Westin eyes rooftop expansion

Elizabeth Howell
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Ottawa’s largest hotel is looking at growing even bigger.

The Westin Ottawa is considering adding a high-end 6,000-square-foot reception room on a northern section of the hotel’s roof, says John Jarvis, its general manager and chief experience officer.

The vision is still preliminary; the hotel still needs to ensure the building can structurally support the addition and obtain various municipal approvals.

However, Mr. Jarvis says the hotel’s owners are “very excited” about the possibility and support the $100,000 architectural study underway.

An early vision for the glass-enclosed room includes 10- or 11-foot ceilings and enough room for 200 people. Mr. Jarvis estimates the cost to be in the neighbourhood of $2 million.

Mr. Jarvis says he’d like to see it completed in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, although no timeline is been assigned to the project.

The plans come as the Westin Ottawa celebrates its 30th anniversary. Mr. Jarvis says that since opening in 1983, the hotel has hosted world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as well as rock stars such as members of the Rolling Stones.

Mr. Jarvis is the sixth general manager in the hotel’s history and was named chief sales officer of the year by Starwood Hotels and Resorts earlier this year.

Revenues increased in recent years as the hotel expanded its meeting space to 44,000 square feet from 26,000 square feet. The neighbouring Ottawa Convention Centre, which had its first full year of operations in 2012, also gave a boost to the Westin.

“It was one of the better years in terms of total convention room nights and total business,” Mr. Jarvis said.

The hotel recorded an aggregate occupancy rate of 76 per cent last year last year. That’s below the level recorded in 2000, when the hotel had 10 fewer rooms.

The Westin spent $45 million on renovations between 2007 and 2012 to update its lobby, ballroom and meeting space.

This summer, it has several smaller projects on the go:

- A $1.1 million renovation refreshing smaller meeting rooms that range between 500 and 1,800 square feet. This will include new lighting packages, redoing the design to add a feature wall and removing outdated whiteboards.

- $500,000 in renovations to two of the hotel’s five suites, the Renaissance Suite and the Colonel By Suite. Each room will be gutted and redone, with new furniture and drop-down screens in some areas. Carpets will be changed to hardwood.

- $1 million in other changes, including ongoing elevator refurbishment and $250,000 to upgrade the hotel’s wireless connection.

The meeting room and suite upgrades will be finished in time for the September meeting of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Mr. Jarvis said.

-With reports by Peter Kovessy


Organizations: Rolling Stones, Starwood Hotels, Ottawa Convention Centre Renaissance Suite Association of Municipalities of Ontario

Geographic location: Ottawa, Canada

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