Montreal Airport Marriott
Opening a brand new hotel has its own unique set of circumstances. But while it’s a demanding job, there’s also something magical about it, causing many a hotelier to wax poetic about the launch long after the doors first open.
After 10 years of working in various four-and five-star hotels in La Belle Province, Brenda Rodricks can finally add that distinction to her résumé. “This is an extraordinary opportunity,” says the affable newlywed of her role in opening the new Montreal Airport Marriott. “It’s not every day that one has the chance to put the total of their career experience into a start-up property. I equate it to being an artist who starts with a blank canvas.”
Hired by Marriott in January 2009, Rodricks toiled behind the scenes for eight months before opening the swank property in August. Sporting a contemporary design fused with top-notch amenities, the 279-room hotel is located in the Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport with direct access to the U.S. terminal. But being GM of an airport hotel in one of the country’s most competitive markets, and then opening in the throes of a recession will test the mettle of the toughest hotelier. And though fewer people are travelling right now, Rodricks is excited by the prospect of positioning the hotel as a leader in the marketplace.
“What makes this property unique is its cutting-edge design encompassing the technological necessities that are essential today, as well as the fact that we’re located directly in the airport,” she says. Guests can travel right from the airport terminal to the hotel without ever stepping outdoors. “In the winter, we’re also becoming a popular take-off point for vacationers going south who have early morning flights.”
As part of her opening duties, the 50-year-old Montreal native hired a team of 166 to ensure the hotel runs smoothly. “The ability to hire and train all our associates at the same time creates a huge advantage in terms of service culture,” says Rodricks, who’s a firm believer in surrounding herself “with the most competent people, and then getting out of the way and letting them do what they were hired for.”
It’s service excellence, she says, that will differentiate the hotel. “Aside from having a product that meets the needs of your target customer, it’s about the associates and the service they provide. We lead such fast-paced and technologically driven lives that caring and kindness are appreciated.”
How to provide service excellence is among the many lessons Rodricks learned while studying at LaSalle College, where she acquired the skills she put in practice during stints at the Omni Mont Royal, the Château Versailles and the Hilton Bonaventure.
Hospitality is in her blood, she admits. “My parents ensured we always had favorite foods and drinks for family and friends, to make them feel special.” Her service philosophy stems from that. “Our goal is to ensure a warm and genuine welcome for every one of our guests, every time. Pay attention, be thoughtful and personalize their stay as much as possible. It’s important to show guests how special they are and how much we appreciate them.