Photography by Jason Dwyer

Ameer Wakil always imagined he’d one day work in finance. But as fate would have it, the hospitality world beckoned instead. As the youngest son of George Wakil, former owner and founder of the Four-Diamond White Oaks Resort & Spa, Ameer was exposed to hotels at an early age, working as a busboy and waiter at the iconic Prince of Wales hotel while attending high school and university.

“It was hard work and I enjoyed the physically demanding, relentless effort [needed] to ensure you kept busy, worked hard to stay ahead of the game and did the best job you could.”

Thirty years later, the White Oaks has afforded him the only job he’s ever known. “What sets the hotel apart is our committed team working towards one common goal — to treat each guest as though the success of the business depends on that individual alone. That’s the foundation that continues to make White Oaks shine.”

Overseeing a team of 550 associates with 220 rooms, Wakil says his biggest challenge is “Keeping our rhythm in a fast-paced and ever-changing environment.” He believes every guest touchpoint can be a make-or-break experience — an opportunity to win or lose the repeat business that drives bottom-line performance.

For Wakil, success can only be achieved by a strong customer-service ethos dictated by a high level of employee engagement. “My personal vision is to treat each team member as though the success of the business depends on that individual alone. Our values and priorities of what is important when interacting with guests are always paramount.” The humble hotelier and CEO leads by example, never satisfied with anything less than perfection. “Try and try again until you get it right,” he says. To deal with the stress inherent in a 24/7 industry, he relies on family life as the best escape, along with an active, well-balanced lifestyle. “There’s no challenge we cannot overcome — mind over matter.”

Earlier this spring, the Ontario Hostelry Institute presented Wakil with a Gold Award for Hotelier of the Year. Not surprisingly, his days are packed, but he’s always looking to do more. “We like to contribute back in any way possible.” Most recently, his team started the “Save-the-Bees” initiative, housing three large beehives onsite, in which the team personally foster the care and nurturing of the bee process. “We also participate in a “Clean-the-World” initiative and have done so for several years now, providing discarded amenities to benefit countries in need.” The White Oaks also boasts an electric car-charging station available to guests.

Not content to rest on the hotel’s laurels, the property is undergoing renovations with plans to open a new restaurant. “You have to continue to demonstrate your strength by reinventing, cultivating and inspiring. You must provide a memorable experience that goes beyond just the physical building.”

1 COMMENT

  1. His time spent actually working as a waiter in hospitality is incredibly short. He is an entitled selfish millionaire living off his fathers fortune, with very little care for his employees. Especially his housekeeping staff. Every non-salary employee in White Oaks is expected to go above and beyond what the staff would do at any other hotel in the Niagara area. Which is a good thing, it does make White Oak special. However when you expect your employees to go far above and beyond what they would have to do at any other hotel, you should pay them accordingly, not minimum wage. They offer a free nights stay every year to their employees and they also have a rewards program that gives you money to spend in the hotel if you excel at a certain task. However this doesn’t even come close to making up what Ameer expects from all his employees. The benefits are also terrible, if you have diabetes don’t expect it to pay for your insulin for the year, especially if you need dental work too. The housekeeping and janitorial staff are especially underpaid. What they go through should render at least $20/hour. Especially with the amount of money that hotel makes. Every year for the Jewish Passover they bring in hundreds of guests that take up the entire hotel, I don’t want to give number but the money the hotel makes is astronomical. I would like to praise him and his family for providing jobs to the Niagara Area, but they are terrible jobs with terrible pay that can cause terrible long term mental health issues for some people.

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