Friday, October 29, 2010

Radisson Hotel Downtown

Two views of the Radisson Hotel Downtown Winnipeg

In the last year, under the new ownership of the Canad Inns, the Radisson Hotel Downtown has undergone a $5 million renovation of its rooms. Reviews have improved in the last year of the hotel itself.

One Man Committee wrote about the downtown hotels as well as some of the newer airport hotels going up on October 25.

I wrote about some of the new hotels back in July. They are still under construction and I will try and get some pictures soon of them.

I agree with him that construction of hotels downtown has hit a slow patch.

Winnipeg, unlike many places in North America, has never really had a hotel district. They are spread out all over the place.

We have been seeing a little more of a congregation of hotels in the airport/Polo Park area. That is not surprising given that this is the main retail area of the city and one of the place that would attract out of town guests.

I remember when the Northstar Inn (now the Radisson) was built in 1971.

Here is a commercial for it from 1980.

Of interest to note, parking was free back then. Today for guests, I hear it is $10.

I used to go the Northstar Cinema in the basement of the hotel through much of the 1970s and 1980s. For a time, it was the most modern theatres in the city and it is where I saw Star Wars in 1977. I can remember line-ups out the door and around the corner.

There were times during the summer when you could see lines for the Northstar, the Capitol, the Garrick and the Metropolitan all on the same night.

The Polo Park Cinema in the basement paled in comparison. I hardly went there in all the years it was open.

The North Star had great screens, great seats and the best sound in those years.

I would park in the parkade that towered over Portage Avenue. I knew several people who were terrified of that parking lot but that is where I would park my Plymouth Suburban station wagon that was the length of what the Cineplex Odeon used to be in Eaton Place.

The building was under construction starting in 1968 but fell way behind schedule. There was a flurry of building in that period with hotels and offices going up all over the downtown, albeit spread out from one another. Th hotel opened in 1971 officially but the theater and parking lot were up and running before that if I recall correctly.

The proximity to the MTS Centre is a plus for the Radisson. My personal view is that Canad Inns owner would do well to promote that fact in its other center of business operations, namely Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Our tourism promotion in North Dakota and Minnesota is negligent. Tourism info should run weekly in the Fargo Forum and Grand Forks Herald. Instead of going to concerts in Minneapolis, students and other folks from our southern neighbours should look to their friend to the north.

We have to put on our best face, gussy up our hotels and deliver a message that we are open for visitors.

The idea of an arts and entertainment area around the MTS Centre is not a bad idea. It is what the area used to be like when the movie theatres were on north and south Portage.

I think that if the focus is on enhancing that idea, we might see additional hotels and boutique hotels at that.

Till then, I hope the Radisson Hotel continues to spruce up its little corner of Portage Avenue.

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