The glow of the hospitality industry was cast on Michel Giguère at the tender age of 13. “When I attended Expo ’67 in Montreal and discovered so many destinations, I knew then and there I wanted to be an hotelier and that my passion would be to welcome people from all over the world,” says the 58-year-old.

The GM of the Sheraton Centre in Montreal has been welcoming guests to his 825-room property for the past 17 years. A graduate of L’Institut de Tourisme et d’Hôtellerie du Québec, the Quebec native got his start in the accounting department where he gained “a solid understanding of how a hotel could be profitable.”

These days, Giguère oversees a group of 447 associates who work alongside him to ensure customer service exceeds expectations. “I have an open-door policy with every one of our guests and associates. I don’t ask or expect more from anyone than I can offer myself,” says the effusive hotelier. “When your associates are happy, everyone enjoys pulling together as a team, which increases our guests’ satisfaction.”

Giguère recognizes the importance of customer service but also knows today’s guests are looking for hotels with a social conscience, too. The Montreal Sheraton Centre has a proven track record in greening. In fact, the hotel team was recently awarded the “Coup de Coeur,” prize from Tourism Montreal for sustainable practices, which include reduced water consumption through the hotel’s low-flow water faucets and dual-flush toilets. The energy savings per available room have been reduced by seven per cent.

In 2010, the hotel became part of La Tablée des Chefs, an organization that links producers of food surplus with community organizations to distribute foodstuffs to people in need. Since then, surplus food from banquets is preserved, reconditioned into individual portions and redistributed to La Maison du Père, one of many local community organizations affiliated with La Tablée des Chefs. The hotel has donated 7,000 meals through the partnership.

And, last year, in June, in association with the City of Montreal’s public bike system, the Sheraton sponsored a BIXI bike station in downtown Montreal. “This association enables hotel guests to have access to BIXI-keys to move about — whether it’s to get to an important business meeting or to simply tour the city in a more ecological way.”

If that’s not enough to keep Giguère and his team busy, last year the hotel underwent a $24-million renovation. “Our guestrooms were fully renovated and equipped with the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper beds. We also introduced the new Link@Sheraton computer feature located in our lobby.”

Renovations are ongoing, but this year the ballroom, meeting rooms and 37th floor Club Lounge have been targeted for completion. “We’re in the process of expanding our health club from 700 square feet to 2,100 square feet,” as well as featuring state-of-the-art equipment and programs.

Plans are also afoot to renovate the lobby bar. As always, it’s all about attracting today’s discerning guests. “It’s important to be alert to your clientele’s requirements, be innovative and remain current on all levels,” says Giguère.

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