QUEBEC — Dominique Lapointe, general manager of Marriott's first Canadian Tribute Collection Hotel, says Hotel PUR is “a bit of a magical place. You come if you want to do something outside the typical tour experience.”
Built in 1976 as a Holiday Inn, the hotel was also a TRYP by Wyndham, pioneering that brand in Canada. The Hotel PUR name has been around for awhile.
“When the new owner bought the hotel in 2015, they decided to reinvest and make something totally different for Quebec City. They were looking for a brand to enhance the name of the hotel,” Lapointe explained. “We were looking for a brand that was not cut and paste — that was different but affiliated with a powerful group. That was Starwood at the time, and it's now Marriott, which is even bigger and better.”
Hotel PUR is in the Saint-Roch district of Quebec City. Once a working class neighbourhood, it has been revitalized in the past decade or so to become a trendy downtown neighbourhood that includes IT workers, merchants, students, residents, artists, and artisans. The area's old factories, plants, and buildings have been refurbished, and the neighbourhood now includes a toy store and a whole host of stores selling chic clothing and furs, kitchenware, and luxury and everyday products.
“There are a lot of new, up and coming chefs who are starting new businesses on rue Saint-Joseph,” said Lapointe, who likens the area to Griffintown in Montreal. While Griffintown is close to Old Montreal, Saint-Roch is a 10-minute walk from Old Quebec.
“We're targeting people who have been to Quebec City and seen the Chateau Frontenac and now want to see something else,” said LaPointe. “This group is 24 to 40 years old; they're independent and want to be masters of their own existence.”
When the new owners took over, the hotel had not been renovated for seven or eight years. “It was in need of love, and we gave a lot of that too,” said Lapointe. They also spent $11 million, and revamped the 242-room hotel with 12,000 feet of meeting space, from top to toe during a smooth, five-month renovation period.
“We had an indoor pool and a beautiful fitness room. We enlarged it to make it bigger and more comfortable,” Lapointe noted. “It's in a prime location with a view of the street and the pool — natural light coming in from two sides.”
Hotel PUR used to be really PURE, she said. “The decor was really white, and it was one of the first hotels to use that concept. We wanted more of a warm feeling. Quebecois are known as a warm, welcoming and friendly people. We didn't want guests to get a cold feeling.”
The new guest room decor includes lot of wood, with most beds facing floor-to-ceiling windows and “beautiful views.” In an effort to link the guests with Saint-Roch, one wall of each room has a wallpaper mural with architectural images. The scenes vary — in the gym there is a hockey scene. Rooms also include 42-inch HDTVs, Nespresso machines and USB keys. “We are in the IT distract, and it's important for people to connect,” Lapointe said.
The biggest transformation was in the lobby. The goal was to create a place where people will actually live, not just wait for someone and then leave. “It has a nice fireplace, a pool table, an area where people can play games like chess, a wine bar and a space where people can read a book,” she said.
There's even a rocking chair in front of the window, said Lapointe. “When I saw a woman in the rocking chair, breastfeeding her baby and looking out the window, I knew we'd achieved exactly what we wanted to do.”