First Canadian GLō opens in Kanata

Cutting the ribbon at GLō in Kanata. Photo courtesy of Nicole Sherwood, Mercury Publications.
Cutting the ribbon at GLō in Kanata. Photo courtesy of Nicole Sherwood, Mercury Publications.

By Colleen Isherwood, Editor

KANATA, Ont. — The barren plot of land had been in the family for a long time and the Shariffs knew they wanted to build a hotel. But that mandate became more urgent in 2016, when Arif Shariff’s father had some health problems. He told Arif that they should go to AAHOA, look at available brands and choose a flag.

HVS had told the Shariffs that the hotel would have to be “out of the box,” something that would really stand out in Kanata, which has been called the “Silicon Valley of Ottawa” because of its hi-tech industries. 

Arif Shariff addresses delegates at the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Arif Shariff addresses delegates at the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We went to AAHOA and saw different brands. We liked Tru by Hilton and we liked GLō,” said Shariff, president and CEO of NazNab Group of Companies, on a media tour of the hotel. “When I got back, I did some market research on those brands with my two teenage daughters, and they both picked GLō. Then I conducted my own focus group with their school friends, and 80 per cent selected GLō. 

“We signed a deal with Best Western, by fall 2016 we had the site plan approved, we broke ground in June 2017, and in November 2018, the hotel was activated by Best Western.”

The exterior of the hotel showing the lighting package.
The exterior of the hotel showing the lighting package.

While the hotel had its soft opening in late November, the official opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for this modern and energetic boutique brand was held earlier this month. The opening event was well attended with brand executives, local dignitaries, friends and families on hand.

The Shariff family is already well-known in the Ottawa area, as they opened the Days Inn Ottawa airport in 2002, and the Quality Inn Orleans in 2011. They also have a Boston Pizza franchise in Ottawa’s St. Laurent area. 

As Allan Hubley, city councillor for Kanata South, said at the hotel opening, “They had the first hotel at the airport, and the first hotel in Orleans and now they have the first GLō in all of Canada.”

GLō offers an iconic experience that connects guests with state-of-the-art technology and modernized designs. Designed with today’s traveller in mind, the addition of digital keys, a digital concierge, and communal workspaces position the GLō brand as a powerful innovator in the growing upper-midscale market. Already open in Asheville, North Carolina and DeSoto, Texas, GLō hotels are set to light up premier destinations across North America including Brooklyn, New York and Nashville, Tennessee.

Boutique hotels like this one have typically been limited to the luxury segment, Dorothy Dowling, SVP and chief marketing officer for Best Western, said in a media briefing before the opening. There was no presence in the upper-midscale segment, and GLō was created to be that product. “It’s developer-friendly, with a thoughtful design for a pretty discriminating traveller, a guest who wants to be productive.”

A king guest room at GLō showing suspended reading lamps.
A king guest room at GLō showing suspended reading lamps.

With innovative features such as a barn door that slides back and forth to provide privacy in the bathroom or cover up the closet, the hotel has boutique features, but is also pragmatic. The lighting package, both exterior and interior, is remarkable. Outside, the distinctive neon lighting package pays homage to the name, and adds safety and security to the premises. Inside, suspended bedside lighting makes it easy to read in bed, while large windows with natural lighting make it easy to work as well.

It’s features like these, plus the brand’s health and wellness theme, that make the brand attractive not only to millennials, but also to older travellers — whose travel aspirations shouldn’t be ignored. 

GLō ideas that work. Clockwise from upper left: oversized chairs (made in Winnipeg) on each floor; MODIO soothing background sound to help guests sleep; large room numbers with Braille for the visually impaired; and automatic door openers in the accessible rooms.
GLō ideas that work. Clockwise from upper left: oversized chairs (made in Winnipeg) on each floor; MODIO soothing background sound to help guests sleep; large room numbers with Braille for the visually impaired; and automatic door openers in the accessible rooms.

“Best Western is over-indexed among baby boomers and millennials,” said Dowling, noting that, “baby boomers are the fastest growing part of the labour force. Right now, one in three 65-72 year olds are employed full time, and soon that will be one in three.”

Travellers will immediately be drawn to the warmth of GLō Kanata Ottawa West with its welcoming lobby for unwinding or networking with colleagues and friends, meeting space, state-of-the-art 24-hour fitness centre, and guestrooms uniquely designed with a contemporary ambiance. Guests will wake refreshed after a restful sleep on gel-topped signature mattresses, enjoy stylish bath amenities and start their day with a complimentary full hot breakfast.

Located in Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa, this 69-room property is just a few miles away from the Canadian Tire Centre, home to the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. Kanata has a large number of high-tech industries, and federal government offices, including the Department of National Defense located nearby, are another source of business.

Guests are a short ride away from the Rideau Canal, Parliament Hill, Canadian Museum of History and ByWard Market, popular must-sees in the area. Ottawa is a suburban area with grand Victorian architecture and museums ideal for this upper-midscale brand, which has a strong pipeline of properties in secondary markets, complementing the urban locations of its sister brand, Vīb.