Travel and hospitality are in Ian Jones’ blood. The son of a university professor, every seven years, as part of his father’s sabbatical, he and his family travelled and lived in exciting destinations such as Denmark, Australia and South Africa.

The native of Aurora, Ont. earned his stripes in the trenches, working his way into a number of senior leadership roles while studying Hospitality Management at Cornell University in New York with further leadership studies at the International Hotel School in South Africa.

Jones’ first job in hotels had him putting keys back on the rack at Toronto’s Sheraton Centre. “My claim to fame is being the last official Key Filer at the property, as three months after I joined, the hotel converted to a VING key-card system. “I loved being at the front desk — a sort of stage to perform for our guests. I love the daily challenge humanity presents of how I can bring a smile to each face.”

After joining The Westley Calgary Downtown Hotel — a four-storey, 104-room boutique property in the city’s financial district — in 2020, Jones now leads the charge at the brand- spanking new hotel, owned and operated by the Silver Hotel Group. “I’ve been working closely with the leadership team as we prepare for this highly anticipated opening,” says Jones, who has opened five different hotels throughout his 35-year career.

The Westley is part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton, and the first property of its kind in western Canada. The hotelier hopes it will become a popular destination for the corporate market. “Our mission and philosophy at The Westley Hotel is to deliver something unique and special at every turn. We’re a small team of passionate hoteliers inspired by the true innkeeper’s genuine style of service. It’s our goal to provide exceptional experiences and make every interaction and connection authentic and memorable.”

While opening a hotel is typically an exciting endeavour, doing so through a pandemic has been challenging. “Now that we’re finally ready to open, our team is ready and waiting to welcome guests through our front door and make every experience exceptional and authentic. We also see this opening as an important moment for Calgary’s travel-and-tourism sector as it starts to re-gain momentum.”

Jones is mindful of the varied lessons fuelled by the lingering pandemic. “I’ve learned the value of family, friends and our local community. Maybe this was Mother Nature’s way of slowing us down to smell the flowers and appreciate community.”

Written by Rosanna Caira

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