Victoria, BC (November 23, 2020) - Accent Inns and Hotel Zed are proud to announce that at last night’s RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Virtual Awards Gala, CEO Mandy Farmer was awarded the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Excellence Award.

For 28 years the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards has been the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful and impactful women who have demonstrated excellence across multiple sectors. This year there were 8,600 nominations across the country. Farmer’s win speaks to her unwavering commitment to her community, employees and business during what has been a difficult year for many.

“For me, this award reflects the work of my whole team who have been heroes during this pandemic,” said Mandy Farmer, CEO of Accent Inns and Hotel Zed. “They service cancer patients who stay with us, frontline service workers that need to self-isolate away from their families and essential workers that need to travel to work on important projects around the province. I am so proud of them.

Farmer’s approach to an award-winning business starts with her employees. In a recent employee survey that saw participation from 93 percent of staff, 98 percent of employees said they were happy or extremely happy in their jobs. Farmer’s approach, however, isn’t just about company culture, it’s about truly caring for her employees.

When COVID-19 hit, Farmer sent $250 grocery gift certificates to all her employees - including employees that were temporarily laid off - because she didn’t want anyone to worry about how they were going to put food on their table during a global pandemic. 

Showing that happy employees make for a successful business, Farmer’s businesses consistently outperform their competitors and they have more than doubled profits in the past five years, with a 52 percent increase in revenue. 

However, Farmer’s work extends beyond just her businesses, as she is also instrumental in helping local communities.

When COVID-19 hit, all Accent Inns hotels across BC kept their doors open to health care staff and essential workers. Additionally, they partnered with United Way to create the Hotels for Frontline Workers Fund that allowed donors to help cover the costs of accommodations for essential service workers. This allowed frontline workers to have a safe and comfortable place to stay without the worry of covering large costs.

You can find out more information about the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards at


After 17 years doing Canadian Lodging News, and 43 years of involvement in the hospitality industry, Colleen and Steve Isherwood will be retiring at the end of the year, and have put Canadian Lodging News up for sale. At press time, there was lots of interest in the publication — but the name of the new owner had not been announced. The Isherwoods are delighted to know that the publication will continue.

Both of them got into the publishing business at an early age. Colleen’s newsletter career started at age eight, when she and her friends launched The Neighbourhood Gazette, price 2 cents per copy, circulation 80. Hot news items then were the brush fire in the field nearby, and the fact that the neighbour’s cat had kittens. Steve worked for the Hamilton Spectator on Saturdays as a teenager, helping a team collate flyers and the TV Guide for distribution in The Spec.

They met at Carleton University School of Journalism in Ottawa, got married in their final year, graduated with B.J.s (Bachelors of Journalism) and then moved to Toronto. Initially, they both wrote for construction magazines — Steve for Heavy Construction News at MacLean-Hunter (now Rogers), and Colleen for The Engineering Journal and later Eco-Log Week at Corpus, a small publishing company.

The hospitality industry connection began when Mitch Kostuch, founder of Kostuch Media Ltd., hired Steve as a Staff Writer. In the nine years Steve worked at Kostuch, he rose to the position of Associate Publisher. While he was there, he hired a promising young graduate named Rosanna Caira, probably one of his best and most long-lasting hires!

Steve left Kostuch in 1986 to found Ishcom Publications, and went on to launch Ontario Restaurant News (1986), Pacific-Prairie Restaurant News (1993), Atlantic Restaurant News (1998) and Canadian Lodging News (2004). Ishcom also had some great contract publishing opportunities — Beer Connoisseur, funded by Molson’s and carried in The Globe & Mail Report on Business Magazine, was one of those.

Meanwhile, Colleen was in and out of the Ishcom offices, working on stories, features and directories, editing Pacific/Prairie Restaurant News for seven years, and Beer Connoisseur for two. Officially, she was president of Cami Communications, her own writing, editing and project management company. Cami Communications allowed Colleen to have a flexible work schedule while raising their three sons, now 37, 35 and 33 years old.

They have received a number of awards for their coverage of the hospitality industry, including the Ontario Hostelry Institute, Ontario Accommodation Association and Toronto Escoffier Society.

Through the years, the Isherwoods have enjoyed a long friendship with Mercury Publications, the publishers of Western Hotelier and Eastern Hotelier, first with Gren Yeo and later with his son, Frank. Colleen Isherwood and editor Nicole Sherwood have connected at brand conferences — with their similar last names sometimes causing some confusion!

The Isherwoods joke that Canadian Lodging News was launched during SARS and is up for sale during COVID-19. The intervening 17 years allowed them to meet so many people in this great industry, Ishcom down closed its print publications in 2017, but the Isherwoods continued to publish Canadian Lodging News as an e-newsletter. Hospitality has been a great “beat,” as journalists say. The best beat, according to Colleen. It’s been even more rewarding than Beer Connoisseur!


8 December 2020

HENDERSONVILLE, Tennessee—After 12 years of delivering the Hotel Data Conference in the U.S., STR and Hotel News Now are expanding their flagship event to the rest of the world with the launch of “Hotel Data Conference: Global Edition” on 25 March 2021.

The event will be held virtually with 12 straight hours of live, data-driven presentations and panels, kicking off in the Asia Pacific region then “following the sun” with stops in the Middle East, Europe and Central/South America before closing in North America. Attendees also will be able to access a library of pre-recorded content for on-demand viewing.

“Building on the foundation of our annual event in Nashville, we are excited to launch this virtual conference at a time when the industry’s need for valuable data is at its highest,” said Patrick Mayock, an STR VP and co-lead of the HDC Planning Committee. “Underpinned by STR’s unparalleled global sample, this conference will feature never-before-seen analyses and performance overviews to help hoteliers navigate recovery from the global pandemic.”

Registration for the global event will open in the coming weeks. Interested sponsors should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The U.S. edition of the Hotel Data Conference is set for 11-13 August 2021 at the Omni Nashville. That event will be open to both in-person attendees as well as virtual attendance via live stream. The event was held virtually in August 2020 due to COVID-19. 


Toronto – Dec 1 2020

The Easton’s Group of Hotels & The Gupta Group announced today that for the second consecutive year, Reetu Gupta is the recipient of the Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award in the BMO Entrepreneurs category by the Women’s Executive Network.  

Reetu Gupta is President and CEO of The Easton’s Group of Hotels and The Gupta Group, and the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Rogue Insight Capital. In June, Reetu re-imagined her family foundation, The Gupta Family Foundation, where she sits as President and CEO as well.  

“Being named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women last year changed my life. This second win is a blessing and also a responsibility. I believe I have been chosen to empower, inspire, and elevate other women. I have been asked ‘What does it mean to be powerful?’ many times. For me, power does not come from control nor leadership, rather it comes from unshakable faith and unconditional love.” Gupta says. 

Despite the impact that COVID-19 has had on the hospitality sector, it has not stopped Gupta from making innovative and compassionate decisions within the organizations she leads. 

“In January, we saw the effects of COVID-19 in Asia and I felt this pandemic would cause international tourism to crash. My goal was to protect the company and arm it with exclusive domestic hotel sales strategies to keep us operational when the damage inevitably spread. These strategies provided a strong base occupancy during the heart of the crisis in North America.” At the height of the first wave, when the hotel industry saw only five per cent of hotels staying open, Gupta was able to keep 75 per cent of her properties running. She also created a program called #HospitalityIsLove, used to educate guests, clients and stakeholders on safety protocols going forward. 

“When occupancy dropped to single digits however, keeping our team inspired became even more important.” says Gupta. “Furthermore, there were so many people who needed our help. Though I was disturbed by what was happening in the world, I knew that kindness was also contagious.”  

Overnight, Project Kindness was conceived. “Our hotels had a great deal of fresh produce that was going unused due to low occupancy. I did not want to simply throw it out with so many in need. We were able to gather 1,800 pounds of food from across our hotel properties in a single day and donated it to Second Harvest.” Additional donations spread across the city of Toronto have included 2,500 masks to the University Health Network, Mother’s Day breakfasts to retirement homes, snack food grab bags to emergency medical services (EMS) teams, toiletries to local shelters, and many others. 

Her passion for helping women succeed in her organization led Gupta to introduce Project Lotus; a program that encourages others to mentor women. Through Project Lotus, six company executives are each mentoring two or more women across the organization, helping them grow in their current positions while grooming them for the next steps in their career. 

To help those both inside and outside of the business, Gupta also teaches free meditation classes which are helping others better cope with the current environment. “When I first learned meditation, I found it brought me peace and clarity. I believe I have a duty to teach others so they can enjoy the same benefits. What began with three friends has grown to between 50 and 100 people each month including peers, colleagues and spiritual group members. During the pandemic, the classes are delivered live online through YouTube and Instagram.” 

Gupta’s kindness and passion also stretch beyond Canada’s borders. She was invited by the United Nations and the Nexus Global Summit to assist with Verified. Verified is a program to share facts about COVID-19 to help countries fight the virus and misinformation by being equipped with facts about treatment and prevention. Additionally, through The Gupta Family Foundationover which she presides, Gupta and her family aim to help solve and mitigate major world issues. “I am working with the Obama Foundation to bring some of their programs to Canada as a first project. I also believe in the power of education, so we are planning to create schools in rural India and Africa to help empower children. The curriculum will include teachings from my guru, which revolve around living life with happiness. Being a victim of racism and wanting to see a change in my industry, I also took a firm stand on Black Lives Matter and have started to build programs that will help us all move forward in unity.” 

Gupta has been named a Most Powerful Woman by WXN in back to back years, which is exceedingly rare. The 2020 Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winners list was released by the Women’s Executive Network and Presenting Partner KPMG in Canada today; recognizing 106 outstanding women across Canada who advocate for workforce diversity and inspire tomorrow’s leaders.  “In a difficult year, we’ve been inspired by Canada’s highest achieving women who unite those around them and help us all rise above our challenges,” said Sherri Stevens, Owner and CEO of WXN. “These powerful women continue to lead the way, which is why it’s important to celebrate their achievements.” The Top 100 Awards span the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors, with the winners selected by WXN's Diversity Council of Canada.  

“KPMG is proud to support WXN as they fiercely advocate for the development, advancement and recognition of women across Canada," said Elio Luongo, CEO and Senior Partner, KPMG in Canada. "It takes an inclusive community, sharing their strength and voices to make a change. Together we can ensure the successful achievement of women everywhere.” 

For Press Inquiries please reach out to Jennie Lashley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information about Easton’s Group of Hotels please visit


December 1, 2020 (OTTAWA) - The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses has released the following statement in response to the Fall Economic Statement:

“We are delighted to see that the Government has heard our concerns and is providing targeted support measures for the hardest hit sectors, as outlined in the Fall Economic Statement. Businesses in the tourism, travel, hospitality, arts, festivals and events sectors are unique and remain in crisis as we continue to face necessary public health restrictions.

Proposed measures announced include:

• The creation of the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) – a new program for the hardest hit businesses.

• Increasing the maximum wage subsidy rate to 75 per cent for the period beginning December 20, 2020 and to extend this rate until March 13, 2021.

• Providing a top-up of up to $500 million to Regional Development Agencies and the Community Futures Network of Canada. The government will earmark a minimum of 25 per cent of all the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund’s resources to support local tourism businesses, representing $500 million in program support through June 2021.

• $181.5 million in 2021-22 to the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts to expand their funding programs to support the planning and presentation of COVID-19-safe events and the arts — including both live and digital — and to provide work opportunities in these sectors.

• Working with industry to prevent the closure of unique and irreplaceable flagship
events and festivals across Canada, and to ensure the survival of key, globallyrecognized
assets in this sector.

• Extending the current subsidy rates of the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy for an additional three periods until March 13, 2021.

• Expanding the CEBA program to allow qualifying businesses to access an additional interest-free $20,000 loan, in situations where there is need. Half of this additional amount, up to $10,000, would be forgivable if the loan is repaid by
December 31, 2022. The deadline to apply for a CEBA loan has also been extended to March 31, 2021.

We look forward to working together with government and our champion, Minister Mélanie Joly, to ensure that the design of these programs continues to meet the needs of our sectors. This is a very good day for the industry.”


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