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Exceptional Hospitality in the GTA Recognized with the 2016 Spirit Awards

On April 22, the Greater Toronto Hotel Association (GTHA) presented the fifth annual Spirit Awards, a ceremony that recognizes the tireless efforts of front line staff at hotels across Toronto and the GTA. Nominees in 18 different categories, including housekeeping room attendant, valet driver, laundry and steward of the year, are chosen by their peers. More than 500 attendees attended the luncheon celebrations, which were hosted by Kevin Frankish of City TV’s Breakfast Television. Here, GTHA president and CEO Terry Mundell shares more about the history of the Spirit Awards, its evolution and what it means to the organization’s 32,000-strong membership to be assisting visitors during their stay in Toronto.


The 18 winners of the 2016 Spirit Awards.

Where: How did the Spirit Awards come about?

Terry Mundell: The Spirit Awards was developed from a discussion that originated with our association Board of Directors. The intent of the event was to recognize and show our appreciation to those front of the line ambassadors that provide an exceptional visitor experience, which leaves a lasting impression on the over 14 million overnight visitors to the Greater Toronto Area.

Where: How are the winners determined?

TM: The judging panel is made up of five individuals who include event sponsors, industry partners and representatives from the Spirit Awards committee. The judges review the nominations prior to the event and grade them based on a variety of criteria including, but not limited to, a can-do attitude, delivering that exceptional customer experience, and passion for their team and property that drives return visitors.

Where: What are the most common qualities of nominees?

TM: Passion. For these exceptional ambassadors in the hotel community, it’s all about the passion they have for the visitors they greet, their team members and their property.

Where: Why do you think the recognition means so much?

TM: These front of the line exceptional ambassadors are being recognized among hundreds of other nominees at the event to celebrate the best of the best our industry has to offer; just to be nominated gives them so much pride. 

Where: What is your favourite aspect of the Spirit Awards each year?

TM: After the winner is announced, they proceed to have their photo taken with myself and the award sponsor. Seeing this ambassador moments after they’ve accepted their award is incredible: the excitement, the pride and pure joy they express is an experience in itself.

Where: What do you look forward to the most at this event?

TM: Talking to the nominees, getting a chance to say hi and thanking them for everything they do for our industry.

Visit gtha.com for a complete list of winners and for more information about the GTHA.

HOTEL INSIDER: The Wickaninnish Inn — Tofino, British Columbia


Photo: Russ Heinil

The Wickaninnish Inn (Photo: Russ Heinil)

Located on the western flank of Vancouver Island, The Wickaninnish Inn is surrounded by unbridled natural landscape, loaded with sea lions, whales and bears. The hotel’s windows allow visitors to gaze out at breathtaking Chesterman Beach, where the surf-worthy waves roll onto the sand and the ocean goes on for miles. Wickannish is a member of the exclusive network of Relais & Chateaux hotels, which guarantees a high level of luxury and comfort.

Start the slideshow tour of The Wickaninnish Inn »


HOTEL INSIDER: Sonora Resort – Sonora Island, British Columbia


Aerial view of the Sonora Resort

Aerial view of the Sonora Resort (Photo: Darren Bernaerdt)

Once a quaint fishing lodge on a secluded island, Sonora Resort has evolved into one of the country’s most luxurious hotels, offering all-inclusive packages from May to October. Its location on on Sonora Island—part of the Discovery Islands in British Columbia, home to orca whales, sea lions and bald eagles—allows the destination to create a unique experience that blends wilderness beauty with the grace and opulence of a Relais & Chateaux hotel.

Start the photo tour of Sonora Resort »


8 Luxurious Calgary Spas

Luxe atmosphere at Sante Spa. Courtesy: Sante Spa

Luxe atmosphere at Sante Spa. Courtesy: Sante Spa


Pamper yourself at one of these luxurious Calgary spas, where you’ll soak in stylish surroundings and enjoy first-class treatment.

Stillwater Spa
Located in the downtown Hyatt Regency hotel, the spa’s historic sandstone construction and luxury amenities give it a resort retreat feel. The facility features steam rooms, whirlpools and even a nap lounge. Group, individual and couples treatments are available. (more…)

An Interview with Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver Concierge Stéphane Mouttet

Stéphane Mouttet, Chef Concierge of the Shangri-La Hotel and current director of Les Clefs d'Or, BC region

Stéphane Mouttet is the Chef Concierge of the Shangri-La Hotel and also the director of Les Clefs d’Or, BC region. Having spent his childhood and youth in Grenoble, France, and his adult life in Canada, Stéphane is the perfect embodiment of “old world meets the new world.” While he possesses the easy charm and warmth of North American hospitality, he was trained in the true traditional European sensibilities.

What do you recommend for a visitor who has just one day to sightsee in Vancouver?

Take a quick tour of the city to have a great overview, and explore local neighbourhoods such as Gastown (tourist area with a local vibe), Main Street (hipster) and Commercial Drive (Italian/European).

Or one afternoon?

Granville Island and Stanley Park or Grouse Mountain. (more…)

Save More on Your Next Hotel Bill


If you’ve ever paid the standard rate for a hotel room, you’re overpaying, says hotel industry veteran Robb Engen in an article on cheap hotel rates for Moneyville. (more…)

For Hotel Guests, Wi-Fi is King of the Amenities

The importance of Wi-Fi Internet access according to U.S. travelers. (PRNewsFoto/TripAdvisor)

Wi-Fi was reported to be the most important hotel amenity by travellers who participated in a recent TripAdvisor survey. After Wi-Fi, the most important amenities in the eyes of travellers were:

  • free breakfast
  • guest loyalty points
  • restaurant
  • shuttle to area attractions and airports (more…)

North America’s First TRYP by Wyndham Hotel Opens in Quebec City

By Waheeda Harris

Quebec City scooped the Big Apple as the destination for North America’s first TRYP by Wyndham hotel on December 1,  joining hot spots like Paris, Montevideo, Lisbon, Buenos Aires and Berlin. (more…)

Win Wyndham Reward Points for Your Worst Holiday Gifts

Cats are not eligible to enter Wyndham's Horrible Holiday Gift contest, much to Furball's chagrin. Photo by alli.

By Carissa Bluestone

The Wyndham hotel chain is running a humorous holiday contest for its Wyndham Rewards members (joining the points program is free). Snap a photo of the worst sweater, the most useless electronic device or the most cringingly inappropriate gag gift you receive, and enter it in “My Horrible Holiday Gift.” The grand prize is 2 million Wyndham Rewards points (a value of approximately $10,000). Four runners-up will receive 25,000 points. In addition, every entrant is automatically put into the pool for weekly drawings awarding 12,500 points. (more…)

The Sexy Lady Fakeout and Other Hotel Pet Peeves

Minibar fees: one of the things Oyster.com hates about hotels

It’s the conundrum of the hospitality world: stay at a Holiday Inn and you surf the Internet for free; stay at a luxury hotel and you’re charged a per diem for Wi-Fi.

What’s the deal?


Perks & Quirks: Hôtel de Glace, Quebec


By Kat Tancock

There are hotels with quirks, and then there are hotels that are quirks, like the seasonal Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel) in Quebec City, originally inspired by a similar structure in Sweden. (more…)

W Hotels Hires a Fashion Director

W Montreal. Photo by Henry Faber

W Hotels has hired a fashion director to help the chain partner with members of the industry on fashion shows and to forge relationships with up-and-coming designers who W would like to attend their events. (more…)