Author: admin
• Tuesday, July 02nd, 2013

The residents of Ottawa all know the winter can be difficult. For about six months out of the year the weather is typically less than ideal and short days make it nearly impossible to wake up in the morning (who wants to wake up before the sun?) So that being said, when I see people choosing to sit inside instead of the patio on a beautiful day, I can hardly understand it. Ottawa is situated in one of the best places geographically in Canada, in my opinion. We have the luxury of living in a “big city” atmosphere, amazing dining, great nightlife with the Byward Market and a fantastic hockey team, but we also have that small town feel. We have great green space with our parks, bike paths, the Rideau canal and we are ideally situated a short drive from the beautiful Quebec with the Gatineau Hills.

Therefore most of us residents of Ottawa want to spend as much time as possible outside this time of year, especially after the winter we just experienced. This is also a great way to get active if you have been putting it off (like I have), and we are lucky enough to live in a City that makes this quite attainable. That being said I have created a list of some ways to get outdoors and get active:

- Exercise does not always mean going to the gym or doing the same workout routine every day. Summer makes is easy to add different modes of exercise and allows you to change it up so you won’t get bored.
- Go for a walk. Yes I know this is an obvious option but how many of us really do it? This especially helps if you are stressed or having a difficult time sleeping at night. I know from experience it is hard to motivate yourself to exercise when you’re feeling the pressure from work or life, so get outside and take a short walk and I guarantee it will help clear you mind.
- Explore the city. There are fantastic neighborhoods in Ottawa worth spending some time exploring and shopping. Hintonburg and the Glebe are some of my favorites with great shops and restaurants that you’ll never know existed and very accessible by walking.
- Outdoor markets. The Parkdale market is awesome and open daily from dawn to dusk, check it out instead of going to the grocery store for produce! Westboro recently started doing one in Byron park Saturdays 9:30am-3:00pm. They have everything you could ever want from produce to meat to jewelry. Brewer park also offers one Sundays 8:00 am-3pm and Centrum Plaza in Orleans Fridays 10:00am-3:00pm. I can’t recommend these enough! (you will also be supporting local vendors and what’s better than that?)
- Bike paths. Utilize these! We have over 300km of bike paths in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. The great thing about many of these bike paths are they are off the roads so it’s a good activity to do with the kids. These can also be used for walking, rollerblading etc. The canal is always a popular one, as well as the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway. For more information on finding the right bike paths visit this website:
- Ever been to Gatineau Park? There is lots to do including cycling, hiking, swimming, rock climbing, even guided tours! The park also has great picnic areas so bring a lunch and spend the day! For more information on the park:
- Yoga lover or ever wanted to try? Lululemon offers free yoga on Parliament Hill every Wednesday 12pm-1pm. All levels welcome! Yoga is a great way to get some exercise and spend some time outdoors if you have been in the office all morning. Don’t be intimidated if it’s your first time! There are teaching assistants there to help and you have the freedom of going at your own pace. Try it out! You might end up loving it.

These are just some of the many resources Ottawa offers to get outside this summer. Remember: do everything at your own pace! Now get outside and get the most out of your summer


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Author: admin
• Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Tessa Webster is the Government Sales Manager at the Lord Elgin Hotel. Tessa is a smart and motivated young woman. She is consistently sweet and happy- she never shows the stress that I’m sure comes with having a two year old at home and dealing with government clients all day. I tend to get stressed about the silliest things, and seeing how she deals with her everyday life so collectively and positively really puts things into perspective for me.
Tessa is a great listener with a fantastic sense of humour. I am very comfortable coming to Tessa if I need to have a quick rant about something. She is relatable and has certainly contributed to my experience here at the hotel.
1. Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in Holland in a small village outside of Amsterdam. When I was nine I immigrated with my mom and my sister to Canada.
2. How did you come to work at the Lord Elgin Hotel? How long have you worked here for?
I’ve worked here for two years. Before, I was working in the GTA. Then my husband received a promotion that brought him to Ottawa, so I needed to find a job here. I asked one of my former bosses if she would help me/ refer me to hotels I could apply to. So, she emailed IHG hotels in Ottawa.
Through that process, David came across my resume. I had worked with him many years ago and I suppose he recognized my name and, lucky for me, he and Ann took a chance.
What is the biggest challenge when working with Government groups?
The challenge is trying to understand their ever changing needs and trying to adhere to their rules. I think it’s a never ending cycle because things are so quickly changing in Government. You really need to stay on top of all the news around you.
3. If you had the chance to go back in time for one full day, where and when would you go?
I would go back to my first few years in Holland. Back when life was easy and all I did was sit in a row boat with my best friend with no worries or stress. We would just row around on the canals. Life was simple.
5. If a genie granted you three wishes, what would you ask for?
I would ask for endless amounts of time to spend with my daughter, to return to the resort in Jamaica where I married my husband (with my husband, of course) and a life time membership to Le Nordik Spa.
6. What is your fondest memory from the University of Guelph?
I think, more generally, what I liked the most was the great sense of community I had there. I made a lot of really good friends who I still keep in touch with. My professors were amazing. I worked downtown as well and developed some really great relationships; I really felt like I was part of the city. Overall, I had a really amazing University experience- a lot of fun.
7. How old is your daughter Maddy, and what is her favourite thing to do?
My daughter is two years old. She loves to go to the park and feed the ducks. As of late, she really likes to boss me around. Today she said “Mama go get my water” and “Mama go get my boots”.
8. Where are three places you would love to travel to?
Oh my gosh, if I had endless amounts of money I’d want to go everywhere. If I had to chose three, I would go to Prague, Thailand and Turks & Caicos.
9. Where is your favourite restaurant to eat in Ottawa?
To be honest, I love The Keg. Both the service and the food quality are very consistent. I have never been disappointed.
10. What type of person angers you the most?
Arrogance is really frustrating.
11. Name something you are very good at, and something you are very bad at.
I am very good at improvising bed time stories. I am bad at remembering people’s names, which is bad in my line of work so I’m trying to train myself.
12. What quality do you appreciate most in your husband?
I really appreciate his thoughtfulness.
13. If you could star in any TV show, past or present, which show would it be?
The Cosby Show. They’re the kind of family you would want to model after.
15. Describe yourself in one word.
16. Since it is Friday, describe your perfect weekend!
It would have to be spending it with my family. I’d enjoy taking Maddy to her music class, having a picnic and going out for dinner with my husband.
17. What is your favourite quote/saying?
Don’t worry, be happy. (Ha, it’s a quote and a song! Words to live by. I love it)

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Author: admin
• Monday, June 10th, 2013

When I first began at the Lord Elgin Hotel, Maxine was away on maternity leave. I was able to use her desk for my first three months and was grateful for this because it made me feel like part of the team. When I asked if Maxine would mind me sitting there, all her coworkers laughed and went on about how kind Max is and that she would absolutely not mind.
Every day I saw the beautiful photos of her two girls on her desk, and a stunning photo of Max and her husband on their wedding day. I looked forward to finally meeting her when she returned in April.
After meeting Maxine, I realized that you really cannot say enough good things about her. She is genuine, charismatic and funny. She is not only passionate about her work, but she also cares so much about the people surrounding her.
I first noticed her thoughtfulness when Max walked by my new desk, which is a large table in the centre of the office, used for meetings or sometimes group lunches. As I did my work, there were a couple of items left over from someone’s lunch and a few unwanted sheets of paper, on the desk. Maxine immediately started clearing it all off, confused as to why anyone would leave this on “my” desk. This small act gave me a large amount of respect for Maxine. My respect has since grown over the last month and even more so after interviewing her for our blog.
Hope you all enjoy!
1.Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Ottawa.
2. How did you get your job at The Lord Elgin? How long have you worked here for?
I have worked here going on eight years in July. That will be my anniversary! I worked at another hotel before, working in the same market. Whenever I would travel on business or meet my clients, I’d ask what hotels they used in Ottawa. They would ALWAYS say the Lord Elgin.
Sure enough, my friend worked in the Lord Elgin sales department at the time and she called me saying a position had become available. I came in almost right away for an interview with Ann and David and I got the job within a couple days. Like they say, if you can’t beat them, join them.
3. At work, what is your biggest daily challenge? What do you enjoy the most?

I’m pretty lucky because I don’t think I have too many obstacles that I can’t overcome. I think that I’ve learned with age not to take things so personally. Whether working with clients or your daily interaction with staff you have to remember that business is business. However, when you are so emotionally involved in something, and when you put you entire self into it, it can be a challenge not to take things personally.

It can sometimes be an obstacle telling a potential client that maybe we are not the best fit. Sometimes when you’re in courtship with a client you realize that what we have and what they want may not be the same thing. Since part of my job is to get new business and nurture relationships, that can be difficult.
What I enjoy the most is Ottawa, I love Ottawa. Even though I have been the Tour & Travel Sales Manager for eight years and in this market for ten years, I still get excited about what Ottawa has to offer. I get inspired. I also think the hotel is amazing so it makes my job a lot easier. I love my coworkers, our products and who we are within the community. I love my job.
5. If you could describe your ideal day off, what would it involve?
I think it would for sure be a family outing. It would be either going to my parents’ house on the lake with the girls and my husband, or just staying at home with my family.
6. What is a movie title that describes your life?
Right now it would be “Parenthood”, both the movie and the title.
7. What is your biggest pet peeve?
I can’t stand it when you let someone go ahead of you on the road and they don’t give you the “thank you wave”- I hate that! I also don’t like when people don’t return their shopping cart to the proper spot, like when they leave it next to a car or something.
8. What do you do for fun/relaxation?
Right now my fun is my family. I think it would be playing with my girls, whatever it may be- that’s fun to me now. To relax, read a book, or if I’m lucky, watch a movie. I also love reality shows. They are so ludicrous that it really puts things into perspective in my life, and for me that’s relaxing.
9. How did use choose the name Maude for your daughter?
Okay, this is crazy. Even before I was pregnant, whenever I do something mindless (driving, going to the washroom) I just go through names constantly. It’s weird, just so bizarre.
So I had a name picked out for some time- Magalie. And we have really close friends who were pregnant before us and we had their baby shower for them. We were all talking about names and she said that she wanted to use the name Magalie. We had never discussed the name before! I was like “Oh man, as if!” She had a great story behind it and was also pregnant first, so I decided it wasn’t meant to be.
I wanted a name for my daughter that she would be proud of, and could do whatever she wants with, whether a restaurant server or a president. I wanted the name to be a strong and respected name but also soft and calm. When she was born, we still went a day without calling her Maude. But we are happy now, her name really suits her.

10. Do you find it hard to balance your work life and home life since you’ve had your baby girl?
No because when I’m at work, it’s work. The moment I’m out the door, it’s family. It’s tough when I travel because I’m away from my family, but I know it’s my job and I can switch it on and off if I want to.
11. What are three things you can’t live without?
My family, and food- I get excited about food. Everything revolves around food. Anything you celebrate there’s usually food- so it’s definitely up there. And the outdoors. I really enjoy being outside, in the fresh air and sunshine.
12. Describe yourself in one word.
This is hard because life is a quest to find out who you are, so we never really know. What I may think I am, people around me may not think I’m that person. One thing that would describe me pretty well is that I wear my heart on my sleeve.
It’s tricky because if I just say I’m passionate, or emotional, it can be construed as different things. I think with me what you see is what you get- maybe I’d say I’m “intense”.
13. If you could have any superpower what would it be, and what would you do with it?
I would want to be able to time leap back in time and into the future, for my own beneficial reasons. Also, I could probably help a lot of people with whatever cure.
14. If you could be any other person in the world, who would you be?
I want to say a person with some kind of statue- prime minister or celebrity- so I could make a difference. Then again, I’m Maxine, I’m not really anybody but I hope I can still make a difference in someone’s life. Why do we need statue? I over think things too much but I probably wouldn’t want to be President. It’s too much stress and responsibility-I just want to be me and hope I can be the best person, and change someone’s world or life- even if it’s just a little thing.
15. What is the last thing you regret buying?
Everything. I’m one of those shoppers that unfortunately like’s nice things, therefor I buy them. Then, I get home and have buyer’s remorse. And I hate returning things to the store! It’s uncomfortable! But I seem to have been doing that a lot lately.
16. If you were reincarnated as a food item, what would you be?
I’m thinking cheese, I love cheese. But the problem with cheese is you have one bite and then it’s gone!

17. What is your favourite quote or saying?
I don’t have one to be honest. The ones I find myself using more commonly are: “What comes around goes around”, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” and “Blood is thicker than water.” I’m French too so the French sayings aren’t necessarily the same in English. I tell my girls in French “I love you more than the earth”, but it doesn’t really make sense in English.

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Author: admin
• Monday, June 10th, 2013

Shannon is an exceedingly hard-working young woman. It seems that she is the go-to girl for everything and anything at The Lord Elgin. Every day I hear people (including myself) ask Shannon “How do I get this printer to work?” “What’s the Lord Elgin Meeting internet password?” or “What should I make for supper tonight? And how?”
Shannon also has this hilariously mischievous giggle that makes me laugh every time I hear it. Her vibrant style and honest personality make her a fabulous person to both know and work with. I have a feeling she will do great things in the near future.
1. Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in Cambridge, Ontario, and I group up in Williamstown, Ontario.
2. How did you come to work at The Lord Elgin and how long have you worked here for?
I have worked here for two years. I got my job through Ann, who is a personal friend.
3. What is the biggest challenge you face as catering manager?
The biggest challenge I face is collecting all the details from people. It can often be very last minute, and some people are unsure of what they want.
4. What do you like most about The Lord Elgin?
I love organizing successful events and having happy clients.
5. What is it like have an office partner?
It’s both fun and distracting. Mostly I distract Amanda by talking to her.
6. What are three things you cannot live without?
My puppy Bentley, my shoes, and my family.
7. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’d love to own a Bed & Breakfast. I worked in one when I was growing up and knew that I was meant to own one someday.
8. What is your guiltiest pleasure?
9. How did you discover your love for cooking/baking?
My mom. She has been doing it my entire life, and probably her entire life!

10. If you had to throw a dinner party tonight, what would you cook?
Hmmm! I would make a stuffed goat cheese pork tenderloin, with a cherry reduction sauce. Broiled asparagus, and mashed potatoes.
11. Where are three places you’ve never been but would love to go?
California, the Caribbean and Thailand.
12. Describe yourself in one word.
13. If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
Rachel Green, from Friends.
14. Who do you admire most in this world, and why?
My mom, she won Citizen of the Year this year for our township back home. She puts in long hours volunteering, baking cakes professionally, and of course being a mom. A mother’s job is never ending with 3 grown children and 4 beautiful grandchildren.
15. If you were invisible for one day, what would you do?
I would spend the day with the Kardashian’s.
16. What is your favourite quote or saying?
I love you to the moon and back.
17. Name something you are very good at, and something you are very bad at.
I’m very good at sewing. I’m very bad at knowing music artists. Geoff [her boyfriend, a DJ] will often say “Who sings this? You know every word!” and I’ll say “I have NO idea.”
18. If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?
I would buy a huge house and a cottage somewhere on a lake.

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Author: admin
• Monday, June 10th, 2013

Christopher Ward is quite an extraordinary whom I had the pleasure of interviewing this afternoon. Due to different schedules, I never got the opportunity to get to know Christopher before today. I was urged by multiple coworkers to choose him for my next blog profile- and rightly so.
Christopher has travelled to what seems like everywhere in this world. He is cultured, knowledgeable and an expert on endless subjects. A couple times during the interview we got off topic and I became completely memorized by his stories and experiences. He has been to so many diverse places in the world that he says it’s become impossible for him to think inside the box- those walls have been broken down.
When it comes to his role at the Lord Elgin Hotel, he is highly respected by both guests and colleagues. He has won more “Stars of the City” than anyone else in the hotel. He is great at his job because he genuinely loves people. Christopher goes above and beyond for our guests on a daily basis. He will even come in on his day off to show visitors around the city and has kept in touch with many of them over the years.
Overall, he is a remarkable asset to the Lord Elgin team with his kindness, fearlessness and “no regrets” attitude.
Thank you, Christopher, for the interview.

1. Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Brockville. I grew up in Crystal Rock, which is a junction of about 12 houses just south of Spencerville.
2. What is your favourite thing about your job at The Lord Elgin Hotel?
My favourite thing is interacting with international people and different cultures on a daily basis.
3. What is the most difficult situation you’ve been involved in while working here?
There was a difficult situation when I was approached by a guest who was not able to communicate in English. They spoke a language that we couldn’t find anyone who understood. They were distraught and clearly upset about something. I had been in their situation while travelling where I really needed to communicate with someone but couldn’t because of a language barrier, so it was frustrating not being able to help. Eventually, we did find someone who could translate. They just needed to get in touch with someone back home and didn’t know how to use our phone.
4. What is your favourite thing about Ottawa?
The multiculturalism, the greenness and the friendliness.

5. Where are the three most recent places you have travelled to? Which one did you enjoy the most?
I just came back from a month long tour through six countries in Southern Africa. The ones that stand out those most are South Africa, Malawi and Botswana. I enjoyed South Africa the most because I used to live there. It’s like finding an old, favourite pair of jeans after three years and having that comfortable fit and feel.
6. Where are three places you have never been but would love to go?
Nepal is one, Ethiopia and Uzbekistan. I like the off-the-wall stuff.
7. I hear you make fantastic biscotti, where did you learn to cook?
Through travelling I have tried so many different foods and I try to emulate them here. There’s a lot of trial and error, and I have very patient and understanding friends and family who are willing taste testers. I’ve also learned that anything with chocolate is never a failure.
8. I’ve also learned that you are a great photographer, what do you like to photograph the most?
I think I always try and find that “wow factor” photo. One that amazes even me when I see it afterwards. I am so lucky to be able to travel and see and experience cool places. I try to capture the essence and feeling of wherever I am to bring back [to Canada] and share that moment with others. I do it not only to show people, but to transport me back to that moment.
I don’t buy mugs or t-shirts anymore for souvenirs. My souvenirs are the memories of going through a local craft market. So, I try through one image, to capture the sights, smells and feelings of that moment. It allows for people to see part of the world that I’m seeing that they may not be familiar with. I try to be as creative as I can. The benefit of digital photography is there are no mistakes. I like to photograph the essence of where I am and create the “wow factor”.
9. What are three things you could not live without?
Music, chocolate and my passport.

10. What is your fondest memory from travelling abroad?
First thing that comes to mind is when I met a man who was carving a piece of art in Zanzibar. I sat and spoke with him for about half an hour. We had a dialog about how long it took him to make the piece and where he found inspiration. I’m sitting talking with this guy and I’m learning about his family, how his daily life is, and all while watching him carve this piece of art, which was sort of like a tree of life.
There were three pieces and I bought one of them. The biggest regret that I have is that I didn’t buy another one. At the time, I felt I didn’t have enough money. He was selling them for $25.00 which was nothing at the time, but to him it was a fair price. It took him two whole weeks to make and it was so beautiful. I have a hard time bargaining overseas. If it is something an artist puts his blood, sweat and tears into, to bargain would be to belittle his artistic creativity. I know bargaining is part of the culture in some countries, but I asked how long it took him to create and I used my consensus conscience as a guide and bargained to $24.00 and we were both happy. I felt that because I had watched him carve the tree of life, I was setting up a relationship, not just a buyer.
At the time I was working on a cruise ship and thought I would be back in 10 days. I told him I would return and buy another then. I realize now- Murphy’s Law- that when you have an opportunity, you seize it. We ended up having to sail by Zanzibar because of a storm. Of course, by the time I eventually got to go back, I couldn’t find him. Every time I returned I looked, but never found him. In a way the art is even more special now because I only have the one beautiful carving and because I was there with him while he was making it.
What is the scariest thing you have seen abroad?
I was once in a scary situation where I got in a taxi in St Petersburg, Russia- by myself and very late at night. I don’t speak Russian and so I had the bartender explain to the taxi driver where I was going.
When I took the taxi there, it was a left and a right and I was there in maybe five minutes. To get home, the taxi driver took a long detour and it took 25 minutes. I couldn’t communicate with him to say “What are you doing?” We were driving through a very rough part of town and it was really terrifying. I started to get giddy, but- maybe that was the vodka too… thinking I was being kidnapped! I was sitting in the back seat, and could only see the man’s eyes in the mirror watching me sweat. All I could hear in my mind was the little voice of my mother saying I should never get in a taxi, alone, late at night in a foreign country!
Finally, I started to recognize my surroundings. I later found out that in St Petersburg there are many bridges and locks that close during different hours. The bridge for the short route home had closed and that’s why we took the detour. By the time I got back I was shaking badly. I paid the cab driver, who was chuckling, as I’m sure he could sense my fear, the only $10.00 I had and felt very glad to be back in my destination!

11. Can you tell me about your years working on a cruise ship, what did you do and for how long?
I worked for Princess Cruises for four and a half years. I started as a Junior Assistant Purser on the Front Desk and then moved into the Shore Excursions department and worked up to Assistant Purser level. After Princess, I work as Shore Excursions Manager on a private ship for a year.
12. Describe yourself in one word.
13. What is something that makes your angry?
14. If you had the chance to go back in time one full day, where and when would you go?
I would go back in time to ancient Egypt to see how they really built the pyramids.
15. What is your guiltiest pleasure?
It would probably be to have a raspberry pie all to myself and not share.
16. What is something you are really good at and something you are really bad at?
I’d say something I’m good at is cooking. Something I’m bad at is effectively packing for a long trip.
17. If you could be any fictional character who would you be?

The invisible man.

18. What is your favourite quote or saying?

“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world” By Mary Anne Radmacher – Hershey. I heard this saying once and it really stayed with me.

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Author: admin
• Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

I met Liz Lesh in January on my first day of placement. Before she even spoke I noticed her incredible style and the infectious energy that she exuded. As I continued to get to know Liz over the past couple of months, I learned many more things. For one, she is hilarious, always speaking her mind fearlessly and knowledgably. She is a role model for young women with her independence, and healthy lifestyle. Liz also makes me people feel great on a daily bases with compliments, comments and constructive input.

I was excited to learn more about Liz Lesh, and she was more than happy to answer!

I began,

-Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in Montreal and grew up in Montreal.

-How many years have you worked for the Lord Elgin?

It will be four years in August!

-Out of all the hotels here in Ottawa, why did you choose to work at the Lord Elgin?

Well, you don’t always have a choice, however, when I was working at Novotel Hotel I always fantasized about working at the Lord Elgin. I loved the look, the curb side appeal, the presence on Elgin Street and the historical element. The Lord Elgin has character and I identify with it because I feel I also have character.

-What have been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote yourself or the hotel?

Face-to-face networking and if face-to-face is not possible then I do my best to show my human side. I feel when I am human and when I share who I am, then a bond begins and usually solidifies a business and sometimes a friendship relationship.

-Have you ever crossed any obstacles as a woman in a leadership/business role?

Yes I have. However, I use those experiences as advantages and I can usually turn an obstacle into an opportunity by using the fact that I am a woman. I am not a feminist!! I am a woman and proud to be a woman.

-And how do you deal with difficult people?

I recognize that we all have good and bad days. I also recognize that you cannot please everybody. I deal with difficult people by acknowledging that I know they’re experiencing a problem and I roll with it. Then I go home and have a shot of vodka.

-Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Aside from running on the canal and lifting weights, I hope to be working at the Lord Elgin Hotel IF they will still want me. This is precisely why I want to continue running, so that I can camouflage my age in 10 years. I may need some help from a plastic surgeon but will cross that bridge when I get there.

-What do you do for fun/relaxation?

Well, I don’t know how to relax. What I do for fun is not “fun” for most people, I love to go to the gym. And because I recognize that I don’t know how to relax I force myself to have a drink, sit back and have fun. I also cook, bake and listen to CBC for fun and relaxation.

-What three things could you not live without?

My workouts, my healthy food and my family. Not necessarily in that order.

-What is your fondest memory?

Giving birth to Sarah and Sammy.

-How do you cope with change?

Extremely well.

-Where are three places you’ve never been and would love to go?

Vancouver, believe it or not; Chicago, also believe it or not…and Thailand.

-If you could design a new colour — what would it look like?


-Describe yourself in one word.


-How do you get balance in your life?

That’s a good question, I don’t have balance. I’m in transition trying to find balance.

-If you knew then what you know now, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?

Stay in University, be more tolerant and patient.

-Where is your favorite place to shop?

New York.

-How many pairs of shoes do you own?

I’ve never counted, but let’s go with 69. And assuming I have 69 shoes, 57 of them are black.

-What is your favorite quote or saying?

Live and let live.

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Author: admin
• Wednesday, May 01st, 2013

Name: David Smythe
Place of Birth: Kingston, ON
Graduated from: Loyalist College in Belleville, Hotel and Restaurant Program

Over the past four months I’ve been at the Lord Elgin Hotel, I have seen the extreme leadership and passion that is driven through our GM, David Smythe. It is very clear the respect that everyone in the hotel has towards him and his hard work.

I really benefit from sitting through the 9am daily meetings where every department of the hotel discusses what is happening in their specific area that day. It’s a pleasure to listen to David speak with thorough knowledge of the hospitality industry through different ideas and opinions. He is very busy yet always seems to be organized and calm.

I sat down with the family man and began my interview with five questions.

-What got you interested in the hospitality industry?

My first job was bussing tables at the Royal Military College in Kingston. After that, other jobs that came along weren’t nearly as fun or as interesting. I kept gravitating towards working in restaurants and bars, and eventually went to school for that.

-How did you come to work at The Lord Elgin Hotel?

I received a phone call from my now boss Raymond St. Pierre when I was working at the Holiday Inn in Kanata. He called me up and asked if he could have lunch with me, and it went from there!

-What is it you like best about your job as General Manager?

What I really like best is when I know the hotel has been busy, and the entire team fulfilled our promise of service worthy of a Lord. As well when I know each one of our guests and groups have gone home feeling excited about how their stay was. That’s the best feeling right there- you feel so proud.

-Can you describe yourself with one word?


-What is something you would like to improve on, whether in the work atmosphere or life in general?

Personal, I would like to be able to run 10k again. In the workplace, I want the next round of renovations to take this hotel to the next level. That’s what I’d really, really want to happen- both in product and in service.

[To switch up the pattern of my blog, I next asked David to finish 15 of my sentences…]

1. The biggest challenge(s) I face are … business challenges. That’s a reality that is very difficult due to the reduced travel into Ottawa from large business. Things that are beyond our control and not knowing where the Canadian economy is going. It brings challenges and issues for ownership and management. We as managers have to deal with them as they come with a positive and constructive manner and that’s a challenge some days. We must find ways to deals with these changes.
2. The Lord Elgin is … it’s funny , if you were to ask most people they would say The Lord Elgin is a hotel. When you ask me, I would say Andrew Bruce, the current Lord Elgin who resides in Scotland.
3. People always tell me … they have stayed at the Lord Elgin. Or that their parents have stayed there, or their parents have got married there, or their grandparents. It happens all the time. At the Thunder Bay Airport, on a ski lift in Whistler, chatting with people who say “I know the Lord Elgin, I was there 20 years ago.” It’s great that the hotel is recognized all over Canada.
4. The television show I watch … currently, is Game of Thrones. And when Homeland comes back on I’ll certainly watch that.
5. A place I like … first thing that came to mind is Kingston. It’s my hometown. I’m very fond of Kingston. It has the lake, the Thousand Islands, and charm.
6. My fondest memory … my kids being born. Each different, each so memorable.
7. My father taught me … family is everything.
8. I would really like to meet … interestingly, one of the people I wanted to meet was Isadore Sharp, founder of the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts chain. And guess what? I met him 10 days ago in Toronto at the OHI Awards. Cool, eh! In the industry he is the one person I wanted to meet.
9. I’ve always been fascinated by … how nature finds a way to remind all of us that human’s don’t control everything.
10. If I could be any superhero … I’d be Iron Man.
11. My guiltiest pleasure … sweets. I like sweets. Chocolate, cake, French pastries, you name it. It gets the better of me.
12. I’m really bad at …being patient.
13. My greatest talent is … I don’t have one. I just have a lot of things that I seem to do well at, or with.
14. Five years from now … I want to be the proudest GM in Ottawa.
15. My favourite motto or saying is … do the right thing.

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• Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Our Executive Chef at the Lord Elgin Hotel is Brian Vallipuram. My first impression of Brian’s cooking happened on my very first day of co-op. Ann and I went to Grill 41 for lunch and sat at a booth with a fantastic view of Elgin Street and Confederation Park.

As an appetizer we were given bread and hummus. It was not as simple as it sounds however. It was by far the greatest hummus I have ever tasted in my life- and it was made by Chef Brian. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend you come taste it during your next visit to downtown Ottawa.

Chef Brian loves to experiment and create unique flavors. He’s also always opened to adjusting certain meals as to match a guests want or need. Besides his fabulous skills in the kitchen, he is very funny. He always has a witty response to something someone says.

I was excited to ask Brian questions on how he obtained such talents, and other questions I was curious about.


-Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

I was born in Sri Lanka. I grew up in Chavakachcheri which is in Northern Sri Lanka up until I was 15 years old.

-How old were you when you left home, and where did you go?

I was 17 when I left home. I first moved to Syria for a couple months and then moved to Italy to work.

-What inspired or influenced you to become a Chef?

Well, when we were immigrants in Europe, cooking is a job that is easily available. In Germany I worked in a very small restaurant where the Chef told me I had good taste. He then started teaching me authentic German cuisine and I have never looked back since. It was in 1987 when I joined Oliver’s Bistro that I learned to recognize Canadian tastes and demands.

-What is your favourite flavour or spice to use?

With my flavours, I like to mix them. Mainly I like to mix the Japanese and Indian spices. A Japanese soy sauce called kappa yokai and Indian spices like fennel, turmeric and coriander seeds.

-How many restaurants have you worked in?

Hmmm. I have cooked in almost every European city except the Scandinavian cities. I’ve cooked in Greece, Italy, France, Holland, Paris and Amsterdam. I have even worked on a cruise ship in Germany where I was a mess boy (sort of like a butler). I served to the ship’s Captain, Assistant Captain, civil engineer, etc. But, as far as restaurants specifically I have worked in five, and have owned and operated three.

-What is your favourite thing about working at The Lord Elgin?

I enjoy the daily challenges of customer needs, such as special requests or demanding guests. I am surrounded by so many different department heads that it always makes for an interesting day. It’s never boring.

-Can you tell me about your new YouTube videos you plan to start?

With the help of Jeremy, we want to have a series of YouTube videos for whenever we have a menu change, new menu items, or new crew members. We will do it in hopes of promoting Grill 41 and to show everyone what we’re doing.

-If you had to permanently live somewhere, besides Ottawa, where would it be?

I honestly wouldn’t trade to live anywhere else, I love Ottawa. I like the people here. There are some warm countries I would like to stay, but people are so friendly and family oriented in Ottawa. It’s getting big but it’s still little and comfortable.

-What is your fondest memory?

The first day I held my daughter Brianna is one of my fondest. I could never forget that day. (Fun Fact: Brianna’s name is Brian’s with “na” at the end)

-How old is your daughter now?

In June she will be six. Last night I took her to the Women’s World Junior hockey game and she very much liked that.

Where is your wife from?

I met my wife in Canada but she was born in Jamaica.

-If you had to choose your final meal, what would it include?

It would have to be authentic Sri Lankan food. Although I do also love classic French, Italian, and German foods, as long as it is authentic. But in the end, you have to go back to your mother roots.

-If you had to describe yourself with a food item, what would it be?

Well I always liked my steak, a USDA prime sirloin.

-If you could be any other person, who would you be?

I would like to be a Robert De Nero, he’s a VERY good actor! I also like Steve McQueen, but he has passed away.

Have you cooked for any famous people?

I have worked for a lot of fine dining restaurants which attracted some elite people. I met Steven Seagal when I was in Toronto. I met Prince, he came to my restaurant many times. Also David Hasselhoff. I have cooked for the Prime Minister. There have been some important people that have eaten my food.

-Any other comments?

Whatever you do, make sure you like what you do and you stick with it. Make sure you have a solid foundation. Without a foundation, you have no house.


Brian and I then ordered an egg white omelette and discussed how my phone bill is too expensive and the proper way for me to apply for a restaurant job when I move to Australia in July. Brian is incredibly easy to talk to and is a very genuine and caring person. I came to learn he raised $10,000 for Red Cross for the Tsunami Relief and has catered for many other charity events such as Toronto Child Abuse Centre and Heart and Stroke Foundation.

You’re a good man Charlie Brown.. I mean Brian Vallipuram. 

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• Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

The person I chose to interview next was an easy decision- Ravi. He is our Guest Service Manager, one of the most difficult jobs in a hotel and an incredibly funny and kind individual. He is always in a good mood and always chatting up guests and co-workers. Every Friday when I walk in, Ravi and I have our own little “it’s Friday dance” that we like to do.

I was informed yesterday, that Ravi has accepted a new position as the GM at the Residence Inn by Marriott, our sister hotel, as we have the same owner. I know this was sad news for everyone because he is an amazing addition to the Lord Elgin team. His new co-workers will be very lucky to have him!

Before I interviewed Ravi, I was unaware of how wise he is. He has experienced many fascinating things in his life time and he is very inspiring. I’m glad to have sat down and spoke with him before he parted ways with The Lord Elgin Hotel.

-What is your favourite part about your job at Lord Elgin?

What I like about this place is the people that I work with. I think they are awesome. They give the guests the kind of experience that they demand, which pleases me as well as serves the purpose of this business. It is very important to have a happy and motivated team of people. Whether at the front desk or at the valet desk. If I can invoke that kind of motivation in everyone that works here, then I think we have a happy and successful hotel. I believe that the principle I work with is that I have an extremely high level of self -motivation, and look at myself with an inward eye on a daily basis. I show it through other practises as well. This level of motivation is usually passed down to the people who work with me, so overall it serves the businesses purpose. So, that’s the best thing about this place, the team.

-What will you miss most about the lord elgin hotel?

I think the whole experience is something that Ill miss.

-Are you excited for your new job? Nervous?

I am both! I’m extrememly nervous because I am going into an unknown field in a certain manor. I know hotels, but I dare say I know exactly what is being done. I’m excited because it’s a good change for me and I’ve been waiting 10 years for this opportunity. When I last left a hotel it was as a GM in Dubai.

-How many different hotels have you worked in?
Eleven hotels. All in a period of 40 years.

-Can you tell me about a bad experience you’ve had in a hotel? Perhaps a crazy guest or visit?

I’ve had a lot of bad experiences. A lot. I have hundreds of stories. I’ll tell you of my oldest experience when I worked at the InterContinental Hotel in Mumbai in 1975. There was a sooth sayer (like a fortune teller) and she was sitting with her hand under her chin, with her eyes open. She sat there for hours. And… she was dead. She had a heart attack and died in that position.

I originally saw her in the lobby when I left the hotel and I had waved at her. When I returned to work 3 hours later she was still there and I acknowledged her again. Then it was midnight and she was still there in the same position. That’s when I got freaked out. She was in the same position, her legs crossed, hand on chin. I called the security and he tapped her on the shoulder and she just fell over. I had walked by her three times but I was a young guy and just dumb. That was something I will never forget.

-Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in India and grew up in many parts of India. I speak many Indian languages, about six.

-What are the three favourite places you’ve previously traveled to?

Kathmandu in Nepal, I consider that to be a fantastic place. I would say that’s the best.

I also love the Maldives, which is a set of islands south of India, east of Africa- in the Indian ocean. I developed a resort there. It is a fatastic destination, the highest point in all of the islands is 3 feet above sea level and they are surrounded by coral reef. It is extremely beautiful.

Third place I’d say is India. I have very fond memories of India. Most of all the small villages where people are very poor yet extremely hospitable. I find that to be a very gratifying experience to have gained when I traveled there when I was young. Hospitality has no bounderies in terms of rich, poor, black, white, green… it goes beyond that. People who have nothing would share a meal with us because we were travelers and had no place to stay.

-What are three places you’ve never been but would love to go?

South Africa, China and we’ve always wanted to go to Spain. Several places. Oh and especially Brazil, for the jazz music and sambas- and the women!

-What was the happiest moment of your life?

Very difficult question. One happy moment was when I became the GM of a business hotel in Bombay. My goal was to get a job like this within 10 years of graduation. In those days in India, it would take a minimum of 15 years to be a General Manager after finishing school, so I had a real “wow” moment. I decided I was going to work twice the amount of time so I could gain the experience and accomplish that goal. I was very pleased. Of course, marrying my wife in 1977 was also a very happy moment.

-What was the last thing you regret buying?

I don’t buy too much. But a condo in India is the last thing I regret.

-What three adjectives might other people use to describe your personality?

Calm, crazy, and knowledgeable.

-If you were stranded on an island with only one item, what would it be?

A speedboat.

-If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?

I would revisit Africa and find ways to sort the state there, in terms of the average people.

-If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?

I don’t know, but wisdom does come at 50.

-If you were reincarnated as ice cream, what flavor would you be?

I’ve always liked strawberry, but rum and raisin sounds even better.

-If you could develop any talent (ie. Dancing, singing) what would it be?

The most important thing for people is kindness and generosity. I think I am kind but not generous enough. So I’d like to improve on my generosity. Someone with both is someone who can succeed in life because your wants are not important. Other people have less wants and more needs. We have all our needs but have more wants.

-Any last comments or “send-offs”?

I’ll certainly miss The Lord Elgin Hotel and my team. I’ll miss all the people, people really grow on you. I will also miss Brigitte’s hair colour, that changes throughout the season. All of my experiences have and will always be good, and I am grateful for them.

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• Monday, March 18th, 2013

Food, restaurants and taking care of people have always been a passion of mine. Since I was 16 I have always had a job in the food and drink industry. Whether I was hosting, serving, bartending or driving around on the golf cart, I’ve always enjoyed the busy atmosphere.

Natasha Bordier, our banquet and . taking care of a guest, serving meals or simply filling the water jugs, it is definitely a comfort zone of mine.

Today, I was more than happy to ask Natasha a few questions. She’s incredibly hard-working and genuine.. not to mention, I love the way she says my name with her accent (she is from France).

I began with my usual question,

-Where are you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in Dijon and spent all my life in France. I moved to Ottawa three years ago.

-What got you started in the food and beverage industry?

My parents had a company that sold wine to restaurant, and that’s where it started!

-How did you come to work at The Lord Elgin Hotel?

The company that I am working with (Sodexo) offered me a position here.

-What makes your banquet team so awesome?

We are awesome because we all make an effort to work together as a team. Our banquet team is a family!

-What do you believe makes a good banquet server?

A team player, hard-worker, and consumer oriented. You must always have the guest in mind.

-Have you ever lost your cool in a busy situation?

There are times when I get mad and need to go for a walk. I need to take the time to be alone and cool down. I am very passionate so when things get crazy, I do everything I can to not take it out on others.

-What is your favourite way to spend a day off work?

Reading, I love reading.

-How many hours do you sleep at night?

5 hours.

-Who do you admire most in the world?

The most in the world, wow, so many different people come to mind. I really love the first women President in Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Also, any person with drive such as Ghandi or Nelson Mandela.

-If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?


-Do you cook? If so what is your specialty?

Yes I cook! I think chocolate cake is my specialty. I always love to make one when it is my friend’s birthday. I like to be creative every time and add something new and different to every batch.

-Name three places you have never been but would love to visit?

I would love to go to New Zealand, South Africa, and probably Argentina. I would love to hear the women I find incredible speak, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

-If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Did you ever watch the television series Charmed? One of the witches could be at two places at one time. I would love that.

-Any other comments you would like to express?

I love working with banquets. It very personalized, you don’t have step-by-step rules to follow. People like that we are approachable and friendly. I’m very lucky to have the team I have.

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