Marriott Ottawa hotel sold to Toronto-based firm

Marriott Ottawa front
The Marriott Ottawa hotel has been sold to Toronto-based Manga Hotels Group. Photo by David Sali

Ottawa’s second-largest hotel has a new owner.

The Marriott Ottawa has been sold to Toronto-based Manga Hotels Group in a deal that closed last week. The purchase price was not released.

“This strategic acquisition further strengthens our position of owning and operating high-quality properties in diversified markets throughout Canada and the U.S.,” Manga president and CEO Sukhdev Toor said in a statement.

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The 489-room property was previously owned by another Toronto firm, InnVest Hotels. The deal is the first major hotel transaction in the National Capital Region since the Westin was sold in 2019, and it also marks Manga’s first foray into the Ottawa market.

“They’ve got some big, big hotels that they own across the country, and I think Ottawa was a logical market for them to add to their portfolio,” said Alam Pirani, executive managing director of Canada and Caribbean for Colliers Hotels, which brokered the sale. “It makes sense from a strategic point of view. It was a natural market for them to enter.”

With its revolving rooftop room that is now an event space, the Marriott is one of downtown Ottawa’s most recognizable buildings. Opened in 1971 as a Holiday Inn, it later operated under the Radisson banner before being taken over by Marriott.

It’s the second time the property has changed hands in the last decade. InnVest acquired the hotel in 2014 from Vancouver’s Larco Investments.

Marriott Ottawa full
The Marriott Ottawa opened in 1971 and last underwent major renovations in 2010. Photo by David Sali

Pirani said InnVest – which owns more than 80 lodgings, including Les Suites Hotel in downtown Ottawa as well as a pair of hotels in Kanata and a Comfort Inn in the east end – decided to divest the property as part of a major “rationalization” of its portfolio. 

The Marriott last underwent significant renovations in 2010. Pirani said the new ownership group plans to modernize the hotel’s guest rooms and public areas, which include more than 36,000 square feet of meetings and events space.

“They’re definitely going to be spending capital on this,” he said. “I think Manga’s got some great ideas on what they want to do there. That’s an iconic hotel in that market and (the changes) will be well-received.”

Manga executives did not respond to requests for comment.

Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association president Steve Ball said the deal represents a show of confidence in the region’s hospitality sector, which is still getting back on its feet after all but shutting down completely during the pandemic.

“When someone either invests in a purchase or a build, they wouldn’t do that if they didn’t think that the future of tourism was … going to remain strong,” he said. “All of that bodes well for our industry.”

Ball said the hotel industry in Ottawa is still lagging behind recoveries in many other Canadian cities because of its reliance on government clientele that has been slow to return.

“We’re not seeing the same number of corporate travellers that came here to do business with the federal government that we have had in the past,” he explained.

But he’s seeing signs of encouragement. Leisure travel to the capital was “very strong” in the spring, Ball said, adding that occupancy rates, while not back to 2019 levels, have been healthy so far this summer.

New builds

Hotel developers are also showing faith in the industry’s future. Three new Marriott-branded properties built by Montreal’s Rimap Hospitality – the AC Marriott on Rideau Street, the Moxy on York Street and the Marriott Renaissance on Slater Street – are expected to open downtown next year, and development applications have recently been filed for new hotel projects in Nepean and Orléans.

“We did have some inventory come out of the market over the pandemic,” Ball said. “It’s important to have the right balance. These new builds will help to replace some of the inventory we lost, and I’m optimistic that we are going to see growth in tourism.”

Pirani, who closely follows the local hotel industry, agrees it is on the rebound.

“If you look at the type of projects that are being built, they’re unique assets,” he said. “Ottawa’s always been a highly sought-after market from an investment perspective since not a lot of property comes to market.

“We’re bullish on Ottawa. If you look at operating performance across the country, Ottawa was probably a little slow out of the gate, but we’re seeing very strong numbers in the latter half of the second quarter and into the summer. It’s been positive.”

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