OSHAWA, Ont. — Harmony Event Centre anchors two Marriott hotels, a Courtyard and a TownePlace Suites. When Sunray Group bought the property back in 2013, there was just one hotel, then a Quality Inn, originally built as a Holiday Inn in the late 1960s.
Sunray’s vision was to create a dual brand offering. They entered into a franchise agreement with Marriott in 2014 to brand the hotel as a TownePlace Suites and a Courtyard. By having two distinct hotels, the hotel caters to both the extended stay market as well as the corporate market. The vision of the two brands also allowed Sunray to build a state-of-the-art event space.
“The Harmony Convention Centre was designed to cater to social events, weddings and corporate meetings,” Kenny Gibson, president of Sunray Group told CLN. “Sunray’s vision was to create the leading event centre in the Durham Region. The design was well thought through, from the state-of-the-art audio visual to two bridal suites located just above the convention centre.”
Sunray began renovation on the seven storey tower initially and operated the two storey tower for a short time. Ultimately, it was decided to close the building totally and concentrate on the overall project. The Harmony Convention Centre and the TownePlace Suites lobby/breakfast area are new buildings. Additionally, a third floor was added to the two-storey section to add more rooms and improve the curb appeal of the building. With custom designed guest rooms and the state-of-the-art convention space, the facility is truly a unique offering in the Durham Region.
The Harmony Event Centre was a new build, and was completed much sooner than the hotels, but it remained closed until the both hotel brands were completed. It opened in November, 2019 and has operated in a limited capacity during COVID-19.
Royal Design was engaged in late 2017. “Our vision was to create a design that was timeless and elegant,” said Gibson. “Royal Design certainly took our vision and created a beautiful design for the Harmony Convention Centre. The Harmony Convention Centre will host all types of social events, weddings and corporate meetings. Pre-COVID, the Centre was designed to accommodate up to 600 people for dinners and up to 1,000 people for meetings,” he added.
“At the initial meeting with client, Sunray Group, after hearing their plans for the convention centre and the functions they were envisioning, we convinced them to really revisit the entire space and design it to suit multi-purposes including weddings and business functions,” Jolanta Lukus, principal of Royal Design told CLN.
“After showing ownership a few properties [we had worked on], we referenced a convention centre that we designed in Ottawa, called Infinity Convention Centre. We outlined some key elements that needed to be incorporated and were required if wedding venues were to be hosted there. These included bridal suites, pre-function areas that could also serve as cocktail space, a Juliette balcony, modern and touchless public washrooms, a coat room and more,” Lukus said.
“There were also some functional features that needed to be designed and incorporated, including central bars with equipment, elephant doors [large acoustical sliding doors], service corridors, proximity of kitchen, food service accessibility, dimming systems, and the importance of audio-visual type,” Lukus said.
“The main floor consists of big pre-function area and one main hall that could be subdivided into three rooms, ballrooms A, B and C,” Lukus said. “The theme and colour palette was designed with modern sophistication. Finishes picked were modern, luxurious, rich in texture and unique in selection. Design incorporated clean and simple modern lines with touches of ‘bling’ here and there. The colour palette is greys and silvers, toupees and touches of polished chrome — suitable enough for business but glamorous enough to attract a modern bride and leave her free to pair her type and colour for the wedding with the interior of the space.
“We put a focal point in the detailed and layered cove ceiling and sparkling chandeliers — a modern approach with classical crystal look,” Lukus said. “Lighting is one of the areas where we wanted to show off some wow factor. The modern approach to the classical and typical crystal chandelier will be a point of discussion. There is a layered ceiling with multi lawyers of LED coloured lights can turn into any colour wonderland you wish for.”
Asked which design features of the new space are the most interesting, Gibson replied: “Certainly, the state of the art audio visual systems. The centre has the ability to “spotlight” each table with designs selected by the client in many different colours. Additionally, there are built in A/V screens in each section of the space. Also, there are two bridal suites within the space on the second level that is unique. The overall design exudes quality. Of special note are the large, ornate crystal chandeliers.”
“This is one of the first facilities in the GTA where all of the lighting system is LED,” said Silvio Carnavale, president of NEG Audio Visual Inc, designers of the facility’s audio visual systems. “The facility is equipped with more than 280 lights, 75 of which are individually computerized lights for each table. There is a complete in-house connected system built into the ceilings and walls, and seven electric ceiling recessed drop-down screens and projectors. We enhanced the ceiling design so that it is all RGBW — which means there are 256 possible shades [colours] for lighting.”
Sunray’s future plans for the centre, are focused around increased efforts on sales and marketing as the hotel market recovers from the impact of COVID, Gibson noted. “We truly believe that this facility is unique to the marketplace and will continue to operate as an integrated offering.
“As far as Sunray is concerned, we continue with a number of our renovations and re-branding initiatives in this time of turmoil in the industry,” said Gibson. “We believe that having new, fresh hotels when the market recovers will position Sunray to capitalize once demand returns.”