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TORONTO — At this year’s annual Canadian Hotel Investment Conference (CHIC), students from universities across Canada participated in the first ever #hotelNEXT competition. The tournament offered aspiring hotel developers an opportunity to pitch their hotel ideas to a panel of judges. Three lucky contestants were then selected as winners.

“CHIC has been running for 20 years, and in an effort to get more young people involved in our industry we created the #hotelNEXT competition,” says Charles Suddaby, vice-president of Hospitality & Gaming at Cushman & Wakefield, who led a group of industry representatives to create this contest. “The purpose was to try and bridge that gap between the hotel schools and the industry. It’s one thing to have students working for you, it’s another thing to have such competent students stand up in front of their industry leaders and demonstrate their ability and knowledge.”

This year, CHIC received seven submissions from six different universities. Each student had 15 minutes to present ideas for a future hotel concept. The criteria for the concept included creativity, competitiveness, differentiation, target market identification and return on investment. Prizes for first, second and third place were $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000, respectively.

First place went to Aaron Laurie (University of Guelph) and William Laurie (McMaster University) for designing Opshinns, a 200-room airport hotel to be located in Toronto. Second-place winners, Sarah O’Connor and Evangeline Sing (Mount Saint Vincent University), created the Vino Viña, a 50-room hotel concept focused on wine culture to be located in Annapolis Valley, N.S. Finally, third place was awarded to Colleen Black, Queenie Lai and Kelsey Perra (Thompson Rivers University) for The Hotel of All Sorts, a 60-room hotel inspired by the late Canadian artist, Emily Carr, to be located in Tofino, B.C.

“This year’s contest has helped industry leaders understand the creativity and talent of students studying at Canada’s hotel school programs,” says Orie Berlasso, conference producer and managing director of CHIC. “We are looking forward to launching a new project challenge for next year’s event that allows students to take hotel concepts to the next level for the future.”



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