fire in a high-rise building.

Mitigating the Risk of a Fire

In the past few months, my neighborhood in Toronto has seen two, five-alarm fires. Fortunately, in both cases, there was no loss of life nor personal injuries reported. In one instance, a residence only a few months after completion experienced an attic conflagration, destroying a family’s dream of a domestic paradise. As for the other, a recently renovated, century-old racquet club inferno left more than a thousand members ‘in the cold’ with no preferred meeting place or exercise facility. Not being a member of the fire marshal’s office, I can only surmise the causes and the full extent of structural damage. Both events share a common result, though – unanticipated displacement and a loss in revenue for the business. As a hotel general manager, no doubt a property fire would be among your worst nightmares. In your position, you have a dual responsibility. First is to mitigate any risk of …

lmaadminMitigating the Risk of a Fire
Group of green sprouts growing out from soil

Spring Is Here! What Are You Doing About It?

With daylight savings flipping our clocks an hour forward on the 12th and with the sun crossing the equator this past weekend during the March equinox, we are now officially into spring. This stretch of time can be quite variable for the books so it is deserving of particular attention so that you can set a precedent for recurrent stability and healthy occupancy. While corporate and groups are perennially strong during this time with the zenith of group activity coming only after the schools have resumed the tail end of their semesters, the season can be meddlesome for the leisure front excluding any spring break family or college student getaways. Still, though, there is much that can be done to drum up sales between now and Memorial Day which traditionally marks the beginning of summer and the peak travel period. First off, there aren’t many ‘rallying points’ during this stretch …

lmaadminSpring Is Here! What Are You Doing About It?
Statue of Bacchus the Roman god of agriculture and wine, similar to the Greek Dionysus

In Vino Veritas LVI: Happy Liberalia

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This is something I extol with a grain of salt as today’s holiday, which is supposed to be a heartfelt celebration of Irish history and culture, has been somewhat hijacked in recent years by rowdy revelers and college kids in search of their next excuse for intoxication. There is, however, a defunct Roman holiday – the Liberalia – which also occurs on this day. While the modern leprechaun is keen on beer, the Roman counterpart upheld wine as its hallowed libation, and therein lies a profound takeaway by contrasting the two occasions and their beverage of choice. Without going into specifics about the weird and hypersexualized rituals that the ancient Italians had for the Liberalia, what’s interesting is that it was not just a celebration to honor the god of viticulture – that is, Liber Pater, but not Bacchus or Dionysus who were the Roman gods …

lmaadminIn Vino Veritas LVI: Happy Liberalia
Happy female workers cleaning company ready to start work

Housekeeping is a Contact Sport

Every hotelier knows that housekeeping is a vital aspect of any property’s operations. All it takes is just one look at an online review site to see just how sensitive guests are to errors in this regard. Even though we all know how important the role of the housekeeper is, seldom do we managers know how to actually do what they do so that we can truly empathize with the issues they encounter on a daily basis. I decided to change that this past month by spending a day working alongside (shadowing, really) an experienced team member of a luxury hotel property. I was asked not to reveal the name of the property nor the housekeeping staff member who I will refer to as Donna (obviously not her real name). Nursing a single malt as I write this, my back is still aching and I remain in awe of her …

lmaadminHousekeeping is a Contact Sport

Cheap And Cheerful Renovations

There are many indicators that might tell you it’s time to renovate. Your TripAdvisor scores are dropping with guest complaints skewing increasingly towards facilities and maintenance rather than service. Or say you just received a conditional score on your annual inspection. It can even be as obvious as the faded green floral wallpaper that used to match the emerald porcelain tiles or the white shag carpeting now sporting various shades of gray. The wear and tear on hotels far exceeds that of a personal residence. You might repaint rooms in your home once every decade depending on taste or changes in family needs. In the hotel business, though, that schedule would be seriously inadequate. Bedrooms, lobbies, hallways and the outside areas closest to the front door are under continuous guest scrutiny. Of course, CAPEX funds for renovations are always tight. Most budgets are built around covering yearly overhead and variable …

lmaadminCheap And Cheerful Renovations
Assortment of fine chocolate candies, white, dark, and milk chocolate Sweets background Copy space Top view

A Chocolate Expert Tells All

While I’ve been writing blog-style articles for the past seven years, by my family’s standards I’m actually late to the game. Both of my two sisters as well as my father were all accomplished scribes long before I even entertained the notion of stepping on a soapbox. As today is Valentine’s Day, it is my absolute delight to interview my sister Marcia who happens to be the Director of Insight for Mintel Food and Drink ( With offices all over Europe, Asia and North America, Mintel is the world’s leading market intelligence agency, and my sister’s specific area of expertise happens to be chocolate. What a delicious job! She’s here today to give us the inside scoop on all the latest trends and developments in this sweet industry so that you, as the ever-innovative hotelier, can find a way to use this decadent food to help differentiate your F&B offerings. …

lmaadminA Chocolate Expert Tells All
Plate full of sweet cookie macaroon and mint leaves

VIP Welcome Refreshments

Certain tactics never fail, and here’s one that you should definitely implement at your property if you haven’t already. Offering your guests a little amuse bouche or free beverage upon arrival is an excellent way to get them in a good mood after the stress and exhaustion of travel, helping to set the pace for the rest of their stay. Most hoteliers are aware of this in a general sense, but it is the execution where we often stumble. The expected welcome refreshment is a bottle of wine, a small cheese tray, a fruit place, crackers, cookies or any combination of the five. Nowadays, though, you must look beyond the perfunctory and truly own this aspect of the guest experience if you are to make a lasting impression. While I can’t speak for your specific hotel and what might work for your budget, logistics and locale, the best I can …

lmaadminVIP Welcome Refreshments
set of cheese on a straw

An Urban Hotel That’s Using Cheese To Earn Some Serious Cheddar

Few restaurateurs on the planet would argue that cheese isn’t a good meal or wine accompaniment. But fewer still are properly leveraging these savory pairings to enhance the overall dining experience and subsequently turn a better profit. I’ve been a big fan of The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto long before it even opened its doors as I was eager for this esteemed brand to finally make its mark in my home city. Even though nearly every feature and amenity in this hotel is worth lauding, I have seldom mentioned the local Ritz Carlton before because, alas, I lack a reason to stay at a hotel overtop of the comforts of my own house some twenty minutes away. All that changed, however, after a chance encounter with the property’s Director of Food and Beverage Operations, Arjun Gopi, wherein he offered to give me the royal tour of their signature restaurant, TOCA. An unassuming …

lmaadminAn Urban Hotel That’s Using Cheese To Earn Some Serious Cheddar
Bottle assembly for manufacturing traditional craft cognac

In Vino Veritas LV – Scoured Grapes

Distilled grape spirits present yet another opportunity for you to boost F&B revenues, both through their gracing of the drinks list and as worthwhile cooking ingredients or pairings for cuisine. The title here of ‘scoured’ was a shaky attempt at rhyming off of the common ‘sour grapes’ expression, but in a lot of ways it’s still relevant. To scour is to clean – albeit primarily through scrubbing – which is in many ways similar to the process of distilling the alcohol from a fermentation batch of whatever macerated fruit, pomace or sugar-filled primary ingredient a producer starts with. After all, they are called ‘spirits’ because these distilled products are first the hollow, tasteless essence of their juice before additional flavors are reintroduced through barrel aging or other supplementary processes. Enough about the science of how these beverages are made; what’s most important for hoteliers is how to wield these higher-than-20% …

lmaadminIn Vino Veritas LV – Scoured Grapes