Judy Sparkes-Giannou

Judy Sparkes-Giannou became involved in the tourism industry of Newfoundland & Labrador over 25 years ago.  Since then, her name has become synonymous with tourism provincially, regionally, and nationally. In her current role as managing director of Clayton Hospitality, Judy takes an active role in the growth and development of the Comfort Inn Airport, St. John’s, and the Comfort Inn, Gander.  Numerous investments in real estate and various companies throughout Atlantic Canada keep Judy engaged in a diverse range of business activities throughout the region. 

From 1998 – 2010, Judy was the president of Maxxim Vacations. Judy led the growth of this company to have it become not only Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest tour wholesaler, but also one of Atlantic Canada’s leading travel providers. This growth took place amidst the worst external influences the industry has ever seen. 

Judy's father, Clayton Sparkes, instilled in each of his children the need to serve both industry and community.  Judy has served as president of the Hotel Association of NL, vice chair of the Hotel Association of Canada, and chair of the NL Provincial Marketing Council. She was also a proud member of the steering committee that authored Vision 2020, a plan for tourism marketing and development in the province.

Judy is a recipient of the President’s Award from the Newfoundland & Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE). Atlantic Business Magazine named Judy as one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 CEO’s, and she was identified by Progress Magazine as one of the top 25 people to watch in the Atlantic region.  

Judy dedicates considerable time to mentoring young women in business; she is vice chair of the Canadian Spondylitis Association and a founding member of the Newfoundland & Labrador Chapter of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO). She is the chairperson of the Choice Hotels Franchisee Advisory Board for Canada.

Judy lives in St. John’s with her husband Scott; their son Jack is currently working hard toward his career aspirations by attending university abroad.

Reach Judy via email: judy@claytonhospitality.com

Bruce Sparkes

Bruce graduated with honours from the Hotel Administration program at Sheridan College in Brampton, Ontario, and was then employed by the Bristol Place Hotel. When the opportunity to return home presented itself, Bruce returned to Gander with brother Steve to work with their father to run the Gander operations. The Gander hotels, at the time, were the 120-room Hotel Gander and a 60-room property called the Airport Inn (now the 79-room Comfort Inn-Gander).

Within a very short period, the lure of expansion within the family business called, so Steve moved to St. John’s to manage the Travellers Inn. While Steve led the partner operation, the Hotel Gander became, after several renovations and a major expansion, the leading convention and meeting hotel outside of St. John’s.

Bruce has been very active in the Gander community, and is currently the last charter member of the Gander Rotary Club, which started in 1997. He is a Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary’s highest award. He has been active as chairperson of the Gander Chamber of Commerce and was nominated for Citizen of the Year. He also served as a director on the Gander International Airport Authority.

From the industry point of view, Bruce has been president of the Hotel/Motel Association, chair of the Industry Association, Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as chair of the Canada Select Accommodation Rating Council.

Bruce lives in Gander with his wife, Audrey. They have four children, Tonya, Lesley, Adam and Allison, plus four grandchildren. Bruce is an avid outdoorsman and is often found boating, hunting, snowmobiling and salmon fishing around Newfoundland.

Reach Bruce via email: bruce@claytonhospitality.com

steve Sparkes

After growing up in St. John’s and Gander, Steve moved to Ontario to complete the Hotel and Restaurant Management Program at Niagara College, where he graduated with honours. During his final year of the program, Steve took on a position as assistant manager of the Casa Carla Restaurant. After graduation, he was promoted to general manager of the restaurant, allowing him to gain valuable knowledge and first-hand experience in human resources, purchasing, and management. 

Steve was well poised to return to Newfoundland and take up an active role in the family business. After spending a year in Gander working with his father and brother, Steve moved to St. John’s to become the general manager of the newly acquired Travellers Inn. Since taking control of the company in the early 80’s, Steve, along with his brother Bruce and sister Judy, has overseen four decades of growth and expansion in the family business. 

Today, Steve oversees the corporate administration of Clayton Inns Ltd. He has also held numerous positions in the tourism and hospitality industry, including serving as president of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, president of the Hotel Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, director of the Hotel Association of Canada, director of the St. John’s Board of Trade, provincial industry representation to the Atlantic Canada Tourism Partnership, and chair of St. John’s Sports and Entertainment. Most recently, Steve's involvement with St. John's Sports and Entertainment allowed him the opportunity to act as an integral part of the team responsible for the construction of the new St. John's Convention Centre.

During his time off, Steve is an avid fisherman who loves a day on the bay. He currently lives in St. John’s with his wife Debbie and spends as much time as possible with their two children, Chris and Kim. 

Reach Steve via email: steve@claytonhospitality.com