An exciting new job and a community famous for its work life balance inspired hotel professional Haley Lonsdale to make the move from Vancouver to Vernon.
Lonsdale, a University of Victoria graduate with five years of hotel management experience, took the plunge in September 2017, joining Vernon’s Sparkling Hill Resort as Assistant General Manager.
Sparkling Hill, a luxurious resort known for its crystal décor, sweeping views, and innovative spa treatments, overlooks Okanagan Lake just south of Vernon.
“I love being surrounded by the beauty of the Okanagan on a daily basis and sharing that beauty with the guests who come to enjoy the resort,” says Lonsdale.
On a more personal level, Lonsdale also enjoys the local lifestyle.
“Vernon offers opportunities for both my partner (who works in forestry) and myself. We see Vernon as a great community for growing our careers and for enjoying a good lifestyle balance outside of work as well,” she says.
Lonsdale brings a wealth of education and experience to her new role. After completing a Hospitality Management Diploma at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, she graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Victoria in 2012. Lonsdale also made the most of international student exchange opportunities, spending a semester in Melbourne, Australia and another in Taiwan.
And, because both programs had mandatory co-op programs, Lonsdale also gained front-line experience in hospitality during college and university.
“It was helpful for me during my studies to be able to apply what I was learning,” she observes.
Since graduating, Lonsdale has worked in sales, conference and events co-ordination roles at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa, the Inn at Laurel Point, both in Victoria, and, most recently, as Conference Services Manager at the Pan Pacific Hotel Vancouver.
Would she advise others to follow the same path? “Yes, 100%!” says Lonsdale.
“We are fortunate in this industry because no matter what the local economic situation is, people will always need a place to sleep and a place to eat. The industry is doing a great job of staying current with the latest and greatest in technology and being on the forefront of the most interesting food and beverage trends. And it’s always evolving. One day is never like the last and you are given opportunities to connect with and leave lasting impressions with so many people every day.”
Lonsdale offers tips to others hoping to enter the industry:
- Find open house opportunities for schools that have hospitality and tourism programs;
- Ask people in the industry whom you know, and even those you don’t know, to go for coffee or for an informational interview;
- Seek out and attend industry nights, networking events, local associations or businesses hosting industry events
- Many businesses hire interns or summer students. If you are a student, reach out early in your program to places you are interested in. That way, by the time your co-op or work term comes around, you have already established a relationship.
“Tourism is an exciting, thriving industry and with the backyard we have here — wineries, ski resorts, golf courses and so much more — there are many ways to enter the industry. And there aren’t a lot of barriers to entry: there’s such a need for skilled people that you can choose where you want to be. There’s a lot of opportunity if you want it.”