Former Hudson Bay Lodge owner-operator Al McCreary has stepped down from the executive committee of the B.C. Hotels Association after 17 years.

End of an era for McCreary

Former Hudson Bay Lodge owner/operator Al McCreary stepped down from the executive committee of the BC Hotels Association after 17 years.

Former Hudson Bay Lodge owner Al McCreary has stepped down from the executive committee of the B.C. Hotels Association, ending a marathon run of 17 years on the board of directors.

On Oct. 19, McCreary resigned from the role of treasurer at the BCHA’s annual general meeting in Vancouver.

The decision comes after McCreary and his wife Bonnie sold their Smithers hotel to Prestige Hotels and Resorts in June.

The couple were among eight shareholders who opened the hotel in 1981, but they bought the majority share in 1998.

That’s when McCreary joined the Association, which works with governments to ensure hotel owners benefit from new legislation.

The board made him the treasurer on his first day and he remained in that position until 2001, when he became the Association’s 35th president.

The role took him to meetings throughout the province and across Canada to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

McCreary said having the chance to travel was among the rewards of being a director with the Association.

“When I was president we did regional tours and in a matter of nine days … we toured the entire province.

“To see the entire province in nine days is something I’ll never forget.

“It’s really impressive.”

He then became “past president”, a role which provides back-up to the president, and then vice-president, before being re-elected to the role of treasurer in 2014.

The normal term for a member of the BCHA is four years but at the end of each stint, McCreary found himself needed again.

In 2004 he was part of a committee that formed the new Alliance of Beverage Licensees, which he later became president of from 2006-2007.

Despite having stepped down from the executive committee, McCreary is still on the board of directors.

He said one of the biggest BCHA projects he was involved in was working with Destination B.C. to set up a marketing program to sell hotel rooms, including a new online booking system.

McCreary also worked in collaboration with Tourism Smithers marketing director Gladys Atrill to establish programs which have earned them the respect of other tourism regions.

“Smithers is often cited as one of the communities that has had a successful marketing program and is quite often brought up at conferences and otherwise,” he said.

“If it wasn’t for Gladys and I that probably wouldn’t have come to be.”

McCreary said he and Bonnie had decided to sell Hudson Bay Lodge for reasons relating to their age and health.

He said the most rewarding part of being in the hotel business was the connection it gave him to the local community.

“When you work in the hotel business there is always people coming and going so you’re in the forefront of what is going on on a daily basis,” he said.

Through his ongoing role on the board, he hopes to continue to follow issues he has been working on, including the new online booking system and changes to the minimum wage.

“You don’t win all the battles but particularly in the area of marketing and otherwise, it has been slow and tedious, but it has certainly been worthwhile,” said McCreary.

“I think the new program coming in will benefit all hotel members.”

B.C. Hotels Association executive director James Chase said McCreary had been a major asset in providing insight into the unique challenges faced in northern B.C.

“He obviously has been up north, he understands the landscape, all the challenges that are faced whether it is labour or taxation or marketing, or getting people to work together, alignment,” he said.

“He’s very cognizant of all that so he’s been a huge asset.”

Chase also praised McCreary for his accounting abilities as treasurer and for his intelligent contribution to debates.

Smithers is also represented on the board by Aspen Inn and Suites manager Colin Bateman.