When it comes to offering guests a diverse hotel experience, François Dallaire has a marked advantage. As the GM of the 200-suite Estérel Resort, nestled in the Laurentians, 20 minutes away from St. Sauveur, Que., he has the benefit of offering guests two accommodation experiences — Evolution Hotel and Emotion Hotel — as part of two distinct boutique hotels under the banner of Estérel Resort.
The Quebec native is in his element, doing what he’s always dreamed of. “When I was a little boy, I aspired to own a hotel,” explains the 50-year hotelier. “My grandfather owned the Motel Saint-Hyacinthe and I admired his success.” Interestingly, his grandfather wasn’t the only member of the family to work in hotels. His uncle also studied at the l’institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Quebec. “During Christmas parties he’d impress us with tartares and many more culinary delights that gave me the desire to work in the industry.”
After studying hotel and restaurant management at Collège Lasalle, Dallaire got a job as a dishwasher in a hotel restaurant. “I wanted to show my boss I was the best at my job and exceed expectations.” After only three months, he applied for a job as a cook, becoming the restaurant’s youngest employee.
These days, Dallaire’s passion for the property continues to be driven by the wealth of experiences he and his team provide. “The prime location makes it a very unique property. Bordered by three lakes and forest, the Estérel Resort is a modern hotel. You cannot find [another] hotel like this in the Laurentians,” boasts Dallaire, who oversees a complement of 240 employees.
The hotelier is committed to ensuring his property remains current. “In 2012, we invested $25 million to realize the second phase of the Estérel Resort project (adding 105 suites, a restaurant, a Nordic spa and a 450-person meeting room). In 2015, we acquired the wine collection of the Bistro à Champlain — 5,000 bottles from the renowned wine collector Champlain Charest.” Last year, the hotel invested another $1 million in renovations of two restaurants, construction of two new executive meeting rooms, an extension of the wine cellar, new swings and hammocks at the lake and a new gym.
“We always want to be ahead of the competition. We focus on creating memorable experiences. We also have to be innovative in the types of packages proposed to go beyond the traditional.”
Dallaire prides himself on being accessible and creative in his approach. “I love to stir-up ideas and try new things,” says Dallaire. Though it all, he believes in the importance of putting the “customer first and the employees first and foremost. When our employees are happy, they’ll ensure the complete satisfaction of our guests.”