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Friday,  April 12, 2024 8:40 PM 

“I love a challenge”: Gail Lea joins Barcelo as BDM for Canada

“I love a challenge”: Gail Lea joins Barcelo as BDM for Canada
Gail Lea is Barcelo's new business development manager for Canada. (Supplied)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Barcelo Hotel Group has updated its sales support in Canada, PAX has learned.

Gail Lea has joined the company as a business development manager – Canada, becoming a point person for travel advisors and agencies. Her official start day was on Feb. 15, 2024.

In her new role, Lea will visit travel agencies and lead Barcelo presentations, trainings, FAM trips and events across the country.

She fills a position previously held by Judy Makara, who, after 13 years, recently left the hotelier to accept a position at Sandos Hotels & Resorts as a BDM for Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Makara told PAX that she left Barcelo to begin a new career chapter and “redesign” her life now that she has a granddaughter.

“I love a challenge”

In a statement to PAX, Lea said Makara “has a stellar reputation in the industry, so I have big boots to fill.”

“But I love a challenge,” Lea said, “and I am a people person who is passionate when it comes to our industry. I look forward to setting my sails in the right direction. So far, it has been a smooth transition.”

Spain-based Barcelo Hotel Group owns or manages more than 251 properties, with more than 55,000 rooms, throughout 22 countries. The hotels are marketed under four brands: Royal Hideaway Luxury Hotels & Resorts; Barceló Hotels & Resorts; Occidental Hotels & Resorts; and Allegro Hotels.

The properties are located in top destinations and cities in Europe, Mexico, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Lea says she will support sales at 37 hotels in eight countries and 23 destinations, amounting to 16,466 rooms.

A travel agent for 16 years

Her career has always involved working with hotel brands and helping travel agents in some way or another.

Lea was a travel agent for 16 years. In 2017, she created “FAM de Femmes,” which offered training and development for agents who joined the group.

“I offered events with hotel brands and tourism boards and created personalized FAM trips to these agents offering a unique experience,” Lea told PAX.

Last year, when she was offered a contract with Tahiti Tourism, “I knew this was the direction I wanted to take for the next phase of my career.”

“I love teaching, sharing and connecting to the agents. This position [at Barcelo] affords me that,” she said. “Having been a travel agent, I bring an added value because I understand exactly where the agent is coming from. I also understand the very different markets across Canada.”

Travel advisors attending Transat’s Rookie Camp from April 4 – 11, 2024, can watch for Lea as she, too, will be participating in the event.

Lea can be reached directly at or 514-971-6708.

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