Doug Gilday, co-owner of the Raven Inn and NGC Builders, left, and Kurt Mehnert, Raven Inn’s general manager, pose for a photo in front of the facility’s restaurant bar in Whitehorse on Feb. 20. The hotel and all its amenities will officially open on Mar. 12. (Julien Gignac/Yukon News)

Raven Inn marks Whitehorse’s first new hotel in decades

It’s slated to officially open on Mar. 12

Almost every room has someone working in it — there is not much time left, after all. For months crews have been at it full-bore in order to see Whitehorse’s newest hotel — the first new build in decades — completed in time for the Arctic Winter Games.

“It’s a huge opportunity for the city, but also us, too,” said the Raven Inn’s general manager Kurt Mehnert. “We were blessed to launch a hotel at such a great time. A new hotel will bring in new traffic. The Yukon is held back sometimes by older properties. It shows that it’s time for something new.”

The winter games run between Mar. 15 and 21. Mehnert said that some days are fully booked already.

It started out as a small project, but it kept growing as time went on, he said.

There’s a restaurant and bar going in on the ground floor called The Railwork Lounge. The 56-seat spot won’t be full-service. Pub fare will be available, with some fancier touches. Mehnert called it “elevated casual dining.” There will be an emphasis on local producers — cheeses, meats and beer from the local brewery Winterlong, among others.

The five-storey building downtown on Keish street has 57 units in total, 19 of which are rental suites. These are located on the uppermost levels.

Mehnert called it a “boutique hotel.”

“We don’t have a design that came from a brand,” he said. “We are truly independent. We are truly in-house. We did everything here. That takes remarkable amount of inspiration.”

It takes its inspiration from some European countries, he said. But there’s a twist.

“It’s very clean. It’s very open, it’s very contemporary and we mirrored it with a lot of Yukon artifacts.

“It hasn’t been easy for us to do this in the North,” Mehnert continued. “It’s been a remarkable feat.”

He cited the scarcity of labour in the Yukon as a challenge.

Doug Gilday, co-owner of the Raven Inn and NGC Builders, the company tasked with its construction, said there was a rush to complete the project. It all came together over two years — from the design phase to completion.

“Which is extremely aggressive,” he said. “Very, very fast. It’s extraordinary.”

The hotel officially opens on Mar. 12.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Correction: This story has been updated to clarify that the latest hotel is the first new build in decades, not 40 years as was previously stated.

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