With over 30 years’ experience dedicated to the hospitality industry, it has taken me to Europe from the French Alps to the Mediterranean and back to Canada from the East coast to the Western province of Alberta. I have worked with full service brands and small focused service independent owned hotels. In several different positions in Food & Beverage operations such as Banquet Manager for Hilton International, Delta Hotels and Coast Hotel brands, Director of Catering for independently owned boutique style hotels with Westcorp Properties Inc. where I was promoted to Operations Manager and GM; I have been successful in building teams, coaching, counseling have contributed to my success, within the hotel industry.
My passion in the industry started very young working for the family business, where taking care of guests needs was the driving force, from my father I learned “be kind to others because everyone needs kindness.” But my philosophy is very simply when it comes to team work, “if you do your job, the team will be successful and life is good.”
I joined SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts in 2011 on a temporary assignment as the Botanica Restaurant Manager. After working with the team for a short period I was offered a full time position. I remained with the team through the closer and renovation project, during this period assisted with the pre – opening of SilverBirch’s first Doubletree by Hilton hotel which opened October 2012 in Regina. I then returned and continued on with the opening team for the DoubleTree by Hilton™ West Edmonton and was part of the pre-opening F&B team for the new Stages Kitchen & Bar®.
I have since opened the Free To Be You Home2 Suites by Hilton® West Edmonton first in Canada as the Hotel Manager, sister property to the DoubleTree by Hilton™ West Edmonton. Since opening the hotel there have been many first for the new Hilton Brand in Canada, new culture, great new team, new guests.
Welcoming guests for their first stay at our HOME2 is like watching a child experience their first step new, exciting and proud ( are the feelings that come to mind) I am blessed and very proud of my team. They have grown together over the past year and as we have just past our first year in operation, it has proved to me that with a lot of HEART, passion, engagement and genuine caring to create this family we have become, it has been a very rewarding experience.
SBHR: Home2 Suites by Hilton® West Edmonton was recently named an Expedia Insiders’ Select hotel for 2015, (congratulations!) what SilverBirch “value” would you say contributed most to your team’s achievement, and why?
DWM: I would say all the SilverBirch values were definitely contributing factors in receiving such a prestigious award but in particular, engagement would be the determining value as it shows the belief in the culture we have been able to create within this beautiful hotel. Each team member has embraced the HOME2 culture, being a new brand to Canada and a very young brand under Hilton. The engagement with our guests has created an environment and culture of warmth and hospitality which keeps guests coming back to the hotel repeatedly to experience the warmth of our HOME2 family. Once they are with us they become part of our family.
SBHR: Of all of our values (quality, integrity, growth, engagement, or performance), which one influences your day to day activities the most (and why)?
DWM: Integrity is the value that drives me constantly. We strive to always do the right thing for the company the guest and the employee consistently. This comes from my upbringing and having such a great mentor in my father. He was a man of integrity and gave everyone everything he could to make things better. Always wanting what was right instead to what was easy, and doing what is right is not always as easy as we would like.
SBHR: Being the first Home2 in Canada, and celebrating the property’s one year anniversary, what is one thing that guests are surprised to find out about your hotel?
DWM: Being pet friendly, most guests are very pleasantly surprised that we take their four legged family members and treat them like our own, our personable and friendly the staff are genuine in their caring approach and want to make sure that all guest are truly having a wonderful experience even our four legged guest, with a little treat for them when they arrive. Guests are very grateful not to have to leave their four legged family members at home while they travel. After all HOME2 is truly a second home for a lot of our guest and having their pets makes it feel truly more like home.
SBHR: Can you share an example of when you witnessed an associate exemplify Engagement?
DWM: Our Breakfast Coordinator Deb Coutremonche, we recently had an extended stay guest who stayed with us for a period of 8 months. During her stay she became like a family member to the whole team, she and her husband were here with us from early in the Fall of 2014 to June of 2015. While their stay with us, both Wendy and her husband had been diagnosed with cancer each going through the treatments and healing process. Every morning Wendy would come for breakfast and was always in a rush to get to work, Deb knew what she preferred in her hot oatmeal and over time and engaging conversations at breakfast was able to always have it ready for her whenever she was late and on the run or not feeling a 100%. She would have it made in a take-out cup with a plastic spoon and napkin ready to go for Wendy. Both Wendy and her husband have since moved into their permanent home and doing very well. Wendy comes by to say ‘hi’ to everyone when she is close by. She is still, and will always be, a member of the HOME2 family.
SBHR: Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.
DWM: I like a good adventure, many years back one of my brothers had tried a tandem jump and said it was a blast. In his honor after his passing in 2011 on September 6th I did it for myself and it was truly amazing. Truly a thrill, I would do it again. Sometimes putting yourself outside your comfort zone is a frightening but exhilarating experience.