For a time, Caroline Viens imagined she would one day work on a floating hotel — a cruise ship. But, as luck would have it, she ended up on terra firma, landlocked in the hotel industry, where she found her true calling. The 36-year-old Baie Comeau, Que. native graduated from the province’s College Merici, earning a Hotel Manager diploma in 2000 before venturing to Nice, France, where she performed a variety of roles at the Hotel Masséna — including front desk, housekeeping and breakfast manager.
“I learned a lot during my training in France. I dealt with many European guests who didn’t speak English or French,” she says. She also spent time travelling throughout France getting to know the area — a trait that served her well working the front desk. Since 2015, the mother of two has been managing the 96-room Quality Inn & Suites Lévis near Quebec City and Hotel & Suites Le Dauphin Quebec. Since taking the helm of the Quality Inn & Suites Lévis, the hotel has won a slew of awards, including Choice Hotels Canada 2016 Platinum Hospitality Award, which honours the top-rated hotels in the Choice Hotels system. “We were also awarded the 2016 Canadian Hotel of the Year at the 62nd Annual Choice Hotels International Convention in Las Vegas, Nev. The hotel has also received TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence five consecutive times and is a member of its Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame,” she adds.
Certainly the accolades are gratifying, but she’s most proud of the team of 20 she manages. She’s quick to admit, however, having a small team does present challenges. “Our biggest [challenge] is dealing with last-minute guests and walk-ins. It’s important to staff for the number of guests we have on a given day.” But that’s difficult to do, she says, when there are unexpected visitors.
Though she works hard to ensure the team operates efficiently, she trusts them to do their jobs. “I have a strong team that can handle any kind of situation. It’s important to trust them and build a strong team environment.” In an effort to continually evolve its offerings, the hotel recently renovated its breakfast area to make it more accessible and practical, adding more menu items to its free hot breakfast, as well as 24-hour free speciality coffee and juice. “We want to accommodate families, so we’ve installed a play area and an outdoor playground beside the existing indoor pool. I’m very excited about our new electric-car charging station, which builds upon our hotel’s green initiatives.”
At the end of the day, she is quick to add, success is driven by happy guests. “Our staff is always one step ahead — always ready for whatever a guest may require. That kind of experience is not something you can easily copy.”