In 2010 a journalist from CBC News asked me “why would anyone would want to stay on a Boatel?”. In response I asked “Have you ever walked by a marina and wondered who lives there?” His response was “of course”. That is exactly why people stay at a Boatel. People are curious about the boat, the boating lifestyle and about us too. People walk along Queens Quay at Toronto’s waterfront and are curious about the people that are sitting on the back deck having drinks and alot of fun. They want to live there too and experience living on a boat even if just a few nights.
We have taken the lessons we have learned from our corporate world which we left behind and applied them to our business. For example, I remember traveling on business and getting to a hotel that looked just like every other hotel I’d stayed at. I knew no one in the city so I had no one to chat with at the end of a long day. I arrived back in my room after dark to find the bed turned down, the bedside lamp on and soft music playing. It felt like someone had been there and cared enough to leave a chocolate and a little note on my pillow. Today I strive to always remember to do all those special things so our guests have that same warm feeling when they walk into their room at night. It’s work but it’s easy when you love what you do.
With all of our lessons learned in mind, we opened the Boatel in 2004 with a simple goal: “have people arrive as strangers, treat them likes guests and have them leave as friends.” To do this we created an environment with interior accommodations and exterior spaces that stimulate the senses and provided wireless Internet access so that you could work right from the boat but with a million dollar view of downtown Toronto to distract you. Living on the edge of the city we watch the city light up at night and light up it does with a host of colours including the CN Tower and the Roger’s Centre. The colours are reflected on the water and it is our nightly reminder of how fortunate we are to live on the Boatel. The TTC streetcars along Queens Quay is but a faint reminder that the city never sleeps.
Once in Ottawa I was about to sign my tab at the restaurant at the hotel but I couldn’t remember my room number and I had forgotten my key. I had to go to reception and ask them what room I was in and ask for another key. But first I had to prove that I was actually a guest at the hotel. I learned that after weeks of travelling a business traveler needs a change from an ordinary hotel. It doesn’t matter if you are traveling on business or on vacation our goal is simply to make everyone feel at home.
Who doesn’t want to be pampered? After all, every journey in life should be a rich, rare and full of new experiences. That’s what we do now – we pamper our guests and create wonderful experiences. We can arrange (almost) anything and we get lots of usual requests too! From sailing classes, water taxi service, the perfect flower bouquet, in-house massage, romantic dinner for two, wine and cheese reception, dinner and theatre reservations and so much more. We get lots of requests to find those wonderful out of the way spots or even the best place to do ballroom dancing on Saturday night. So when you walk into the Varadaro room at night, don’t be surprised to find a Teddy Bear, a little note and a chocolate near your pillow. Good night – sweet dreams.