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Acquisition of Winnipeg’s Fairmont Hotel a positive thing, says one expert

Ownership of the Fairmont Hotel in Winnipeg changed hands earlier this week in a move that one expert calls positive and exciting.

The hotel was acquired by a subsidiary of James Richardsons and Sons Limited, according to a release by the corporation on Thursday. The hotel, reads the release, will continue to operate under the Fairmont brand.

It had originally been developed and owned by the corporation until it was sold in 2000.

Natalie Thiesen, vice president of tourism with Economic Development Winnipeg, said it’s the news about an investment into an important property like the Fairmont is extremely positive. Adding that Winnipeg has a varying style of hotels across the city.

“What’s exciting about this announcement is the investment in the product. Any investment in elevating room experiences to refreshing hotel needs (and) upgrades every few years. Given the frequency of visits and changes within the property,” Thiesen said.

“That allows us as Tourism Winnipeg to remain more competitive, in a very competitive market, post-Covid. To attract meetings and conventions… as well as film production crews for the film industry, which I know Fairmont is also a recipient of a good segment of that business as well.”

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In the release, corporation president Hartley Richardson said that the heart of Winnipeg is an essential part of its identity and reputation.

“(We) are making this investment with the utmost confidence in the future of our downtown, which is the corporate home of the major of our operating businesses,” he said.

Thiesen noted that Winnipeg’s hotel industry has rebounded to pre-COVID numbers, with visitation levels similar to how it was in 2019. Forecasts in occupancy numbers, Thiesen added, show an increase.

And as the numbers increase, so does the demand for more capacity.

“Sometimes the challenge is ensuring that we can accommodate the room requirement based on the inventory that we have… that’s a challenge and also an opportunity for future investment,” Thiesen said.

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