Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Santa's Helpers have been busy, busy, busy this past week, decorating the hotel for Christmas - we have a great team of elves.  Although a daunting task, it's still one of my favourite times (as much as I pretend to "Grinch" about it underneath my breath).  I like watching it come together - bit by bit.  I like having people come through the lobby and having people stop by to see the big Christmas Tree.

About the Christmas Tree.  We have a new one this year.  A beautiful 9 foot tree with pretty white lights that stretches right to the ceiling.

This may not seem like a big deal if you don't know about the tree we had previously.  It was 12 feet tall and last year we put that 12 foot tree in a lobby with 9 foot ceilings - we just didn't put the top on it.  It looked like it was stretching up right into the rafters.  As usual around this place - imaginations ran wild.  Someone was all for putting the top of the tree on the roof so it looked like the tree grew up through the whole building.  Someone else thought that we should cut a hole in the floor of the room right above it and put the tree top through it.  The last bright spark in all of the crazy ideas was to turn the tree into an upside down tree so no one would notice that the top was missing. 

And then, there's the wreath on the front door.  We've never had so many people comment and be completely confused by a wreath.  It hangs on the two swinging front doors.  Right in the middle.  It looks like it covers over the door itself - and it stops some people right in their tracks.  How do you open the door?  There's a wreath over it.  The wreath is cut in half!  Once past the initial, "Um, what?" you get to the "Wow, that's pretty cool!"

We're still decorating but if you want to pop down to take a look.....please do.  In the meantime, hope you have fun with your decorating.  

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Remembrance Day

The time of year is again upon us when we take a 
moment to remember.

Remember our fallen soldiers.

Remember all those who have served.

Remember those who are serving.

Remember those left behind at home.

Remember those who have given.

Remember what has been taken away.

Remember and just say thanks.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Shhhhh - Christmas is coming!

I know that it's all lingering in the back of our minds and it will happen more quickly that we can imagine, but the Christmas season will soon be upon us! Here at the hotel, it starts at this time of year with the planning of the lobby decoration.  It's a big space with high ceilings which means you get to have lots more fun!

This is only my second year decorating here.  It seems like such a daunting task when you first start.  We pull out everything and pile it all up in the meeting room and then we start a plan.  First the big tree - The big tree in the lobby.  Luckily we have some pretty talented tree decorators on staff.....oh and some tall people too.  Everyone who has to decorate a big tree should be able to hire one tall person!

Then we start the planning of the team Christmas Party.  Our staff look forward to it every year because it's the time when we all get to sit down and just enjoy each others company. 

So, are you the person in your office who has to plan your Christmas Party?  Just a thought......why not treat your team to something special here at the hotel.  We've got a variety of options that will leave your team knowing that they're valued and appreciated and at the end of the day, you can treat yourself as a reward for a job well done!

Give us a call......Try Lori at 738-7773. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Sometimes, Time Does Stand Still

We’ve all heard about the long history of Murray Premises – the building but sometimes we forget that along with the building, there’s a long history of businesses that have operated here.  People who showed up at the door each and every morning, ready to put in a full days’ work.  

Occasionally, little things stand out as reminders though.  The other day, I was in a guest room and happened to glance at one of the beams and noticed that some counting hash marks were engraved into the wood – four vertical lines with a slash mark across the middle.  Rumour has it that this was a typical method of counting fish in the A.H. Murray Company was operating right down on the harbour.  

I wonder if any of you could guess what this is?  

A couple of years ago, we were lucky enough to be able to purchase the original time clock for the A.H. Murray Company dating back into the 1800’s.
The Dey’s Dial Recorder from W.A. Wood Company of Montreal, shows the number of each employee around the circumference of the large dial on the front of the machine.  The employee recorded their starting and stopping time by positioning the pivoted pointer arm to their own number and then pressing it into the guide hole, thereby printing the exact time opposite their number on a prepared sheet in the machine.  Remarkable!  

Do you know of any antiques or artifacts that you’d like to share with us?  We’re always eager to hear about anything that you might have that links to our past. We look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Catching Up

I believe apologies are in order....sorry that it’s been such a long time since I blogged last.  What a summer it has been.  We’ve been busier that we’ve ever been before.   I can’t believe that it’s been almost a month since I sat down to write and we were suffering through Fogust!  Now here we are butting up against the Labour Day weekend, a sure mark of the end of summer and finally our summer has arrived.  How not to enjoy warm sunshiny days? 

So, what have we been up to since we last chatted?  Let’s start with the courtyard.  Just a few blogs ago, I showed you a courtyard under construction. 

And now you ask?  I won’t say that Mother Nature was exactly “kind” to the Gypsy Tea Room because when they were finally ready to serve their first guests “al fresco” the weather changed and dining outside was only a dream.  This weather though is more like a dream come true now and on a beautiful summer evening a few weekends ago, dream became reality. 

This summer also brought us another highlight and quite an honour as Murray Premises Hotel was chosen to host Rick Hanson and his team as they began the 25th Anniversary of the Man In Motion Tour.  For three nights, Rick used us as his home base to begin his journey – starting at Cape Spear.   Press conferences were held.  Interviews were conducted.  Pictures were taken.  We can all only stand back in awe of this remarkable individual and wish him well as he travels across the country.  We were thrilled that he took the time for a picture (in the new and improved courtyard!) with:  (l-r) Kelly Finlay (General Manager), Rick Hanson, Lori Coleman (Sales Associate), Adam Chiu (Guest Services Agent). 

If you want to follow Rick as he travels across the country, go to his website:  Rick Hanson 25th Anniversary Relay

To all of you, we wish a happy Labour Day Weekend.  Here’s hoping for sunshine, warm breezes and plenty of family.  Happy Labour Day Everyone!

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Joys of "Summer" in Newfoundland!

Ahhhhh August.  Or as we're calling it here - Fogust or Augember or Fogagedon or Augtober.  Maybe just call it "Summer in Newfoundland".  Anyway you look at it, it makes enjoying our beautiful province a bit of a challenge.  Twitter has been buzzing with all the different words to describe our weather.  We're certainly not short of creativity although I have to give credit where credit is due - "Fogust" is also trending out there on the other side of the country.

Hats off to our exceptionally, resilient travellers though - Or maybe hats on!  Today is just one of those days.  Pea Soup has nothing on our fog today and the airport has become something closer to a waiting room.

Just a little while ago I was helping a large group of people as they struggled to get all of their luggage into the hotel.  I mentioned how tough it was, lugging around all the bags and that they looked like they could use some help.  As I'm holding the door, one of them says those words that we all dread.  "Our flight was cancelled".  Turns out that they were on their way back from the airport where they had learned that our weather had gotten the better of them.  We chat some more as the front desk team tries to hurriedly figure out where we can put them.  It's madness as the phone rings off the hook.  People need rooms, people cancel rooms, people need to stay.  Pure craziness! 

In the end though, keys in hand they head back upstairs to rest and relax.  That's when you hear it.  One of them turns to the other and says, "I guess we just weren't supposed to leave". 

And even with all the nuisance and frustration, they really didn't sound unhappy!  Just point them in the direction of George Street.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Regatta Connection

What with St. John's being the oldest city in North America,it only makes sense that the city be the host of the oldest organized sporting event North America too, right?  The St. John's Regatta is just that. 

The first record of an organized event is in 1818, but rowing matches were common among ships crews in St. John's Harbour since at least the 1700's.

These days, the Regatta draws crowds of up to 50,000 people annually to the shores of Quidi Vidi Lake. It is widely known as "The Largest Garden Party in the World" because it has been about socializing as much as amateur sport. Concession stands, wheels of fortune, games of chance, and food & drink are just as much part of the Regatta's history as the races. Indeed, many people hardly notice the races, as they are too involved in the merrymaking on the shores of the lake.

Murray Premises Hotel is pleased to sponsor the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Ladies Team.

We "should" be one week away from the big day!  For those of you "from away" Regatta day is a little different.  Held traditionally on the first Wednesday in August - the holiday and Regatta are weather dependent.  On the designated day, the race committee makes an official call early in the morning.  If the weather is good....the Regatta goes ahead.  If not, it's postponed, everyone goes to work and the next day we go through the same process.  A "floating" holiday!!!!  (Pun intended!)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Courtyard

The courtyard at Murray Premises has always been such an important part of the look and feel of the building.  It's that central area where people congregate in the summer, sitting on picnic tables in the sun, enjoying their lunch, meeting friends.  Once you step down off of Water Street you find yourself surrounded on each side by the hotel and restaurants in this secluded little spot which is sheltered and somehow private.  Today, it's taking another step. 

The Gypsy Tea Room is working feverishly and very soon they will have created an outdoor oasis.  Nestled in the courtyard they will soon be offering outdoor bar and meal service.  I'm betting that it doesn't take you long to imagine yourself there on a warm summer night. 

All the construction did get me thinking though.  What did the courtyard look like before?  Could I put together a before and after?  I have something that I think is pretty interesting.  How about 1970, 2000 & 2011?
1970's prior to renovation

Around 2000
And doesn't look great but wait until you see what it's going to look like.  We can't wait. 

Within days, maybe even hours, the courtyard will be finished and it is going to be spectacular.  Keep checking back.  As soon as it's done, I'll post a new picture!!!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

An Explosive Time at Murray Premises Hotel

July 13, 2011

Murray Premises Hotel was please to host the Canadian Explosive Association Conference last week.  Outside of their meetings, the group had dinner at Gypsy Tea Room and Atlantica and then went whale watching with O'Brien's.  They enjoyed their entire stay and the weather was perfect.  The only thing missing was the fireworks!!!!

This is an interesting group with some important objectives:
  • To promote the interests of distributors, manufactures and end users of explosives
  • To promote high standards concerning the use, handling, storage and transport of explosives and to co-operate with the government authorities in the promotion of these standards in the interest of public safety.
  • To develop good working relations between manufacturers and distributors of explosives
  • To encourage the adoption of uniform legislation concerning the explosives industry.
It was great to have them with us and we're thrilled that they chose to stay with us.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Summer Time - Island Time. The best of both worlds.

Summer time....and the living is easy!  It's such an easy time of year to get distracted.  Take a day like today.....Mother Nature has finally nudged the temperatures up into that range that makes you want to shed the layers of clothing that we normally believe are, well, necessary.  For the hotel, that means that the conversations at the desk change.  We hear about that first spine-tingling whale sighting; the first view from Cape Spear; the first hike along the East Coast Trail; the first taste of lobster. 

Where do these visitors come from?  We have a tracking system set up on our website that tells us where our guests are viewing us from and I'm wondering how the people from Russia and India and Romania and the Bahamas hear about us?  Little old us.....tucked away in a spot on the harbour in downtown St. John's, Newfoundland.   It boggles the mind really. 

And then, they're here.  They come through the doors, loaded down with luggage and filled with excitement.  Some come prepared.....they have the maps and they have a plan.  Some wing it - which can either go really, really well and be a lot of fun or can present a challenge.  It's hard to imagine those nights when there's not a room to be had in the city but they happen - a lot.  I remember a night when I struggled to find a place for the nicest couple - I felt so bad when I finally had to tell them that the only thing I could find was a two hour drive away.  A room and a bed.....but a long, long way away.   Yet, off they went, happy to have a place and filled with "tourist" enthusiasm.  Even as I type this, I can hear David in the background on the phone with a guest, "I have Sunday night and Monday night but I don't have Tuesday.....I have Wednesday though."  Typical, so typical.

Don't imagine that everyone comes from off the island.  Our very own tourists can be just as much fun.  We don't get to explore our own backyards often enough and I can't imagine ever having seen it all.  I'm sure I'm not alone.

So, bring on summer I say - the best of both worlds.  Where we get to be Tour Guides and Tourists......all at the same time.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Putting your Heart into it......

June 22, 2011 

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s Board of Directors is holding their annual board meeting at Murray Premises Hotel.  We are pleased to welcome such a dynamic group to the hotel and our city. 

More than 50 years ago, a visionary group of Canadians, including physicians and researchers, founded the National Heart Foundation of Canada with big hopes for the future.

For Newfoundland and Labrador, The Foundation was founded in 1964 when a group of twelve highly motivated volunteers recruited canvassers to complete a residential campaign that raised $15,000. Over the years the organization continued to grow and develop into the strong entity it is today.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation raises funds to support research and health promotion programs.  We believe we can help more people by investing in research and education to prevent heart disease and stroke and to develop better treatments for the diseases.

This group is doing amazing work and we're so pleased to be able to help.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Talk about "Magnetic Personalities"!!!

June 15, 2011

Murray Premises was pleased to host the Magnetic North II 2011 workshop this week, welcoming guests from around the world.  Did you know......

Magnetic North is an organization of magnetism researchers in Canada and their international collaborators.  It is a forum for information exchange on individual group research activities.  Magnetic North also serves as the basis for the organization of regular magnetism sessions within the annual congress of the CAP as well as stand-along Magnetic North workshops.  There are a broad range of magnetic researchers in Canada, spanning various academic departments and government laboratories using a variety of experimental, theoretical and computational techniques.  Research interests encompass geometrically constrained systems (thin films and wires), molecular magnets, dipolar systems, frustration, quantum effects, phase transitions, magneto-electrical materials, etc.  A goal of Magnetic North is to facilitate the exchange of ideas between researchers and to reveal overlapping interests that can foster useful collaborations, serving also to strengthen the magnetism research community as a whole.

We get the best guests here.  Stay tuned.  We've got another great group coming through our doors.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Mother Lode

June 9, 2011

I'm always on the lookout for anything historical that has to do with the property. I've spent hours at the St. John's City Archives sifting through the numerous pictures and maps (which, by the way, is a pretty great way to spend a rainy afternoon if you're into that kind of thing) and I've spent lots of time wandering through the pictures and artifacts that we have here on site.  So imagine my surprise the other day when Mr. Mahoney hands me a file folder and says, "Take a look at this.  Might be something interesting in here."

Interesting!  Interesting?  It's the Mother Lode!  The file was included in the documents from his original purchase.  There's documents from the original renovation in the 1970's.  There's negatives and slides......lots and lots of them.  All sorts of documents containing the building history and the history of the original renovation too.  Quotes from the craftsmen who were here on site turning this relatively derelict building into what we know today.  I'll save these photos for another day....first I want to tell you about something else that I found.

Everyday, I walk down the first floor hallway and I look up at "her".  The Lady from the Ship.  I don't know who she is.  I don't know where she came from.  Or at least, I didn't.  Now, I have papers saying that she's from a ship called "The Thetis".  How she got here, proudly keeping watch over us is still a mystery but at least I have a starting point.  As always, I reached for my old friend, Mr. Google and here's what I found. 

So, what do you think?  Is it her?  I know, I know.  It's kind of hard to tell but I want to believe it's her because then, I can let my imagination run wild about where's she's been.

I'm going to keep digging..I'll keep you posted. 

Stay tuned.  More and I mean MUCH more to follow. 

Monday, 6 June 2011

911 - You have an Emergency? You picked a perfect time to call......

June 6, 2011

It's a busy week at Murray Premises Hotel, if an emergency arose this week, we wouldn't need to call 911, we could just call upon one of our guests. This week Murray Premises Hotel is pleased to welcome the EMS Chief of Canada's Board of Directors.  Leading into their national conference, which is taking place in the city (with hundreds of delegates from across the country), Emergency Medical Systems (EMS) systems operate in a variety of forms ranging from volunteer first responders to paid Critical Care Transport Paramedics.  These EMS services may be operated by volunteer groups, private-for-profit providers, Fire Departments, hospitals, local or provincial/territorial government. With services provided and coordinated from such a broad base of sources, the challenges has been one of finding common ground for coordinated activities.  EMS provider groups have been challenged to work together without viewing one a another as the "competition", and to provide a credible national voice for EMS which will be heard across country at all levels of government.

With the guidance of the current 20 member EMSCC Board, that represent each province and the territories, it is obvious that the EMSCC collective approach to fostering high quality EMS in Canada has already met with considerable success.  A national forum for EMS has been created, along with the highly credible national "voice of EMS" which is beginning to influence all levels of government in ways that, merely a decade ago, would have been regarded as "daydreaming", and all of the Canadian EMS benefits, either directly or indirectly as a result of these activities.

We thank them for their service and the work they do, we are proud to have them stay with us this week and wish them a successful national conference.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Introducing Me!

June 2, 2011

Yesterday, I rolled out our weekly newsletter and was mulling over what to write in the blog this week.  To refresh my memory I was reading back through the previous editions - checking out where I'd gone in the past twelve weeks.  It was then that I realized something.  I'd never properly introduced myself.  I'm just some nameless blogger, typing away about something that is near and dear to my heart.

So, firstly, my name is Hilary and I'm the Director of Operations for Murray Premises Hotel, St. John's Executive Suites and Regal Realty.  Pleased to meet you.  I've been associated in one way or another with this group of company for (holy cow) two and a half years.  The association was, well, a little complicated at the beginning so I won't explain it.  It's also a dreadfully boring tale.

.....and now confession time.  I have a secret and I hope that you won't think less of me when I share it.  Here we go.  I'm a mainlander, a CFA!  Shocking isn't it.  One of those people born and raised in a little town just north of Toronto.  When I was there, it was a farm town.  Lots of fields and cows right in our back yard.  Now, it's suburbia - right dead centre of the commuter belt, but hey, that's their problem.  I recognized the signs and got out while the getting was good.

I didn't end up here immediately.  When I was younger, I tried the west.  Northern Alberta for a couple of years (not bad).  Norther coastal British Columbia for a couple (beautiful but WAY TOO MUCH RAIN).  Back to Ontario to make sure that I really didn't want to live there and then (sigh) Newfoundland.  I flitted around with a few other hotels in town, had a great time and then, hit the mother lode at Murray Premises.  I love my job.  I love the people.  I love the hotel and I adore this building.

A few years ago, I was asked by the company that I was working for to help out a hotel in Ottawa for a few weeks.  I like Ottawa.  Great city.  Lots to do.  Really pretty  It wasn't until I finished though, that I realized just how much this province had gotten into my blood.  On the flight back, we banked as we were coming into the airport and there they were - the cliffs of Signal Hill and the ocean.  It was at this point that my whole body went ahhhhhhhh.  Yep, I was home.

So for those of you out there reading this:
If you're a Newfoundlander, I hope that you'll read what I'm writing, think it's okay and allow me to stay.
If you're not a Newfoundlander - please don't be too jealous and keep reading.  You can live your life vicariously through me if it helps.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

"The Murray"

May 25, 2011

I sat down yesterday to start writing another edition of our monthly newsletter "The Murray" and it got me thinking.  How long has "The Murray" been going now?  We're kind of big on birthdays around here at the moment having just celebrated the 10 years.  So I checked back through my records and realized...."The Murray" is one year old!  How did that happen?  When I mentioned it to Mr. Mahoney, he was surprised too.  It certainly doesn't seem that long ago that we started talking about it.  How could we connect with our guests?  How can we answer their questions?  How about a Newsletter.  Now, what started as an email blitz to around 100 email addresses has blossomed into a web-based email forum sent to around 3500 addresses!!!!!

We didn't want to stop there though.  Then we added a Facebook, and then Twitter, and in the middle of it all.....this blog. 

Why?  Well, it all boils down to this.  We want to talk to you and we hope that you want to talk to us.  The gratifying part is that you have.  We get so many comments back from "The Murray".  The Contest obviously gets a LOT of response.  Who doesn't want to win a night of pampering at the Hotel?  But, mixed in among the responses, are the comments.

How do people feel about us?  We know how we feel about Murray Premises Hotel - this beautiful, historic building, saved from destruction and turned into a thriving hotel - sounds like a movie plot and we're the superheroes!  Do others feel our passion?  It's always great to hear nice things from people on the outside.  People who spend their honeymoon with us  People who come to St. John's once a month and always stay with us.  People who are being wooed by other hotels, but would rather stay with us.  People experiencing Newfoundland and St. John's for the very first time. That's what it's all about.  Any hotel, any where, lives and dies by the feedback from it's guests and we're humbled by the fact that our guests like us.

If any of this has "tweaked" your interest and you'd like to get onto our mailing list, just click here to send an email with your address or just follow our blog.  The next edition of "The Murray" - our "One-Year Anniversary Edition" will be coming out around June 1st.  We hope that you won't miss it.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Week After....

May 18, 2011

The cake is cut.  The dishes are washed.  The banner has been taken down.  The balloons are slowly fading away.  The flowers are hanging in there...for now.  The celebration of our 10th Anniversary is just about over.  Time to get back down to business.

Yesterday though, we topped it off by taking the opportunity to sit down with each other to share the accomplishment.  Lunch for the team at The Gypsy Tea Room was lovely.  Great food, great company and a great chance to make sure that our team, the heroes of it all, know how much they're appreciated.  We call them our team but it really is more like a family here and I believe a lot of that has to do with the great people that we have and the great building that we represent.  It's different you know - working and representing a great old building like this.  It gets into your heart and soul and we all feel the same way.  Employees who have been with us for years feel protective.  New employees marvel that they get to work here!

So at this time, we'd like to say thank you and congratulations to (in no particular order):

Our amazing front office team - Adam, Bill, Brent, Frances and Johnathan.  And, welcome aboard Tim, Alex and Mark.  We're glad to have you join us.  This is the team that is at the beginning and end of each and every hotel experience.  They answer the calls, make the reservations, check you in, recommend restaurants and attractions, give directions and then at the end of it all wish you a great day and hope that you enjoyed your stay.  In between, they're the ones that answer all the questions - the good and the, well, unusual!!!!!  Believe me when I say that they've heard it all.  At the head of this team is David and that's all that needs to be said!

Our Breakfast attendants, Debbie and Os - starting everyone's day with a smile and a hot cup of coffee.  Glenn, keeping the inside spaces neat, clean and tidy.  Joe, keeping the outside spaces neat, clean and tidy.  And, Tom filling in wherever we need him.

And then, the unsung heroes of any hotel.  Working in the background - the housekeepers.  I'm sure that I don't even need to tell you that what they do isn't easy.  It's hard work and we could couldn't do it without them.  We're thrilled that you're here Diane, Laurie, Tracey, Claudette and Melinda.

From all of us on the management team:  Kelly Finlay - General Manager, Lori Coleman - Sales Associate, Jean Dwyer and Dawn Ring in Administration, Hilary Simpson (me!) - Director of Operations and the head of it all, Bill Mahoney, we say, "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.  Here's to 10 More Years"

......and NOW, back to business.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Open House

May 12, 2011 
On Thursday, May 12th, we shined up our hallways, polished the brass, opened the doors and invited everyone in!  And they had a great time!  After 10 years, we had a lot to celebrate. 

Bill Mahoney is extremely proud of the accomplishment and with good reason.  From a building that was scheduled for demolition, a spectacular building has been created.  A national historic site, containing shops, restaurants and a beautiful boutique hotel.   Check out his speech here.
We were excited to have both the Mayor of St. John’s, Dennis O’Keefe and the Acting Mayor, Shannie Duff  with us to cut the cake.  The Mayor, looking great after some health troubles.  The Acting Mayor as Chair of the Heritage Committee has always been a friend of Murray Premises so we were thrilled to have her.  It’s times like these that new stories come out and we were amazed to hear about the incredibly deep connection that Shannie has to us.  Little did we know that it was her, with a placard out front of the building, protesting the demolition that saved this amazing building.  In a day, when we hear so many stories of people who “remember” beautiful buildings, isn’t it great to hear about one that didn’t fall to the wrecking ball!
Want to check out some pictures from the event?  They’re all here. 

So what's next? The busy summer season looms ahead.  Phones are ringing off the hook as people prepare their trips - business and leisure alike.  We're ready for summer #11.  Let's go!

Monday, 9 May 2011

The Time has Arrived!

I wanted to put out a quick word because it's a big week for us let me tell you.  The big 10!  Lots of preparation going on for our Open House on Thursday!  If you're going to be around between 12 Noon and 2:00pm, we would love to have you drop in.  At approximately 12:15pm Shannie Duff, the Acting Mayor of St. John's will be cutting the cake.  We'll have lots of prizes to give away as welll......  If you haven't seen our rooms, this is the perfect opportunity. 

If you can't make it, we understand completely.  In the meantime, if you'd like to feel a part of the celebration, I'll be updating the blog on Friday.   

And then it gets even better.  You're hearing about it here first!  On Friday, May 13th (yes, Friday the 13th) we're making our TV debut.  Check out the NTV news on Friday for "Places to go with Sharon Snow" and you'll be treated to a first hand interview with Bill Mahoney, the owner.  Plus you'll get a great view of the property. 

So, check back with us on Friday for all the details on the Open House.  I'll have pictures and maybe videos too. 

Hope you can join us!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

That’s it! It’s Official. We’re 10 Years Old.

May 4, 2011

Wow!  It doesn’t seem like a long time until you think of all of the changes that have happened in the last 10 years. So I went around the building to our team - some new and some, well, not so new and said, “We’re Ten Years Old – “What does that mean to you?”
First I asked Lori – Sales Associate.  “Being relatively new to the team, I’m always amazed when I’m talking to clients and hear over and over again, how much we’ve grown and that our clients feel like they’ve been a part of it because they’ve been with us since the beginning.  They’ve seen all the changes and they keep coming back.  I love that.”

Next I went to Debbie from our breakfast room.  “10 Years?  Hey, I just realized that I’ve been here for 3 years tomorrow.  Did that ever go quickly.  It’s been so much fun that I didn’t even notice it.”

I went for another little walk and came across Diane from our housekeeping department.  “You know what I really love.  It’s that no matter what’s happening or how busy everyone is, we always pull together.  I love the team spirit.  More like a family than a place to work.”

And then I found our General Manager, Kelly.  "It's hard to believe that its 10 years.  I can still remember my old office when I was with Destination St. John's, on the 2nd floor.  Hard to belive the office is now Rooms 201 and 203.  Every time I walk into those rooms with clients, I show them where my desk was!!!"
When I ran into Laurie and Tracey from our housekeeping department they also mentioned the team spirit here, “We laugh so much.  We’ve both worked here for a while now and some people have been here since the beginning.  Sometimes when that happens it gets kind of “stale” but not here.  We have too much fun.”
And what do I think?  Every day that I walk into the building I’m blown away by the fact that this building was almost demolished!  I'm so glad that it was saved and lovingly restored.  I’m just happy that I get to be a part of the its new history.

Finally, I’ll leave the last words to David because he’s been here from the beginning and seen it all.  When I asked him he said, “10 Years!  More than a quarter of my life!  I feel like I’ve been the lucky one.  It’s not often that you get a hotel “grow up” from the inside out.” 
Next week the blog continues.  Hope you’ll check back.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

5 Days To Go

April 27, 2011

It was the late 1990’s and boutique hotels, although well known in Europe had yet to take off in North America.  It was at this point that a group of local business men approached Bill Mahoney with the concept of turning the Murray Premises into just such a thing.  The building was being operated at that time as commercial office and retail space – but this spectacular building was destined for more.  It had it all – wide corridors, a slanted roof and that elusive “feel” that converts a regular hotel into something special.

The concept intrigued Mr. Mahoney and before long architects, designers and engineers were showing up for consultations. 

From the start, it was agreed that this would not be an easy conversion.  The walls were not level or all!  Timber beams and slanted ceilings, although beautiful make for numerous challenges.  Plumbing, electrical and communications took on a “creative” feel some days.  Through it all though, everyone was agreed that the integrity of this building would be preserved. 

As Mr. Mahoney as said, “Installing the central air conditioning, new plumbing, electrical services and communications systems while retaining and profiling the historic character of the building proved to be a major challenge for the architects, engineers and contractors.  It was a challenge they faced successfully and the finished product was something everyone was very pleased with and proud of.” 

Not one to rest though, Mr. Mahoney, was soon back at it again.  In 2005 – Phase II.  19 Rooms on the 2nd floor.  And then.....our last phase in 2010.  Phase III.  20 Rooms in our Beck’s Cove Wing. 

And now, here we are.  Less than a week away from 10 Years!  10 fun, exciting, challenging and rewarding years.  The sky’s the limit!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

April 20 - 10 Days and counting

Thought you might like to hear from David Nixon - he's been here since the very beginning of the building......

28 + Success = 67

Whoa, Whoa!!  The BUILDING is over 160 years old.  I have been with the HOTEL since it opened.  I may not look my age but I like to think that I do not look that old!

On May 2, 2011 the Murray Premises Hotel celebrates 10 years of operation.  I am proud to say that I have been here since the beginning in 2001.  We opened the Hotel with only 28 rooms located on the 3rd and 4th floor of the Murray Premises but now have 67 rooms plus a meeting room (Briton Room) and a breakfast lounge (Calypso Room).   These changes did not occur all at once.

For the first few years a lot of people did not know we even existed.  We received awards and recognition for our achievements, but many people still did not know anything about the hotel.  Slowly we built up our reputation as being a premiere hotel with exceptional service and started to make a name for ourselves.  We had, and still do have, a unique property.  Every room is different, no two rooms are alike.  Bathtub massage tubs, electric fireplaces, towel warmers, exposed beam ceilings are just a few things that make our rooms stand out as different from the average hotel room.  Having a hotel located in a building that is over 160 years old certainly adds to the charm.  The building almost speaks to people as they enter, trying to show off some of its history and stories of previous tenants.

Have you ever wanted to return to a house or former work place that you used to live in just to see what was different?  Well, we had a number of people that used to have offices in the building return to see what became of their old office.  They specifically wanted to stay in the room that used to be their old office.  Falling asleep in your office just took on a whole new meaning.  There are many stories to tell but I will leave them for another day.

Until next time,

David Nixon - Front Office Manager
Here to stay!!!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Remembering when......

April 13 - 17 Days and counting!

At one point, Murray Premises was simply a collection of warehouses.  Time and necessity gave it direction as slowly but surely its purpose changed.  It was in 1970 that the true destiny began to take shape, when the renovations began to convert the building to what we know it as today – a collection of shops, restaurants and yes, a hotel.  That’s where we come in.  Our story began almost 10 years ago when we began what we know of as Phase 1 - The conversion of the 3rd and 4th floors of the property into 28 guest rooms. Imagine the challenge of taking a building that was at that time, 155 years old, keeping the beams, keeping the “feel” and keeping the history.  Which also means keeping the corners that aren’t square, the floors that aren’t level and the walls that aren’t straight – no matter how hard you try!  Dressers had to be levelled to stop them from sliding open all by themselves.  Bed-frames had to be propped up – sometimes in a few places because I’m sure you can imagine how uncomfortable it would be to have the right corner of your bed 3” lower than the left corner!  “Custom-built” took on a whole new meaning at Murray Premises Hotel!  When you look at the “before and after” photos, it really gives you a feel for the project.  Next week.....Phase II.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Let the Excitement Build!

April 6, 2011
Although it seems hard to believe, Murray Premises Hotel is coming up on its 10th Anniversary in May.  From the beginning, we all knew that this was going to be something special.  Taking the building such as it was and converting it into a hotel is difficult enough.  Add to that our commitment to keep the history and feel and it’s certainly been a daunting task.  But, 10 years later, here we are and we’ve done it.  Over the next few weeks we’ll try to take you through the last 10 years.  Where we started, the different phases and all of the changes that happened.  It’s been exciting and challenging and most especially – rewarding.  We hope that you’ll follow along as we approach the big day.  We have pictures to share and staff members who have seen it all.  We really hope that if you have a comment you’ll post it.  We want to hear from you.  Do you remember any changes or memories that have stood out?  Stay tuned and we’ll keep you posted on how we plan to celebrate – Murray Premises Style.  It’s going to be a great experience as we come up to the big day!
For even more information you can follow us on Twitter @MurrayPremises and check our Facebook Page.  We'll be posting details there as well. 

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The HMS Calypso

March 30, 2011
Walking through the lobby of the Murray Premises is like stepping back in time.  Take for example, the ships’ wheel in the lobby.  It’s nothing to have a someone stop by and just stand in front of it, take a hold of the handles and spin it.  I think all of us can imagine where she’s been but did you know HMS Calypso whose name was changed to the HMS Briton in 1916, was a corvette (redesignated as a third-class cruiser from 1888) of the Royal Navy and the name ship of her class. Built for distant cruising in the heyday of the British Empire, she served as a warship and training vessel until 1922, when she was sold.
Originally classified as a screw corvette Calypso was one of the Royal Navy’s last sailing corvettes. She supplemented her extensive sail rig with powerful engines. Among the first of the smaller cruisers to be given all-metal hulls, she nevertheless was cased with timber and coppered below the water line, as were wooden ships.

Calypso had a quiet career, consisting mainly of training cruises in the Atlantic Ocean. In 1902 she was sent to the colony of Newfoundland, where she served as a training vessel for the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve before and during the First World War. In 1922 she was declared surplus and sold, then used as a storage hulk. Her hull still exists, awash in a coastal bay off Newfoundland.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Our Blog Begins!

Starting a blog for the Murray Premises and Murray Premises Hotel seems like such a daunting task.  How do we convey the history of such an important and historic building and share our little slice of St. John's with you?  Well, we're going to try.  The great part is that we've got so much to share.  We have some super pictures and lots of stories, so check back with us regularly. 
We'd love to hear from you as well.  Have you every wondered about something in the building?  Seen an artifact and wondered where it came from?  Looked at a picture and wondered where and when it came from?  Heard a rumour and wondered if it was true?  Ask us!!! 
To get us started, here's one of our favourite pictures. 

We're really excited to start this project and can't wait to share Murray Premises and Murray Premises Hotel with you.  Looking forward to hear from you.