Queen’s Landing Hotel, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
One might say Lily Kszan landed into a position fit for a queen. A few short years ago, the thirtysomething Kszan was F&B director of the stately Queen’s Landing Hotel in Niagara-on-the Lake, Ont. After being promoted to assistant manager a year ago, she was recently named general manager of the Georgian-style inn, one of the jewels in the crown of Vintage Hotels, owners of the property.
A native of a small farming community in Slovenia, just over the border from Austria, Kszan comes from a typical European family that celebrates all gatherings with food and drink. “It inspired me to pursue a career in hospitality,” explains the mother of two children aged eight and 12. “The hotel industry was a natural fit.”
Getting her start as a server at the Beacon Hotel in Jordan, Ont., Kszan quickly realized she thrived on the opportunity to meet new people every day. The three-year hotel program at Niagara College armed her with the necessary fundamentals and she hasn’t looked back since.
As GM of the award-winning Queen’s Landing, she focuses on welcoming every guest as if they were visiting her own home. Success is all about promoting a strong service-oriented culture — something she feels sets her hotel apart from the competition. With 200 employees to oversee, Kszan is always looking to elevate the guest experience. “Meeting expectations is simply not good enough anymore; our core focus for all team members is to go above and beyond and give each guest a ‘wow’ experience. If guests are less than satisfied with any aspect of their stay, we want to know. And we’ll make it right — it’s our ‘Service-First Guarantee.’”
The hotel invests as much in its employees as its guests. “Vintage Hotels provides paid higher education to all team members looking to elevate their skill set,” Kszan says. “It also offers profit sharing and RRSP contributions. The benefit is team members that are here to stay and fully engaged.”
To that end, Kszan believes in forging open relationships with all members of her team. “However, I do expect that they take full accountability for their actions and adhere to our service-first philosophy.”
The hotel has recently undergone a major renovation of its guest rooms and meeting space and the overall look of the popular 200-seat Tiara restaurant was refined. The results have been well worth the investment — this past September, Queen’s Landing was voted the number 1 hotel in Ontario by the Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards.
As for the future, though the initiative doesn’t affect Kszan directly, Vintage Hotels recently added a project development management team that will be looking for new projects as well as adding to its collection of property management contracts. “It’s a very exciting endeavor that will allow Vintage and our management team to grow at a time when most companies are cutting back.”
Photography by Margaret Mulligan