Royal Roads Tourism

Victoria, BC


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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.

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Fieldtrip! BA in International Hotel Management students

Last Friday, after being inundated with team sessions, new courses, and details of APA formatting, the new cohort of BA in International Hotel Management students had the opportunity to break from studies for a bit of fun and “in the field” learning. Who doesn’t enjoy a fieldtrip?!

The day started with a stroll through the trails of our very own Hatley Park campus forest (565 acres by the way!) amidst the large cedars, maple and fir trees. We made our way to a local (and very successful) Bed and Breakfast called Birds of a Feather. Owner Dieter Gerhard gave us a tour of his beautiful waterfront home and talked about his adventures over the last 13 years in the biz.

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Birds of a Feather B&B entrance

Dieter and his partner bought the then 3-bedroom rancher in 1997 and opened for business the same year. Over the course of two renovations, the building has since evolved into a two-storey home with three private, luxury, sound-proofed suites on the second level, complete with fireplace and soaker tub. Dieter credits the quick success of the B&B to a lot of hard work and embracing the internet: Birds of a Feather was one of the first B&Bs in Victoria to launch a website back in 1997. Dieter’s involvement with all-things-internet has blossomed since then with the development of northstudio.com, Stikky Media, as well as the Victoria School of Business and Technology.

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Dieter tells the story of Birds of a Feather

Dieter provided the BA students with some great insight into the bed and breakfast business, with tips on how to save money, write off expenses, and run a home-based business the way you want. He stressed that the B&B industry is one he entered because he enjoys people and he loves the lifestyle on the coast. The business allows him to travel in the off-season too, another passion of his. While the BA in IHM program focuses on hotels, I think Dieter may have lured some of these students to the B&B side of things!

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Alice and Taco- the official greeters at Birds of a Feather

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Priceless view even on a wet day

From Birds of a Feather, we were driven by the very friendly Gary from Wilson’s Transportation to the Coast Victoria Harbourside Hotel and Marina for our whale watching tour with Orca Spirit Adventures. Captain Brad and naturalists Rhonda and Rachel lead us into the Strait of Juan de Fuca to spot some whales. We had the amazing luck to come across a humpback mother and her calf! Some humpbacks travel down the Jan de Fuca Strait on their migration south towards Mexico or Hawaii.  They will stop here for several weeks or even a couple months to do some final feeding and rest up before continuing on their journey.  Not only did we have a perfect view of these two creatures surfacing in synchrony, but baby decided to give us a wee show with two energetic breaches! Check out the video:

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Leaving Victoria Harbour

On our way to Race Rocks Lighthouse we spotted yet another mother humpback and calf resting at the surface. This mother is known to locals as she has brought previous calves through the area in past seasons. At Race Rocks Lighthouse we saw California and Stellar Sea lions basking on the rocks; we learned that Stellars growl while the California Sea Lions emit more of a bark. Both species had much to grumble about though: Rachel informed us that these are the “lonesome losers” who were unsuccessful in earning breeding rights. On our way back to Victoria Harbour we had a fleeting visit from a couple of Dall’s Porpoises. They entertained us with a few darts and jumps near the stern of the boat.

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Mother humpback and baby

Other than some soggy weather in the morning, the day was truly a success—a perfect showcasing of tourism and hospitality in our very own Victoria, BC.

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BA IHM group shot on the dock

post and photos by Vivian