John H. Koziak was already a seasoned veteran of the hotel industry when he partnered with Nick & Josephine Oneschuk, his brother Dr. Peter Koziak, and others to purchase the newly built Le Chateau Louis Motor Inn from Lou Letourneau in 1975. In the early years, Nick and Josephine who were also at the Executive House Inn, managed both hotels, bringing some staff that continue to work at Chateau Louis today.
In the late 1970’s “during the boom” the addition of a third floor changed the Motor Inn to a Hotel. However, shortly after, the Federal Government’s National Energy Program delivered a devastating blow to Alberta’s hospitality industry, wiping out numerous hotels almost overnight. With interest rates at a record high of 22% and shareholder personal guarantees on the line, John’s son Julian took a more active role, assuming the position of President. A change in management brought Koziak cousin Harry Kurylo as GM, who instituted a series of changes including a transformation of the phone system, replacement of the old televisions and an entry into computerization.
In 1984, Julian’s wife Barbara made a commitment to work at Chateau Louis for three weeks and less than two months later, she was the Assistant Manager. In 1986, she became General Manager, a position she held for more than 25 years. Owing to the 24/7, 365 days/year complexity of the the industry, it wasn’t long before their children traded their chosen professions to continue their hospitality careers which began in their early teenage years. For decades the family has relished working together and seeing each other flourish as they continue on a path of change, improvement, upgrades and additions.
When the RCAF 700 Wing came up for sale in 1989, Julian saw the opportunity for a more substantial banquet division, increasing the property to over six acres and resulting in the change of name to Chateau Louis Hotel & Conference Centre. In 1992, Chateau Louis Cold Beer Store was built on the property, renamed Chateau Louis Beer Wine & Spirits when Alberta allowed for privatization. It wasn’t until the government got out of retail liquor sales completely that its current name Chateau Louis Liquor Store was permitted.
Over the years, the functionality and aesthetic appeal of the Hotel and Conference Centre have been enhanced with the addition of a beautiful Crowne Suite, porte-cochères, patios, solariums, courtyard and gazebo.
One of the unique qualities of the Chateau Louis is the abundance of related employees. It’s always a good sign when workers encourage their parents, siblings, cousins, and children to work at the same business. In an industry plagued by frequent staff turnover, Chateau Louis has been blessed with numerous long-term and loyal employees, many working 20, 30 and even 40 years. Having always prided itself in being a family business, this is also a hub of multiculturalism with staff members from over 30 countries included in the Chateau Louis Family. This global cultural appreciation is demonstrated in their support for Vinok Worldance, a professional company with a repertoire of dance and music from 60 cultures, who have called Chateau Louis home for over 33 years.
Currently, Julian & Barbara continue as President & VP with their children Don Koziak & Debbie Koper - Managers, and Leanne Koziak - Controller. Julian’s brothers Neil and Basil are also actively involved and Neil’s son Adam manages the Liquor Store. As an independent, family run operation, Chateau Louis has been staunch supporters of industry associations and benefited from many of their programs including AHLA, HAC, EHA, AECH, ALSA & ALIRT. Julian served as AHLA president 1994-96 and received his lifetime membership in 2001. He also received a lifetime membership from the Hotel Association of Canada, where he served as chairman from 1996-2000. Barbara was honoured with the AHLA Award of Distinction in 2012. Don was president of Edmonton Hotel Association 1998-9 and 2001-2. Adam has been chairman of Alberta Liquor Store Association since 2004.