A milestone birthday or anniversary, that moment she says “I do”, or a quiet celebration between a couple, are memorable moments that want to be cherished for a lifetime. At Langdon Hall these moments are made possible by warm and caring people such as Greg Uss, who as Assistant Food and Beverage Manager is honoured when he becomes a part of that special memory.
Greg is a familiar face in the restaurant and many guests ask for him personally, perhaps because of the comfort he offers with his grace and charm, but for Greg it goes to a deeper level of wanting to make a difference.
“My family has a fascinating history that has created the foundation for me,” says Greg. “My maternal grandfather was an officer for the Tsar of Russia, escaped during WWI and fled to Belgium, leaving his family behind. Similarly, my paternal grandfather was a chemist in Russia who fled to Belgium with his family during the war, and eventually settled in Burlington to design the lab for Joseph Brant Hospital.”
|“I CAN TEACH NEW STAFF ANYTHING, BUT I CAN’T TEACH THEM HOW TO CARE. THAT, THEY BRING HERE THEMSELVES.”|
Greg’s parents met in Belgium but both made their way to Ontario where they settled and raised their family.
“I was surrounded by classical literature, music and art while growing up,” says Greg. “My sister and I were constantly stimulated in an environment that encouraged expression of one’s self, and we cherished this but were also told that we should be somebody.”
Once in high school, Greg began teaching music to adults and knew he had the ability to give back and share his talents, but he was still unsure how he was going to fulfil his parents’ expectation of making his life important.
“By my early 20’s I discovered I had a knack for retail and created my own store,” explains Greg. “My store was called Sweets & Treats and I offered coffee and gourmet foods. By the second year it was not doing well but after some needed advice from a dear friend I gave it everything I had and to my surprise the store’s success sky rocketed!”
After selling his store and returning to school, Greg worked part-time at a restaurant as well as in customer service at a bank. These roles reinforced his discovery of being a people person and his skillful ability of being the calming factor in any situation. He excelled in these roles but after 15 years at the restaurant he knew he wanted something more and always had his parents’ encouraging voice in the back of his head saying, “you can be somebody.”
In 2001 a past colleague invited Greg to Langdon Hall and offered him a role in the restaurant where he would be a coach, leader, and positive influence to staff as well as offer his grace and charm to each memorable moment experienced by guests. Greg saw a special opportunity and decided to take it.
“Langdon Hall’s beauty is the warmth of the staff, the sensory experience of the crackling fire and soft music, and the high standards it has worked so hard to attain,” explains Greg. “As staff, we have the responsibility to protect and respect those standards and cherish the opportunity we have to become a part of our guests’ experience.”
Over the last 16 years Greg has created a sense of place at Langdon Hall where he has touched so many lives, both of staff and guests. Whether it was providing staff with a positive outlook before beginning a stressful shift, humbling being called Sir by Robin Williams, or going the extra mile for guests, Greg has undeniably become a memorable person at Langdon Hall who has made a notable difference for many.
“I can teach new staff anything, but I can’t teach them how to care. That, they bring here themselves,” says Greg.
An immaculately made bed, towels carefully hung in a spotless bathroom, and a fire artfully set and ready to light; these are only a few items that Pat, as a Room Inspector, has to ensure are perfect before the guest arrives for check-in. Pat has a vital role to play at the hotel and her passionate touch ensures a memorable experience for all guests.
As a young girl growing up in Yorkshire, England, Pat recalls daily morning tea and the dining table always set for the next meal. “If you visit my home right now you would see the table is all set for dinner,” explains Pat. “It’s the small family traditions that stick with me.”
After serving as an explosive expert in World War II, Pat’s father dreamed of moving his family to Canada, and in 1965 they moved to London, Ontario. This became Pat’s hometown and where she later met her husband, Chuck.
Pat worked at Canada Trust head office for 23 years and after retiring, she and Chuck decided to move to Stratford and open their own bed and breakfast. Pat became housekeeper, chef, server, and dishwasher and loved it all!
“Serving breakfast was my favourite,” says Pat. “You had to keep up with the latest trends to stay competitive so it was exciting to have to create new dishes.”
|“I FEEL LIKE LANGDON IS MY OWN B&B AND I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER.”|
During the off season Pat and Chuck enjoyed traveling. The most memorable, Pat recalls, was their trip to Nepal. “We traveled with my cousin who builds schools so it was an incredible experience living within a small community where we cooked and ate with the local people.”
The next adventure began when they decided to build a B&B in Nova Scotia but in 2012 Chuck’s job brought them back to Ontario, as well as back to the privacy of their own home, as they chose not to continue their B&B. Pat missed cooking for her guests and ensuring their room was spotless but she found a place that would help fill that void.
“Driving up the lane to work inspires me to provide the guest with the very best,” explains Pat. “I feel like Langdon is my own B&B, and I couldn’t be happier continuing my passion by making sure the guest room is the best it can possibly be.”
Inspecting guest rooms is not an easy task, both physically and mentally. With three separate buildings and 60 guest rooms, Pat walks over 17 thousand steps a day, has 77 check points to review when inspecting each room, and helps to oversee the housekeeping team. Her past experience and natural passion to provide the best for her guests makes Pat an invaluable member of the Langdon team.
Pat and Chuck recently celebrated their 40th anniversary and are in the midst of planning their next trip to Hawaii. “We’re do-ers,” says Pat, “and I can’t see us slowing down any time soon!”
Langdon Hall’s famed gardens begin at the driveway entrance, span across the property with perennials and annuals, include a kitchen vegetable garden, decorative plants, and 75 acres of Carolinian forest. One can only imagine the time and energy needed to tend to every plant, flower, and tree. That is why Kevin’s role as Gardening Assistant is so essential to sustaining the beauty that was first envisioned in 1902 by the Olmsted Brothers, the designers of notable landscapes throughout North America.
When discovering the Earth Science class in his last year of high school, Kevin realized his love for the outdoors could perhaps morph into a career. “Growing up my dad and I loved going on canoe trips and exploring the outdoors, and my mom has always been passionate about gardens,” explains Kevin. “I wasn’t crazy about touring gardens with my mom as a kid, but that has definitely changed with age.”
After much consideration, Kevin enrolled at the University of Windsor for the Environmental Studies program with a specialty in Resource Management. Just before the summer of his second year his mom came across a job posting in the local paper for a summer position on the Grounds Team at Langdon Hall.
“I remember going to the interview and never even knowing this beautiful property existed,” says Kevin. “That summer I became a glorified weeder but what I didn’t realize was that I was literally learning from the ground up and gaining an appreciation for how a seed grows, insect interactions, consistency of the soil and so much more.”
|“EACH DAY IS DIFFERENT AND EACH SEASON BRINGS SOMETHING NEW”|
Kevin worked on the Grounds Team for four summers while completing university. After graduating he moved back to Kitchener with his girlfriend, and now fiancé, Ashlee and chose to stay at Langdon as a door porter after the summer season had ended. It was in the winter of 2014 that the position of Gardening Assistant became available and Kevin was chosen by Head Grounds Keeper Mario Muniz to fill the role.
“There was definitely a learning curve with the new role, but it was the opportunity I was waiting for,” explains Kevin. “The job is so diverse that one minute I’m creating a bouquet for a bride’s room and the next I’m learning about forest restoration. Each day is different and each season brings something new.”
Kevin also leads the seasonal crew each summer and credits his dad for the leadership skills he was able to bring to the position and values the management experience he has gained. His next goal is to finish his Horticultural Diploma through the University of Guelph that he has halfway completed.
“Looking back, a career in the Langdon Hall gardens didn’t really cross my mind while working as that glorified weeder,” says Kevin. “But this opportunity has planted a seed—as funny as that sounds—and I can’t wait to watch it grow.”
Next year, Kevin and Ashlee will say I do and a new chapter will begin. Perhaps one day Kevin will be called upon by a young property eager to design the next Olmsted inspired garden and hone in on the skills and knowledge he’s gaining from his experience at Langdon Hall to create the next beautiful masterpiece.
The secret sauce behind the kitchen doors.
When dining at your favourite restaurant you interact with your host, wait-staff and at times the chef; however, rarely do you witness the hard workers behind the kitchen doors, including the dishwasher. Raymond Jr. plays a vital role on the kitchen team as dishwasher and although he is inevitably hidden from the guest’s view, his contribution is the secret sauce behind a successful day.
Born and raised in Cambridge, Ontario, Ray Jr. is proud to call the city his home. “My parents moved from Newfoundland to Cambridge in 1969. I was born three years later and named after my father,” explains Ray Jr. “Galt, as we knew it back then, was our stomping ground and it hasn’t stopped being my home.”
One of Ray Jr.’s first jobs was a ‘sports runner’ for the Cambridge Reporter newspaper. He would get behind the scenes of the local hockey game and run the final score and exciting details back to the editor to print for the next day – a job that kept him connected to his city.
“I remember reading articles about the Langdon Hall property while working at the Reporter,” says Ray Jr. But little did he know how much Langdon Hall would impact his life until years later when his dad starting working for their head chef.
Similar to many, family is deeply important to Ray Jr. and his dad has been a guiding leader through his life. It was in August 2010 on Ray Jr.’s wedding day that the Langdon Hall kitchen family provided much needed support, and this newly extended family was there again in 2013 when Ray Jr. joined the dishwasher team in Langdon Hall’s kitchen.
“Becoming a dishwasher in a busy kitchen was a big learning curve for me and at first I was nervous about breaking the delicate dishes,” explains Ray Jr. “But I felt supported not only with my dad working beside me but by the whole team.”
|“RESPECT YOURSELF AND DO YOUR BEST”|
Ray Jr.’s days in the kitchen can be long, soggy and tough at times but as he gathers his troops to prep for the shift, reviews the itineraries and number of guests the house will be greeting, he finds his groove and away he goes. Although the kitchen environment can inevitably be hard, to Ray Jr. it is also rewarding.
“We look out for each other, we’re a family,” says Ray Jr. “Working at Langdon Hall feels like home and although my dad doesn’t work beside me any longer I always follow his advice, Respect yourself and do your best, and this includes being committed to my team.”
With his wife Christina and six year old son Matthew, Ray Jr. is grateful to have found a job that focuses on family ethics, both inside and outside the kitchen. He explains, “Being there for Christina and Matthew is very important to me and having a team that understands and values that means the world to me.”
As you drive up the winding driveway towards the revival estate house, Brendan’s welcoming smile may be your first encounter as he greets you, offers to assist with your luggage and valet your car. As Head Porter at Langdon Hall, Brendan is a liaison between the hotel and its guests. A job that has many responsibilities and is very guest focused.
At only 24 years of age, Brendan has many accomplishments to be proud of. Growing up as a middle child in Cambridge, Ontario sports became a passion for him. “I kept my parents busy by playing hockey for 18 years and competitive golf for five years with a summer on Team Ontario,” says Brendan.
Add two years of AAA baseball to Brendan’s list and one would think professional sports would be in his future; however, he chose to keep it a hobby and set off to Mohawk College to earn a Business and Marketing degree where he embraced his creative side. Like many college graduates Brendan set off to explore and became a dishwasher at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta.
“I remember talking to the front desk staff at the Fairmont and realizing I loved the idea of interacting with guests,” explains Brendan. “This was my aha! moment of seeing myself working in hospitality and possibly making it a career.”
|“HOSPITALITY IS AN ART AND THIS IS MY CALLING”|
Feeling isolated in Alberta, Brendan returned to Cambridge, Ontario to follow his newly discovered path. “I fell in love with Langdon Hall at first sight. It is a hidden gem in my own backyard yet you feel a world away when you’re here.” Brendan was thrilled to join the team as a door porter and eager to learn the hotel standards and discover how to improve them.
In February 2017 Brendan was promoted to Head Porter. In this supervisory role, he assists with the daily management of the front desk and porters, takes part in hiring and training new staff, and leads the team to continually exceed guest expectations.
For Brendan, the most rewarding aspect of working at Langdon Hall is knowing that his role greatly impacts the success of creating an unforgettable experience for the guests. He is not simply a porter but a liaison to guests who builds trusting relationships, eases any uncertainty, and opens the door to welcome them into the Langdon Hall home.
This is just the beginning of Brendan’s career. “I ultimately want to work towards a management position at Langdon Hall and I’m fortunate to have inspiring leaders around me to learn from,” says Brendan. “Hospitality is an art and I feel that this is my calling.”
“Langdon Hall is committed to fair and accessible employment practices. We accommodate people with disabilities during the recruitment, assessment, and hiring procedures.”
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