WOODSTOCK, Ont. — The Holiday Inn Express and Suites Woodstock South, Ont., completed a $2 million renovation to IHG's Formula Blue standard at the end of March, just in time to implement the brand's new breakfast program as well.
The 87-room property is owned by brothers Ravi and Dharmesh Patel, who also own the Quality Inn in Leamington, Ont. It has three conference rooms, an indoor pool with a two-storey waterslide, and a 24-hour fitness centre. Ravi Patel is also director, Vibrant Hospitality Group, which manages the hotel.
“We purchased the hotel in January, 2017, and started work on the property improvement plan for Formula Blue,” Ravi Patel told CLN. “We had a couple of years of hard work, which was completed in March.” It was a more than 18-month process, with only a couple of odds and ends left to complete.
In March 2018, they started renovating the guest rooms, taking one floor at a time out of service. “The rooms were completely taken down, including floors, drapery, linens and wallpaper. It took five or six weeks per floor and was completed in July, 2018. During the fall, we did the corridors and the renovation of the lobby — a large undertaking — was completed at the end of March.”
One bonus to the timing was that the reopening of the lobby coincided with the new Express Start breakfast, launched by Holiday Inn Express at the end of March. “We avoided the expense of having to install the old breakfast equipment, and then having to redo it,” Patel said.
As the new rooms came back into inventory, guest survey scores kept going up and up. The Holiday Inn Express and Suites Woodstock South won the Torchbearer Award from IHG, given to top performing properties in the brand. Their guest satisfaction scores were more than 90 per cent.
The hotel is located right off the Highway 401 on Norwich Ave., within walking distance of restaurants and other amenities. Its clientele is all types of travellers to Woodstock, including business, leisure and sports teams.
The convenient location makes it a preferred stop for travellers, said Patel, adding that the complimentary, full breakfast gives the hotel an edge over its competitors.
“We have changed the Holiday Inn Express breakfast so that everything is made from scratch — eggs, bacon and sausage are all cooked from scratch. Nothing is pre-cooked and warmed up in the microwave. Bacon is so much better, and there's nothing like the smell of fresh-cooked bacon in the lobby.” Rather than what people erroneously call “powdered eggs,” the new breakfast includes eggs that are fresh cooked.
“We're as close to a restaurant as you can be with out actually being a restaurant,” Patel said.
Future plans call for an extended stay hotel and affordable condo housing on the 3.5 acres behind the existing hotel. That project is in the preliminary design phase, and they are hoping proceed in the next 18-24 months.
“The Woodstock real estate market is booming, and there is a need for entry-level housing,” said Patel. “People from Brampton and North Toronto are coming this way and driving up prices significantly. We are working with the city on the best way to use the space.
“The property is within walking distance of grocery restaurants and other amenities, and young families and recent graduates will be able to afford to live here without a car.”