TORONTO — An airport à la carte concept, a cultural tribute to Emily Carr on Vancouver Island, and an immersive wine experience in the Annapolis Valley all competed at the CHIC 20th anniversary conference.
Based on the original idea shared by Charles Suddaby and produced by Big Picture Conferences, a small group of industry representatives got together to create a national contest titled #hotelNEXT, where teams of aspiring hotel developers could pitch their concepts to a panel of Canadian investors and owners in front of a live audience. Judges were Paul Waddell of B.L.T. Construction Services Inc., David Humphrey of FRHI Hotels & Resorts and Natasha Kassam, vice chair, Jubilee Hospitality Association Canada.
The winners were Aaron and Willam Laurie, who told the audience their à la carte hotel was inspired by their parents, whose obsession with getting things cheap provided the idea for the property, which they located at Toronto Airport. Aaron attends University of Guelph, while Willam goes to McMaster.
At opshinns by Laurie Hotels, guests can purchase from a list of amenities. This would help distinguish the guests who use the pool, the fitness centre, and eat way too much food at the breakfast table, from those who go to bed at 8 p.m., don't have time to eat breakfast, and want to purchase their Starbucks offsite. The target market is medium- to high-income frequent travellers who are value-conscious, tech savvy, free-spirited, contemporary, sophisticated and worldly. They identified Alt Hotel YYZ, run by Hugo Germain, coincidentally the panel moderator, as their closest competitor.
Hotel Vino Vina, created by Sarah O'Connor and Evangeline Sing of Mount Saint Vincent University, came second; and The Hotel of All Sorts, by Colleen Black, Queen Lai and Kelsey Perra of Thompson Rivers University, came third. The three finalists were chosen from seven submissions to the competition.
#hotelNEXT was held at the 20th Annual Canadian Hotel Investment Conference, which attracted a record 550 attendees May 16 and 17. This could well be the first of an annual event.