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By Jonathan Zettel
VICTORIA, BC—After a decade of vision and planning, the team behind Accent Inns has launched a funky one-off brand in Victoria, BC designed to stand out from the crowd.
The 62-room Hotel Zed opened for business in May as a property stamped with the vibrant colours and retro-chic of the 1960s and 70s.
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“It’s quite a departure from Accent Inns, so it was a real challenge to get my shareholders to look at this and invest money in a dated property,” Accent Inns president and chief executive officer Mandy Farmer told CLN.
Keeping with the modernized retro theme, guests of the hotel can be shuttled around town for free inside a revamped 1967 Volkswagen Bus, listen to indie-rock vinyl records or play ping-pong in the hotel lounge.
Each room contains a television, a mini-fridge, a working rotary phone, a retro alarm clock, a refurbished 1960s government-issued desk and locally-sourced artwork.
The property offers several room options: The King for a Night room, has one king-sized bed; The ZED 2 Bed room has two queen beds; The Bachelor Pad has one queen bed; and The Sweet Suite has two queen beds, a pull-out sofa and a kitchenette designed for families.
There are no coffeemakers inside the rooms, which Farmer said is an attempt to get people out of the rooms and socializing in the main lobby where coffee is served.
The rooms also contain free Wi-Fi and a media hub so guests can plug in tablets, smartphones or laptops to watch movies on the television. Or for less tech-inclined visitors, each room contains a collection of family-friendly comic books.
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Farmer said she hopes to celebrate the grand opening in the spring of 2015, after the onsite restaurant, Ruby’s Diner, is up and running. Currently, a parking variance is stalling the opening of the diner.
“[The diner operators] are going to make sure it is such a hit with the locals that we get it packed in there, so that will create a vibe for the whole property,” Farmer said.
The property has saunas and an indoor/outdoor pool with sliding glass doors that can be closed off in the colder months. A bubblegum painted water slide will be operational all year round. “It’s not for the faint of heart,” Farmer said. “It really whips you around, so that’s a huge hit with families and those who are young at heart.”
The project, Farmer said, was not without its pitfalls, including finding asbestos in the walls during renovations and having to environmentally remove a leaking oil tank beneath one of the pool decks.
“It’s been an absolutely amazing experience for me to learn,” Farmer said.
The property opened while the site was still under construction and Farmer said it remains to be seen if the project is a success.
“Usually the first year is a bit of a struggle, especially with a brand new name and a new project,” she said. “We hope that next year will be a better snapshot of the business.”
The property is pet, motorcycle and bicycle friendly with designated pet rooms and secure spaces to lock up bikes and motorcycles.
According to Farmer, it was difficult coming up with a name, with several options being turned down by focus groups. Finally, she said they decided on the short punchy name of Hotel Zed because it has rebellious connotations, there is a ‘Z’ in the site’s postal code and it is the Canadian/British pronunciation of the last letter of the alphabet.
“This has been a labour of love—for a decade I’ve wanted to do this,” Farmer said.