NANAIMO – Opening day has finally come for Nanaimo’s new downtown hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott.
Actually, March 17 is the “soft opening” for the 172 room hotel at 100 Gordon Street, directly across from the Vancouver Island Conference Centre (VICC) Its arrival has been much anticipated since the VICC was built in 2008.
“This is a project that has seen various owners and iterations that have all fallen through, except for this one,” states Ian Simpson, Chief Executive Officer of the Petroglyph Development Group (PDG), which is 25 percent owner of the hotel. “This development would not have happened without Snuneymuxw First Nation‘s involvement and our capital funding. It’s pretty incredible to see this hotel come to life. It will provide such a benefit to our Nation, and also to the region with the employment opportunities at the hotel and spin-offs for other businesses.
“This opens up a whole new market for the VICC, which allows them to target a larger market for conventions in Nanaimo. That benefits everybody downtown and all the hotel operators in the city. It’s a good thing for the whole.”
Simpson explains that SFN financed the remainder of the property through a promissory note, and has the right to convert that note to equity, which is their intention. “When we do that, we’ll own 75 percent of the hotel,” he adds.
Paul Dodds has been hired as General Manager for the property, which will include 51 employees, including 35 full-time workers. The hotel’s amenities match those of the Courtyard by Marriott in Prince George, and includes a bistro-style restaurant on the main floor, as well as a pool and fitness centre. The official grand opening will be held towards the end of May.
“As a Nation and development group, we don’t have a deep pool of hospitality management, so what we have done is hire a third party entity, Hotel Equity, which is charged with the day-to-day operations of the hotel. They’re a large player in this business, and I’m really impressed with the work they’ve done so far.
“They hired Paul, and we’re really happy with the selection they’ve made. He’s run a number of hotels on Vancouver Island, and lives in Nanaimo, and he’s found a really good fit here. He has our property to manage and he’s at home, so he’s happy and we’re happy.”
Hotel Equity bid for the management contract of the VICC, but it stayed with the incumbent company.
PDG is a wholly-owned corporation of SFN, and its companies include Petroglyph Forestry and the Snuneymuxw Market Gas Bar in Cedar. They have close to 55 staff, and it is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors, with a Senior Management Team for each subsidiary.
PDG’s head office is at 1145 Totem Road in the Snuneymuxw Recreation and Wellness Centre