Ian Powell of the Inn at Laurel Point Defines Hospitality

Ian Powell, long-time General Manager of the Inn at Laurel Point, has been named Hotelier of the Year by the BC Hotel Association.

Ian Powell on the rooftop deck of the Inn at Laurel Point. Photo by Belle White.
Ian Powell on the rooftop deck of the Inn at Laurel Point. Photo by Belle White.

The minute Ian Powell starts speaking, it’s impossible not to be beguiled. With his perfect English diction and propensity for laughter, it’s clear why the 63-year-old has had such success in the hospitality industry over the past 40 years — leading to a recent win as Hotelier of the Year from the BC Hotel Association.

“I was surprised, but you know, I’ve been at this game for a while,” Powell says of the award. “It’s just good to know that what you tried to do over all those years actually worked.”

Powell has been the general manager of the Inn at Laurel Point and managing director of Paul’s Restaurant Ltd., which owns Paul’s Motor Inn, for 14 years, leaving a long career with the Fairmont chain to join the world of independent hotels in Victoria.

He’s also an Anglican minister who works primarily out of Christ Church Cathedral, having completed his theology studies alongside his hotel work when he arrived on the Island in 2005.

He says there’s a link between hotel management and religious service.

“Our Lord’s thing was to love one another and look after one another. That is the definition of hospitality, and in the hotel biz you are doing the same thing,” he says, with a laugh.

Despite intensive renovations and a land remediation project taking place at the Inn at Laurel Point over the last year, loyal clients have still chosen to stay — something Powell credits to the quality of his staff.

The boutique hotel, which boasts an Arthur Erickson-designed wing, is bringing its front-of-hotel esthetic in line with the Erickson side, including a new lobby and hotel restaurant. It’s a coup for Powell to see the hotel at its best when renovations wrap up this fall. And with plans to retire in the fall of 2020, he’s confident the inn is set up for success.

“We work orchestrally as teams of people who get things done,” he says. “If I don’t turn up for work tomorrow, things will go on. If my room attendants or my servers don’t turn up for work, to use the vernacular – I’m in the sh-t.”

This article is from the June/July 2019 issue of Douglas.