The Fairmont Chateau Laurier, in the heart of Ottawa’s downtown core, has a new general manager who brings changes to the historical hotel owned by Larco Investments and managed by Fairmont.
Rick Corcoran has 30 years of hospitality industry experience and a world of travels under his belt, starting with a holiday season vacation with his ten-year-old son—one of the catalysts for his move from San Francisco to Ottawa. Rick’s son Benjamin lives in Montreal with his mother and this new position brings Rick and Benjamin closer together.
Step into the grande dame of the Fairmont family today and you will notice Rick’s influence with the lounge music playing in the lobby, and—coming soon—a Champagne Bar in the former lobby reading room. Visitors and employees will also notice Rick’s personable hands-on style of management. His joie de vivre is evident in his choice of transportation—look for Rick making his way into work by scooter. Born in Quebec City, Rick is prepared for Canadian winters, although he acknowledges that it will be an adjustment after living in California for the past 15 years.
Rick’s Ottawa home overlooks the Rideau Canal and offers a glimpse into his passion for music. He plays a mean drum beat and has an impressive collection of equipment that makes one wonder if perhaps one has stepped into the home of a former rock star!
What did you want to be when you grew up? Initially a lawyer, but my first jobs were working in restaurants as a dishwasher or cook. If I had the talent, I would have been a rock star. Music fascinates me and I never miss a concert ranging from opera to Metallica. Playing the guitar and drums makes me happy and resets my brain. I have more equipment than talent, and at one time had fifty-four guitars, which I considered an investment for my son’s college fund. My father taught me the value of hard work—but he did not play as much. For me I work hard but also play hard.
Why did you decide on this career? You are always under pressure in an exciting and creative environment. When I started as a hotel cook, I vividly remember seeing the suits walking by the kitchen never looking at me, like I did not exist. I knew one day if I ever became a suit, I would not behave like that. I am completely colleague-centric and take care of my people. A happy employee wants to come to work, makes for happy guests who will spend more money which makes the owners happy.
Every day I thank the workers for their service. If you do not like people 100% this is not the business for you, nor will you succeed. You need patience, drive, kindness and thinking outside the box combined with a passion for people. Fairmont’s success is the quality of its employees and its culture. Their properties are extraordinary, but the main asset of the company is the staff and how much they care and are invested in their work.
Are you implementing any changes? The reality is that the industry is softening. We need to work harder in the local market as there are more venues now in Ottawa, thereby increasing competition. Expanding our social media presence, revamping the food and beverage sector to include a Champagne Lounge in the reading room next to the Lobby Bar, and creating a sushi bar at Zoe’s should draw in more customers to visit and stay with us.
What is next for you? I feel I have another twenty years to give in this industry. I hope to seek additional responsibilities as I aspire to become a regional vice president and general manager assigned to a specific hotel, but with duties overseeing other hotels in the region with greater revenues. If I was removed from hotel operations, I would lose the soul and essence of what I want to do, which is connecting with people.