From Ann Meelker, Director of Sales and Marketing, Lord Elgin Hotel
Well, I am one of the true veterans here. I started at this hotel over 40 years ago, while I was a student at University of Ottawa. I was hired by Don Blakslee, a dear friend and fellow Kiwanian of my brothers. My summer job was in the reservations department, taking bookings on little white cards, keeping track of inventory and filling all these little cards according to date. Amazing, but the simple process worked and I loved my summer job here. I would take my lunch in Confederation Park, sitting at the fountain, taking in the rays.
Fast forward, after graduating, marriage, 4 children (boys all born close together) and guess where I end up? Don Blakslee many years later calls me and says ‘Annie, I need someone in our sales office…. Would you consider going back to work?’… My baby was 4 and I was ready…
After a brief hiatus, I returned to the Elgin 11 years ago and I am home. Don Blakslee retired (after an unbelievable run of 50 years) and David Smythe runs the show now (a wonderful boss). Blakslee (as we call him) is still around and provides his sage advice and wisdom and shares the fabulous stories we love to hear. As we approach our 75th year, these and more memories will be captured in a small publication.
I am the luckiest person!! I love this place and the warmth and history of it. I love that the Lord Elgin from Scotland stays with us from time to time. I love that everyone has a story of when they stayed here. I love that the Mayor and other well known personalitiess come in to pick up a paper, have lunch, or get their morning java. I feel like I am in the heart of this beautiful city and part of its story. I love my fellow employees and especially my team, who are the very best anyone could ask for – loyal and so hard working.
So as we launch this new website and this blog, you will see input from my team and a variety of voices around the hotel, as it should be. They all have their nuggets to share – their favorite spots to go, eat, shop, or just be and their stories are a delight to hear.
From Liz Lesh, Sales Manager (loved for her flair and fun!), Lord Elgin Hotel
This weekend, 2 of my best friends, Big City girls, Janice and Lisa, are coming to visit from Montreal. Before I continue, let me give you a bit of background on Janice and Lisa. 56 year old successful professionals who like their steak, wines, espressos and the occasional cigarette (product of the 60’s and 70’s, and some things you just cannot change). Janice and Lisa think they are coming to visit Liz, the X-Montrealer now Small Town Ottawa Girl. Well, I am going to give them the time of their life here in “Small Town Ottawa”.
Arrival Saturday noon, we head out to Lansdowne and have lunch on the patio of Local Public Eatery. People watching is one of our favorite activities and my friends will be very entertained by the cyclists, joggers, walkers, Birkenstocks and Yoga wearing locals in what researchers refer to as “enclothed cognition” (the clothing we wear influence our behaviour). Janice and Lisa wear Stuart Weitzman flip flops, I wear Birkenstocks. Yup, I drank the Ottawa Kool-Aid and my feet could not be happier. After craft beer on the patio and a bit loosened up, we will walk over to Sporting Life for some old fashioned shopping. Montreal, one of the shopping capitals of the world, does not have a Sporting Life. Another notch in Ottawa’s belt, and if you have not been to this amazing store, save up some serious dollars, and wait for a sale and GO!! They have fabulous clothes, active wear, and they “get” customer service.
Off to Bridgehead Coffee we will go a locally owned coffee shop that boasts Fair-trade beans and roasts its own coffee. It just so happens that my son Sammy is one of Bridgehead’s finest Barista’s. Of course I need to show off a bit. Lisa’s son is a lawyer, Janice’s son is a top student at a private school and my Sammy is a celebrated Barista! And damn it, I am a proud mommy. Next blog, I will boast his bar tending skills at Belmont Snack Bar…stay tuned.
Pumped up on Bridgehead coffee, we will walk over to Whole Foods and salivate over the stunning display of fruit, vegetables, cheeses, & meats. Montreal does not have Whole Foods either!! Booya!
Saturday night, we will Uber to Empire Restaurant on the patio and take in the gorgeous Harley’s, BMW and Ducati bikes parked across the street with their owners strutting their gear. (Janice, Lisa and I grew up in the “hood” of Montreal East End; we have a secret “thing” for Bikers, but what woman doesn’t?). Beautiful people, happy people, crazy people, crowds, cameras, iPhones, snazzy shiny cars, high heels, short dresses, tight jeans, music, action, cosmopolitans, and wine. Reality of our age hits us by 10:00 p.m. and we Uber back home. Ya, I know, Uber is illegal, but have you tried it????
Sunday, 20 km cycle with Art is In Bakery as our destination and our reward. The freedom of riding on roads closed to cars will be liberating and wonderful! Janice and Lisa will feel as if part of the Tour de France. Well, that is how I always feel.
Over 50 kilometres of parkways in Ottawa and Gatineau Park are open for cyclists, in-line skaters, runners and walkers.
I am so excited to host these Montreal Diva’s. I think I will be giving them an Ottawa experience they will remember for a long time. If nothing else, they will have a good laugh at our Birkenstocks, and Ottawa’s healthy lifestyle.
This is my city and I love it!!