Best in Class

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Digging for nuggets of good news during times of economic turmoil can be daunting and seem virtually impossible, but if there’s one issue of Hotelier that proves good news stories do indeed exist — even during the worst of times — it’s the Pinnacle issue.

While this year’s economy sputtered and gained momentum only to spiral back into mediocrity, our series of profiles on Pinnacle Award winners builds a case for passion and perseverance and proves greatness should be measured by more than a barometer of profitability. During the past year, while most of the world’s hoteliers struggled to build sales, focusing on cost-cutting initiatives and keeping their doors open, our collection of winners worked creatively to strengthen
operations and break new ground, continuing to innovate by taking a novel approach.

While many corporate giants were forced to slash budgets, put new initiatives on the back burner and focus on staying alive, behemoth Starwood Hotels & Resorts — long recognized as a true innovator — used the past year as a time to re-commit and re-energize, while continuing to open new hotels, launch new programs and develop its employee base. In Alberta, Sawridge Inns & Conference Centres, this year’s winner in the category of Company of the Year, Regional, is proof positive that even small companies with locations outside large metropolitan centres can compete with the big dogs, pursuing excellence by focusing on what makes the brand unique. Veteran hoteliers like Geoff Allan of Montreal’s Hôtel Le Crystal de la Montagne, proved that with the right mix of passion, creativity and entrepreneurial energy, even fledgling hotels can be profitable. Finally, from the supplier perspective, this year’s winner, London-Ont., based Group Lockhart reinforces the importance of cultivating relationships and focusing on helping operators improve their offerings. Indeed, even during tough times, passion for excellence knows no bounds.

We’ve learned the hard way that the current operating environment makes our jobs more challenging and demanding — and tough times may force us all to work longer and harder — but passionate and committed individuals and companies will always find ways to stand out from the crowd. These are the ones who, when
presented with adversity, choose not to focus on the problems but rather on the solutions, creatively working to find new opportunities where others see none.

We may not be living in the best of times, but this industry remains home to enterprising individuals and companies that continue to shine brightly. These Pinnacle winners are the “best in class;” we hope you enjoy their stories and, more importantly, learn from their achievements.

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