The Big Idea: Growing people to grow a business

The five-star service that the Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel delivers is not just exclusive to their guests. This team is also delivering five star service to their community. They are striving to be a pioneer as a sustainable hospitality business and that means making a positive impact in the community they call home.

Already a leader in their industry, the lodge won “Canada’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel” at the 2014 World Ski Awards last November, but this lodge is also striving for leadership on a local level.  

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The lodge is growing its own success by helping the people around them grow. From diversifying the skill-sets of their staff to giving young local businesses a boost when starting out, this hotel has a culture of creating shared value.

Slow season becomes new skill season

The seasonal rhythm of hotels in the resort often dictates that when guest numbers drop in shoulder season, properties renovate or repair empty rooms and common areas.

While many employers resort to reducing staff hours or staff numbers during the visitor downswing, the Summit team can sleep a little easier because management here looks for opportunities to cross-train their staff.

Rather than calling in outside contractors, staff are given the opportunity to learn new skills like drywalling, wallpapering, painting and even how to reupholster and restore hardwood furniture.

This cross-training model means they can sustain full-time, year-round employment for their staff. The result: team morale as high as their luxury linen thread count.

“People who can comfortably afford to live, work and play here make for happier employees,” said general manager Tony Medd, in an email.

An edge up for local entrepreneurs

As the old adage goes, it’s “location, location, location” that can make or break your business.  The Summit Lodge enjoys a prime location in the heart of the village and they’ve created a program that allows them to share their location (and business knowledge) with local entrepreneurs just starting out.

Providing leadership to budding businesses while getting them into a central location they may not have been able to otherwise afford is something the Summit Lodge believes is important for the health of the broader business community.

“Supporting young, local entrepreneurs keeps existing businesses progressing and competitive,” Medd said.

Underground Tuning, a ski and snowboard tuning shop; Spitfire Scooters, offering rentals and unique local-style tours; and the Brown Owl Social Club, hosting creative meet-ups for bright minds in Whistler all benefit from a supportive relationship that gives them an affordable Village location to operate out of, mentorship and personalized business advice from Medd, and promotion of their business on the Summit’s active social media channels including blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Being a good neighbour

Check-in for a stay at the Summit Lodge and you’ll meet a team that is keen to help you check out authentic Whistler experiences while you stay.

Pairing up with local service and experience providers is a win-win, making unique memories for guests and ensuring that money earned in the community stays in the community.

“Our guests want to experience the authentic, local Whistler that we all know and love. Working with the residents of Whistler is key to helping us provide that,” said Victoria Farrand, content marketing and social media manager, in an email.

The boutique hotel boasts a big social media community and a unique blog highlighting many of these local partners and the authentic adventures that a Summit Lodge room key can unlock.

From a week-long Instameet in February, the TED Conference livestream with Brown Owl Social Club, to special events like the upcoming by-donation yoga classes with Claire Thiebaud of Snowflow Yoga, they know that an enriching stay extends beyond the guest room. Working with our community to achieve that makes a big impact for everyone.

General Manager Tony Medd on his community first culture

“Whistler is only as successful as its community. When you look at the positive impact your business can have on the community, it quickly become apparent that best route for everyone is where profit is a result, not a purpose.”

Make business easy — tune in to The Big Idea, a bi-weekly column from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce showcasing a Whistler Business innovating in their sector.

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