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By Don Douloff
AJAX, Ont. — The renovation of the 4,500-square-foot ground-floor lobby area at the 133-room Hilton Garden Inn Toronto/Ajax provides an object lesson in the virtues and rewards of staying scrupulously on-brand.
“Project Grow was designed to bring the spirit of a backyard or garden party into the lobby,” said the hotel’s general manager Jimmy Chan. “This creates a space where guests can relax with a book, talk with friends or work on their own or with a group.” Project Grow’s three goals, said Chan, included “increasing guests’ connection to our brand, which drives increased loyalty; setting us apart from competitors; and increasing food and beverage sales from the entire pavilion.”
Additionally, the renovation sought to differentiate the hotel from the adjoining Homewood Suites by Hilton Ajax.
Completed in September, 2014, at a cost of over $450,000, the project was spearheaded by Royal Design Inc. Based in Newmarket, Ont., and founded 12 years ago by Jolanta Lukus, Royal Design specializes in renovations and new builds in the hospitality sector. For the Hilton Garden Inn project, Lukus worked in conjunction with Chan and Alfa Hoteliers Inc., the property’s ownership group.
The Hilton Garden Inn renovation focused on the lobby, reception area, Garden Grille & Bar restaurant, and meeting and event spaces (2,500-square-foot ballroom and three small boardrooms). As Lukus noted, one of the main goals was to produce a “relaxing space” via “natural, organic” design elements. To that end, just off the lobby, the conservatory room, which can serve as a function room or business centre, according to Lukus, features a communal glass-topped table fashioned from a cut-through tree trunk.
Also featuring prominently in the lobby is an oversized fireplace, whose base features stone-like grey-toned tile, while in a corner, a funky oval coffee table, finished in silver, mimics the look of an oversized garden rock. Cabana drapes, echoing an outdoor patio look, adorn the cupola at the entrance. Lanterns continue the theme.
Also part of the desired esthetic is “leafy” elements, a motif realized in green, brown and taupe on the carpet, drapes and on soft seating. Dark brown furniture and millwork bring a richly contrasting visual element. Bolder still are purple and fuchsia accents on artwork photos, soft seating and wall coverings.
Purple and fuchsia also carry through to the dining area, where the powerful purples feature on soft seating and leafy background accents. The buffet, in the breakfast area, features a central island serving station that doubles as a chef’s table.
Brand-dictated graphics, realized in acrylic panels, adorn the reception area, bringing visual consistency with other Hilton Garden properties. “Guests expect certain features at the brand,” noted Lukus.
Post-renovation, “Project Grow makes the lobby a more open space, with many different seating options,” said Chan. “The space is designed to encourage guests to spend more time in the area. In the past, guests rarely left their rooms after checking-in.” Now, guests are spending more time in the lobby — working, having a meeting or spending time with friends, said Chan.
For more before and after photos, see www.canadianlodgingnews.com.