Featured Hotelier: Trina White

By: Danielle Leroux

General Manager at The Parkside Hotel & Spa in Victoria

Trina White is an active leader in Vancouver Island and BC’s tourism and hospitality industry: General Manager of The Parkside Hotel & Spa in Victoria, Associate Professor at Royal Roads University, and a director on multiple tourism boards. She was recently awarded the BC Hotel Association Hotelier of the Year.

“White was recently awarded the BC Hotel Association Hotelier of the Year.”

White got her start in the hospitality industry at the age of 15 working at an A&W on Vancouver Island. “I became Assistant Manager and would work with customers, do training and inventory, help do the dishes and cooking, and do some hiring. I loved the diversity,” she says. “I didn’t realize at the time how much I enjoyed it.”

Passionate about sustainability, White decided to go into a Bachelor of Science program with plans to pursue a career in silviculture. But by third year, she realized, “I was holding my ground but I wasn’t excelling in the sciences. Things weren’t quite jiving for me. I decided to look at what I had been doing all along at work. The business side came very naturally to me.”

White decided to complete a Business Diploma at Camosun College. During her time there, she completed a tourism elective and was exposed to a book that would have a lasting impact on her—The Eye of the Elephant by Mark and Delia Owens. She had stumbled across the concept of ecotourism. “This book had me think about tourism in a new way and I could see how tourism could start to align with my values,” White says.

She got her start in tourism as an adventure tour guide operator. The job took her to incredible places but it wasn’t ultimately for her. “I realized that when I got stuck for an extra week and a half with a group I didn’t like,” she says with a laugh. “After the last person from the group departed on the plane, I gave my notice, packed up my belongings, and moved to Calgary.”

“I built my career by working hard, putting in long days, and leaving a positive impression.”

With persistence, White landed a job as a sales administrator for Delta Hotels. In 2002, she moved to Cranbrook to be on the opening team of the Delta Hotel (now the St. Eugene Resort Hotel) as conference services manager. “Once I got to Cranbrook, I knew I wanted to eventually be in the GM position,” she says. “I built my career by working hard, putting in long hours and long days, and leaving a positive impression.”

In 2003, White moved back to Victoria to work for the Sandman Hotel Group and was put into the General Manager training program. “An opportunity became available to be Operations Manager at Brentwood Bay Resort when I was 27 years old,” she says. She took the job despite experiencing challenges as a young female navigating pregnancies and being a mother in a male-dominated industry.

“White is passionate about regenerative travel.”

In 2009, White took on her current role as GM of The Parkside. She has been there since it opened. “I have my rhythm now. We have a good building, ownership, and clientele. I am very fortunate to have a well-seasoned and established management team.”

White is passionate about regenerative travel and loves advising start-ups that are doing work in the circular economy. “If you asked me years ago, I would have told you I want to open up a fancy hotel in California. But today I am completely satisfied with my career. I want to keep pushing our industry forward over the next 10 years. However I can lend my expertise, I want to thoughtfully support the industry in being not just sustainable but regenerative.”