By Brier Dodge
Two years ago, the sales team at the Brookstreet Hotel was trying to book conferences for a brand new space – sight unseen – to clients. Hotel general manager Nyle Kelly had construction boots sitting under his office desk on a full-time basis.
Now, the new 20,000-square-foot expansion is officially open after a corporate banquet last Friday christened the 500-person capacity ballroom.
With 11,000 square feet in additional meeting space, plus the foyer area, Brookstreet now has 30,000 square feet in total meeting space.
It’s allowing the hotel to market to larger clients, said Brookstreet marketing manager Sharon Ravnas.
“Before this expansion, our biggest problem was we just weren’t big enough,” Ravnas said.
Large conferences need both a large meeting space, smaller meeting spaces as well as another large area where participants can eat. Before, the Brookstreet’s one large ballroom with a 300-person capacity presented limitations for some larger conferences.
The new space was added to the back of the property towards the golf course, and includes a new ballroom with a capacity of 500 people as well as a smaller ballroom that can fit 120, and several small meeting rooms.
The two-storey addition has a large foyer on both levels, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking The Marshes Golf Club, and the outdoor pond that’s used for ice skating in the winter.
Kelly said the lower foyer is his favourite part of the project because of the cool parties and weddings he can see being hosted in the space.
The idea for the $12-million project was first conceived in 2005, two years after the hotel opened. But with the success of the hotel so closely tied to the success of the technology sector and neighbouring companies in the business park, it was put on hold when the economy took a downturn.
“But the business park right now is very healthy; there are more than 500 active businesses in Kanata North, and occupancy at the park itself is the highest it’s been since 2008-09,” Kelly said.
He anticipates a 12-per-cent increase in banquet revenue this year and a similar growth in staff numbers because of the new space. The first three months of 2018, compared to the first three months of 2017, show a 22 per cent increase in conference and meeting bookings for the hotel.
“We’re ahead of where we were last year, obviously the new conference space is helping,” he said.
Ravnas expects quite a few wedding bookings to come in for the new space, especially given the resort style of the hotel with the outdoor wedding space, onsite spa and neighbouring golf club.
"There’s nothing like this in the west end – I could argue there’s nothing like this in the city.”
The resort aspect of the hotel is a draw for conferences and customers who want to have the additional amenities, which makes the hotel compete less with the downtown giants and attract more of their own specific clientele, staff said.
“We’re all competing for the business that comes to the Ottawa region, but people make the choice to come downtown, or Kanata, or to come to the resort,” Kelly said. “So we really target our customers that want that resort-type experience. There’s nothing like this in the west end – I could argue there’s nothing like this in the city.”
While the hotel looks to continue to book more large trade shows and conferences, the next phase of the hotel’s expansion will be building another tower of rooms.
Kelly said he’d like to see another 80 hotel rooms added to the existing 276 in the next five years.