One Hotel’s story of opening in the time of Covid, proves that good things happen to those who don’t wait. This is how the Sutton Place Hotel Halifax came to life.
The tourism industry has a huge bag of challenges in 2020, that can primarily be brought down to the Pandemic and the economy. There are many offshoots and variations of what this means to specific businesses in specific countries and regions, but this is the causal focus that all of the industry has been focused on to one degree or another. And while businesses either struggle or thrive as they reinvent themselves, we are all witnessing that some visionaries are able to pull beauty, enjoyment and economic success out of these veritable ashes. There are some that dare to challenge what is perceived in this moment as the norm, and to lead in a very unique and unexpected way.
In September of 2020, right in the thick of the Pandemic, The Sutton Place Halifax was just such an entity, gallantly continuing forward where many have not. Opening a hotel anytime is a huge undertaking, but the Sutton Place Halifax chose to do it in the middle of these uncertain, downward trending times; the Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020.
We were intrigued and impressed by this undertaking, and the hotel itself, and had to ask questions. I met with Director of Sales & Marketing Lori Forward in the small, already popular, sophisticated lobby of the property, where your eyes immediately venture upward to admire the large chandeliers, dropping from the ceiling like stunning gilded cages holding glowing orbs of light. The hot pink and green velvets immediately invite you to sit, surrounded by slabs of rich green and black marble. Lori is a petit blond with an effervescent personality that is also all business.
We sat and removed our masks as I commented on how busy the place was. “It’s either the happy hour or pre-dinner drinks for Chop! It’s always packed around this time.” She commented. A glass of lovely Rose for me and a tea for her hit the table, and we started talking.
My first question was: HOW and WHY did you open a new property during a Pandemic? Wasn’t this unbelievably hard?
It’s ALWAYS hard to open a new property, and this one had been in the works for quite some time. We were excited to do it and just felt we had to continue. With such a large investment, we would have never wanted to NOT open, and as this is our first hotel property in Atlantic Canada, we were incredibly excited to open our beautiful hotel in downtown Halifax.
It’s true though, opening a hotel during a pandemic is something on a new level that most people have never experienced. There are construction timelines to follow, staff members to hire, sales and marketing campaigns to launch, and almost always, an unexpected hiccup to handle and THEN we have to add Covid precautions and training. Our guests and team’s health and safety is, of course, our highest priority, and we understand staying at a hotel is a different experience right now, so we launched Sutton Place PureClean at all of our hotel locations to ensure guests can book and stay with absolute confidence. That was number one.
Sutton Place PureClean is a hygiene and cleanliness program that was developed to elevate our existing hygiene and cleanliness protocols, so everyone can feel safe and comfortable on property, whether they are staying or working at any of our Hotels. As part of this program, we have partnered with ECOLAB, global experts in hygiene, to use their industry-leading solutions and programs, so, as you can see, we took it very seriously.
One of our servers checked on us as Lori quickly answered a text. She apologized “We have a lot going on right now and we are all hands on deck ensuring everyone arriving is greeted with the amazing Sutton Place welcome experience.”
I had to agree, the place was bustling, and at the time of this interview, Halifax had no cases, yet everyone was enjoying the venue while obviously following the Pandemic protocols. Tables were well separated, no one was table-hopping, it was running like an energetic clock, with a very cool vibe.
So tell me about this location, why here?
Well, we are extremely proud to be located within the design-forward Nova Centre, in fact, we are the last piece of the puzzle in the Nova Centre. We are pretty proud of the modern elegance, rich materials and details. There is a nautical theme that is perfect with the gorgeous views. Of course, it’s all about the people and the warm, genuine welcome you’ll receive here make it stand on its own in this incredibly beautiful city. We are so thrilled to open the first Maritime location of the Sutton Place brand in Halifax and in a brand new Canadian region and hope our guests are pleased with what we’ve accomplished. We feel that this hotel offers a new level of modest luxury for the Halifax market.
Can you fill me in on a few things you think are special to this property, in general and maybe related to the Covid-19 situation?
Oh sure, there are actually quite a few: we have a lot of built-in and automated in-room amenities, the spa-inspired bathrooms are jaw-dropping, and, one of my favourites, the floor to ceiling windows just, well, perfectly capture the spectacular views of downtown, The Halifax Harbour, and historical Citadel Hill. We literally offer panoramic views.
A lot of properties have fitness facilities, but ours are pretty upscale, being equipped with a recoiled floor for optimal comfort and performance. Oh, and an outdoor patio oasis is next, it will include an outdoor hot tub and fire pits surrounded by lush soft seating; a perfect place to relax and immerse yourself in even MORE of the panoramic views of Halifax.
You think a lot of Halifax, don’t you?
Oh, this is a beautiful city, with so much to see and do, now THAT I could go on forever about, but just let me say that we’ve built a beautiful hotel in a beautiful city!
At that moment Lori’s phone beeped again, “Oh, I’m sorry, I really have to go, we have our first group arriving at the Hotel and I’m excited to greet them!” and with that we said our goodbyes and she left as I settled down to finish my wine. I spent a bit of time in the lounge, before moving on to meet a guest for dinner, across the lobby at Chop Steakhouse, which, as it turns out, is the first Chop in eastern Canada. The food and ambience were great, with an east-coast flare it delivered the quality I expect from this boutique brand.
Having traveled the globe in television production myself, I would have to agree with Lori’s assessment of the property, this new Sutton Place Hotel does stand up on the world stage and is definitely becoming a popular gem for the locals that are primarily filling it these days, during Covid lockdowns. I’m curious to see what the reviews and comments will be when international visitors are able to come here more freely. They’re in for a very luxurious and pleasant surprise. This new grand hotel proves that good things don’t always happen to those who wait, and the bold will often be rewarded.