Edwin Frizzell has helmed many hotels throughout his extensive career, but these days he’s the new kid on the block at The Fairmont Royal York hotel, where he’s been directing the iconic property and its 1,200 employees since April.
Frizzell’s instalment as GM and regional VP came at a timely juncture. The grande dame of hotels celebrated its 85th anniversary in 2014, having opened in 1929. During her long lifespan she has served as shelter to soldiers during the Second World War when there was nowhere for them to sleep, and she’s been home to the celebrated and glamourous Imperial Room where everyone in Toronto has wanted to see and be seen.
It’s been a busy year for Frizzell and his team. Not only did the 1,363-room hotel celebrate a special anniversary, but it was announced that Montreal’s Ivanhoé Cambridge was selling a stake in the property to Toronto’s KingSett Capital and Mississauga, Ont.’s InnVest REIT (see story on p. 3). And, if that’s not enough to keep everyone busy, the hotel is also undergoing a mammoth multimillion-dollar renovation, which includes changes to guestrooms, public areas, the lobby, restaurants and lounges, meeting rooms and function space.
As the city of Toronto completes its downtown revitalization, the Royal York “will continue to stand out as the castle in the heart of the city,” says Frizzell. Through the extensive changes, the hotel’s standard for service excellence has never waned. “For me, great service is what our business is all about. Creating personal connections at all levels of our organization, which result in memorable experiences for our colleagues and guests, is the environment we strive to create every day,” he says.
Born in Charlottetown in 1969, Frizzell had an idyllic childhood amidst the pastoral beauty and beach grandeur that is the “gentle island.” He received a scholarship from the province’s Tourism Industry Association, which he used to earn his Bachelor of Tourism & Hospitality Management degree at Halifax’s Mount Saint Vincent University, becoming the program’s first graduate in 1990. “They awarded me the Governor General’s medal for highest aggregate average among my peers,” boasts Frizzell.
Not surprisingly, the GM always knew he would one day be a hotelier. “It was something I dreamed about from an early age as my family travelled the East Coast,” he says. Along the way, he’s benefited from working with stellar hotel companies, including, The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando and the Delta Chelsea. “Some people say that in Toronto, if you haven’t worked at The Chelsea, The Sheraton Centre, The Harbour Castle or The Royal York — you haven’t cut your teeth. I’ve been blessed to work at all four.”