Nina and Sam Kassam

TORONTO — Choice Hotels Canada has presented its rare Hall of Fame Award to franchisees Sam and Nina Kassam of the Sterling Group. Presented only twice before, this award recognizes remarkable achievement within the industry and the Choice Hotels Canada system over an extended period of time.

Sam and Nina Kassam came to Canada from Tanzania in the 1970s. Although they started from humble beginnings, through hard work and determination they formed the Sterling Group and opened the first Comfort Inn in Canada in 1982.

Today, the Sterling Group is one of the largest hotel ownership companies in the country. They own 20 hotel properties, 11 of which are Choice hotels (six in Canada and five in the U.S.), in addition to other branded hotels in North America. They are currently developing their first international hotel in the Azores, Portugal. The company is now in its second generation, with a community focus and a philosophy of giving back, truly loyal employees and a family-oriented atmosphere.

“We are delighted to announce that Sam and Nina Kassam, Choice Hotels Canada franchisees since the early 1980s, have earned this unique distinction,” said Brian Leon, CEO of Choice Hotels Canada. “They are an inspiration to so many in our industry, and it is so fitting that we recognize them for not just their success and contribution to our company, but also for their commitment to their team, community and the industry.”

The first Hall of Fame Award was presented in 2017 to Alfred Groom, the first-ever Choice Hotels Canada franchisee, who opened a Quality Inn in Summerside, P.E.I. in 1955. The second recipient was Gord Brown, who received the award posthumously in 2018.


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