The Perks of Being an Independent Hotel


In the world of hospitality, many people think all hotels now days are part of a chain, either directly or under a corporations’ smaller subsidiary, however this isn’t the case! Many hotels are independently owned and operated and the Lord Elgin Hotel is very proud to be under that category.

While being independent hotel in sea of chains can be intimidating, the Lord Elgin Hotel has made a name for itself and wouldn’t want it any other way. Being independent has its perks for the hotel, for their staff and for their clients. Having been located in this landmark location for over 75 years now has helped create our own ‘brand’, that is strong and free!

The hotel itself has a lot more freedom and less bureaucracy when it comes to decisions about the hotel and about client contracts. Do not let that fool you into thinking that there are no standards or support, independent hotels have to ensure that their standards are at least at par or above those of their competitors in order to obtain guests and clients. However, this just means that they can tailor to clients needs and are more flexible when it comes to their clients wants.

To add these decisions are made quite quickly and as independent hotels have the perk of being nimbler. Meaning that when a client calls into an office decisions are being made within that office, as everyone is directly working in house. There approvals and decisions are discussed in person and with quicker turn around.

Another aspect where independent hotels differ from chains is when it comes to that corporate feel. Many chain hotels have quicker turn over rates when it comes to staff as well as big breadth of positions going all the way to the top. While both avenues of hotels are a business, independents have a smaller staff, with the higherups positioned within the office, therefore the general manager, the housekeeping staff, sales staff and bellman interact daily creating this big family vibe. Walking through the lobby at the Lord Elgin Hotel really shows that, everyone is bubbling and talking to each other making sure everyone is their colleagues are covered, and ensuring guests have been looked after regardless of their role in the hotel.

While everyone has their preferences when it comes to booking a hotel for meetings and overnight stays, the myth of choosing a chain hotel ensures you getting what you want and need is not true and is proven by independent hotels like the Lord Elgin.


We asked some of our staff to say in their own words what they love about working at an independent hotel – in particular, the Lord Elgin Hotel.

From Carolyn, our Executive Housekeeper (over 25 years with us):

As an Executive Housekeeper servicing our guests over 25 years at the LE , I can say being an independent Hotel allows our housekeeping team to go the extra mile – to do whatever it takes to ensure guests receive the best hospitality the Nation’s Capital has to offer

From Liz Lesh in our sales office:

I have the freedom to focus on a guest’s experience and provide personalised service. I can be a chameleon and cater my language and services based on each individual client as I’m not bound by brand standards. Our clients enjoy being treated like real people and we can treat them like family.

I can have a proposal to a client within 1 hour of receiving the RFP (request for proposal). This gives me an advantage over brand hotels who have layers of process in place before they can turn a RFP into a proposal.

From Tessa in our sales office:

Working for an independent hotel, I have the opportunity to customize experiences for my clients, bring creative ideas to the table and personalize the service that I bring to my guests each day.

From Anwar in our reservations department:

Being an independent hotel creates a family oriented environment which allows our staff to deliver a higher level of care to our guests more naturally.

From Terina, our intern:

Starting as an intern in January I was initially very intimidated, however, my fears were put to ease very quickly. Having that sneak peak behind the curtain, I can assure you that the cohesive group that you see in the lobby is exactly what you see behind closed doors. Sales staff don’t hesitate to help each other out to ensure that each client has been taken care of. As you take a break in the lunch room, everyone says hello and are genuinely interested in asking how you’re doing. Regardless of position everyone treats everyone as equals. Everyone works within the hotel and for the interests of the hotel, which in turn is in the interest of having happy clients to ensure they can keep a name for themselves within all of the chain hotels available in the area.

From Ann in sales:

This hotel is unique in that it has heart and soul… it takes hold of you and it’s tough to let go. Having worked here as a student over 40 years ago and back and forth over the years, it has put its hooks in me and has not let go. I love how invested our team is and how quick we reach out and help each other. We are not confined by some ‘corporate’ speak, but act with genuine desire to make someone’s day brighter and better. Some of my very best friends have grown up with me here and many will say the same thing.

As a 100% locally owned and operated hotel, we have to be more self-reliant. We cannot rely on a brand to feed us business. This necessitates taking risks, engaging more locally and developing partnerships within the local community; recognizing we are stronger together and making Ottawa an attractive and exciting destination is good for everyone, including of course, the guest. That is what real hospitality and tourism should be about. We have so much to be proud of in this beautiful city!

From David, our General Manager:

For me, there are so many aspects to being independent that I enjoy. I am proud of the fact that we are responsible for every aspect of the hotel: its marketing, its operations and even its renovations. There is no head office with hundreds if not thousands of staff supporting a branded hotel. We have developed our own service culture based on what our clienteles needs and expectations are. It is so rewarding to see the efforts of the team deliver on every aspect of our business, and in the cases where we don’t, we as a team learn from these mistakes and work collectively to ensure they are not repeated. Another significant factor for me is that we are wholly Canadian owned and operated; all profits stay right here in Ottawa and are not sent to a national brand headquarters in another country. Operating an independent hotel is not for everyone as there is the ever present two edge sword. If we fail, there is no brand or head office to help. Personally, I thrive in this environment as I only see opportunities.