ELENI SKALBANIA, Founder
Born on the Greek Island of Santorini and raised in Athens, Eleni Skalbania came to Canada in her late teens with the challenge of learning the English language and adapting to a new world. That accomplished in a very short time, she went on to raising her two daughters while working first in the brokerage business and then in the airline industry.
In late 1977, Eleni had the opportunity to manage the Devonshire Hotel for a group of Vancouver investors. The result was a dramatic economic turnaround for the property within eight months, something she attributes to her hands-on style and her commitment towards eliminating waste and increasing operating efficiency. Her next acquisition was the Hotel Georgia where she demonstrated her ability to manage a much larger hotel. Following the sale of the Hotel Georgia in 1983, it was time for her lifelong dream.
Enchanted with her experience of the intimate comfort, elegance and luxurious quality of hotels from her travels around the world, and certain that Vancouver was primed for a similar world-class property, Eleni decided it was time to take another chance. In 1984, she gutted and re-furbished the former Mayfair Apartment Hotel. Six months later, she opened the doors of the exquisite Wedgewood Hotel & Spa.
Relying on her intuition, combined with her personal sense of colour and texture, Eleni acted as her own general contractor and interior designer. To create the ambience she sought in public areas, she moved personal collections of antiques and pieces of art from her home, while commissioning craftsmen to build custom-designed furniture.
The 83 room Wedgewood was an immediate success when it opened in June 1984. Home to visiting celebrities and dignitaries, the Wedgewood has remained among the most popular hotels in Vancouver.
Eleni’s attention to detail and her relentless commitment to her guests were recognized nationally with the highly acclaimed Independent Hotelier of the Year Award.
Eleni passed away on September 28th, 2013, following a long battle with Lung Cancer. The Wedgewood is now owned by her daughters, Marousa Dumaresq and Elpie Marinakis Jackson. Elpie is now the Managing Director of the hotel and she possesses the same passion for hospitality and attention to detail as her mother.