No room at the inn

Mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers in the Val­ley say lack of ho­tels lead­ing to lost op­por­tu­ni­ties

Annapolis Valley Register - - FRONT PAGE - BY IAN FAIR­CLOUGH SALTWIRE NET­WORK AN­NAPO­LIS VAL­LEY

Last sum­mer, em­ploy­ees at the vis­i­tor in­for­ma­tion cen­tre in Kentville often tried to find tourists a ho­tel room in the An­napo­lis Val­ley.

But they failed on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions, de­spite call­ing ev­ery ho­tel be­tween Yar­mouth and Truro.

It’s sto­ries like this that have the towns of Kentville and Ber­wick look­ing at the vi­a­bil­ity of adding more ac­com­mo­da­tions to Kings County.

Ber­wick Mayor Don Clarke said the town com­mis­sioned a study in 2017, which said a branded, lim­ited-ser­vice ho­tel would work in the town.

They hired a con­sul­tant to take the study to ho­tel chains or en­trepreneurs to see if there was any in­ter­est in look­ing at the pos­si­bil­ity.

“Rather than let the study sit on a shelf, we wanted to get it out to the in­dus­try,” Clarke said.

The con­sul­tant said there was some in­ter­est from peo­ple in the in­dus­try who could get in­volved, but they want to see what kind of lo­cal in­ter­est there would be in in­vest­ing in a pro­ject.

“The town has stepped back now; it’s up to busi­ness and peo­ple in the ho­tel de­vel­op­ment in­dus­try to step for­ward and make a de­ci­sion on whether or not it is a vi­able thing to do,” Clarke said. “I know there are a cou­ple of groups in­ter­ested.”

The clos­est ho­tels are 20 kilo­me­tres away in Kingston, and 25 kilo­me­tres in the op­po­site di­rec­tion in New Mi­nas. While the county has plenty of B&Bs and inns, there are only five ho­tels and mo­tels, with one of those be­ing sea­sonal.

“There aren’t a lot of new, mod­ern prop­er­ties in this area,” Clarke said.

The new multi-sport com­plex in the town is part of the im­pe­tus be­hind the study, Clarke said.

“We have the pos­si­bil­ity of hold­ing hockey tour­na­ments and curl­ing tour­na­ments, and even the Lions Com­mu­nity cen­tre has had the op­por­tu­nity to rent to groups that want to come for sev­eral days and run an event,” he said. “But what often is men­tioned as lack­ing is no places to stay in the area.”

In Kentville, the county’s largest town, there are sports tour­na­ments through­out the year. But the town’s last mo­tel con­verted to apart­ments last year; an­other was bought and bull­dozed in 2017 to make way for a car deal­er­ship. In 2012, the Pine View Inn just out­side the town was de­stroyed by fire, but the own­ers did not re­build.

All that has left the town short on ho­tel rooms, and with only two bed and break­fasts, com­mu­nity and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment co­or­di­na­tor Lind­say Young said.

“They are lovely, but they don’t have the ca­pac­ity to meet the needs of our trav­el­ling pub­lic,” she said.

She said the town also con­ducted a study five years ago that found a pro­ject is vi­able, and that study could be up­dated now that the two mo­tels have closed.

She said there is room for more than one ho­tel in the county based on the num­ber of sports events, tour­na­ments and com­mu­nity events that take place through­out the year.

“Def­i­nitely, the need for ho­tels and ac­com­mo­da­tions and room nights is up there on the pri­or­ity list,” Young said.

She said not all ho­tels in the Val­ley are set up to take teams, ac­cord­ing to feed­back from some groups com­ing through.

“Those teams make up a large por­tion of the peo­ple trav­el­ling to our area,” she said, and they often end up stay­ing in Wind­sor or Green­wood be­cause the few ho­tels close by fill up quickly.

She said with so many re­ports last sum­mer of trou­ble find­ing rooms any­where be­tween Yar- mouth and Truro, “I do think there are sev­eral part­ners that could be work­ing to­gether to solve the big­ger re­gional is­sue of room nights, be­cause it’s not an is­sue af­fect­ing only one mu­nic­i­pal­ity, it crosses mu­nic­i­pal lines.”

She said the 2013 study done for the town is even more valid with the loss of the two mo­tels in the past two years, and the town is open to ac­cept any pro­pos­als for the area.

The study said the town could sup­port an 80-room, branded ho­tel with con­fer­ence ameni­ties.

She said in­ter­est dropped off, but they’re still get­ting re­quests for the study.

An­napo­lis Val­ley Cham­ber of Com­merce ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Judy Ra­fuse said the group knows there will be a deficit of rooms as the num­ber of vis­i­tors to the re­gion grows, which has hap­pened dur­ing the past five years.

Bed and break­fasts are pop­u­lar ac­com­mo­da­tions, she said, but sports teams and fam­i­lies often want a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence.

GLEN PARKER

The ru­ins of the Pine View Inn in Cold­brook, which was de­stroyed by fire in 2012 and not re­built. Or­ga­ni­za­tions in the Val­ley are hav­ing trou­ble or­ga­niz­ing events be­cause peo­ple com­ing from other ar­eas have a hard time find­ing ac­com­mo­da­tions.

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