General manager, Mathieu Larochelle and Karyne Lortie, director of Sales and Marketing

When Humaniti Hotel Montreal opened its doors in the summer of 2021, general manager Mathieu Larochelle was concerned that COVID-19 restrictions would keep the hotel from showing its true self.

“Philosophically, one of our biggest challenges is that our property was created with a sense of community in mind,” says Larochelle. “And, with all the restrictions the pandemic has thrown at us, we haven’t had the opportunity to fully bring that spirit to life.”

But while this has been a challenging time for travel, Montrealers have embraced the hotel. “We’ve hosted many staycations and intimate celebrations. Our goal is to be a respite from people’s everyday lives,” says Larochelle. “We call ourselves a next-generation hotel for true citizens of the world. The property appeals to travellers who seek something out of the ordinary.”

The first Marriott Autograph Collection hotel in the province of Quebec, the 193-room Humaniti is centrally located across the street from the Palais des congrès and within a few blocks of the Quartier des spectacles and Old Montreal. And while no formal relationship is in place with the convention centre, the hotel does work closely with the Palais team and Tourism Montreal to accommodate visitors to the Palais des congrès.

The property is part of the $400-million Humaniti complex, a fully connected environment combining retail, residential living and commercial office space with the new hotel concept.

With architecture by Quebec-based Lemay and ultra-modern interiors by Andres Escobar of New York-based Lemay + Escobar, the hotel has been described as “an oasis within the city.” Each guestroom and suite is designed as a light-filled sanctuary, ranging in size from the 334-sq.-ft. ‘HOP’ room to the sprawling 1,200 sq. ft., fully appointed ‘HERO’ suite; 177 guestrooms feature a single king bed or two-queen bed configuration, in addition to the 16 suites and rates start at $299 a night.

“We think of ourselves as a city within a building,” says Karyne Lortie, director of Sales & Marketing for the hotel. “Humaniti is a European-inspired, mixed-use development and is the city’s first Smart Vertical Community.”

Without having to leave Humaniti, guests have access to multiple dining spaces, recreational spaces, a fresh market, onsite bakery, state-of-the art meeting and events spaces and more.

Boasting the city’s only outdoor rooftop pool, Humaniti also features a two-level gym, Spa Humaniti and h3 Restaurant and Lounge, which features local cuisine, a unique wine program and avant-garde mixology. H3 is one of three distinct dining concepts conceived by executive chef Jean-Sébastien Giguère.

“h3 restaurant is the hotel’s flagship dining space celebrating Quebec’s famed culinary culture,” says Larochelle. “The vast wine cellar, prominently on view for guests to enjoy, features some 4,000 bottles under the supervision of sommelier Hugo Duchesne. In February, Hugo placed second in the Best Sommelier of the Americas 2022 during a competition hosted in Chile. It’s a huge honour and we’re thrilled to have him on our team.”

In keeping with the property’s dedication to reduce consumption, h3 also practices self-sustainability where possible. “They raise their own chickens for the eggs, have maple syrup from their sugar shack, have bees for honey and even grow fresh herbs on the property that are used in a variety of dishes and cocktails,” says Lortie.

Humaniti Hotel has taken the concept of wellness to the next level. The entire complex was conceived and designed by the team at Lemay as a “multi-sensory ecosystem for human experiences to thrive,” says Larochelle, highlighting the property’s vibrant living wall, an indoor vertical garden that provides fresh greens to the kitchen, paperless rooms and local, sustainable products in the spa. “Our fitness centre features NOHrD sustainable fitness equipment constructed from wood, and more. We’re always considering how we can make hospitality more sustainable.”

Recently, the residential component that forms part of the Humaniti Complex achieved WELL certification (a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being) and the entire complex is aiming for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. “These prestigious international designations illustrate how deep our commitment to sustainability is starting with construction to execution,” says Lortie.

While COVID made the process of opening a new hotel a significant challenge, Lortie says it also gave the Humaniti team several incredible opportunities to connect with Montreal’s creative community. “The hotel features an impressive collection of art and that’s something that all guests are able to appreciate, regardless of the pandemic restrictions. The majority of our collection features work by local artists from Quebec and Canada. The most prominent piece stands outside the hotel, the colourful tree-shaped sculpture by Quebec artist Marc Sequin. It’s amazing to watch people gather to take photos by this stunning new landmark.”

The artist was inspired by the work of another famed Quebec artist, the legendary Jean-Paul Riopelle, whose landmark fountain sits outside the hotel in the public square named after him and the colours he uses are a nod to Riopelle.

Hitting the Target
According to Lorti, the response to Humaniti Hotel’s opening has been “fantastic — we weren’t sure what to expect last summer, but the response was big. Guests loved our outdoor spaces — from the rooftop pool to cocktails on the terrasse. The local community fully embraced Spa Humaniti and see it as an oasis of calm to soothe their stressed-out lives,” she says, adding the majority of the summer business is leisure travellers, while business travellers make up the bulk of guests the remainder of the year.

Since opening, Larochelle says the hotel has regularly met its occupancy targets, with summer occupany currently sitting at about 75 per cent. “But certainly, as we move forward into summer, we’re seeing our numbers rise quickly. This is a promising sign. We believe there is a huge pent-up demand for travel, and with the easing of restrictions and the return of our famous festivals, we look forward to welcoming even more visitors to our hotel.”

On the flipside, he says, “it’s fair to say that staffing is a challenge for everyone in the hospitality industry and we are no exception. However, we have an amazing, dedicated team [of 150 staff] that show-up every day ready to greet guests and create positive, memorable moments. We couldn’t do this without them.”

By Amy Bostock


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