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 @ 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.

 

 


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Extreme weather hits our interns

Today we received these pictures below from Erik. He is one of our BA in International Hotel Management students who is on an internship at the Delta Lodge at Kananskis, Alberta. Erik is joined by some of his other classmates Emily, Colin, Hana and Caroline who are also doing their internships at the same hotel.

image (2) image (7)

Erik let us know that no one can go in or out of the town until the roads have cleared, and I don’t mean washed away. There was some flooding in one of the residence buildings but he let us know that it isn’t one of the ones that they are in. The hotel is dry and the nearby golf course was evacuated to the hotel.

Happy to hear they are safe and not alone. Sending you guys ‘dry out soon’ thoughts.

How are things where you are? Are you safe and dry?


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A Day in the Life at the Westin Bear Mountain -By Tristan Bankasingh

Hello and welcome to my Day in the Life blog describing my internship as a Bellman at the Westin Bear Mountain! Like many jobs in the hospitality industry every day can be different, fun and exciting. Therefore, before I describe my day I would like to point out key critical features that are unique to the Bellman position at the resort. One feature is that the Westin Bear Mountain doesn’t have a separate Concierge Department; therefore, all bellmen work for the Front Office Department.

Myself with Amy Hamilton-Front Office Manager, Paul Patterson and Ryan Bartlett. Paul and Ryan are veteran bellmen who've done it all and seen it all.

The other feature is the fact that there are two separate hotel buildings. The main building where everyone check-in/out of the resort is known as the Clubhouse Building, and our second building is known as the Fairways Building. Both buildings offer the same type of hotel rooms; however, the Fairways Building has hotel rooms that are pet friendly. This feature means that during arrivals and departures the bellmen have to be prepared to move at moment’s notice to provide guest assistance in both buildings throughout the shift.

 The Clubhouse Building

   The Fairways Building

So now that I’ve finished describing the critical features of the resort, I’ll now speak about my day as a Bellman. The majority of the shifts that I’ve worked at the Westin Bear Mountain have been the evening/closing shift. On weekdays they start at 3:00pm and they end at 11:30pm. On weekends the closing shift starts at 4:30pm and they end at 1:00am the next day because generally there are weddings and various events over the weekend, which allows the bellman to provide assistance to any guests. My day starts at Metchosin, a suburb of Victoria. Usually two hours before my shift starts I’ll prepare myself for the day, including showering, brushing my teeth, shaving, combing my hair, etc. Appearance is a huge aspect in the hospitality and tourism industry; therefore, I have to ensure that I look professional. I change into my uniform, grab a quick bite to eat and then drive through the small town of Metchosin towards Langford, another suburb of Victoria where the resort is located. It usually takes me 30-45 minutes to get to the resort from my house and it includes a drive up a winding road to the top of Bear Mountain. I usually get there ten minutes before my shift starts so that I can sign in, speak to the Front Office Manager and the bellman on during the opening shift about anything that I need to know about.

Here are the following things that I do when I come on shift:
-Log in to the computer and check the arrivals and departures list;
-Check the Golf Tee Times for any late afternoon/evening golfers; and
-Check the Valet Parking box to see how cars we have in the Valet Parking Lots.

Throughout this time guests could be arriving at any moment. When they arrive I inquire if they’re coming to play golf or to check in at the hotel, and then I proceed with the arrival procedure such as welcoming the guest, assisting with luggage, escorting them to the front desk and escorting them to their room regardless if it’s in the Clubhouse or Fairways Building. Once settled in their room, I describe the features of the room to the guest and then wish them an enjoyable stay.

For guests who are coming to play golf, I ask their last name of the group they are playing under and the tee time, explain where the Pro Shop is so that they can register, take their golf bags and drive them to back of the resort where the golf courses are located.

The storage closet where golf bags and luggage are stored. Don't let the picture fool you, usually there are a lot more bags than this!

A video of myself welcoming a guest who is coming to play golf can be found here:

Myself and Amy Hamilton, Front Office Manager and the BOSS!

That is the main part of my duties. However, other duties that I do are:
-Assisting with room moves;
-Making deliveries of various items to hotel rooms;
-Shuttling guests in our vehicle to various points around the resort;
-Ensure that inside and outside of the lobby is properly maintained so that it’s at a standard expected of a Westin resort;
-Cleaning and maintaining luggage carts; and
-Being available to assist the guests with any recommendations or places to go while they are staying here in Victoria.

So finally after 8 hours, my shift is over. Since I’m usually working the closing shift I have to make sure that everything is secure for the night. The garbage has to be emptied, the bell podium has to be placed inside and any golf bags that are on the Golf Bag Drop rack are stored inside the storage closet to prevent them from being stolen. Finally, I put away my keys and radio, have a chat with night audit, count all of tips collected for the day, sign out and then begin the beautiful drive down Bear Mountain towards my house in rural Metchosin only to do it all over again the next day!

A pic of the Clubhouse Building at night. Sweet Dreams!

Here’s a slideshow of various pictures taken while at work:

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Here are various links that you can look at in order to get more details about the Westin Bear Mountain:
www.bearmountain.ca -Resort’s Personal website
http://bearmountain.ca/Golf/RatesTeeTimes.aspx -Golf Tee Times information website
www.facebook.com/bearmountainresort -Westin Bear Mountain’s Facebook page
www.twitter.com/bearmountain -Westin Bear Mountain’s Twitter page
www.westin.com/bearmountain -Resort’s Westin website