Giulia and David Langlois and the staff at Travelway Inn provide a home away from home for visitors to the city.
Photography by Marg Seregelyi
By Andrew Hind
Since opening in 1986, more than 1.6 million people have walked through the front doors of Sudbury’s Travelway Inn. They arrive as guests, strangers who in many cases are dealing with anxieties over their health or that of a loved one. They leave as family.
“The majority of our guests are patients of the hospital located right next door to us, or people who are visiting loved ones at the hospital,” explains Giulia Langlois, who is the director of operations. She has been with the motel for more than 30 years.
“They are people who are in an emotional and vulnerable state, so we take a lot of pride in making them as comfortable as possible to ease their stress and worry.”
The motel was conceived and built by four principals, all from Sudbury, among them Langlois’s father-in-law, Bernard. It was sold as a Limited Partner Venture with the mandate that all shareholders be from the community (and in fact most of these individuals still remain partners to this day).
Shortly after opening, management was taken over by the Langlois family.
That “northern hospitality,” as Langlois calls it, likely stems from the fact Travelway Inn has always been locally owned and operated, free of the shackles and bureaucracy that comes with distant management. The motel is not part of a chain.
“The fact that we have remained an independent property when it would have been easier to connect with a chain is one of the things we are all most proud of,” says Langlois. It means decisions have come from seeing firsthand the needs or guests, rather than having to follow a policy set out by some corporate head office, and it means management is better able to promptly address guest concerns and needs than most hotels.
“Often guests who are here for medical reasons need a place to go to while their loved ones sleep after treatments or to receive visitors. We were noticing they were mingling about in the lobby, talking about family members and their condition. It wasn’t a very private place to discuss what to do with a loved one in palliative care, for example,” recalls Langlois.
“So, we took out the meeting room and replaced it with the Pauza Den, a warm room with a fireplace and comfortable chairs, where people can gather in privacy and comfort. We also added a business centre, so people can stay connected with other family members or keep in touch with work.”
Travelway Inn has grown thanks to the patronage of hospital patients and their families, but has also given back by offering free rooms for many charities, including their charity of choice, Northern Ontario Families of Children with Cancer.
Being a “home-away-from-home” is a source of pride for owners and staff. Indeed, they believe it’s the motel’s mandate, its very reason for being.