Destination Greater Victoria

Board of Directors

Destination Greater Victoria is a vital organization driving prosperity and well-being in the Greater Victoria community. Destination Greater Victoria’s Board of Directors takes its role seriously and strives for excellence in governance. The organization’s Board of Directors is elected from its membership and is complemented by a variety of appointments from funding partners and other key community organizations. Together they form a strong governance table, ensuring there is oversight in strategy execution, as well as considering the needs of stakeholders on an ongoing basis.

Destination Greater Victoria is a proud member of the Institute of Corporate Directors British Columbia Chapter. Our Past Chair and key executives have completed the Institute of Corporate Directors Not-for-Profit Governance Essentials Program, while our CEO has completed the full ICD.D designation.

Chris Watson

Chris Watson, Chair

General Manager, Best Western Plus Carlton Plaza Hotel Director at Large

 

Chris Watson currently manages the Best Western Plus Carlton Plaza Hotel in downtown Victoria, a 108 room and suite hotel with six leased store fronts, restaurant and pub. Chris is a graduate of the University of Victoria, in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Mathematics and in 2008 with a Bachelor of Education Specializing in Secondary School in the fields of Mathematics and Science.

After working in School District 62 for four years as a Math and Science Teacher, while continuing to work various positions in hospitality, Chris transitioned his career path to hospitality. Chris worked as the General Manager of the Travelodge Victoria in 2012 before being appointed as General Manager at the Best Western Plus Carlton Plaza in 2013. In 2020 Chris was appointed to the Board of Directors of the British Columbia Hotel Association.

 

 

David Gudgel

David Gudgel, First Vice Chair

Chair, Transporation and Destination Management Committe Chief Operating Officer, Kenmore Air Transportation and Sightseeing Sector

 

David currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Kenmore Air, with responsibilities for the company’s airline and charter operations.David shares a love for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska travel industry that was sparked over 30 years ago with his first job in the industry as a tour bus driver in Juneau, Alaska for Holland America Line. His career eventually led him to become the General Manager of Holland America’s motorcoach transportation divisions in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. and on to Clipper Navigation where he served as the company’s CEO, becoming highly involved with Victoria’s visitor industry. David has served on the Destination Greater Victoria Board of Directors since 2020 in addition to serving on both the Transportation and Destination Management Committee as well as the Sustainability Committee.

 

 

Trina White

Trina White, Vice Chair

Chair, Finance and Membership Committee General Manager, The Parkside Hotel & Spa Director at Large

 

Trina White has an extensive background in hospitality with more than 20 years of experience in management roles. Recent recipient of the 2023 Hotelier of the Year Award from the BC Hotel Association for her leadership and focus on sustainability in the workplace and in the community, Trina is known for her commitment to integrating environmental practices into everyday business. Over the past 4 years she has been volunteering through Project Zero and The Decade of Action, as a business coach, in helping business start-ups that are focused on the circular economy and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Trina was instrumental in creating a sustainability committee with fellow peers within the Hotel Association of Greater Victoria in 2018. Trina is currently Vice Chair of Destination Greater Victoria’s Sustainability Committee and Vice Chair of Destination Greater Victoria’s Transportation and Destination Management Committee. In 2014, Trina graduated with a Masters of Arts in Tourism Management from Royal Roads and was the recipient of the Royal Roads University Founders’ Award. Currently she is an Associate Professor.

 

 

Brett Soberg, Vice Chair

Chair, Sustainability Committee Co-Owner/Operator, Eagle Wing Whale & Wildlife Tours Recreation and Outdoor Adventure Sector

 

Brett has been involved in tourism and hospitality since 1993, beginning at the Accent Inns and then moving on to the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort for eight years. Most recently, Brett is involved in the industry as co-owner and operator of Eagle Wing Tours Ltd. Eagle Wing operates year-round in the whale watching industry and Brett has been running tours since 1997, winning numerous awards and maintaining a #1 Trip Advisor ranking since 2007.

Brett has been heavily involved in many aspects of the business including marketing, web design, social media, networking, boat maintenance, office operations, staffing, reservations, and other. With a fine arts background, Brett also brings a creative element in thinking outside the box about tourism in the region.

 

 

Eda Koot

Eda Koot, Director

Chair, Governance, Human Resources and Risk Committee General Manager, Inn at Laurel Point Accommodation Sector – More than 149 Rooms.

 

A career hotelier and GM for more than 15 years, Eda is thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the hospitality industry in Victoria. Eda’s career has spanned Alberta and BC, city-centre and airport properties as well as resorts in both Whistler and Sun Peaks. In addition to supporting her teams with a hands on approach, Eda believes strongly in being part of the communities we work in. Over the years she has supported various organizations and was recently Board Chair at Tourism Richmond. Eda continues to represent the BCHA on the go2HR Board, where the focus on labour has never been more relevant. Eda’s experience includes sales missions and supporting various community and sector events from the Chamber of Commerce to Canada’s West Marketplace. Eda continues to love the industry and if possible, feel even more strongly about what the industry contributes to the economy and culture of our community. As we look to restoring our industry from the pandemic we have a responsibility to be at the table and wherever needed to ensure our recovery.

 

 

Dan Mcgowan, Director

Chair, Sales and Marketing Committee General Manager, Fairmont Empress Retail and Restaurants Sector

 

Since 2021 Dan has led the overall operations, performance, and strategic direction for Fairmont Empress. He has over 30 years’ experience working with the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts brand. Previous to this role, Dan was the General Manager of Fairmont San Jose, and has held progressive leadership roles throughout Fairmont properties across North America including Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Fairmont Vancouver Airport, Fairmont Dallas, and Fairmont Palliser. Dan holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Hotel & Food Administration from The University of Guelph. His volunteer leadership roles include Board of Director of Tourism Richmond, Chair of the Hotel Association in Calgary, Board of Director at Tourism Calgary, Board of Director at Visit Dallas and Board of Director at Tourism San Jose, and currently Chair of the DMF Committee.

 

 

Darlene Hollstein

Darlene Hollstein, Past Chair

General Manager, The Bay Centre, JLL

 

Darlene is the General Manager of The Bay Centre in downtown Victoria and has been employed in commercial property management for the past 25 years with Cadillac Fairview, Westcliff Property Management, 20Vic Management Inc. and most recently Cushwake Asset Services ULC. Darlene is passionate about Greater Victoria, which she has proven by volunteering to create change. Since joining Destination Greater Victoria in 2011, she has sat on numerous boards and committees, including those of Destination Greater Victoria, where she is currently Chair of the Board of Directors and also a past Chair of both the Governance, Human Resources and Risk Committee and also the Finance and Membership Committee.

Darlene is a member of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce Governors. She is the past Chair of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce (2013), Greater Victoria Economic Development Agency (2009-2014), and Downtown Victoria Business Association (2007-2009) where she served as a Board Member from 2005-2013. Darlene is Past President of BOMA Victoria (2009/10) and Board Member since 2006. Currently, she is a member of the International Shopping Centre Association, British Columbia Shopping Centre Association and International Downtown Association.

On the philanthropic side, Darlene is Chair of the Steering Committee for the Victoria Hospitals Foundation – Visions Gala since 2016. She has sat on numerous committees including the Mayor’s Task Force on Breaking the Cycle of Mental Illness, Addictions and Homelessness, is a past Board Member of the Leadership Council for the Greater Victoria Commission to End Homelessness and has been the United Way’s Workplace Community Advisory Chair for 2020.

 

 

Madone Pelan

Madone Pelan, Director

General Manager, The Oak Bay Beach Hotel Accommodation Sector – From 26 to 149 Rooms

 

As a hospitality professional with more than 25 years of experience, Madone brings a passion for continued excellence in tourism. She was appointed General Manager of the Oak Bay Beach Hotel on March 1, 2020, then due to COVID restrictions was required to shut down the hotel’s four restaurants, spa, meetings and events and eventually our guest rooms before successfully reopening all hotel amenities in June 2020. For five years prior to this Madone held the position of DOSM at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, with a proven track record of exceeding all fiscal targets and doubling the meeting and events business at the hotel during this time.

Madone also had the pleasure of serving on the MPI British Columbia Chapter Board as VP of Membership then President Elect, President and Immediate Past President, which concluded on July 1, 2020. She has also served on Destination Greater Victoria’s Sales and Marketing Committee since 2015.

 

 

Theresa Ito

Theresa Ito, Director

Principal, Blue Mountain Solutions Director at Large

 

Theresa is the Principal of Blue Mountain Solutions. With more than 30 years of experience in hospitality and tourism internationally, from England to Canada via the USA, Mexico and her homeland of Jamaica, Theresa develops leaders to reach their full potential, assisting them to make sound business decisions and grow strong and engaged teams whilst delighting their guests. She has operated the company for 5 years in Canada and 8 years in England.

Theresa is a dynamic trainer, leadership & team trainer and public speaker, delighted to develop others within in-person groups or remote webinars, meetings or workshops. All delivered with her big smile. Theresa previously held senior leadership positions in Victoria at The Fairmont Empress Hotel, Inn at Laurel Point and Swans Hotel and Brewpub.

 

 

Samantha Wilson-Newton

Samantha Wilson-Newton, Director

Brand Manager, The Wilson’s Group of Companies / Sightseeing Victoria Attractions Sector

 

Samantha Wilson-Newton is the Brand Manager for The Wilson’s Group of Companies, a locally owned and operated ground transportation and tour company on Vancouver Island. In her role as Brand Manager, Samantha works closely with each division and department under the group of companies. She is also one of the team leads on the Wilson’s Group Green Initiative Program which oversees several sustainability projects. In 2020 Samantha helped form the BC Motor Coach Coalition, an advocacy group that focuses on the unique issues pertaining to privately owned and operated motor coach companies. Samantha has experience in government relations, having met and worked with many officials at all levels of government, advocating for both the motor coach industry and tourism industry. Samantha currently serves as a member of Destination Greater Victoria’s Transportation and Destination Management Committee, as well as DGV’s Sustainability Committee, and is a former Board member for the Family Business Association of Vancouver Island.

 

 

Allison Fairhurst, Director

General Manager, Abigail’s Hotel Accommodation Sector – 49 Rooms or Fewer

 

Allison Fairhurst has worked in tourism for over 31 years. Born and raised in Halifax, she holds a degree in Hotel Management from the Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Switzerland and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Acadia University in Nova Scotia. Before moving to Victoria in 1996, Allison worked in luxury hotels in both Switzerland and France for several years, where she received hands-on training in all areas of the hotel industry. In Victoria, Allison has worked as Sales and Revenue Manager at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa, and was the Director of Sales & Marketing at Abigail’s Hotel for 8 years before being promoted to General Manager in 2015. She also previously served as a Director and Vice Chair on the DGV Board from 2016-2022, including as Chair of various Committees. Allison’s passion for the tourism industry, dedication to first class customer service, international experience, and marketing and revenue management know-how have been key drivers in her success; most notably the year over year growth of Abigail’s Hotel and its achievement as being voted TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice #1 Best Small Hotel in Canada.

 

 

Robert Bettauer

Robert Bettauer, Director

CEO Pacific Institute for Sport Education (PISE) Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission Appointee

 

Currently the CEO for the Pacific Institute for Sport Education (PISE), the tennis analyst for Sportsnet and the Chair of the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame, Robert has an extensive background in senior sport leadership in Canada.  Previous roles also include the President and CEO of the Canadian Sport Centre Ontario and the Director of Tennis Development for Tennis Canada.

As an athlete, Robert has won several national tennis titles and most recently won the Canadian Men’s Senior Singles titles in the 55+ category and was Captain of the National 55+ team representing Canada at the ITF Senior World Tennis Championships in 2014, finishing 11th in the world. As a national coach Robert ran Tennis Canada’s first Western Canadian high performance training centre at UBC and helped coach the Davis Cup team and Canada’s tennis team at the Olympic Games in Seoul (1988) and Barcelona (1992).

An on-going presenter on sport development topics he has a Masters in sport psychology and regularly provides mental training education on how to enhance performance.

 

 

Spencer Walker

Spencer Walker, Director

Commercial Banking Director and Team Lead, CIBC Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce Appointee

 

Spencer has been with CIBC for over 10 years, currently as Commercial Banking Director and Team Lead in Victoria BC. Spencer received his CPA designation in 2021 and brings that knowledge along with past experiences to client relationships to understand ambitions and execute on strategic objectives. The team works to bring the full strength of CIBC to client relationships by leveraging our teams in Capital Markets, Private Wealth Management, Retail Banking, and CIBC USA.

 

 

Councillor Stephen Hammond

Councillor Stephen Hammond, Director

Councillor, City of Victoria, City of Victoria Appointee

 

Stephen Hammond was elected to the City of Victoria’s City Council in October 2022. Stephen’s been a resident of Victoria since 2005, although he was born in Winnipeg, spending years there, as well as rural Manitoba, Toronto, and Vancouver.

Stephen is lawyer by trade and is non-practising member of the Law Society of B.C. However, for the last 30+ years, he’s made a living as a professional speaker in the field of workplace human rights and workplace behaviours. He’s the author of three books, with mostly a focus to support managers.

Stephen’s partner, Jack Boomer is actively involved with the community, including his leading the Arbutus Singers for 25 years. He and Stephen met in 2000 and married in 2007 (when it became legal). They love dogs and Baxter and Rufus know it.

Stephen and Jack are big world travellers, so have a decent lens on what tourists are looking for, even in our own city.

Stephen’s volunteer time includes Big Brothers Big Sisters (with his fourth “little”) and has been on the boards of The Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Tenants Rights Action Coalition, Gorge View [Housing] Society and Our Place Society. His pastime includes cycling, golfing and skiing.

 

 

Councillor Susan Brice

Councillor Susan Brice, Director

Councillor, District of Saanich District of Saanich Appointee

 

Susan Brice was born and raised in Victoria and was an elementary school teacher. She has served in many elected positions including Chair of Greater Victoria School Board, Mayor of Oak Bay, MLA for Saanich South and Cabinet Minister. Currently she is elected to Saanich Council and CRD, is Chair of Victoria Regional Transit Commission, Board Member of BC Transit and is the CRD representative to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.

Susan is very pleased to have been appointed by Saanich to serve on the Board of Destination Greater Victoria as she understands the critical role that tourism plays in the economic vibrancy of the region. She understands the value of maintaining a healthy environment as many guests are seeking opportunities to enjoy our natural environment and unique dining and shopping experiences. Visitors to Victoria are looking for those gems around the region such as Mt. Doug Parks, Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary and the Oak Bay Village.

Destination Greater Victoria is honoured to be based on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen-speaking peoples of the Songhees Nation and the Esquimalt Nation, whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.