Starting next month, a new flag will be flying on the High Country Inn & Convention Centre. The hotel will be known as the Coast High Country Inn, beginning Jan. 21.
But the new name doesn’t mean there’s been a change in ownership. It just means the 4th Avenue property has partnered with Coast Hotels & Resorts.
The company pays to use Coast Hotels’ marketing and branding, including its registration system. This will also expand Coast’s reach. The hotel and resort chain has over 40 properties across North America, including the Coast Fraser Tower in Yellowknife, N.W.T.
Northern Vision Development still owns the hotel, said Rich Thompson, president and CEO. Discussions with the chain have been happening for a number of years, he said. They became more serious over the last three months, he said.
Using the Coast Hotels brand should help increase business by giving greater name recognition to the independently-owned hotel.
“If somebody’s coming into the Yukon for the first time, they don’t know what a High Country Inn is necessarily, unless they’ve encountered some of our advertising, and of course we can’t, for one hotel, advertise for the broad audience that’s out there that’s coming to the Yukon,” said Thompson.
“They’re probably more likely to pick a hotel, a brand name they recognize, like a Best Western or a Ramada or a Coast, or what have you. So what we get out of it is the recognition of being a member of the Coast Hotel family and the expectation that people will have that our hotel will meet the standards of Coast so they know what to expect from the perspective of rooms.”
Coast has already started promoting the hotel, said John Robertson, the hotel’s general manager.
“I was really pleased,” he said of the deal that was finalized last month. “I think it’s a great fit.”
Part of the deal means the company needs to make renovations to the hotel so rooms conform to Coast’s standards. Coast will also regularly inspect the property to make sure standards are met.
The company plans to spend about another million dollars in the coming year for renovations, said Thompson. It had already planned to spend about $750,000 on upgrades, but those are for smaller things.
Right now, the artwork in the rooms, heavy on pink and blues, doesn’t match the dark wooden furniture. So new frames need to be purchased, said Robertson.
The dark-purple carpet with green and red flowers will be replaced, and there will be changes to the lobby and new signs put up, he said.
And the hotel will offer room service starting on Jan. 21, said Robertson.
But there shouldn’t be any changes to Morels, the hotel’s restaurant. And the High Country Inn will stay open during the renovations, he said.
Northern Vision began making improvements before this deal was reached, said Thompson. In the past two years, flat-screen TVs have been added to the rooms and the curtains and furniture have been updated. Northern Vision’s commitment to invest in the hotel was one of the reasons Coast Hotels wanted to work with them, he said.
The renovations will take about 14 months, said Thompson.
The High Country Inn’s building originally served as a YWCA hostel in the 1970s, said Robertson. It wasn’t converted into a hotel until the mid-90s. As a result the building has “a lot of character,” he said. The 82 guest rooms aren’t a standard size, he said. This means the 22 jacuzzi suites aren’t the same – some have the bathtubs within the guest rooms themselves, others in the en suite bathrooms. And the hallways aren’t all the same width.
Northern Vision purchased the High Country Inn in 2007. It also owns the Best Western Gold Rush Inn. The Gold Rush Inn was already operating under the Best Western brand when Northern Vision purchased it in 2006, so the company knows the benefits of these agreements, said Thompson.
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