Ann asked me to submit to our Blog – EEEK but I don’t blog! After avoiding the subject for several weeks Ann pinned me down. For those of you who know Ann you will appreciate it’s just so hard to say no to Ann.
I was asked to join the LE in 2004 and it was almost a year before I said yes. It took me that long to consider leaving the world of branded hotels where someone else is really calling all the shots on the hotels identity. From corporate speak to what kind of carpet gets laid. I had honed my career to working within and for the brand. I had become the brand in order for me and the hotels I managed to be successful within the company and more importantly within their perspective markets. I am sure many of you understand that you must work the system to maximize the outcomes.
There were so many factors to consider moving to a truly independent hotel. Was the hotel still relevant to its market? Was ownership committed to providing the resources required to the redevelopment of the property? Was ownership in it for the long haul? Would I be given the autonomy I will require to make the necessary organizational changes to transition into a market leader? Can an independent hotel break through the glass ceiling and compete head on with the big branded machines that have consistently dominated the market. After doing my homework I was convinced the LE was a sleeping giant. Nevertheless there are never guarantees. Success is not a given. So the question was did I have the confidence to leave the safety of the brands where I had crafted a very safe career for myself or was it time to take a real risk and leverage all my experience, knowledge, skills and tenacity to lead the LE into the future. For me it was a paradigm shift. No one to fall back on but myself and those I would work with. What a challenge how exciting!
Wow have we broken through the glass ceiling. We truly do compete head on with all of the branded hotels and their corporate machines that support them. In October of 2014 the hotel was recognized as the Star Property of the year by Ottawa Tourism. The Award is given to the hotel that has been recognized by its patrons as the best hotel in the city. Additionally we were recognized by Trip Advisor with a Certificate of Excellence in 2014 and 2015. In every sense of the word we are now considered a leading hotel in the Ottawa Market. We have in a sense created our very own LE brand. One which our associates and guests have come to love.
I am so very, very lucky to be at the helm of the Lord Elgin Hotel where we have created something very special for the associates and most importantly for the guests. There is not a day that goes by where I say gee I wish I was working for a branded hotel. I am so proud of the fact that we are Canadian owned and operated by a truly professional committed Canadian team.
from David Smythe, C.H.A
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.