728 x 90

Quarter Century Award Received


If there is one name that has been a mainstay of the Westwood Inn, that would be Frank Koutecky, General Manager and part-owner.
Recently, he was honoured with a Quarter Century Award from the Manitoba Hotel Association (MHA), during their annual convention held on Oct. 21 and 22 at the Victoria Inn in Winnipeg.
“Our Quarter Century Award honours those who have been engaged in ownership or senior management of an MHA member hotel for 25 years or more,” said MHA Public Affairs Director Andrea Coulling. “Frank Koutecky has played many roles at the Westwood Inn in Swan River – Assistant Manager, Owner, and now a shareholder and General Manager.”
Although it may have only been 25 years since he has been in an owner/senior management position, Koutecky has been attached to the Westwood Inn since he was hired on as a Foods and Beverage Manager in 1988.
Prior to that, he gained experienced in the Roadrunner Drive-In, as well as the Nelson Hotel, which he leased and managed for about five years.
“When (the Nelson Hotel) sold and changed hands, I decided I didn’t want to be there anymore, so I took a break and came to (the Westwood Inn) to figure out what I was going to do in life,” said Koutecky.
At the time that Koutecky joined the Westwood Inn, it was owned and managed by Magenta Management, a company based in Lethbridge, Alta., that manages hotels across Western Canada.
“(Magenta Management) would send different managers out, and after they hired Brad Sylvestor, we worked together for about four or five years, and between the two of us, we decided to buy the hotel,” said Koutecky. “It was owned by about 35 people, so it was a bit of a process to buy everybody out.”
He added that his business partner also invested in other establishments, including in Saskatoon, Sask. and Sherwood Park, Alta..
“My partner would always move and I would always stay here at the Westwood,” said Koutecky.
Once Sylvestor decided to get out of the hotel business about five to six years ago, Koutecky was going to take it over by himself, but after discovering that his children didn’t want to be a part of the business, he sought outside investment from the community.
“I started asking around and I found Brent Scales,” said Koutecky. “He came up with a plan and got three other partners together to buy the business from me and Brad. I stayed on as the manager and then bought back in as a shareholder.”
While the hotel scene has changed over the years, particularly with the rules and regulations around the beverage lounge, Koutecky added that the Westwood Inn has been quite stable during his decades in the business.
“There are no real big ups or down,” he said. “It follows the same routines with busy summers and falls, although our winters are much busier now than they were 20 years ago.”
Koutecky credits school sports, junior A hockey and the local snowmobile trails as part of the reasons for increased hotel business in Swan River during the winter months.
“Snowmobiling is huge,” he said. “There isn’t a morning in January that there isn’t some snow machine (parked out front). There are miles of groomed trails around here and they lead right to our door.”
While Koutecky couldn’t pin down exactly what he liked best about working in the hotel business, he did know that it was always something that he enjoyed.
“There are so many different things that go on in a hotel,” he said. “Every day is a different challenge and it’s never the same routine. It keeps life interesting and it isn’t boring by any means. It’s something I enjoy doing.”
Koutecky is also a life-long Swan Valley resident, growing up on a farm near Minitonas. He was never interested in leaving.
“I don’t like cities and the hustle and bustle,” he said. “Here, it’s a small enough place and you know everybody.
“I’ve had a cabin at the lake for 35-40 years, and I’ve enjoyed that, more so when I was younger. This is the right size of town for somebody like me, and I never had any desire to leave the Swan Valley.”

Jeremy Bergen