Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Hotels On West Portage Avenue

In the last year, as noted in these pages, there has been a flurry of private businesses upgrading or building hotels from the ground up. West Portage Avenue is the latest to see some big changes.

Unlike the U.S, where national hotel brand names proliferate in select areas, Winnipeg has been known for regional city hotels. While these hotels might be affiliated with major reservations systems, they have retained their unique name and design status. The examples in Winnipeg abound: Norwood Hotel, Assiniboine Gordon Hotel and the Viscount Gort.

The Downs Motor Inn was one such regional hotel. In the last years, it has taken on the name-brand of Howard Johnson Express hotel. The 43 room hotel now has some new owners who seek to expand the hotel and take advantage of the attractions in the west of the city.

For years the main attraction was Assiniboia Downs Racetrack and the John Blumberg Golf Course. Hence, the old name Downs Motor Inn. The list of attractions has increased quite a bit. The Red River Ex, Adrenaline Adventures and the new MTS Iceplex are all drawing increasing numbers of people.

The sense that the area is a destination point has been recognized by others. Two other hotel projects are presently underway. A 70 room Motel 6 is nearing completion in Headingley close to the very busy Flying J gas station. The Motel 6 looks a little lonely where it presently sits but the whole stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway is being transformed by a divided road that will help commercial development. Also, being built is a 110 room Best Western hotel in that section of road.

Alongside the Howard Johnson Express inside the Perimeter Highway is a Canada 1 Hotel. If the name seems confusing, it is because it was a Super 8 Hotel until recently. I can't even find a listing of the hotel online but there it is: rebranded.

Just off the top of my head, I'd say the greatest influence on hotels in the area has to be the MTS Iceplex. It will be hosting large tournaments for years to come and teams will need places to stay. I expect we may not have seen the last of hotels being built in the area.

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One Man Committee said...

I think Winnipeg was somewhat unusual among North American cities in that until recently, the suburban hotel market (apart from the airport area) seemed quite underserved. That's starting to change as smaller hotels pop up on the periphery of the city. Personally, I'd like to see more hotel rooms downtown given the economic impact that hotel guests bring to an area - hopefully the SHED development planned for around the MTS Centre will include a hotel component.

John Dobbin said...

There seems to be a boutique hotel concept talked about for across the street to the MTS Centre. That would be a good start to that development.

I think of hoteliers are likely awaiting what will happen with the Convention Centre.