Beach hotel ‘best’ of both worlds
Several owner options offered
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.
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.