Prestige Hotel comes to town:
Spearheading a new seaside ambience
MapleLine Magazine: Nov. 3, 2010 update Jan 17, 2011
Story & photos by Mary P. Brooke
SOOKE, BC. Visible change to the land began with a fire in the fall of 2009 – buildings on the West Coast property adjacent to Sooke Harbour Marina and Jock’s Dock were torched by the Sooke Fire Rescue Service as part of firefighter training. The land was leveled in places and large trees cut down. And that’s where the new Prestige Oceanfront Resort & Convention Centre Sooke is now being built.
The vision of a colonial style hotel rising up from the shore jarred some residents at public meetings last year and there have been debates about the agreements between the District of Sooke and Prestige Hotels. But it’s clear that the new 122-room hotel (set to open in March 2011) will ignite a financial boost for Sooke as a seaside tourist destination. Aiming to please a wide range of visitors, even the guest suites will have four distinctive styles – island colonial, tropical, metropolitan, and opulent – one style on each level of the east and west buildings. Central areas of the facility are the lobby (on the 2nd level), the restaurants, the convention area, and the activity areas including fitness centre, indoor pool and spa. Food services will include an open sushi-bar as well as a grill-style restaurant. A large ballroom/conference room that can seat 400 is a grand space, entered from a seaside foyer. Behind that (out of view) are the kitchen and laundry facilities. An interesting real estate twist is a 2-bedroom unit for sale on the top floor as a 2,200 sq.ft. private residence with ocean views.
Who is behind this grand architectural experience? Prestige Hotels & Resorts is owned by the Huber family of Kelowna, BC who have built and operated 10 hotels in BC for over 20 years. Rudy Wiens of Fintry Contracting has been the exclusive building contractor since the 1990s; he will hold the supervisory reins in Sooke until the hotel is ready. VP of operations Tanya Stroinig (with Prestige for over 12 years) will soon move to Sooke to oversee project progress to the opening and beyond.
When MapleLine toured the construction site’s hard hat zone on a cool bright day in October there were about 80 workers on site doing mechanical, electrical, exterior finishing, drywall, carpentry and roofing. The first two levels of the building are steel and concrete construction, with the remainder of the storeys being completed in wood frame. The ‘east and west wings’ (aka Buildings 1 and 2) hold the 122 guest rooms including some 1-bedroom suites and a honeymoon suite. Some front end suites can be combined three-across to sleep 12, with access to a wrap-around veranda overlooking the ocean. On the fifth floor are 28 view penthouses. The granite and marble on this top level is the design influence of Hilda Schneider, one of the family members who own the property; Hilda is overseeing guest room and lobby design while design consultant Janice Zazula is responsible for exterior detail design and the ballroom.
There is a fair degree of business integration. The restaurants will be managed by business franchises, including Rick’s Grill from Whistler (for a casual family fare during the day, turning more intimate by evening with dimmed lights and booths for private functions). A contracted food service provider will operate a food and beverage service within the spa area. Massages and mani-pedis at the spa will be provided by contracted practitioners, not hotel staff.
Upbeat layout design features such as a custom shape indoor pool and sets of three guestrooms that can share a deck for entertaining are bound to be highlights of those who visit at the new hotel.
With a $15 million construction price tag the Sooke Prestige will be the signature property for the chain, says Stroinig. “The location makes it a destination resort still with proximity to Victoria. The scope of amenities and services will be appealing,” she says. Indoor-outdoor spaces including verandas, upper terrace and lower pavilion area lend special interest. A full oceanview athletic club will be open to locals and room guests.
In Spring 2011 there will be an opening special rate and a locals rate. The District of Sooke may book any of the meeting room areas on behalf of local non-profit groups. Understandably some of the local businesses who offer food services, spa and athletic recreational services may take an initial hit as people try out the Prestige for a new experience. The hotel management hopes to work cooperatively with smaller local establishments. The extensive marketing by Prestige Hotels will, overall, bring an increased influx of visitors to Sooke which ultimately helps all businesses in the area.
Once Prestige is open for business there is no turning back. Their significant force will help drive the local economy forward. It’s good timing, as the world economy grinds through its slow recovery and more travellers find the west shores of Vancouver Island. MM
Construction update (photo of Prestige Hotel still under development, Nov.28/10):
Link to: Chronological Events re Public Boat Launch and District of Sooke Agreement with Sooke Prestige Hotel
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