A familiar name in accommodation has returned to Timmins.
Located in the heart of the city, the Senator Hotel & Conference Centre has resumed its former identity after spending the last 17 years branded as a Days Inn.
Following the name change in February, the hotel was acquired by new owners, who have committed to regaining the esteem the hotel once enjoyed.
Tanveer Khan, who acquired the property with a partner on April 21, said he realizes the hotel’s reputation had suffered over the years as the quality of customer service fluctuated.
But with a newly honed attention to detail and quality customer service, he’s determined to win back old customers and welcome new ones.
“We feel we have a very unique product in the market, and if we put the product in front of the right people, we feel we have a lot to offer the city,” said Khan, who serves as general manager. “We decided to go very aggressively into the market.”
The new owners immediately undertook renovations on a block of 47 rooms that had remained closed to the public, updating them with modern décor and amenities, and bringing them up to the standard of the rest of the hotel.
The Senator now has 147 rooms in total, each of which comes with a coffee machine, mini fridge, microwave, iron and board, and hair blower. Wi-fi access is complimentary.
The large banquet hall can hold up to 400 people, with a standard round table setup, while three smaller rooms are available for meetings.
In the dining room, which is open for dinner service Monday through Saturday, between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., the culinary team serves everything from lobster alfredo to Angus prime rib to duck confit. It has been a go-to choice for guests seeking a quality fine dining experience for more than 40 years.
But although the Senator does many things right, Khan and his partner — who also own and operate hotel properties in Richmond Hill, Fredericton and Kapuskasing — recognize there is room for improvement, and they’re working on introducing some services that will be new not only to guests of the Senator, but to the city itself.
Among them is an airport shuttle that will ferry guests directly between the hotel and the airport, as well as 24-hour room service.
The restaurant will soon be reintroducing the hot breakfast, and Khan is looking at bringing in a rotating dinner menu to try out new recipes, as well as theme nights, where the chef will prepare dishes featuring a specific cuisine, such as Italian, Thai or Indian.
“These are things coming to the city that are new,” Khan said. “When guests visit the city, they will see the level of service will be up to (par with) other cities.”
His ideas are gleaned from two decades of experience. Originally trained as a chartered accountant, Khan left the finance industry after being offered a job in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where his career flourished and, over 16 years there, he was witness to much of the luxury and opulence for which the city is known.
He worked his way up the ranks to management, and through his career has worked with companies such as Starwood (Four Points, Sheraton), InterContinental Hotels Group (Holiday Inn), and Wyndham (Microtel, Travelodge).
Though the Timmins market may have simpler tastes, Khan believes in offering to his guests the same level of service he would expect as a customer.
He’s a hands-on manager who prefers to work on the floor alongside his 70 employees, rather than giving direction from an office, and he appreciates the opportunity to learn from their insight and their experience.
After receiving great reviews following the first major banquet after the new owners had taken over, Khan assembled his staff to thank them for their work, rewarding each with a Tim Hortons gift card to show his appreciation.
“It’s the small things that make a lot of difference,” he said. “I feel like I’m blessed having this staff at this property.”
Khan also believes in working closely with others in Timmins’ hospitality industry, and said he’s looking forward to meeting other hotel managers and restaurateurs to figure out how they can collaborate to make the industry thrive.
If the Senator isn’t quite what a guest is looking for, Khan said he wouldn’t hesitate to recommend another accommodation more suited to their needs, and he’s hopeful another hotel owner would do the same.
“Let’s work together,” he said. “If something is not working for you, let us know, and you come over, and I’ll show you what I have on my plate.”