MasterBUILT expands First Nations investments

CALGARY — MasterBUILT Hotels continues to expand its investment in First Nations communities with new properties in Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia and Quebec.

Cutting the ribbon at Microtel Fort Mac. From left: Darren Mercredi, Tany Yao, Jay Westman, Marc Staniloff, Chief Archie Waquan, David Bengert, Sally Whiteknife, Ric Peterson and Calvin Waquan.

Cutting the ribbon at Microtel Fort Mac. From left: Darren Mercredi, Tany Yao, Jay Westman, Marc Staniloff, Chief Archie Waquan, David Bengert, Sally Whiteknife, Ric Peterson and Calvin Waquan.

CALGARY — MasterBUILT
Hotels
, a Canadian leader in the development and management of select-service
hotels, continues to expand its investment in First
Nations communities with new properties in Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia
and Quebec.

Recognized as one of Canada's Best Managed
companies by Deloitte since 2015 for its innovative, best-in-class business
practices, MasterBUILT has a long history of successful partnerships with First
Nations communities.

One of its most enduring relationships is with
the Mikisew Cree First Nation based in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. The partners
opened a 139-room Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham hotel in Fort McMurray, Alta., in October 2017. A 95-unit Marriott TownePlace Suites is scheduled to open next
to the Microtel in March 2019, replacing the Super 8 destroyed during the
wildfires that ravaged Fort McMurray in 2016.

“We are very proud of our 25+ year partnership
with the Mikisew Cree First Nation and the work we’ve done together to help rebuild
Fort McMurray,” said Eric Watson, president of MasterBUILT Hotels.  

That partnership started with the Super 8 in Fort McMurray, and the Mikisew Cree's relationship with Marc Staniloff, president and CEO of Superior Lodging Corp. 

“Superior had Fort McMurray property for years, but work with First Nations hadn't been a focus,” said Watson. “But a lot has changed in the industry, with land claims, organizations getting access to capital, and making investments with an interest in hotels.  We were seen as a credible developer with a track record. We started to focus on developing relationships, and so far it has worked out well.”

The Calgary-based company also recently announced a partnership with the Long Plain First Nation and Arrowhead Development Corporation to
develop Manitoba’s first Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham. Located on the
traditional land of the Long Plain First Nation in Portage la Prairie, the
75-room hotel is slated to open in fall 2019.

“The Portage la Prairie Microtel is the first of
several locations we plan to build in Manitoba. It will raise the level of accommodation for both business
and leisure travellers in the market, and more importantly, it will support
economic growth in the local community and Long Plain First Nation for decades
to come,” said Watson at the ground-breaking ceremony.

“We’re
excited to partner with an industry leader like MasterBUILT to develop Microtel
on our traditional lands,” said Chief Dennis Meeches of the Long Plain First
Nation. “Partnerships like this create significant employment opportunities and
sustainable economic ventures for our people.”

The sod turning of the Microtel in Portage la Prairie, Man., a partnership with the Long Plain First Nation.

The sod turning of the Microtel in Portage la Prairie, Man., a partnership with the Long Plain First Nation.

In B.C., MasterBUILT partnered with the
Stz’uminus First Nation and Coast Salish Development Corp. on the development
of the 81-room Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Oyster Bay Village, a short
drive from the Nanaimo airport. The newest hotel to be built on central
Vancouver Island in over a decade, the Microtel opened May 2018 and is expected
to play a key role in developing a strong residential, commercial and
recreational hub in the region on traditional lands.

The Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Oyster Bay Village, B.C.

The Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Oyster Bay Village, B.C.

In Quebec, MasterBUILT has teamed up with the
Wemindji Cree First Nation, the Tawich Development Corp. and James Bay Eeyou on
the 84-room Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Val-d'Or. Opened in June, the
hotel is the first of 10 Microtels planned for construction in Quebec in the
next five years.  MasterBUILT will also be working with these same partners on a Microtel in Kanata, Ont., which will start construction next spring.

Presentation of a cheque to the Val-d'Or Native Friendship Centre at the hotel opening in June.

Presentation of a cheque to the Val-d'Or Native Friendship Centre at the hotel opening in June.

  

Watson says MasterBUILT will be looking at more partnerships with First Nations in the future. “We like them as partners, and there's a mutual trust there. Trust is a big factor. We do like that First Nations tend to have a long-term perspective and that they want to actually own the asset. They see it as a benefit to their communities, providing employment opportunities, income and wealth creation.

“Their expectations and ours align well.”