Royal Roads Tourism

Victoria, BC


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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 of a boutique hotel intern at the Magnolia Hotel & Spa! By Alana Bianconi

Hello everyone! I’m pleased to share my experiences with you about my current time spent as part of the team at the Magnolia Hotel and Spa. Every day I wake up and am proud and excited to be a part of the staff at the wonderful Magnolia Hotel that had the honour of receiving the 2011 Trip Advisor award for Victoria along with Best of the City as voted by Victoria Residents and numerous other honourable mentions. The hotel is a boutique hotel in the heart of the Victoria Inner Harbour and is a small hotel of 64 that’s big on amenities.

7:00am I wake up and hit the snooze…too hard to get up when I have this cuddly guy..

Little Man the Chihuahua

7:30am- I’m up and at ’em! I hop on the bus and head downtown, which is luckily only a 10 minute bus ride from my humble abode. While I ride the bus I keep my eyes peeled for signs or posters of things going on around town today. It’s important for me to be aware of what’s going on in the city for me to pass along to the guests staying in the hotel and Victoria is plentiful in activities and events in the peak Summer season.

7:50am- I arrive at The Magnolia on its quiet corner home of Gordon and Courtney Street. I can smell the breakfast being served inside and can see our bellman biding farewell to guests for the day. I enter the hotel and put on my freshly cleaned uniform to get changed to serve some breakfast!

8:00am start- I begin my shift as a breakfast attendant. A complimentary deluxe continental breakfast is served to guests every morning at the Magnolia Hotel and Spa. The breakfast offers a wide array of tasty goods to provide nourishment to guests who are on their way out to see the sites of Victoria, or who are visiting to do business in the city.

10:00am- Breakfast service is over and it’s time to clean up. I’ve spent the last two hours replenishing the buffet breakfast, clearing tables and socializing with guests. The Magnolia has all kinds of guests that visit the hotel. We have regular corporate and government business and leisure travellers coming from all over the world. A large part summer clients are American travellers coming off the Clipper from Seattle or the Blackball Ferry from Port Angeles, these two modes of transportation makes it a short trip for American travellers to come for a quick trip to Victoria for the weekend.

11:00am- I’m all done my breakfast shift, I take a quick break to chat with my fellow Magnolians, get changed and head upstairs to finish the rest of my shift on the Front Desk. Due to the fact that The Magnolia Hotel & Spa is a smaller property, there is less stagnancy in roles. A majority of the staff are trained in multiple roles and cross training is highly encouraged.

11:01am- When I arrive I am greeted by the Hotel’s General Manager, Bill Lewis, who has decided that today he would do a spontaneous social media promotion due to the fact that it’s Social Media Day! Bill is enthralled by social media and the hotel has a large social media presence due to his spontaneity and commitment to online marketing as you can see on the Magnolia’s facebook site below.

http://www.facebook.com/MagnoliaHotelVictoria?ref=ts

Today’s promotion includes beautiful Magnolia Water bottles filled with goodies. There will be one lucky taker of a gift certificate for a one nights stay. How exciting!

Pick a water bottle! Win a Prize 🙂

1:00pm- The contest is over and the grand prize has been claimed. Back to work we go. On the Front Desk we witness so many interesting things daily. We see all the comings and goings of the guests, we get to help guests with requests… and complaints, but it truly is the heart of the hotel and I love seeing it all happen before my eyes!

Throughout the day it is common for us to answer phones and emails, make reservations and meet guest requests but we also provide concierge service as Front desk agents. We suggest places to eat, shop, visit and send countless people out the Butchart Gardens and Whale Watching daily.

4:00pm- Almost the end of my shift and we are preparing for our check in guests to arrive. My Front Office Manager notifies me that today the hotel is oversold *Gasp*

Due to Magnolia’s emphasis on service and limited room capacity, we are careful and very conscious of our room sales. We do our best not to oversell the hotel to avoid walking guests, unfortunately today this is not the case. My Manager thinks it would be great for me to do the walk…eek.

Bellmen & Valet on duty!

I agree to do the walk after some briefing and encouraging words from my manager, but I secretly hope the end of my shift quickly approaches before the guest arrives. Luck isn’t on my side today as the guest arrives and I have to let him know that there are no rooms left for him to sleep in tonight and that all the arrangements have been made for him to stay at another hotel. The guest took it surprisingly well and I give him a map to get to his new destination.

4:30pm- That wraps up another day at the fabulous Magnolia Hotel & Spa, I sign out, get changed and head home. I’m looking forward to do it all over again tomorrow.