Paul de La Durantaye is a big believer in authenticity. Fortunately, it’s a quality that’s been able to flourish for the past decade while working with Group Germain Hotels. The 52-year-old Ottawa native wasn’t necessarily looking to find a job in the hotel world, but a part-time gig at the iconic Chateau Laurier gave him a taste of what was to come.
Starting his career as part-time reservations agent, de La Durantaye “enjoyed finding the best solution for the guests and organizing details to make it easy for them.” These days, as GM of the 167-room Hotel Le Germain Maple Leaf Square, the hotelier enjoys being in the thick of the action.
The hotel has successfully woven the sports theme throughout the property. “It’s in the details like the colour of the lobby lighting matching the home-team colours on game night or the naming of our meeting and event spaces — from the All-Star room to the Neutral Zone. Other than the Scotiabank Arena, the next best place to watch a playoff game is our Penalty Box, overlooking the Fan Zone for the Leafs or Jurassic Park for the Raptors.”
With 103 associates, de La Durantaye’s biggest challenge is attracting and retaining staff in a way that “corresponds to the company’s culture — that is, to meet the job’s requirements but also to have the soft skills to exceed our guests’ expectations.”
He’s a hands-on hotelier but in a way that promotes harmony. And, he’s motivated by “the desire to make things easy, uncomplicated and stress free for others.” Not surprisingly, he says, “Authenticity plays a big part in it. It’s important to allow people’s personalities to come through in their service interactions. If they’re concentrating too much on following steps from a manual or applying what they read in a book, it will come across as insincere.”
Having learned from some of the best hoteliers in the industry, de La Durantaye believes in recognizing every team member’s contribution. “I also have a passion for helping others in their professional development. Sharing information and knowledge with others can only make a stronger team.”
At the end of the day, it’s all about being genuine and not robotic when delivering the standard service. “Creating emotional connections with our guests and being truly happy to see them come back will make them want to do so.”