Proud Proprietors

The day after their eldest child Susan was married, Clayton and Joyce Sparkes left St. John’s for Gander, Newfoundland together with their three other children Steve, Bruce and Judy. Judy remembers driving away from her childhood home, her head on her mother’s lap, and feeling her mother’s tears hitting her face. It was 1970.

The Sparkes were venturing into the unknown, giving up their successful wholesale meat business and the life they had known for the uncertainty of running hotels. It was the start of a long, arduous, but ultimately rewarding journey that has led to Steve, Bruce and Judy calling the hospitality industry home, while their sister Susan pursued a different career path. Theirs is a story of perseverance and unwavering commitment to private entrepreneurship as successful second generation hoteliers on the wonderfully unforgiving Island of Newfoundland.

Today, the Sparkes’ company, Clayton Hospitality Inc., aptly named after their beloved father, consists of:



As siblings and fellow business owners, Steve, Bruce and Judy take pride in their ongoing commitment to being Newfoundland hotel entrepreneurs.

“We’re in the hospitality business. This isn’t a real estate venture for us. We are very engaged in our company and we plan to keep it that way. As our beloved Mom & Dad used to say, “We are the family that takes care of the million little things. Why? Because we care.

Awards and Accolades

Quality Hotel Clarenville

 This exciting new hotel was recognized as ‘Best New Mid-Scale Conversion’ within Choice Hotels Canada.

Comfort Inn Gander

Recognized by Choice Hotels as a Platinum Award winner in 2015, it continues to be a top performing hotel in the Choice Hotels system today.


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, she takes an active role in the growth and development of Clayton Hospitality’s award winning properties.

From 1998 to 2010, Judy was the president of Maxxim Vacations and she led the growth of this company to have it become Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest tour wholesaler and one of Atlantic Canada’s leading travel providers. This growth took place amidst the worst external influences the industry has ever seen.

Clayton Sparkes, Judy’s father, 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.

Atlantic Business Magazine celebrated Judy as one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 CEO’s and Progress Magazine recognized her as one of the Top 25 people to watch in the Atlantic region. She is also a recipient of the President’s Award from the Newfoundland & Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE).

Dedicating considerable time to mentoring young women in business, she is also Vice Chair of the Canadian Spondylitis Association and a founding member of the Newfoundland & Labrador Chapter of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO). Currently, 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. You can always reach Judy via email: unless she’s busy preparing for her dinner guests. 🙂


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 his 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.

You can reach Bruce via email: when he’s not busy being a Poppy.


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 Hospitality Inc. 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.

You can reach Steve via email: when he’s not gone fishing.

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