By Amy Bostock
Tim Reardon knows he is more than just his title. The GM of the 1,372-room Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel says the job goes beyond his duties at the property to encompass a greater role in the hospitality industry.
“I really believe that we’re more than our title, and that I have an obligation to be part of the larger hospitality community. Whether it’s being the chair of the board for the GTHA (Greater Toronto Hotel Association), a board member of Destination Toronto, or one of the many advisory committees that I’m part of, the goal is to make a difference for the future generation of hotel leaders,” says this year’s Pinnacle Award winner for Hotelier of the Year.
It’s been a long and varied journey that’s seen Reardon work in all aspects of the hotel world — at both the corporate and property level. “I was open to the opportunities and to trying new roles, such as spending time in the kitchen or working in housekeeping — doing things that wouldn’t have normally have been on my radar.”
He started many years ago at the Orlando Marriott as a bartender. “Honestly, it was something that I thought was going to just be a summer job,” he recalls, adding he quickly fell in love with the business.
“I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work across many departments, which really enabled me to learn about the business and how a hotel operated,” he says. “I got pulled in by the pace at which the business moves, the fact that every day was different and getting to meet and interact with so many people from around the world, whether it was the associates or our guests. So, what started as a job became a career for me.”
Reardon eventually found himself embarking on a leadership journey at the same hotel, taking on a beverage-supervisor position. Over the next couple of years, he moved up through the F&B side and worked at properties in Fort Lauderdale, Atlantic City and eventually Toronto. All the while, he was progressing — from supervisor to restaurant manager to Food-and-Beverage manager, and then director of Food and Beverage at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Toronto.
“I worked there for a couple of years and then was given the opportunity to be the director of Operations at that same hotel. It allowed me to broaden my scope of responsibility. I was also able to take on Task Force general manager positions, which were great exposure and experience for me.”
At the same time, Reardon was working with the New-Builds-and-Transitions team, opening up new hotels across Canada and U.S., which led to his first off-property role as director of Operations, New Build & Transitions for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., where he partnered with franchise owners to open up newly built or conversion hotels.
“I would work with them from the start of the building of the hotel all the way through the opening on the operations side, so it gave me a new perspective. It showed me how ownership groups operate and gave me a great appreciation for the time and effort they invested. It also highlighted the importance of making sure the brand, the hotel and the ownership teams are all aligned.”
But Reardon found he missed the thrill of working in hotels and being on property, so when he was offered the opportunity to be general manager of Toronto’s Le Meridien King Edward Hotel, he jumped at it. “It was an amazing way to start off the general-manager portion of my career,” he recalls. “It was a historic hotel with a great team.”
In 2012, he returned to the place where he started his career in Toronto, assuming the role of general manager at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel Toronto. “It was a great experience to be welcomed back to that hotel by many who I’d worked with previously and were still there, and to see how those relationships were still intact after so many years.”
Two years later, Reardon had the opportunity to work at the Westin Harbour Castle, which was his first experience as a general manager of a large hotel with significant meeting space. “It was just a different way of operating the business,” he says.
In April 2017, he moved into his current role as GM of the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. “When I moved to the Sheraton Centre it was during the time we were integrating Starwood with Marriott. That was an experience not many hoteliers get to be part of.”
Then in 2022, he navigated the Sheraton’s most extensive re-imagining in the hotel’s history as the property marked its 50th anniversary with a top-to-bottom renovation. Improvements, which rolled out in multiple phases, included a complete re-design of the lobby and the Sheraton Club, updated F&B outlets and renovated public spaces and amenities that foster community-building and productivity. He credits his wife, Bonnie, and daughter Abby, without whose support he says he wouldn’t be able to do what he does.
Today, Reardon is the area general manager for Marriott, running the Sheraton Centre Toronto but also overseeing six other hotels: Delta Waterloo, Delta Guelph Conference Centre, Toronto Marriott Markham, Residence Inn Gravenhurst Muskoka Wharf, Delta Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront and Delta Thunder Bay.
And with the role comes great responsibility — something Reardon takes very seriously. As part of the Marriott portfolio, the team at Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel takes part in Serve360, Marriott’s commitment to creating positive and sustainable impact wherever it does business, guided by its 2025 Sustainability and Social Impact Goals, as well as the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
“Serve360 means doing good in every direction and it allows us, on property, to participate in a lot of initiatives, such as Coldest Night and marching in the Pride parade, that give back to our community because it’s important that we are good neighbours.”
On a personal level, Reardon participates every year in the Ride to Conquer Cancer. “It’s something that’s very important to me, and something that allows me to raise funds and stay active at the same time.”
He also dedicates a large amount of his time to working with the colleges in Toronto, George Brown, in particular, as part of mentorship programs. “I do think that’s a very important part of my job because it allows me to work with that next generation of hotel leaders who hopefully, someday, are sitting in my chair. Learning in the classroom is so important, but the practical experience and having someone to speak with who’s been there, is important as well.”
A long-time board member of the GTHA, Reardon took the reins as chair three years ago, right at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are the largest hotel association in the country, and we have a responsibility to advocate on behalf of our members,” he says. “To be in that position, especially through COVID, has been a great experience. I interact with other board members who are general managers at other hotels throughout the city and as much as we compete, we are also colleagues and have a great board that is always looking out for the best interests of our industry.”
He says his leadership style today is a direct result of his past experiences and opportunities.
“In order to be successful, I need to be present when I engage with my team and lead with care, because I need to understand that everyone wants to be at their personal best and their career best,” he explains. “And so, it’s important for me to create an environment where the direction is clear: that we’re always striving to improve on our results, whether that means financial, guest satisfaction or associate engagement.”
Reardon says it’s important to him that he, and his team, “don’t become complacent and that we celebrate our successes. But we also need to take time to continually improve and be our own worst critics to assess how we continue to move forward, and how do we get better. I love to invest in people and make them better leaders, to allow them to live their fullest lives both in and outside of work.”
The GM cites feedback as a critical part of people’s development, “so giving it is important. And it’s also important that I listen to it, and I value it when it’s given to me, understanding that people are going out of their way to give me that feedback. Sometimes we have to make difficult decisions and the best way to handle those decisions is to explain the ‘why’ behind these decisions in order to create alignment, and people understand what that direction is.”
Reardon says his leadership style has continued to evolve and mature; from the time he was a supervisor to now being an area general manager for Marriott. “When I first started, it was more about doing the job and how I could impact the overall performance in a leadership position. But as my roles have changed, my scope of responsibility has grown. Now it’s less about doing and more about setting a vision and helping others to be successful and reach their full potential. Honestly, to see others get promoted or doing better for themselves, that’s one of the best parts of my job.”