Inn at the Quay renovation: South Beach on a budget

From Canadian Lodging News, April, 2010

Doris Hager of Hager and Associates interior design describes the Inn at the Quay in New Westminster before its latest renovation as an “anywhere kind of hotel” in spite of the lobby’s floor-to-ceiling windows and striking interior balcony. In 2007, when Narland Properties and Atlific Hotels took over as owner and manager of the hotel respectively, they wanted a dramatic change.

n 2007, when Narland Properties and Atlific Hotels & Resorts took over as owner and manager of the hotel respectively, they wanted a dramatic change.

“They wanted to breathe some spark and life into it, with a ‘West of South Beach theme’—West Coast casual with a South Beach twist,” says Hager. But they wanted it done for very tight budget — $1.11 million for 126-room hotel.

The designers played on the airy architectural space in the two-storey lobby, softening the window using white sheers, and adding little glass globes for sparkle. “Previously, it felt like you were sitting in the parking lot,” says Hager.

A colourful, dynamic hand-tufted carpet anchors a more casual seating area. “Lobbies are active — you can sit in the lobby and read a book, get out of your room,” Hager explains.

The front desk was a “1980s type oak, bull-nosed desk”. The designers added high-gloss white tile, and painted the oak panelling gray to make the front desk area more contemporary.

The $1.11 million price tag also included redoing all the soft finishes in the guestrooms, vanities, wallcoverings and lighting in the guest bathrooms, all the guest corridors, the fitness area, the main entry exterior, landscaping and signage.

Hager worked closely with Atlific’s western VP, Bob Leoppky, drawing on Atlific’s knowledge of products and resources to complete the reno.

The result is an “unbranded boutique property at a three-star level with a four-star feel,” Hager says.

But the changes were more than skin deep, according to general manager Kathy MacKerricher, who has been at the Inn for 21 years.

“The whole culture changed at the hotel as well. We now have a complimentary Tuesday Wine Flight Night, where guests can sample five to seven different wines from different countries and parts of the province. And on Saturdays, from 3:00 until 5:00, we serve champagne with chocolate-dipped strawberries. This allows hotel guests to come down, mix and mingle. Sometimes we have half the hotel guests down there,” MacKerricher says.

She feels the hotel really got value for their investment in beds and bedding, bathrobes and spa-inspired bathrooms, plus Cutler Salon bath amenities (by celebrity stylist Rodney Cutler).

The hotel has very loyal business clients, who have business in New Westminster, which is located on the Fraser River southeast of downtown Vancouver.

“During the renovation, our hotel guests were really good about stepping over cords, and they were glad to see the changes. The colours are fresh and bright, though some men were not too sure about the pink,” says MacKerricher.