Photo of Madone Pelan
Photo Credit: Lia Crowe

By Rosanna Caira

Madone Pelan fell in love with hotels and hospitality at an early age, fuelled by a passion for travel. “Although it was not a straight path to becoming a GM, I knew I wanted to excel in this industry and opportunities opened along the way,” says the mother of one. Her career was launched through a summer job at the age of 16 when she was hired by Princess Cruises as frontline staff to do embarkation check-in at Canada Place. “Halfway through the summer, they deployed me to do remote check-in at the five major hotels — Pan Pacific, Waterfront, Four Seasons, Sutton Place and Westin Bayshore.” That was her first taste of hotels, “and I was hooked,” she recalls. 

Today, Pelan is GM of the Oak Bay Beach Hotel in Victoria, B.C. where she’s been working since 2015, starting as director of Sales and Marketing and then becoming GM a few weeks prior to the pandemic. “The Oak Bay Beach Hotel is a boutique luxury hotel, located right on the ocean. It combines the best of everything — a wonderful history, and a luxury resort feel with heated mineral pools overlooking the Salish sea. The hotel is large enough to have four restaurants and a spa but small enough to feel intimate, allowing us to really get to know each of our guests,” says the B.C. native, who oversees 230 staff servicing 100 rooms.  

“Our mission is to be leaders in our industry. We do this by investing back in our staff first — happy staff equal happy guests and happy guests are great for our bottom line.” It’s a credo that’s hitting the mark given the hotel was chosen as the number-1 hotel in Canada by Conde Nast Travel Readers’ Survey and number 19 in the world for 2021.

Like every hotelier, Pelan says the pandemic “had a swift and brutal impact. However, it gave us the unique opportunity to re-visit everything we do and build back better. The pandemic also reinforced Pelan’s belief that “people are everything,” adding that hoteliers need to “lead with empathy. And, as a leadership team we looked at where we were in that moment and asked ourselves what do we want to say we accomplished a year from now? What will our legacy be? This became our mantra through the following months and years to come.”

With an ADR of $450, and a $350 RevPAR, Pelan says the hotel started the year looking at four per cent revenue growth projection, but it now “looks like the year will end stronger than anticipated.”  

The hotel is set to undertake a full guestroom renovation. “We’re also looking to re-invest in our Boathouse Spa for further upgrades and converting our rooftop into another F&B offering.”

To differentiate the property from the pack, Pelan says it’s important to adapt to the changing needs and wants of guests. “Many guests want to align their travel with their values and look for sustainability and corporate social responsibility when choosing how to spend their travel dollars. Personalized service coupled with authentic local experiences create memories that will be unique to your hotel.” 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.