North Bay has welcomed its first waterfront hotel to the city.
On June 29, Homewood Suites by Hilton opened a six-storey, 100-room hotel in North Bay’s downtown core. Built by Vrancor Group, it’s the first new hotel in the city in eight years, and the first to be built following the introduction of the city’s waterfront redevelopment plan last year.
“I think the city really needs something like this,” said Carrie Delongchamp, Homewood Suites’ manager.
Homewood bills itself as an all-suites hotel with a focus on extended stays of 30 days or more.
The pet-friendly hotel offers suites with defined sleeping and living areas, a desk, and pod coffeemakers. Daily hot breakfasts are complimentary, and Mondays through Thursdays the hotel puts on an evening social, where finger foods are served in the main-floor lounge area.
Standard in each suite is a kitchenette with a full-sized fridge, microwave, two-burner induction cook-stop stove, and a dishwasher, and a complimentary personalized grocery shopping service is available as well.
Other features include complimentary Wi-Fi, guest laundry services, a 24-hour business centre, and a fitness centre.
Whether a guest is visiting North Bay for business, or is permanently relocating to the city, Homewood can make their stay a pleasant one, Delongchamp said.
“When you think about it, when you’re staying that long and you’re in a hotel room…it’s more comfortable to stay where you can cook for yourself,” she said. “No matter what you’re travelling to the area for, we have it here.”
For the business crowd, the hotel also has two meeting rooms and an outdoor patio available for use. The smaller room is ideal for intimate business gatherings, while the larger space, which can be divided into two separate rooms, is designed for dinners or larger presentations. The capacity varies.
“It depends on the room style,” Delongchamp said. “For the entire room, the capacity is 88, but if you’re having a banquet-style event, we can fit about 50 people.”
There has been talk of further development adjacent to the hotel — a restaurant and a coffee shop are among the rumoured developments — but those ventures would be leased out independently and aren’t connected to the hotel, Delongchamp emphasized.
Karen McQuade, Vrancor’s regional director of sales and marketing, said the company chose North Bay for its most recent development based on the positive performance of its other North Bay property, the Hampton Inn, which was built eight years ago on McKeown Avenue in the city's north end.
“That hotel has performed at the top of the North Bay market,” McQuade said. “It is number one, both in occupancy and revenue per available room. It has just performed so well.”
Rather than follow a “cookie cutter” approach to design, the new Homewood Suites was styled with a colour palette and décor that reflects the city, she added. That includes paint hues and artwork that are inspired by nature and the Northern Ontario landscape.
McQuade said Vrancor is happy to be part of North Bay’s ongoing growth and expansion of its waterfront and downtown core. Once a hotel launches in a community, it often becomes a “lightning rod” for additional development and prosperity, and Vrancor is proud to be at the start of that growth, she added.
“We invest into markets that we are passionate about and feel strongly about, and we see how those investments are performing, and we are only too happy to be part of the next wave of development,” she said.
“We look around and we don’t mind that there’s a lot of things to come. We’re happy to be at the start of the wave.”
This marks the 25th hotel built by Vrancor, which focuses its work exclusively in Ontario.
In the North, its other properties include two more Hampton Inns in Timmins and Sudbury; the Homewood Suites in Sudbury; and the Holiday Inn Express in Timmins.
As with other Hilton properties, guests enrolled in the Hilton Honors program can collect reward points for staying at North Bay Homewood Suites. Starting in September, guests will also be able to use Digital Key, an app-enabled function that allows guests to use their smartphone to unlock the doors to their rooms.
But for all the bells and whistles offered while staying at the property, Delongchamp said excellent customer service is Homewood’s signature asset.
“It’s service that keeps people coming back, and that’s our focus,” she said. “I’ve got an excellent team who is going to deliver on that.”