Even though they’re usually a long way from home, guests at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel in downtown Calgary know they can always count on a warm welcome when they arrive to check in.
It comes even before they enter the building, courtesy of long-serving doorman Neal Hemraj.
“You greet people from all over the world,” Hemraj said. “What they say is that they cannot believe how clean the city is and that the people are so friendly.”
Hemraj has been working in the hotel business for most of the time since he arrived in Canada in 1995 from his native Guyana in South America.
After some time in Toronto, he moved west, working for a decade at the world-famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alta., before coming to the Palliser in 2008.
Always ready to carry a guest’s bags or supply a map and directions, Hemraj’s high standards of service earned him numerous “Star Employee of the Month” awards in Banff and Calgary.
In 2018 he received his biggest honour — a White Hat Award from Tourism Calgary.
The organization has been handing out the awards since 1962, to recognize superior work in the service industry.
Hemraj said receiving his award was unbelievable.
“The things you work for all your life and you’re being recognized for it!”
His fellow employees at the Palliser said the recognition is well-deserved.
“He won because of his hard work,” doorman Nelson Bolo said. “He’s a good example to us.”
Hemraj wishes all the nominees well at the 2019 White Hat Awards ceremony on Wednesday, May 15 at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.
He’s always eager to promote the industry that helps bring $2 billion into the local economy each year.
“Calgary is a great place,” Hemraj said. “Just the diversity we have — it’s a world-class city.”