Staff at the Chateau Victoria (from left) Kimberly Nowak

Victoria hotels step up

It's a 203 stair climb to the 19th floor of the Chateau Victoria hotel.

It’s a 203 stair climb to the 19th floor of the Chateau Victoria hotel.

Marion Ann Berry, guest services manager of the hotel,  knows this because members of her staff are scaling those stairs as part of an initiative to raise awareness about cancer and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

The Pedometer Challenge has arisen from a partnership between the Canadian Cancer Society WellnessFits Program and the human resources “champions” at nine Victoria hotels.

Although it started at the Chateau Victoria, the challenge has spread to other hotels, including the Inn at Laurel Point, Westin Bear Mountain, Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites, Hotel Grand Pacific, Marriottt Inner Harbour, Parkside Hotel and Suites, Fairmont Empress, and Delta Ocean Pointe. At last count more than 1,000 hotel staff have now clipped on pedometers to monitor the number of steps they take in the performance of their daily duties.

“The average hotel room attendant or server will walk about 1,600 steps an hour so it’s a natural fit with the WellnessFits program,” said Berry. “We’ve been using the program for a few years as a way of promoting health and a healthy lifestyle, but this challenge just steps it up a notch.”

During the three-week challenge, staff monitor the number of their daily steps and enter end-of-shift totals on a tally sheet. At the end of each week the employee with the highest number of steps is given a nominal reward, such as a coffee shop gift card.

At the end of the challenge, the employee with the highest cumulative step count at each of the participating hotels will receive a free two-night stay at one of the competing hotels. The hotel with the best performance will receive a specially designed trophy to commemorate their accomplishment.

“Some of our staff put together this great trophy…it’s a gilded running shoe on an attractive wooden base. We’re calling it the coveted golden shoe award,” laughed Berry.

Julie Wright, director of human resources at the Inn at Laurel Point, said when she heard about the program she couldn’t wait to jump on board.

“It’s a way of encouraging good health amongst employees while highlighting a progressive health and wellness policy, which includes support for WellnessFits,” said Wright.

WellnessFits is a partnership between the Canadian Cancer Society and Healthy Families B.C. offering online, email, and telephone support as well as on-site consultations for businesses interested in improving employee health and wellness. It offers information on healthy diet, physical activity, healthy minds and the value of a tobacco free lifestyle.

According to Liz Gilgunn, health promotion coordinator for Canadian Cancer Society (B.C.), friendly challenges like the Pedometer Challenge create a positive workplace culture and have the spinoff effect of increasing productivity and employee well-being.

The Pedometer Challenge runs until the second week in May.

More information on the WellnessFits project can be found at wellnessfits.ca.