Group Germain plans $40M, 180-room hotel at Ottawa airport

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A rendering of Group Germain's proposed Alt Hotel at the Ottawa International Airport.

Group Germain Hotels has landed on what it thinks is the perfect location to make its 20-20 business vision a reality: the Ottawa airport.

The Quebec-based chain announced Monday it is planning to build a 180-room hotel that will be directly connected to Ottawa’s international airport terminal. The $40-million project is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

The new hotel, which will operate under the Alt banner, will be the company’s third property in the Ottawa area after its Alt Hotel on Slater Street and the recently opened Le Germain lodging at the redeveloped Arts Court complex near the Rideau Centre. Assuming it’s completed on time, the airport hotel will also fulfil the firm’s goal of operating 20 properties by the year 2020.

It will be the third airport location for Group Germain Hotels, which also runs Alt-branded properties at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Like the buildings in Toronto and Halifax, the new Ottawa hotel will offer direct entry to the terminal through an indoor skywalk.

“For us it’s extremely important because it’s a nice way to differentiate ourselves, to be able to have our guests stay in the hotel and basically pack their stuff and literally go to their plane in winter in their flip-flops and their shorts,” said Hugo Germain, the family-owned firm’s director of development.

“For us to be able to be connected to a terminal like this is really a unique opportunity. Each airport probably has one terminal hotel, and after that usually it’s not something they develop anymore.”

The new hotel is part of a series of upgrades planned for the Ottawa airport, which announced late last year it’s launching a $25-million renovation that will see the 15-year-old terminal be reconfigured to accommodate new security screening technology and expanded food court and retail services.

In addition, a $20-million light-rail station at the airport is slated to be finished by 2023 as part of phase two of the LRT.

Germain said the company views the Ottawa terminal, which surpassed the five-million-passenger mark for the first time in 2018, as an ideal place to expand.

“The airport itself is already a very, very nice airport,” he said. “Traffic volumes, passenger volumes are increasing. I think our product is a perfect fit for that.”

The new hotel will feature a restaurant and meeting rooms on the top floor offering 360-degree views of the terminal and runways. Guests will also be allowed to check out whenever they wish, meaning they can relax in their rooms until just before they need to head over to catch their flights.

“I think that will just appeal to so many of our customers,” said airport authority spokesperson Krista Kealey. “You can’t get a better scenario than being able to stay in your hotel room until you’re set to board.”

Kealey said plans for the terminal makeover are moving along well. The airport authority is currently evaluating bids for retail and food and beverage concessionaires and hopes to announce the winners some time in the first quarter, she said.

Porter Airlines also recently closed its decade-old passenger lounge at YOW. Kealey said the airport expects to put out a tender in the near future for a third-party, common-use lounge operator to take over the 3,700-square-foot space.