Annie Robitaille, Skålleague of the Month - April'22

Annie Robitaille

Skålleague of the Month - April'22

Dear friends of the hospitality industry,

First, I am so surprised and honored to have been acknowledge in this Skål Month.

I strongly believe that these pasts two years, we have all been challenged and all of us has risen above and beyond to get through this tough period.

Québec City has also been hit hard. When a world-renowned destination such as ours is hit all of sudden, the growth that had been going on for decades, crumbles down, we all get lost. The destination was down to 15 hotels open out of 235 accommodations for several months and we had a total of 2% occupation rate for months. You all went through it, and we are all getting back to somewhat regular business.

My parents, Gisèle and Jacques Robitaille along with my sisters Nancy, Marlene and myself could not wait for our esteemed clients to come back to one of our 7 properties. We absolutely need a plan as over 500 hundred employees and the survival of 7 hotels depended on us. The ban of all activities, lockdown hours and closing of all non-essential businesses was also hitting our region hard. The family sat down together and as a team, we decided that we could safely offer an alternative to couples, families and individuals to see a glimpse of a normal life.

Most of our properties all have pools and atriums. These balcony rooms have always been a selling feature for us and this proved even more real during the pandemic. All of our staff had to be on board, and we are mostly proud of that, as we worked as a team and were able to host live bands and shows for the hotel guests.

With developing the safety and sanitary measures with the local department of health and the police we were able to have more than 100 diner and a show events. It was wonderful to see a glimpse of real life through our clients’ comments, saying how it was a breath of fresh air during these trying times.  We saw people dance, sing, laugh, and cry on their balconies. We were able to have over 70 000 people see live entertainment when everything was shut down. Throughout the process, we were able to keep all sanitary measures in place and even offer live video feeds to rooms without balconies. They could see the show on screen and definitely also hear it through the corridors.

All of this due to our staff who believed in us and helped us make it all happen.

Did we lose money throughout Covid, even with this innovative activity- absolutely! Bands of the caliber we had, do not come cheap! But we were able to give hope to many people, keep our staff working and help our destination continue to live on. 

I’ve been a Skål International member for the last 10 years, and even though I’m the only Skål International member from our family organisation, these past two years, doing business among friends have never been truer. The Québec club kept virtual meetings going, discussions and basically always knowing someone was there to listen had a calming effect on me. A lot of my Skålleagues were there to vent, listen, inspire and motivate. I think we are all stronger together after sharing these trying times.

We did this because we wanted to keep the flame burning in our family but also for our industry and our staff. You, my dear Skålleagues, have all done this your own way since even before the pandemic.

On behalf of all our staff and my family, I am greatly touched and privileged to have been acknowledged and thought of by my club. I cannot even begin to say thank you!

Finally… How I could not be saying thanks to this honor by saying:

To fellow Skålleagues everywhere: 

Happiness, Good Health, Friendship, Long Life, Skål!

Annie Robitaille

Skålleague of the Month - April'22