

Image from Global Wildlife Conservation Group

(Image from Global Wildlife Conservation Group)

Now this is only what I have learned from observation but I am looking forward to conducting information interviews with the team to understand more about the role of music festivals in the local economy. My biggest challenge so far is understanding the music festival industry lingo which is quite different from that I was used to having worked in mostly hotels and restaurants but I only had to ask about a terminology I was unfamiliar with and they would explain it, other times, they just saw the look of utter confusion on my face and they would explain the terminology to me. I do believe I am catching up. I can almost hear you say, “but what about you!? What is your role in all of this!?” My official title is BreakOut West Assistant Artist Administration Intern. BreakOut West is a “four-day event comprised of a three-day music conference, a three-night multi-genre music festival, the Western Canadian Music Industry Awards Brunch and the Western Canadian Music Awards Gala” (Western Canadian Music Alliance, Inc., 2015). I believe that this is the first time BreakOut West will be hosted in Victoria in conjunction with Rifflandia no less!! My duties will include putting artists’ packages together from accommodation to accreditation. Above is a picture of a press conference that was held earlier this month to announce the festival line up.

foodIt is fortunate that I was here to experience Rock the Shores where I was involved in similar duties which I am now referring to as my “orientation.” Speaking of Rock the Shores, I had an amazing time and definitely learned a lot. The food for Crew and Artists was catered by The Ruby – yes, the very same one that opened at Hotel Zed in 2014. I will give you a few minutes to envision how delicious it tastes, perhaps this picture will help (pssst, it’s okay to lick the screen).

Rock the ShoresI had a hard time choosing my favourite artist at Rock The Shores but I think I finally settled on Kim Churchill. I was part of artist check in where I got to meet a lot of artists and help out with Hospitality, which included working with the Hospitality Coordinator to ready their trailers and tents. For those who have worked in hotels, think of it as getting an amenity ready for a very important guest and accommodating their requests. OfficeFor artist check in, I worked with an incredible team of five extremely talented individuals led by the incredible Deb whom I’m almost convinced has super powers and I am not just saying that because she is going to read it. I look forward to working BreakOut West with my team!!

Group

Until my next blog!


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A Day in the Life @ The Butchart Gardens- by Wayne Jenkins

For a look at where I am on the globe, just zoom out from this map.

https://www.google.ca/maps/@48.5631463,-123.4665519,1384m/data=!3m1!1e3

Blue Himalayan Poppy, Jenny Butcharts' Favourite -photo by W. Jenkins

Blue Himalayan Poppy, Jenny Butcharts‘ Favourite -photo by W. Jenkins

Located on the Saanich Peninsula north of Victoria the Butchart Gardens are a tourist highlight when visiting British Columbia. Consistently listed in the top gardens of the world to visit, they are a stunning display garden that is visited by over a million people a year. A far cry from the original cement plant that brought Robert and Jenny Butchart to the area, they are still family owned and operated, and are open 365 days of the year for the enjoyment of all seasons.

 

The Sunden Garden - photo taken by W. Jenkins

The Sunken Garden – photo taken by W. Jenkins

To get here each day I drive 22.3 kilometres, mostly through rural farmland roads, until I arrive at the main gates to the Gardens. Thankfully, after giving the secret signal (flash my headlights) the traffic directors point me to the outside lane normally reserved for buses so I can avoid the 5-15 minute wait the other lanes of cars must endure to get onto the site. Once on the property I park in the employee lot and if I have time visit the staff restaurant, the Poppy Seed, and have a cup of tea. After logging in at the time station, I sometimes do a quick wander through the Italian, Rose, and Japanese gardens in order to have a point of reference to talk to my passengers throughout the day.

The Italian Garden - photo taken by W. Jenkins

The Italian Garden – photo taken by W. Jenkins

I must be able to talk about what they’ve seen so staying current with the displays is very important. Now and again I’ll drop into the visitor’s centre where there is an on duty gardener to see what new flowers have been planted out.

Each morning the boat I’m piloting must be given a complete going over in order to ensure the safety and comfort of the passengers. Starting with the inspection of the bilge, the operation of the bilge pumps, high water warning system, fire detector systems and battery charge status I then move on to familiarizing myself with the tide table for the day to plan each route based on where exposed rocks or shallow areas may be. Then I move on to checking each piece of safety gear from life jackets, flares, first aid kits, kisbee ring, towlines, anchoring gear, and paddles. After that a quick once over of the windows and it is time to greet my first batch of passengers.

I have met people from all over Europe, Russia, India, South Africa, Malaysia, Mexico, Colombia, Zimbabwe, Singapore, China, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Brazil, United States and many more countries. Every day and every trip is multicultural. I must ensure I am mindful of all cultures to ensure I don’t say or do the wrong thing.

My New Office- photo by W. Jenkins

My New Office- photo by W. Jenkins

Once everyone is seated I brief them, as required by Transport Canada, on the safety equipment aboard the vessel, touching on life vests, first aid equipment, firefighting, and lastly, how to use the radio equipment if I’m unable.

Once underway I start my narrative about the gardens, the local waterways, and parks. I also cover the history of the gardens and how they were initially a cement plant and the development of the exhausted limestone quarry by Jenny Butchart, into what is now the Sunken Gardens.

Sunken Garden Pond in Spring- photo taken by W, Jenkins

Sunken Garden Pond in Spring- photo taken by W. Jenkins

On a typical trip we’ll see a combination of harbour seals, river otters, and bald eagles, masses of moon jellyfish, blue herons, purple martins, and racoons. After 45 minutes we return to the dock where I see everyone off the boat and after a quick once over to make sure the vessel is all clean I invite the next set of passengers on board.

I love this job! It is so relaxing and pleasant meeting all the people from around the world and giving them a little introduction to the area in which I live. I’m not sure I could find a job that has less stress than this one, I actually go home refreshed each day. What a contrast to the old office job I used to live.

Below is a short video of some of the gardens and my new office.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93nj99Ypzxw

 


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A Day in the Life at the Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre, China- by Rachel Small

 

Welcome to my work abroad dream at Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre.

Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre is located in the Yuexiu district of Guangzhou, Guangdong in China. It is a district that is known to be the “gateway of the Chinese foreign trade”.

Crowne Plaza- Guangzhou City Center

First of all, I will like to introduce the area of Guangzhou. The language that is spoken is mainly Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. Guangzhou is an amazing place to live as a foreigner in my personal opinion. You are able travel to different parts of China, Hong Kong, and Macau by train, metro, bus, and ferry. It also allows you the chance to travel around Asia with less travel time and expenses. As well, many foreigners within the Guangzhou area gather around to places like “The Brew”. The Brew is a Canadian operated pub that hosts the best North American burgers and wings within Guangzhou. On my first day in Guangzhou and Canada’s Day, I went to The Brew to meet with my new coworkers and fellow foreigners in Guangzhou.  It is really a mix of Canadian pub atmosphere and Chinese pub culture.  During, my free time, I usually walk around Yuexiu district for around 30 minutes in different directions and visit “The Oppa House” to eat Korean food. So far, I have explored places like Panyu, Zhujiang New Town, and Tianhe District. Within a few weeks, I will be visiting Hong Kong to get a new phone since mine doesn’t work here and it is less expensive in Hong Kong. Overall, I feel that working for the IHG brand is suitable for me because it allows me the chance to grow and learn from my coworkers and guests. I am really excited to stay here for 1 year and possibly longer.

So…CP front

My life as an intern in Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre has been exciting and eventful.  I am a Guest Service Management Trainee, at Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre. The Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre soft opening was on June 25th 2011. Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre is an exclusive international 5-star standard hotel that features 460 guest rooms and suites with a city view or Bai Yun Mountain view. It is known as the 63 Building with 3 restaurants, gym facilities, lobby lounge, 2 ballrooms, and 9 meeting rooms.

Overall, I work five to six days a week depending on my days off. I have different shifts throughout the week. I am living at the hotel, which is convenient since it only takes me six minutes to clock in. As well, I am able to greet guests on my way to work, which makes it a good start to the day.

Today is July 6th 2015 in Guangzhou, China.  My shift today starts from 7:30am until 4 – 5pm. For most of the day, I am located at the front desk or Fresh Asian Buffet Restaurant (Fresh).  The first thing that happens in the morning is an early morning briefing for the Front Desk, Concierge, and Guest Service staff. It is a way for everyone to understand what is going on within the hotel for the day and expectation from our managers. After the meeting, I check through my emails and do online Opera training.  My Opera training is about making reservations, and checking-in and out guests. I talk to myself to practice how to speak to the guests. An Example would be “Welcome to Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre, how may I help you?”. This way I can smoothly work as Front Desk staff.

Restaurant

Around 8am, I head up to the 5th floor to Fresh Asian Buffet Restaurant. On the way, I greet guests “Good Morning” in Chinese and/or English. Once, I arrive at Fresh. I look around the restaurant to make sure all the names for the dishes are in the correct spot and head to tables to greet guests. While I greet guests, I ask if they would like any coffee and get to know their experiences within the hotel. At times, I assist with seating guests to help the hostesses. Overall, it is important to make sure that nothing at the buffet table is empty by advising fellow staff or getting it myself. The challenge for me is about knowing the correct Chinese word for an item or request by a guest.  This is because I am an English-speaker with a beginner level of Mandarin Chinese. Another important task that I have at Fresh is to give out guest satisfactions survey cards to understand the guest opinions during their breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The survey is given to help improve the restaurant by the guests’ needs and experiences.

Other locations that I visit during the morning are the Crowne Executive Lounge Floor on the 56th floor, 50th Premium Lounge, or the Lobby. Today, I headed to the 56th floor and 50th floor to check on the morning food arrangement, staff, and guests. Once, I check over everything. I head back to either the 5th floor or front desk. Since, I am training to work on the front desk I head back downstairs to learn Opera and study information about the hotel.

RachelAround 10am, I head up to Fresh for breakfast with coworkers.  Usually for my daily meals, I can eat at the tenants canteen or Fresh Asian Buffet Restaurant.  After breakfast, I visit the 3rd floor to check on events held today. Since I do have class and work assignments. I take time to do projects for the hotel and reflect on my progress with my coworkers.

Around 12:30, I am a lobby ambassador. I help to direct guest to the front desk or other locations within the hotel. It is important to make sure that guest are directed to proper locations and ask if they need help with their bags. Once, I have stayed within the lobby for a while, I either head back to practice Opera or head up to fresh to help with lunch. I do almost the same thing for lunch at Fresh except I don’t ask people for coffee. I check to see the names are correct, food is fully stocked, and staff is okay. After that I stay for lunch for about 30 minutes.

Once, I have finished my lunch, I head back to the front desk lobby 2to have a briefing again at 2:40pm. The briefing is to inform the new shift staff of today events and information. Once, briefing is over I stay in the front desk office to review Opera training and information. I check on the front desk staff to help get documents for them. As well, it is a chance for me to learn first hand about front desk tasks. Some of the tasks are about getting documents and scanning passports. If the front desk isn’t busy, I will be the lobby ambassador or I will go back to Opera training.

Lastly, the day ends looking through my emails and saying goodbye to my coworkers. I clock out to end my shift and head upstairs to rest for an early morning shift again.

food and friendsOne of the best things, that I like so far working at Crowne Plaza Guangzhou is having the opportunity to communicate with international and Chinese guest. My coworkers help me to improve my language abilities because we learn from each with English and Mandarin. I have learnt a lot about the area and Chinese culture. As well, I had the opportunity to go to the 63rd floor known to be a formerly used helicopter landing of our hotel, in order to see the panorama view of Guangzhou.  I also had the chance to visit other hotels to learn the differences and start individual projects. I am simply living up to my dreams because the staff here is friendly, outgoing, creative, and respectful. They are all leaders in their own way. I wouldn’t be successful in my training without their help and encourage. There have been endless experiences that I would love to mention working here for my internship. However, it is easier to experience it for yourself.

Take a leap of faith and work abroad.