Sandman Remembers the Best of 2012!

Urgent assignment2012 was a year filled with an unbelievable amount of activity at Sandman Hotel Group. Whether it was awards and accolades for our flagship hotel in Newcastle, UK, the launch of our mobile app for the iPad and Android, amazing press and coverage for our hotels across Canada, or the expansion of our online social media presence, there was no shortage of excitement for everyone here at the Sandman family.

Kicking off our New Year, here is a list of our favourite stories from the past year!

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Sandman Signature Makes a Name for Itself

Over the past year, Sandman Signature Hotels & Resorts have been making waves across the nation and overseas. For instance our Langley location picked up the 2012 Commercial Building Award of Excellence in Hospitality from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board for being able to fulfill the following requirements:

• Does the development complement or add to the surrounding properties and neighbourhood?
• Is it esthetically pleasing?
• What construction materials were used in the overall design?
• Was it built in an environmentally sensitive manner?
• Does it incorporate any unique architectural features?
• How does this project compare to others in the same category?

An excellent list of categories to live up to, we couldn’t be more proud of their achievement!

Inn Focus

There was also great press for our other locations too! From our Sandman Signature Hotel & Suites Prince George getting front page coverage in ‘In Focus’ magazine, to our Sandman Signature Hotel Newcastle, UK getting coverage for … everything! From their décor, history, and ambiance to their highly coveted RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) North East Renaissance Award for commercial property of the year, the good news hasn’t stopped coming. In addition, the reviews keep pouring in for our Edmonton South, Toronto and Vancouver Airport locations too. Quite simply, Signature is making its presence felt in the hotel world, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for each special location!

i Love the Sandman App!

2013 also ushered in some technological treats for all our guests too. Where last year we launched our brand new mobile booking app for the iPhone and BlackBerry, this year we wanted to make sure we topped ourselves with our apps for Android and the iPad (not to mention the improved version 2 for iPhone and Blackberry).

iPad App

Many months in the making, our experts worked day and night to ensure that we offered guests the easiest, breeziest and most rewarding booking experience…and we were not disappointed. With a whopping number of users already, there is no doubt that our new technology makes booking with us fast, efficient, easy, and full of perks. Not sure what you’re missing? Here are just a few of the benefits you can get from our mobile app.

  • The ability to reserve at over 40 locations worldwide
  • Exclusive access to promotions and limited-time offers
  • GPS and interactive map
  • The ability to earn and redeem StatusPlus points towards free stays
  • The ability to view StatusPlus points balance and profile status

A Clean Sweep for Sandman Hotels in Alberta

If there is one thing our hotels are proud of, it’s our standards and service. That’s why we were elated to learn that once again, that several of our hotels in Alberta have received prestigious recognition from the Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association for Excellence in Housekeeping.

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Our Sandman Hotel Red Deer, Sandman Hotel Calgary South and Sandman Hotel Calgary Airport all were recipients of this AHLA award which states:

‘As a recipient of the Housekeeping Award, you are among a select group of properties that participate in the Approved Accommodation Program [and] have achieved excellence in cleanliness, comfort, and maintenance. The Housekeeping Award is a reflection of your staff and your property’s commitment to providing visitors with clean and comfortable accommodation.’

Now that’s spotless news.

Social Media Expansion

This year also saw the rise of our social media expansion across several channels. From Pinterest to Google +, Foursquare, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, and the ever increasing growth of our Facebook and Twitter pages, there were so many new ways to interact with our guests, fans, and friends. We met so many new people that we decided to get to know them all even better with our ‘Share Your Sandman Story Photo Contest.’

Share Your Sandman Story

Asking our friends to share their Sandman stories with us was one of our most successful social media campaigns of the year, and we received entries from all over the world. Whether it was a story about a memorable family stay, wonderful weekend getaway, the perfect wedding or friendly service during frequent business trips, we got to see the real people who make our company a success with pictures too!

Throughout the summer months we also gave away tons of prizes to everyone ranging from restaurant gift cards, hotel gift certificates, and two brand new iPads.

Double the Luck with Lucky 13

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Though it’s 2013 already, the number 13 played a huge role for Sandman in 2012. With our Lucky 13 Rewards Program, we decided to have a bit of fun and launch a campaign on Friday the 13th, called ‘Lucky 13 on Friday the 13th.’ Since there were two Friday the 13ths in 2012, we decided to make two fun videos for our friends detailing the special promotion which allowed guests to get DOUBLE the Lucky 13 stamps for every night they booked on the superstitious day. We were even lucky enough to get all-star backup quarterback for the BC Lions, Mike Reilly, to help us out.

In case you missed it all, check out some of our favourite videos, and moments below!

With so many events and activities, it’s pretty safe to say that 2012 was among one of our best years ever. However, we’re also willing to wager a bet that 2013 will be even better!

 

 

Sandman Celebrates the Season with Rockford wok|bar|grill

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The holidays and New Year’s Eve are among the best times of the year to throw a big party with all your friends or relatives. Whether it’s the snow, the decorations, or the music, something in the air makes everyone and everything just a little more merry and bright.

However, if you’re planning to be the host of one such festive fete, then you’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of you. From the appetizers, to the drinks, to finding enough time to simultaneously monitor the door while playing DJ and cleaning dishes, it’s an overwhelming task even for even the most seasoned iron chef/party planner.

That’s where Rockford wok|bar|grill comes in handy. With locations at Sandman Signature Hotel & Suites Prince George and Sandman Hotel & Suites Edmonton South, they’ve outdone themselves this year with an inspired New Year’s menu that is perfectly suited for get-togethers and parties.

rockfordFor only $34.95 a person, your guests can choose from a long list of mouth-watering soups, salads, entrees and desserts ranging from roasted butternut squash-sweet potato bisque, to charbroiled AAA sirloin topped with lemon-parsley butter and a side of mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

Value some good vegetarian options? Their roasted root vegetable ravioli or Rockford greens are not to be missed.

Got a sweet tooth? Don’t you worry because the menu has your choice of a vanilla custard tart with fresh berries and whipped cream or sticky chocolate date pudding with vanilla bean gelato and chocolate butterscotch sauce.

To top it off? A fresh, crisp flute of bubbly prosecco to get the celebration started in style!

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Yup, it’s pretty safe to say that if you’re looking for the ideal place to hold your holiday party, Rockford’s got you covered. Plus, with our plush Sandman Signature beds just an elevator ride away, you can celebrate all night long and into those lovely wee hours of the 2013 morning.

Stay Safe This Season, Take the Elevator Home with Sandman

Why wait for a cab?

Why wait for a cab?

If you’ve ever been stuck in the rain, wearing your finest attire at 1am in the morning while trying to flag the umpteenth cab that’s passed you by, then you know the dilemma of the age old holiday party.

In general, holiday spirit is a good thing. However, when it comes to holiday spirits, the story is a tad more complicated. In moderation, alcoholic holiday beverages can be delicious and entreating, but in excess they can prove to be more trouble than you bargained for.

Celebrate safe!

Celebrate safe!

Yet, the season is a time of year when most people overindulge in one too many of a lot of things, so more likely than not, you will not be alone in your festive follies. Not to worry though, a little planning and preparation is all you need to make sure your celebrations end on a high note, and most importantly, they are all you need to ensure that you and your loved ones return home safe, sound, and well rested!

Throughout December and January, severalof our hotels (such as Sandman Suites Surrey — Guidlford, Sandman Hotel Vancouver Airport, and Sandman Signature Hotel & Resort — Vancouver Airport) will be participating in special holiday rates that are focused on making sure you have an easy alternative to driving home. The mode of transportation? Faster than a cab and cozier that a crowded bus, all it requires is the simple push of an elevator button.

All you have to do is quote the rate when you call to book your stay, and you’ll receive the discounted rate for the dates that you need (some blackout dates and restrictions apply — select locations only). That way you can eat, drink and be merry to your heart’s content – plus you’ll also have a comfortable, convenient, and plush bed waiting for you when you’re all done.

take the elevator home surreyWith RCMP across the nation once again launching their Counterattack campaign, we’re not the only ones strongly advocating planning ahead for your night. Whether it be staying in a hotel, finding a designated driver or hailing a cab – any safe way home is a good way home.

One benefit to choosing a hotel for your alternative? With Sandman you’ll be guaranteed a good night’s rest too!

No matter where you are or what you do for your festivities this year, Sandman wishes you a very merry holiday season and encourages you to stay safe when it comes to party planning. Now that’s a real reason to celebrate.

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Some Canadian Christmas Facts

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By now you’ve likely seen all the sparkle and jazz that is the holiday season. Walk into any retail store and you’ll hear one of the many popular pop Christmas albums – whether it’s Bublé, Bieber, or perhaps a classic, like good ol’ Frank. Take a drive down any residential street and you’ll see the twinkling outdoor displays of festive lights, either frantically put up at the last minute, or, never taken down from the year before. Either way, there’s no denying that the season is upon us – ready to make everyone festive, merry, and bright.

In honour of the approaching holidays, we thought we’d do a little digging into Canada’s Christmas past, present, and future and unearth some interesting facts from around the nation.

There is a Christmas Capital of Canada winni winter

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, then you probably know which city we are talking about. Here are a few clues. Located in the center of Canada, this capital is guaranteed a white Christmas nearly every year. In addition, it has one of the most famous frozen rivers in the world and endless winter activities for enthusiasts to pursue. Whether it’s outdoor ice skating, cross country skiing, sleigh rides or world-famous holiday celebrations – yup, you guessed it, Winnipeg has the seasonal spirit in spades.

tortiereA Québec Tradition

People around the world are split on whether the custom of opening gifts should happen at midnight or in the morning, but in Quebec, the practice of réveillon makes the decision easy. The French word to ‘wake-up’, réveillion is the custom of having a Christmas meal after Midnight Mass. Festive delights include Sucre a La Crème (Cream Fudge), Buche De Noel (Yule Log), Tarte au Sucre (Sugar Pie) and Tourtiere (Meat Pie). For réveillon, families often take an afternoon nap on Christmas Eve to prepare for the late night/morning festivities that follow. Upon their return home, they are welcomed by a warming traditional buffet of comfort food followed by festive caroling, dancing, and plenty of mulled wine and cider.

Sounds like a delicious way to celebrate the season to us!

12 Days of Christmas in Nova Scotia

Christmas caroling is popular in many places around the world, but in Nova Scotia, they do things a little differently. During the 12 days of Christmas, kids add a theatrical element to the fun by dressing in costumes and masks, disguising their voices and singing and dancing for their audience. If the host can’t guess their identities, they then are obligated to join in on the caroling fun. The best part, however, are the fun names associated with these festive jokers. Called ‘Mummers’ or ‘Belsnicklers’, we think Nova Scotia knows how to have some serious seasonal fun.

A Citrus Christmasjapanese oranges

In Vancouver, there is a special shipment that arrives at the main port every year for the holidays. The shipment, Japanese oranges, is welcomed by girls wearing traditional kimonos in a ritual which, for many, heralds the beginning of the holiday season. A delicious treat (and a whole lot healthier than all that Christmas chocolate), orange you glad that your stocking contains a fruitful surprise?

A Very Merry Hanukkah too!menorah

As a multicultural country, there are many other celebrations throughout the year which bring families together.

This year, for example, the first day of Hanukkah started on December 9th, and many families are well on their way to having some great family fun. Some Hanukkah traditions include the giving of gift baskets to friends and family, and the organization of Chanukah parties, which include singing, drama, and entertaining activities involving the dreidel. Many Jewish Canadians prepare a traditional feast with treats such as latkas (potato cakes), and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts). Everyone also partakes in the lighting of a special menorah known as a hanukkiyah for eight days.

And on the Funny Side of Things…festivus pole

Though many consider Seinfeld’s Festivus celebration to be a really funny joke, there is a history behind it, and people do actually celebrate it.

The holiday, which was brought to life in a ‘Seinfeld’episode, includes practices such as the Airing of Grievances, which occurs during the Festivus meal and requires each person to tell everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him or her over the past year. After the meal, Feats of Strength are performed, and this involves wrestling the head of the household to the floor, with the holiday ending only if someone can pin down the head of the household.

Celebrated on December 23, this holiday was originally created in 1966 by writer Dan O’Keefe and was celebrated by his family. The purpose of the holiday was to celebrate the season without partaking in its pressures and commercialism.

If you’re interested in trying out Festivus this year, there is a book that you can buy, which is aptly titled, ‘Festivus: The Holiday for the Rest of Us’.

So there you have it, Canada is a country full of fun and interesting holiday traditions and we’re sure that we’ve only skimmed the surface of what’s out there. So if you have any contributions to make, feel free to send us a message. It is, after all, the season of sharing!

Sandman Supports the Kids This Season

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For many Canadians, the holidays are a time of year filled with celebrations, family gatherings, and gift exchanges. Yet, for countless kids across the country, the season can be a difficult period to get through, and is a time when a helping hand makes a world of difference.  That’s why, this year, Sandman Hotels are making it their mission to give back to children and teens in need with an important charity campaign.

gift of giving

From November 15, 2012 to January 15, 2013 all 42 hotels across the nation will participate in Sandman’s ‘Gift of Giving’ promotion which, in partnership with Kids Help Phone, will raise funds and awareness for Canada’s only national non-profit youth counselling service. A trailblazer for essential youth services in Canada, Kids Help Phone remains the go-to service for kids, teens and young adults. Its professional counsellors offer help and hope on more than 55 issues that are of concern to kids today. That’s why Sandman is proud to join forces with them.

For the season, Sandman will be donating $1 from every reservation made under their ‘Gift of Giving’ rate to Kids Help Phone, with all donations matched by Sandman Hotel Group.

Why Kids Help Phone?

“In light of recent events not only with youth in Canada, but across the globe, we felt that it was important for Sandman to foster a Canadian-run network for youth this season,” says Salim Kassam, Vice President of Marketing for Sandman Hotel Group. “Our Company has strong family values, and we are invested in Canada’s children and teenagers, so we feel that Kids Help Phone provides one of the most vital services for kids of all ages these days.”

A Few Facts about Kids Help Phone KHP_EN_1C_RGB

In case you didn’t know, Kids Help Phone provides Canada’s leading toll-free, bilingual, and anonymous online and phone counselling and referral service for children and youth. As a non-profit group, they rely heavily on the support of companies and donors from across the country to ensure that every kid has someone to talk to in a time of need.

Available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day they also ensure that no call for help goes unheard, and their dedication is something that Sandman is proud to support.

‘No matter what young people contact us about – bullying, school, pressures, problems at home – Kids Help Phone’s professional counsellors are always there to provide non-judgemental support to kids from anywhere in Canada,” says Sharon Wood, President and CEO of Kids Help Phone. “Our service is available 24 hours a day, but we can only be there KHP_FR_1C_RGBfor kids through the financial assistance and support of companies and donors. We are delighted that Sandman Hotel Group has joined us in our mission to ensure young people across Canada always have someone to turn to. Thank you Sandman for reminding everyone that we, as individuals and as a caring community, can make a difference.”

Sandman Hotel Group will also be offering special room rates for those who book under the ‘Gift of Giving’ rate, which makes it the perfect present not only for you, but for the kids too!

To find out more about Sandman Hotel Group’s ‘Gift of Giving’ promotion, go to http://www.sandmanhotels.ca/giving

To find out more about Kids Help Phone, go to http://www.kidshelpphone.ca