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(2019 - Spring/Summer Issue)


Québec business leader Mme Christiane Germain is best known as co-founder and co-president of Group Germain Hotels whose highly motivated business plans include 20 hotels under the Germain, Alt and Alt+ banners by 2020 across Canada.

Mme Germain, whose parents ran successful restaurants in Québec City, discovered her passion for hotels on a visit to New York City in the mid-1980s. Long before it became popular, Group Germain promoted the use of local products in the hotels and supported local artists and artisans. Mme Germain also supports numerous charities and is chair of the board of directors at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (National Art Gallery of Québec).

In 2012, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Ryerson University and, in 2009, she was named Chevalière de l’ordre national du Québec.

Since joining Dans l’oeil du dragon (Québec’s version of Dragon’s Den), she has become one of Québec’s most recognized entrepreneurs.

Was there a eureka moment when you decided to start the Germain chain?

In 1986 my brother and I visited The Morgans, the first boutique hotel in New York City, set up by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager of Studio 54 fame. We decided it was exactly the kind of hotel we wanted to create. We opened the Hôtel le Germain-des-Prés in Québec City soon after.

What’s your favourite place to visit in Canada?

I’ve travelled to all the major cities in Canada and there’s something unique about each one that makes me want to return. Each place has its own personality, due to its location and the people you meet. There’s truly nowhere I wouldn’t go in Canada.

What might people be surprised to learn about you? 

I love trying new things, getting out of my comfort zone. If people think I can do it, I want to try it. An example was when I was first approached to appear on Dans l’oeil du dragon.

What have you learned on Dans l’oeil du dragon? 

Women of all ages need entrepreneurial role models.

What part of Québec do you think English Canadians should get to know?

I would say the Charlevoix area. However, since the G7 summit, it is becoming better known. It’s close to Québec City and a real jewel next to the St. Lawrence River and full of beautiful scenery.

Do you have a favourite hotel when you travel?

I always try and stay at the newest spot wherever I go, and I seldom go back to the same hotel.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?

Have passion for what you are doing. If money is your only motivation, you should not go for it. Hard work and persistence will take you a long way. My parents, both entrepreneurs, were very terre à terre, that is to say, grounded. They were successful, but very humble. That’s how we were brought up to be.

Do you have any travel beefs?

If I’m travelling for business, and in a hurry, I can have beefs, such as schedules not being respected. However, when I travel for leisure I really don’t mind as much. I take time to sit and observe, just remember, I’m on a vacation. I like watching people. Others say they can tell if I’m on a business or a leisure trip by the way I walk. If I appear relaxed, they know it’s a leisure trip.

Any travel advice?

Personally, I avoid layovers or changing planes too many times. When I can, I fly direct wherever I go.

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