Opinion: How one hotel is making Calgary not just a place to visit but a place to stay

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Not a day goes by without somebody asking me, “why does Calgary need another hotel?” Driving this question are concerns that the post-pandemic downtown market is unable to support current hotels, let alone a new entrant — such as the dual hotel project The Dorian, which houses both a Marriott Autograph Collection and a new Courtyard by Marriott Calgary Downtown.

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My answer: The market is absolutely ready for a new hotel, and now is the perfect time. The question is not how Calgary is able to support The Dorian through visitation, room nights and dining but, rather, how can The Dorian support Calgary? New hotels provide tangible benefits to the local economy that are long overdue in Calgary and will prove pivotal in revitalizing our downtown.

COVID-19 dealt a blow to our economy and its effect has been long-lasting and widely felt. While this may be our current reality, it is certainly not our future. High vaccination rates and pent-up demand for travel has created an opportunity for hotels to offer fulsome experiences that both business and leisure travellers alike are in search of.

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South of the border, markets are exceeding 2019 occupancies and rates. Closer to home, hotel rates in Canada were higher in April of 2022 than in 2019. The concern in those markets is not the demand for rooms, it is finding employees to help deliver these one-of-a-kind trips.

The Dorian, which is creating more than 150 jobs, is an ideal example. Our presence is sparking demand for skilled hospitality associates and, by association, building a competitive job market. As we hire our team, we see other hotels recognize their current associates’ value by increasing their wages and benefits. We aren’t just creating opportunities for our own people, the impact is felt across the entire market. A high tide floats all boats.

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Not only are careers in hospitality fulfilling but they are also essential to Calgary’s growth. Soon, Calgary will become a first-choice city for conventions upon completion of the BMO Centre expansion. Top-tier cities (including Calgary) need top-tier hotels to help drive the economy and support the hospitality industry as we move into this post-pandemic world. If we want to be a great destination, we need great amenities, attractions, restaurants and hotels. We aren’t just adding 307 hotel rooms to Calgary’s downtown, we are offering new beginnings in the hospitality sector to more than 100 individuals.

It has been a long time since a new, full-service hotel opened in downtown Calgary. While other cities have seen the introduction of new brands, new types of hotels and new experiences for locals and in-bound travellers, Calgary has stayed consistent. The Dorian, Autograph Collection will change this. Our hotel will seek to both serve and help define the new Calgary.

Calgary has always loved a “Wilde” time. Don’t we need that more than ever? It has been a difficult few years for everyone, and even before the pandemic things weren’t easy.

But as people start to travel again, our economy is finally showing signs of life and we all are beginning to feel like it is OK to experience adventure again.

Now, is the perfect time for a new hotel in downtown Calgary.

David Keam is the general manager of The Dorian hotel in downtown Calgary.

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