Staff Spotlight: Sylvain Descôteaux
Welcome to our Staff Spotlight blog series! This is where you’ll meet the people behind the Hotel. With over 400 associates working at Pan Pacific Vancouver, there are a lot of personalities and a lot of stories to tell!
Today we shine the spotlight on Banquet Server, Sylvain Descôteaux, who was recently honoured as Pan Pacific Vancouver’s 2015 Associate of the Year!
Hello Sylvain! Tell us about yourself.
Bonjour. My name is Sylvain Descôteaux. I was born in Quebec and then moved to Vancouver 21 years ago. If you had told me back then I would still be here after all those years, I would never have believed it. Though I sometimes miss Montréal and will always consider myself a true Québécois at heart, I love Vancouver and this is the place where I want to be.
How long have you been with Pan Pacific Vancouver?
I have now been working at the Pan Pacific Hotel for 10 years, always in Banquets since day one.
What’s a typical day like working as a Banquet Server?
This question is a bit tough to answer because we do so many different things in banquets. Whether it’s looking after a smaller function by yourself or a large one with your coworkers, it can be as diversified as serving breakfast, lunch or dinner, coffee breaks and meetings, receptions and weddings, etc. Either collecting and setting a room according to all the details mentioned in the BEO (Banquet Event Order), doing backwork and getting ready for any type of functions and/or actually serving the guests any type of food and beverage request. It can be a buffet where the guests help themselves or a sit-down plated dinner. I also often serve the head tables and VIP events, as well as being a Lead Server.
What’s your favourite part about your job?
What I like the most about my job, is actually the diversity aspect of it. It doesn’t get boring simply because it’s never the same every day. I love making sure the guests are happy and well looked-after, and that the room is set exactly the way they wanted it.
What are the most challenging aspects about your job?
Flipping rooms. At the Pan Pacific Hotel, we have many meeting rooms of various sizes. Sometimes, when we are exceptionally busy, the same room can be used twice or even 3 times in the same day for different guests and very different functions. This is what we call a “Flip”. This happens a lot at Christmas time, obviously. It can get a bit stressful knowing that you have very little time to go from a daytime function to a reception and dinner, for example, with a totally different kind of setup. No matter how little time we get to flip a room, we have always been able to deliver and be ready on time.
Is there a certain Pan Pacific event that you worked at which stands out in your mind? And why?
The Michael Bublé wedding. That was probably the most elaborate wedding reception I have ever worked at. The decor and the food were incredible. The whole room was white, including draperies on all the walls, and the carpets, the furniture, etc. Even the dance floor was white. Before the event started, we were not allowed to come in the room unless we covered our shoes with those little plastic “booties”, just to make sure everything was impeccable and immaculate. We were asked to make sure none of the staff carried a phone or camera with them. Of course, any comment or picture posted on the social medias were forbidden. With many celebrities attending the event, we made sure to offer what the Pan Pacific does best. I have noticed that this event seemed to have created a trend. We now see a lot of wedding decors that are all white.
Tell us one thing that the public doesn’t know about working in banquets at a 5 star hotel.
Like one of my Banquet Captains often says, “At the Pan Pacific, everybody is VIP”. Any guest attending an event can expect to receive a 5 star treatment. The guest is always right and we will always accommodate any request from a guest, often times even anticipating them and going the extra mile to make sure all guests are “wowed” by their experience at our hotel. The word “No” is simply not in our vocabulary!
Speaking personally, do you prefer plated dinners or buffet when dining out?
Plated dinners. Buffets can also be interesting with their almost endless selections of food. Let’s say a perfect combination would be a plated dinner with a dessert buffet open until late in the evening.
You were recently recognized as Pan Pacific Vancouver’s 2015 Associate of the Year. What was going through your mind when you went up the stage to receive your award?
Total blank! I have no recollection of anything that was being said while I was on the stage. Thanks to Charmaine, our HR director, I was able to get a copy of her speech. I feel very honored and proud to have received this award.
Last question! What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?
My number one passion is traveling. I don’t only love it when I’m away, I also get excited with the preparation and all the planning details that come with it, way before I even leave for my next destination. I especially love big cities. And shopping. And walking. I can walk ’til there’s no tomorrow! On an everyday base, I also like Sudoku and crosswords puzzles. I find that’s what relaxes me the most.