Beach ho­tel ‘best’ of both worlds

Sev­eral owner op­tions of­fered

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Recreation & Investment Properties - DAWNA FREE­MAN ED­MON­TON JOUR­NAL

IVICTORIA, B.C. n re­build­ing Vic­to­ria’s Oak Bay Beach Ho­tel, owner Kevin Walker is trans­form­ing the 80-year-old com­mu­nity land­mark into the city’s first five-star, fullser­vice ho­tel with two own­er­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties. In­ter­ested sec­ond-home or va­ca­tion­home buy­ers can own a piece of the le­gend by pur­chas­ing one of 20 lux­ury Pri­vate Res­i­dences or tak­ing full ti­tle of one of the 100 Va­ca­tion Ho­tel Suites (VHS).

The VHS is a hy­brid prop­erty prod­uct cre­ated by Walker Hos­pi­tal­ity.

It gives sec­ond-home own­ers the op­por­tu­nity to own a va­ca­tion prop­erty that is also a rev­enue prop­erty.

Through a lease con­tract with the ho­tel, unit own­ers re­ceive on­go­ing rev­enue and use of the suite for four months of the year.

“This unique prod­uct is the best of both worlds,” says Brad Neufeld, ho­tel di­rec­tor of sales and mar­ket­ing.

“You don’t have to choose any­more be­tween a va­ca­tion rental or an in­vest­ment prop­erty.

“We put the two pro­grams to­gether for stress-free own­er­ship, giv­ing our clients pos­i­tive cash flow, flex­i­ble us­age and no op­er­at­ing costs.”

The 1927 Tu­dor-style English coun­try manor is the only com­mer­cial water­front de­vel­op­ment in pres­ti­gious Oak Bay and has been in the Walker fam­ily since 1972.

The ho­tel has a panoramic view of the ocean, in­clud­ing the San Juan Is­lands and Mount Baker, from Van­cou­ver’s north shore to the city of Vic­to­ria.

Walker, who has been man­ag­ing the ho­tel since 1983, says the $52-mil­lion pro­ject is tar­get­ing LEED gold cer­ti­fi­ca­tion when com­pleted in April 2012.

A third-gen­er­a­tion hote­lier, Walker says he and wife Shawna made the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to tear down the much-loved com­mu­nity icon seven years ago when they couldn’t meet the seis­mic re­quire­ments of the new build­ing code.

The de­ci­sion was hard on the lo­cals too.

“We dis­cov­ered the res­i­dents had mem­o­ries that were very im­por­tant to them, so rather than de­stroy them, we chose to pre­serve them,” says the for­mer board chair of the Ho­tel As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada.

Other than the floor-to­ceil­ing win­dows, Walker says the new ho­tel repli­cates the old build­ing in many ways, both in orig­i­nal lay­out and fur­nish­ings.

“We have com­bined touch­stones of the past with the com­forts of a so­phis­ti­cated and highly tech­ni­cal new de­sign.”

The ever-pop­u­lar Snug Pub, the first li­censed cock­tail lounge in the prov­ince in 1951, fea­tures re­stored fur­ni­ture, light fix­tures, beams, bricks, and large leaded win­dows.

The 1800s grand piano and 200-year-old grand­fa­ther clock still grace the grand lobby.

Walker says the English manor house theme of­fers guests and res­i­dents an el­e­gant yet re­laxed ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We want peo­ple to feel em­braced, not im­posed upon.”

Res­i­dents can choose to be left alone or pam­pered with such ho­tel ser­vices as house­keep­ing, 24-hour concierge, valet and but­ler.

“You can call the but­ler when you’re com­ing back to press your trousers, stock the fridge, pur­chase wine or tick­ets to a show,” says Walker.

Like in a manor house, guests and res­i­dents have ac­cess to all com­mon ar­eas, in­clud­ing the new Widow’s Walk and clock tower.

They can choose to take a meal in the draw­ing room or bil­liards room or grand lobby. Or ask the chef to pre­pare a meal served in their suite.

Re­turn­ing ameni­ties in­clude the din­ner theatre pro­gram and the out­door ad­ven­ture pro­gram.

New ameni­ties in­clude three sea­side pools — the only hot ther­a­peu­tic pools on Van­cou­ver Is­land — a fit­ness cen­tre and spa, four restau­rants, a pub­lic wine tast­ing cel­lar and meet­ing rooms.

Three un­der­ground lev­els of park­ing in­clude stalls and garages for per­ma­nent res­i­dents.

Six of the 20 Pri­vate Res­i­dences on the fourth and fifth floors have been sold.

The re­main­ing units are priced be­tween $1.1 mil­lion and $3.5 mil­lion. Unit sizes range from 900 square feet for a one-bed­room to 2,300 square feet for a lofted pent­house two-bed­room plus den.

All units have a fire­place, hard­wood floors, heated mar­ble tiles in bath­room and kitchen, sep­a­rate heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing con­trols in each room, a bal­cony, a pri­vate garage, and all the ho­tel ameni­ties.

Half of the 100 Va­ca­tion Ho­tel Suites have been sold.

In pur­chas­ing a VHS, the owner en­ters into a con­tract lease with Oak Bay Beach Ho­tel for a per­cent­age of the pur­chase price and re­ceives rev­enue ev­ery month when not oc­cu­py­ing the suite.

The prop­erty tax, strata fees, fur­nish­ings, main­te­nance and util­i­ties are paid for by the ho­tel. The owner pays a daily $12 to $20 util­i­ties fee when us­ing the suite.

The only caveat is that own­ers not stay longer than three of their 16 an­nual weeks dur­ing the ho­tel’s high sea­son, from May to Septem­ber

The three ho­tel-suite con­fig­u­ra­tions in­clude a 400-to 500-square­foot stu­dio with bal­cony; a 500-to 650-square­foot ju­nior suite with kitchen and bal­cony; and a 750-square-foot one-bed­room with kitchen and bal­cony.

The ho­tel suites range from $339,000 to $1.9 mil­lion, and in­clude a f ire­place, un­der­ground stall park­ing and ac­cess to all ho­tel ameni­ties and ser­vices.

Twelve units on the ground level are pet-friendly, with gar­den pa­tios and di­rect ac­cess to the land­scaped grounds.

“The ho­tel is built to be a Cana­dian icon,” says Walker.

The de­vel­oper is of­fer­ing a time-lim­ited money-back guar­an­tee: If you buy be­fore March 15, and ul­ti­mately are not sat­is­fied with your VHS, you can re­turn your keys for a full re­fund at the end of 24 months.

Pho­tos, Cour­tesy, Oak Bay Beach Ho­tel

The orig­i­nal Tu­dor-style Oak Bay Beach Ho­tel at sun­set. Much of the style of the land­mark ho­tel has been pre­served, in­clud­ing a replica of the ho­tel’s grand lobby.

The re­stored lobby will in­clude an 1800s grand piano and a 200-yearold grand­fa­ther clock. The ho­tel has a panoramic view of the ocean, in­clud­ing the San Juan Is­lands and Mount Baker.

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