To say André Nadeau has a special attachment to Quebec City’s Best Western Premier Hotel L’Aristocrate is an understatement. Not only did the 60-year-old GM start his hospitality career as a dishwasher in the hotel’s restaurant, but he works alongside his two brothers in a hotel his father George built from the ground up in 1963.
Nadeau spent much of his youth working various jobs at the hotel, under his father’s watchful eye, but it was only after graduating from college with a degree in Business Administration, and getting his first job at a truck rental company, that he set his sights on becoming a hotelier. “What I really enjoyed was the contact with guests and that every day was a different venture,” recalls the Quebec native of his early days.
After 35 years of working at the 100-room property, Nadeau has seen it all, but he’s still fascinated by the business. “What makes L’Aristocrate unique is that it is a family owned business, and its destiny has been built by my father and now run by his three sons. I’ve had the unique privilege of working side by side with my two brothers, Daniel and Normand, with a harmonious and respectful relationship. This has put us on the forefront and enabled a long-term positive focus.”
Nadeau manages a team of 60, including 30 associates in the hotel and another 30 in the four-star La Fenouillière restaurant. This past June, he and his brother Daniel, were busy bringing L’Aristocrate to the standards of the Best Western Premier, a new branding descriptor introduced by the chain last year. “To become a Best Western Premier, we had to renovate the entire hotel,” says Nadeau, pointing to a $3-million reno. “We are one of the first in Canada to reach this level,” he boasts.
He’s hoping the upgrade to Premier status will help the property ensure success in today’s competitive marketplace. “One of my biggest challenges is remaining competitive while improving market share without developing an addiction towards OTAs. It’s important to increase our RevPAR so we can have the necessary resources for the well-being and the improvement of the company. But we have to avoid lowering our rates to stimulate the occupancy.” He’d rather drive occupancy through excellent customer service and a great product. And to do this, he says, it’s critical to have the right people working for you. “By putting service first, and offering personalized service and care at a fair price, it’s helped us conquer challenges and gain huge respect from our clientele. Because Best Western is an association of independent owners, it helps us personalize our style even when following the chain’s standards.”
With hotelkeeping in their blood, the brothers pride themselves on being attentive. “We listen to guests and staff. Our values have always been focused on the evolution of our hotel by always providing great service. Consistency, respect from others and a long-term vision ensures the sustainability of our enterprise.”
image courtesy of Louise Bilodeay of Klixpix