The hotel industry was saddened to learn of the passing of Bob McCauley last week on July 25th at the age of 88. Born and raised in Montreal, McCauley attended St. Francis Xavier and McGill University before entering the hotel industry where he had an illustrious career.
McCauley got his auspicious start in the hotel industry with CP Hotels in Alberta at the Banff Springs Hotel, moving to the Palliser from 1954-’62. He then joined Western Hotels, forerunner to Western International, which then became Westin Hotels (now part of Marriott International) where he worked as GM of the Hotel Georgia in 1962. Subsequently, he was transferred to the Imperial Inn in Victoria in 1969, returning to the Hotel Georgia as GM in 1971.
Stints followed at the Bayshore Inn as Resident manager in 1972 and opening GM of the Edmonton Plaza (now the Westin Edmonton) in 1973. He moved from western Canada to join the Hotel Toronto (now the Hilton downtown) in 1975 before becoming managing director of Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle in 1990.
From 1980 to 1990, McCauley was also vice-president and Corporate Officer, of Westin Hotels, overseeing South Africa and Europe. He was based in Washington, D.C. from 1987 to 1990, overseeing the U.S. Northeastern region including the iconic Plaza Hotel.
According to David McMillan, former hotelier and now president of Axis International, “There are but a handful of great Canadian hoteliers in our industry whose track record brings back fond memories for thousands of employees, competitors, suppliers and guests whose paths have crossed. Bob was without doubt one of the best whose influence in the industry overlapped the boundaries of his properties and joined with his competitors, who also became his friends. His boots will never really be truly filled and he will be a hard act to follow.
“Without a doubt, the six Western International hotels in Canada at that time dominated the Canadian hotel scene and from them came some great hoteliers. Bob will be well remembered by all of them.”
For Hans Gerhardt, former Toronto hotelier, “Bob was a friend and colleague whom I respected for his vision and hard work to expand our beloved industry in Canada and beyond.” According to Toronto GM Nick Vesley, who worked with McCauley for many years, “Bob was a legend as well as a mentor. To many hoteliers in leadership positions today, he was an advocate on so many relevant issues that cleared the path to the success of our industry. His wisdom and sense of humour will be missed by many of us who were proud to call him a friend and colleague.”
Minaz Abji, formerly VP of Host Hotels, and now retired, worked with McCauley at Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle. He remembers “a dynamic leader who was driven to always improve the performance of his hotels by increasing sales and profitability. He believed in developing people and giving back to the community.”
In addition to his lengthy hotel career, McCauley was also a director of TIAC, the Canadian Restaurant & Foodservices Association (now Restaurants Canada) and a member of the Tourism Advisory Council. He also sat on the Advisory Board of the British Columbia Lions Football team.
McCauley leaves four children – Kelly, who spent 35 years in the hotel business before becoming a politician, Maureen, Jill and Bob Jr.