By Colleen Isherwood, editor
GODERICH, ON—In 2011, the same year a tornado decimated downtown Goderich, ON, a fire devastated The Bluffs Motel just outside of town. The Bluffs had recently been purchased by the Shah family and they had almost completed renovations of the 22-unit property when it burned to the ground one winter night.
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Three years and countless insurance headaches later, the Shahs have reopened a hotel called the Dreamz Inn on the same site.
There is nothing ordinary about this 26-room, $3.5 million hotel. Himansu Shah, who owns the property along with his wife Deepa, brother Deven and sister-in-law Sonal, has a background in design and architecture from India.
“It’s all about the architecture and the detailing of rooms for guests and the hospitality that comes very naturally to my family,” he told CLN on a recent tour of the property.
“My brother and I thought that this is a very beautiful area, with a lot of people coming from bigger cities to enjoy the tranquility of Huron County—Goderich, Bayfield and Grand Bend.
“We decided to come up with a beautiful designer contemporary hotel using the landscape of Huron County countryside, still being outside the ‘prettiest town in Canada,’ Goderich.” (Goderich’s downtown is now almost completely rebuilt following the tornado.)
Building started a year ago in March and went smoothly, with the hotel completed by the end of January. It is the first new-build hotel in the area in many years.
As a designer, Shah had two ideas in mind—the hotel would have nothing ordinary and nothing beige. “It’s not just another Hampton or Marriott,” he said. Another reason to incorporate colour is that “this country witnesses extended periods of gloomy weather conditions and colour brings a sense of bright warmth to every person who walks in the doors.”
The concentration on colour starts with the exterior of the hotel, which is painted red, with accent panels of blue, yellow, purple, orange and green.
The front lobby features a statue made up of tiny mirrors that sparkle when the sun hits it the right way. The lobby’s front desk and seating area are both bright red.
The theme carries over to the complimentary breakfast room (pictured below), with its wavy panels and back lighting on the ceiling, yellow accent wall, vibrant paintings and floral centrepieces on each table.
Guestrooms are all suite-style and include accessible rooms. In each room, the coffee tables are custom-designed, sofas are all-leather and brightly coloured, and each room has a fireplace or a lighting accent; a designer caddy for the remote; reading lights attached to leather headboards; two pillow choices, foam and soft; microwaves and fridges with freezers. Each closet has gently-sliding opaque doors, specially-designed hangers, a shoe rack and a safe. The premium Jacuzzi and honeymoon suites (pictured below) include chocolates and a heart-shaped pillow.
Outdoors, Dreamz Inn features a court suitable for playing basketball, tennis, volleyball or badminton. There’s an indoor pool and hot tub, fitness centre and on-site laundry.
Once the winter weather finally disappears, Dreamz Inn will boast yet another splash of colour—the 6,000 tulips the Shahs have planted in their landscaped backyard.
The Shahs came to Canada in 2004, settling in Goderich because it offered a good environment for raising their children. They also own the Harmony Inn, closer to town. “Dreamz Inn is our commitment to our community,” Shah said.