So long, Maryland Hotel – Amarjeet Warraich hardly knew ye.
Amarjeet, along with his brother-in-law Baljinder Randhawa, recently reopened the revamped hotel 690 Notre Dame Ave. under its new banner, Econo Lodge, last November.
Since purchasing the hotel in 2001, the pair has been slowly working towards fixing the hotel’s less than favourable reputation in an attempt to capture the healthcare travel market with the Health Sciences Centre across the street.
"It gives you a great feeling once you’ve seen all the change," said Warraich, who lives in Linden Ridge.
Gone are the stained carpets and walls — replaced with $1.8 million in renovations to each of the hotel’s 60 rooms, including carpeting and furniture, as well as new electrical and plumbing systems.
"Everything went into the garbage. It’s a fresh start," Warraich said.
The two have also added two meeting rooms on the main floor, a continental breakfast area with room to expand into a full restaurant, and plans are in the works to add banquet facilities in the hotel’s basement.
That’s on top of ridding the hotel of its strip bar and moving its beer vendor across the parking lot from the hotel.
Warraich, whose family has previously owned the Montcalm Hotel in Fort Richmond and the Dakota Hotel in St. Vital, said it was a conscious decision to purchase the old Maryland.
"Everyone at that time was running away from downtown," he said.
"We took it over and started to clean it up from Day 1. It’s good property and serves the people’s need and is clean.
"The community is our clientele. Why should they be sitting in a gutter?"
Though he’s only operating around 45% occupancy since reopening, Warraich believes the place will soon be full on a regular basis.
He’s keeping tabs on his parking lot, noting license plates from B.C., Ontario, Saskatchewan and the United States, which was a rarity before the renovated hotel opened.