Your Home Away from Home in the Oil Sands

Lighthouse Camp Services
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Before Lighthouse Camp Services was created in 2011, Dario Berloni owned a trio of Calgary restaurants – Teatro, Cucina and Vendome – well-known for exquisite quality. At the time, Berloni had the opportunity to try his hand at operating in the oil sands industry, to which he aimed to transfer his success in the restaurant business.
Lighthouse Camp Services was created in 2011, and secured the contract to operate a 1500 man construction camp for the Husky Sunrise SAGD (Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage) Project. Once the contract for this large camp had been obtained, Lighthouse then also became actively involved in the final construction finishing and set-up of the camp, with the goal of delivering a high-quality remote hospitality experience.

The camp opened in the spring of 2012, near Fort McKay, Alberta, as the company’s first purpose-built, full-service remote hospitality facility operation. During its opening phase, Lighthouse began its operation with just 300 rooms. By January, 2013, however, the camp reached its full capacity of 1500 rooms and has been operating with a ‘full house’ ever since.

In 2013, the company established Lighthouse Logistics, a division of Lighthouse Camp Services, geared towards camp design, construction and maintenance services. Lighthouse consultants provide a wealth of experience in camp maintenance and design. The Lighthouse Team has design expertise and a focus on maintaining the value and operability of the asset, offering a range of services and solutions for medium to large-sized operations.

Acknowledging that the existing competition generally delievered a good service for a reasonable, though sometime inflated price, Gilles Corpart, COO of Lighthouse Camp Services, himself a life-long hospitality professional, felt that with his extensive European ‘service excellence’ experience (from boutique hotels to cruise ship lines) and Berloni’s similar high standards for food services, Lighthouse could deliver a superior value proposition of a higher quality ‘guest experience’ at a very competitive price. “What we try to do is consistently deliver an exceptional product and service with a ‘guest-first’ attitude and with the hospitality culture we have been trained to develop – a culture of service excellence… delivered with a smile.”

By providing and maintaining above-standard accommodations and services, Lighthouse not only gains a competitive edge in the remote hospitality service industry, but also helps its clients to attract and retain good employees. Workers have clean, welcoming, well-equipped accommodations waiting for them when they are not slugging away in the oil fields.

As Corpart explains, “If a worker can work for any large company or work for Husky in the same field – like a pipe fitter or a welder or a scaffolder – he will probably have the same rate of pay and the same benefits for doing the same job, but, being in a camp where he can feel at home away from home, makes a difference.”

Husky Sunrise Camp provides more than just accommodations for its guests. All of the 1500 rooms are single accommodation, with a private three piece bathroom and all of the amenities of a hotel. Each room is equipped with a flat-screen TV with multiple channel selection and video on demand, telephones, free internet, individual temperature control, quality linens, oversized towels and pillow-top mattresses. There is also a well-equipped game room to entertain guests.

An area of pride for Lighthouse Camp Services is the property management system. Similar to that of a hotel, the system ensures that the front desk and housekeeping are managed properly and that a guest reservation will never be missed. The property management system will enable the company to book flight and charter reservations in the future.

Besides offering their guests comfort, peace of mind and service with a smile, Lighthouse also ensures that the guest’s health and wellbeing are considered. “We believe that people need to be healthy when they go back to work. We want to offer not only a gym facility, but also nutritional information. So we have a health and wellness approach,” shared Corpart.

The facility boasts a large gym with a running track, a basketball court, weights and up-scale cardio equipment. Lighthouse has also provided full-time fitness coordinator to help guests achieve their fitness goals. The camp is happy to offer a variety of classes as well, such as yoga and Zumba, to give guests an assortment of ways to stay active while at camp.

Key to health and wellness is food and nutrition, and Lighthouse Camp Services are prepared to deliver in this area. All camps are mandated to offer selection, but Lighthouse takes it a step further ensuring a variety of lean proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits, scratch-made baking and soups, and a variety of healthy options. Fried foods are still available, but healthy alternatives exist and are of the highest quality and the best flavours.

Food is made in smaller batches to ensure that it does not sit on steam tables all day, depleting the quality and taste for guests who dine at different hours. The cafeteria is prepared to accommodate those who have dietary restrictions such as vegetarian, vegan, Halal, Kosher, low-fat, and gluten free options. Corpart reaffirmed, “The combination of balanced nutrition with the fitness program and trainer on site promotes the health and wellness of the workforce.”

Lighthouse Camp Services employees come with a wealth of experience, from a variety of industries; some have previous camp experience, some have worked in hotels or restaurants and others are graduates of SAIT’s culinary program. The mix is a smart Human Resources strategy, creating an employee culture of excellence which is fundamental to guest satisfaction.

Acknowledging that Human Resources is crucial to the life of his business, Corpart and his counterparts ensure that there is support on site and at the head-office level. Besides offering its employees competitive pay and the same quality living conditions afforded to guests, Lighthouse provides significant training and education programs and opportunities for promotion within the company. Hence, its “health and wellness approach” is maintained for its employees, as well as for its guests.

Simply put, Lighthouse’s mission is “…To be the premier company in our industry for accommodations. Our success will build client relationships, employee growth, enrichment and company value through innovation and being a sound business provider.” The company’s core values of teamwork, integrity, passion for excellence, respect, open communication and safety have also helped it to maintain a low employee turnover rate, well below the industry average.

Knowing that quality cannot be achieved without first focusing on safety, Lighthouse Camp Services has its own Health and Safety Manager interacting with Husky and the sub-contractors on site. The camps are also subject to a number of inspections that include regular internal inspections by each department’s managers, and regular monthly inspections conducted by head office. Lighthouse works in close coordination with local health department to ensure that its camps remain risk-free, healh-wise.

Lighthouse also has a quality assurance program and is a member of ISNetworld (member contractor) which is a rating agency that helps it establish and maintain safety standards for both employees and the camp. The company is also proud to have achieved three consecutive safety awards and a workplace safety certificate of recognition for having zero hours lost time to injuries to date.

The company is committed to developing a respectful environment for Aboriginal values and traditions through Aboriginal employment initiatives, cultural events and economic development. It has signed a teaming agreement with Birch River Site Services.

Similarly, Lighthouse Camp Services has a salmon purchasing agreement with the Nisga’a community in Northern British Columbia. No farmed salmon is served in the camps, guaranteeing no residue of animal feed or hormones and an overall better quality fish product that has been processed in a Canadian-certified plant.

Lighthouse also works with its suppliers to reduce the waste associated with packaging. The company only uses biodegradable cleaning supplies, which help to protect the environment and the employees who use the products. All paper products, such as napkins and tissues have a high percentage of recycled fibers.

Incidentally, Lighthouse does all of its laundry on-site, rather than having it shipped to an offsite industrial laundry facility which typically use high temperatures and harsh chemicals on the linens. Lighthouse’s use of environmentally friendly products and lower heats to wash its linens yields a much softer laundered item, which the guests certainly appreciate.

Lighthouse has also partnered with Husky to encourage recycling. As a result of the success of the recycling program at Husky Sunrise Camp, money collected from the sale of recycled goods has been donated to the Fort McMurray SPCA to provide shelter and assistance to animals.

Based on its guests-first focus, dedication to quality, commitment to the health and wellbeing of guests and employees, as well as its environmentally responsible practices, it is no wonder that Lighthouse is being sought out by an industry starting to notice its tireless efforts to provide a superior remote hospitality ‘guest experience’ delivered by warm and friendly staff in the true spirit of hospitality, and at a competive price – a strong value proposition for its clients.

Gilles Corpart and his team will continue to provide ‘service with a smile’, making the Husky Sunrise Camp a welcoming environment to which guests and employees alike look forward to returning. “Ultimately, our goal is to become the quality ‘provider of choice’ for the local and regional oil and gas industry, and with several camps, all focused on quality and friendly service excellence, not only here in Alberta, but also in Northern British Columbia.”



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