Vancouver’s growing tourism industry is becoming better equipped to host guests for longer, with the launch of the Residence Inn by Marriott Vancouver Downtown, the first branded, designated extended-stay hotel in the city.
Located near the corner of Hornby and Davie Streets, the 201-room all-suite hotel is owned and operated by SilverBirch Hotels and Resorts, which invested $25 million and 10 months to convert the Cascadia Hotel and Suites into a Residence Inn. Each suite offers free Wi-Fi and in-room high-speed Internet access, fully equipped kitchenettes, enhanced work desks, ergonomically designed chairs, luxury bedding and complimentary breakfast. The hotel also hosts the on-site restaurant, Cavino — which serves coffee and pastries in the morning and wine and tapas in the evening — as well as an indoor heated pool, an outdoor terrace garden and 2,196-sq.-ft. of meeting space.
Residence Inn opened its doors in 1975 in the U.S. as the first extended-stay hotel brand. Today, there are 625 Residence Inns on four continents, including 19 in Canada, with seven more in the pipeline.
Extended stay is a huge part of Marriott’s growth strategy, says Scott Allison, Toronto-based VP of Canadian Operations, Marriott Hotels & Resorts of Canada at a recent media roundtable held in Vancouver to introduce the brand to the city. “Our goal in Canada is to have at least eight more Residence Inns within the next couple of years,” he says, adding Canada offers “unlimited potential” for Residence Inns. “At the moment we’re building in such urban markets as Calgary, Saskatoon and St. John’s, N.L. We’re also looking at resort markets, such as Niagara Falls and Whistler,” he says. Franchisee partners in Canada include SilverBirch, Concord Hospitality, Atlific Hotels and the Easton’s Group of Hotels.
Currently, the brand enjoys an occupancy rate of 83 per cent, says Diane Mayer, VP and global brand manager. She says that’s about 10 per cent higher than other brands at the same price point. Competitors include traditional hotels, apartment hotels, and such extended-stay brands such as Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites.
Mayer says there is a tremendous demand for extended-stay hotel rooms. “One-third of all business travel is extended-stay, and three-quarters of those travellers are looking for good-quality hotels that are purpose-built for extended-stay.” Drivers for extended-stay hotel rooms include corporate headquarters, regional offices, conventions, tradeshows, hospitals, universities, technology companies and government.
Looking ahead, Mayer says Residence Inn needs to stay fresh with its product as the economy improves. “The average age of travellers will start to drop,” she explains. “They have different expectations from the boomers who are leaving the travel market. They demand the latest in technology. And they want fresh, new designs.”
Allison adds there is potential for franchisees to own more Residence Inn properties. “Most owners of Residence Inn properties in Canada own more than one,” he says. “We like to work with companies that have a track record.” Plus, the Residence Inn growth strategy is to concentrate on areas that already feature full-service Marriotts. “We don’t want to be the first Marriott in a market,” said Allison. “We like to follow the flag of another Marriott brand.”