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Stories Behind Our Faces

With corporate travel growing in tandem with economic output, there are a lot of business people waking up in hotels each morning. For those attending meetings or making pitches and presentations in other cities, it can be hard to really relax when the faces at the front desk and the people around you keep changing. So we thought it would be helpful (and fun!) to introduce you to the stories behind some of the faces you’ll see every day at the Civic Hotel. Each of our wonderful ‘Civics’ contributes something unique that adds value to their connection with guests. These important interactions are just one of the ways we leave guests a little more prepared to conquer the business world or head out for good times in surrounding City Centre.

Karina Muftigil, Guest Experience Supervisor

Q: What do you like about being a Guest Experience Supervisor?

My role is to make sure guests feel comfortable and ensuring their experience here meets their expectations and they leave happy. I love the happy energy hotels offer their guests. I have worked in hotels in several different countries over the past twenty years and love to hear the comments after creating an unforgettable experience and long-lasting memories for guests, especially when I get home and realize that I have done something useful for someone.

Q: What keeps you busy in your spare time?

I run a program that gives children over the age of four the opportunity to make art with sand. I do a lot of festivals and fundraising events and have taken part in African festivals, Diwali festivals, Korean festivals and other big events. I come from Kazakhstan and my dad is Russian and my mom is Korean. So I understand and care about diversity and have friends in every ethnic and religious group. I love learning more about their cultures and trying their different foods.

Q: What’s the best part of staying or working in Surrey City Centre?

I love the new City Centre library right across Civic Plaza from the hotel. It’s so well designed and everyone can spend time there. Surrey is a fast growing city so I like to be up on the new restaurants opening up. I go and check them out before recommending them to guests. I still believe Dominion Bar + Kitchen is the best and my family always comes here for special events. Their food reflects the diversity of the community around the hotel and a lot of it is locally grown. It’s important to support local businesses because they create jobs here.

Scott Candy, Security

Q: What role does the security team play in the guest experience?

We’re on-site and visible 24/7 and I think it gives guests a sense of security knowing someone is there, looking after them. The work actually mostly involves lots of chat and conversation with guests, where I get to meet lots of neat people and talk to them. I’m a people person and like meeting people. It’s more of a customer service role and definitely pre-emptive, where I’m just making sure everybody is playing by the rules.

Q: How long have you been in the security industry?

I got into it ten years ago after selling my landscape business. A good friend in the industry told me I’m a natural and hired me. I’ve done some pretty interesting jobs since then. I’ve been a driver for the film industry, as well as doing some personal driving for actors and artists. I’ve worked hundreds of concerts and supervised events like the Pemberton music festival. I’m a fully qualified close-protection officer and have accompanied Bollywood stars and musicians like Keisha out after shows. I am also the only CCTV spotter brought in for BC Place events because I have a knack for seeing things that are out of place. I spot things the average person doesn’t see.

Q: What personal values or traits do you bring to your position at the Civic Hotel?

People have always told me I should be in policing or security because I can see things that just don’t look right, it’s a visual thing. The other things I bring to the Civic are honesty and integrity. And humour! Not many people realize that you get a lot farther in security by smiling and being humourous. I always treat people with a smile and a ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ no matter what their walk of life. And if that doesn’t work, I’ve taken lots of tactical communications training and can usually de-escalate any situation by talking with the person.

Jillian Elijah, Sales Manager

Q: What is your role concerning guests at the Civic Hotel?

I paint the picture of what a guest’s experience can be if they stay or have a meeting here, informing them about the unique features we offer at the Civic. I was born and raised in this province and really like the hotel’s celebration of BC, so I talk about things like all the catering menu items we source locally and the art by local artists. Then our amazing team delivers that experience. Everyone is so passionate about being here and being able to positively influence guest experiences here in Surrey.

Q: What issues really matter to you?

Environmental sustainability for sure. Even changing little things can make a huge impact. I volunteer with Reverb, which helps reduce garbage produced at events. If everyone uses a reusable water bottle or food containers at an event, the impact on the garbage produced is massive. They also donate leftover food from concerts to shelters to feed people in need, rather than just dumping it in the landfill. When I help out at concerts, it pairs my love of music with my environmental and social values, so it’s a ‘win win’ situation. It’s also nice working in a hotel that runs virtually paper-free and is the first local hotel that has in-slab utilities and is part of the district energy system that improves energy efficiency and reduces greenhouse gases.

Q: What are your favourite things about City Centre?

A highlight for sure is all the events that take place right outside the hotel on Civic Plaza. These allow guests to participate in events like Surrey Fire Department’s Battle of the Brews craft beer festival or the Long, Long Table Community Social and the Party for the Planet celebrating Earth Day. All these events enable guests and locals to feel like they are together in our community and making an impact on the environment while giving something back. I also love the food in Surrey, particularly the Caribbean food. There’s an authentic, family-run Jamaican restaurant just down the road, with great food and great people. They make the best scotch bonnet pepper sauce! I also love Japanese food and there are so many good Japanese and Asian restaurants nearby.