Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 01/9/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 01/9/2014 6:45 AM | Updates
When the Lakeview group acquired the rights to build a new hotel across the entranceway from Winnipeg's stylish new airport terminal, the edict came down from above that the hotel would have to meet some pretty strict style and service requirements.
Keith Levit, the president of Lakeview Hospitality, the owner of the Grand Winnipeg Airport Hotel by Lakeview, believes they have hit all the marks.
The $23-million, six-storey, 101-room luxury boutique hotel has its grand opening today but guests have already been staying at the hotel since late April and giving it rave reviews.
The hotel features all sorts of understated design features -- including a different photographic mural in every room by Levit himself, an acclaimed photographer -- and high-tech innovations and Winnipeg firsts such as an iPad in every room and complimentary Netflix.
In half the rooms, hotel guests get a dramatic view of takeoffs and landings on the south runways of Richardson International Airport through amazingly soundproof floor-to-ceiling windows.
A first-of-its-kind automated Starbucks barista sits in the lobby, and Keurig coffee machines are in all the rooms.
The top-notch Blue Marble Restaurant and Lounge features its own herb and micro-greens cultivator, and each menu selection includes locally grown Manitoba produce.
Hotel manager John Pisker -- who also runs the 149-room Sheraton Four Points next door -- said it is designed to be a Winnipeg destination restaurant, not just a hotel amenity. Local guests receive parking validation so don't need to worry about expensive airport parking rates.
"Barry (Rempel, CEO of the Winnipeg Airports Authority) said he did not want a Motel 6," said Levit. "It had to be a high-end hotel."
Levit consulted the people at the Hyatt and Westin groups, but they were not interested.
"They said first of all, Winnipeg is a challenge and secondly, we need to have more than 130 rooms," said Levit.
The Grand's 101 rooms are about as big as the property footprint would allow.
"Then we went to the chains and got these classy brochures of second-tier hotels that the chains would allow us to build here," said Levit. "But Rempel said that was not good enough."
Eventually he called Rempel and told him of his predicament. He happened to catch him at the Metropolitan Soho Hotel in downtown Toronto and Rempel said it was the kind of luxury boutique hotel he was looking for.
Levit said he looked at that property and realized he would not need any national brand affiliation. "I realized we could do this ourselves," he said.
Levit's family-owned business also owns and operates Lakeview resorts in Gimli and Hecla as well as the Sheraton Four Points next door to the Grand. It is also the management team behind Lakeview Hotel Investment Corp., which owns and operates about 20 properties across the country.
But this one is clearly a labour of love. Levit has infused a lot of personal attention in this property -- and not just his own dramatic photography throughout the hotel.
And according to Trip Advisor reviews, the travelling public is giving it an early thumbs-up.
So has the WAA's Rempel, who obviously knows a thing or two about airport hotels. "I think we have a great hotel that will provide exactly the kind of service people have been asking us for," Rempel said. "If you hit that right niche you can do very well."
For Rempel, that means an airport hotel that travelling executives can conveniently stay at and comfortably meet with clients and associates.
"This is the kind of hotel that matches the personality and character of not just the terminal but our aspirations as a community. It's exactly what we were looking for."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 9, 2014 B3
Updated on Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 6:45 AM CST: Changes headline, replaces photo, adds slideshow
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
With radicalism in spotlight, new spy powers
City can't afford rival's promises: Wasylycia-Leis
U-Haul workers find deceased infants inside 'delinquent storage locker'
Jets apply tourniquet
Jets boss Maurice mad enough to start cussing
Drew Willy back at practice, cheering up Coach O'Shea
Bowman says voting for him is only way to stop Judy W-L
Who's your mayor?
Drop by News Café on election night
Neighbours say man shot by police had changed
Ouellette says disaffected aboriginal and young people have helped increase his support
Toys R Us pulls 'Breaking Bad' dolls
Steeves again slams rivals' rapid transit plans, saying they will need a tax hike
Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee dies
Suspect in terror-linked attack arrested in July
Alcohol may be a factor in crash on Trans-Canada Highway near Oak Lake
Ticats sign running back Nic Grigsby
Dangerous pandering to public on Ebola
Don't break my stride, MPs tell police
Debate over ethics of deleting negative reviews
One of two officers acquitted of attempted murder staying with WPS
Be wary of using surplus, PBO tells Ottawa
Dog killed in Brandon house fire
Jets make roster changes for Hurricanes game to turn around recent nosedive
Where have all the mayors gone?
Unfazed by poll dip: Judy W-L
Ottawa launches drone safety blitz
Body found in river identified as man missing since August
St. Boniface selected as finalist in Great Places in Canada contest
From Kors to DVF, fashion mourns de la Renta
Sanders makes last-minute plea to voters as poll shows his support has all but vanished
Oscar Pistorius sentenced to 5 years in prison
KE kids returning to school Wednesday
Father-killer seeks freedom
Vision: n. ability to plan or form policy in a far-sighted way
EIC sells U.S. cell tower company, retains Canadian operations
Investigated cop suing police, fellow officer
HSC shows off special isolation rooms
Canadians' favourite chip Jalapeno Mac 'N Cheese