By Colleen Isherwood, Editor
BANFF, Alta. — When Canalta purchased the Voyager Hotel in 2016, they always envisioned a boutique retro take on Banff because of the hotel's midcentury modern architecture. They have chosen Marriott's Moxy brand to bring that vision to life.
“We entertained soft brands under Hilton or Marriott to make it into an interesting boutique concept,” Brooke Christianson, executive vice-president at Canalta, told CLN at the recent Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association conference.
“We chose Moxy because we liked the direction of the brand with its focus on a younger demographic. The fact that it is lighter on food and heavier on beverage made it a good fit for the market and type of traveller we want to attract. It was a good way for us to stand out from the crowd and be different from what Banff has to offer. It will still be a boutique, retro Banff ski hotel and also appeal to the guests we want.
“Plus it's the first Moxy in Canada.” Being part of the Marriott system — a first for Canalta — was a bonus as well.
The 88-room Voyager Inn opened in 1964 as the first commercial motor hotel built in Banff. “We will be doing a very extensive renovation, taking it down to the bones and adding 12 rooms and underground parking to the back.” They will take some meeting space from the original building to make some lofts, for a total of 106 rooms.
One key feature will be the bar. “Guests can check in at the bar,” Christianson said. “We'll have a large and very interesting heated pool and hot tub in the courtyard. It will be an activated area with fireplaces. There's a pool there now, but it will be redone.” There will also be a big emphasis on games in the lobby.
The rooftop will also be a “pretty awesome space with a bar and fire pits,” said Christianson, adding that there's nothing there now. “The view will be amazing. It will offer a chance for guests to get outside all year, with fun, games and family activities.”
The rooftop will also be available for events, small weddings and corporate parties. The bar will be enclosed and the rest open. There will also be see-through igloos, plus a rooftop hot tub, steam room and sauna. This spa area will be branded.
“The rooms will be really cool,” said Christianson. “We will turn beds into daybeds. There will be a lot of unconventional room layouts such as toe-to-toe queens and bunk beds. It's fairly prototypical of Moxy rooms, which utilize space in a smart way. There's also a peg way to hang things, including hanging furniture.”
Canalta plans to start renovations in November, staying open as much as possible until the renovations are completed by May 2021. This hotel is a first for Drumheller, Alta.-based Canalta, which owns and operates 44 hotels. The family-owned company is working with MTA Architects of Calgary and the design team of Workshop/APD of New York.
“We call it Retro meets Banff meet Moxy,” Christianson said.
Worldwide, Moxy has 37 open properties and 102 pipeline properties, with 7,577 open rooms and 18,798 in the pipeline, according to the brand's development website data for 2018.