Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Airport area set to soar

Hampton Inn tip of iceberg

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Winnipeg's airport region has another new hotel in development and may see several more over the next few years.

The newest is a $19-million, six-storey, 135-room Hampton Inn Winnipeg Airport hotel that has started construction on Berry Street south of Wellington Avenue and is expected to be completed by early 2013.

Anupam Kothari, one of the developers and owners of the franchised business said he believes his new hotel will satisfy some unmet demand in the market for new, high-quality hotels.

"One of the reasons we like the Winnipeg market is that we feel there is a need for world-class hotels here," said Kothari. "In the next three to four years we expect there will be seven to eight world-class hotels built in Winnipeg but still we believe there is a huge need."

Kothari and his partner, Nizar Mawani, own a mid-priced Sheraton Hotel in Cambridge, Ont., and operate a successful real estate and finance business from their headquarters in Mississauga, Ont.

Their new Hampton Inn Winnipeg Airport will feature free hot breakfasts and high-speed Internet access in the lobby and each guest's room will include a flat-screen HD TV, a fridge and a microwave.

With 1,900 Hampton Inns already on the market, it is one of the fastest-growing hotel brands in the world. Part of the larger Hilton Worldwide hotel group, there are three different versions of the mid-priced Hampton Hotels -- Hampton Inn, Hampton Inn by Hilton and Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton.

There are 35 in Canada with another 15 in development, including the one in Winnipeg.

Jim Baker, president & CEO of the Manitoba Hotel Association, said it's always good when new name-brand properties enter the market because it means more choice for consumers and business travellers.

Jeff Curry, director of development in Eastern Canada for Hilton Worldwide, said there are all sorts of demand-generators in the Winnipeg market that would inspire new hotel developments here, such as the return of the Winnipeg Jets, the development of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the new IKEA store.

And even though there have been a lot of new hotel rooms built in the last few years in the Winnipeg market, Curry said newer properties have the edge over older ones.

"We look at the demand that's currently in place versus the supply that's being offered," Curry said. "If supply is a substandard supply and the demand is still there then there is an opportunity to replace the substandard product with newer product. That's not to say those (older) hotels will disappear from the system but they will slowly but surely start to trickle away as newer and better product comes onto the market."

There was formerly a Hampton Inn on Main Street that has been re-branded Humphry Inn. Curry said it was an old prototype design that was part of a legacy Hampton Inn concept prior to Hilton's acquisition of the chain in 1999.

Keith Levit, president of Lakeview Management Inc., agrees there is an unprecedented amount of new rooms being built in Winnipeg.

Lakeview owns the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel across from the old Winnipeg terminal and is building the $20-million, six-storey, 80-room Grand Winnipeg Airport Hotel that's under construction across the road from the new Richardson International Airport terminal.

"It will be a challenge for the older properties," he said. "The newer properties get the business and the older ones will suffer."

He said they will have to invest in their properties or reduce rates to keep their business.

Baker said Winnipeg's airport-region market is growing so quickly because, in addition to catering to the air-traveller market, the region is also close to the Polo Park shopping region.

In addition to Lakeview's Grand Hotel and the new Hampton Inn, there is a $14-million conversion of the former Howard Johnson Hotel into a Holiday Inn, all being developed near the airport.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 24, 2012 B4

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