In 1986, Christiane Germain and her brother, Jean-Yves, went on a trip to New York City that would change both of their lives forever. They stayed at the Morgans Hotel, the first boutique hotel created by entrepreneur and Studio 54 co-founder Ian Schrager. Designed by famed French interior and product designer Andrée Putman, the Madison Avenue property was unlike anything Germain had ever seen or experienced before. The lobby looked like a chic living room, and there were only 114 rooms (eight on each luxurious floor), which were adorned with photographs that Robert Mapplethorpe had been commissioned to take. “That’s when I had an ‘aha’ moment,” says Germain. “It was a stunning place, completely different from all the other hotels I had seen: well thought out, smartly designed and just really beautiful. That’s exactly when it all started.” The Quebec City native and her brother ventured into the boutique-hotel world with their first property in 1988. The company now has 18 locations across Canada, including Alt and Escad hotels, and the family name has become synonymous with comfort, style and personalized service. At the helm as co-president, Germain has established herself as not only an influential Canadian businessperson but also a role model for women everywhere who dare to dream big.
A room at Le Germain Toronto Mercer.
On her management philosophy
“Coming up in the business world, I was very young—I started in my 20s. I worked with a lot of men, and they were tough, so I was always trying to be equally tough. It was difficult for me to act like that, and over the years, I learned how to be more myself and find my own style when managing people. You have to be firm, and you have to be fair—it’s collaboration and balance.”
On what motivates her
“I’ve always been driven to create jobs, so my incentive these days is getting back to where we were. We had to let go of close to 1,000 people because of the pandemic, so my greatest motivation is getting these people back to work.”
On supporting local
“I wish people could understand exactly what this means. They don’t seem to make the connection between their personal actions and the impact that they can have. If everyone made the effort to buy on a local Canadian platform, it would make such a difference.”
On travelling in Canada
“We have this amazing country, and one good thing about our current situation is that people are discovering all the beauty it has to offer. I’m much more of a mountain person than an ocean person, so my favourite place to visit is the Rockies.”
On her love of road trips
“What I like about driving long distances is the combination of looking at the scenery and listening to music or podcasts.
It’s that feeling of freedom—I can go anywhere I want.”
On designing the perfect hotel room
“You have to think about guests’ reasons for travelling. Some people might not be spending a lot of time in the room, but, more importantly, there are those who want to really enjoy the room. It has to be practical—a good room is functional, relaxing and comforting.”
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