The Surrey Board of Trade’s ninth annual Surrey Industry Bus Tour last Friday wound up with a lunch at South Surrey’s Pacific Inn – where members got a sneak peek at plans and designs for an impending $25-million upgrade of the hotel.
Thomas Chen, general manager for new owners the Fountana Group, told the group of some 70 business people taking the tour that the hotel is to be renovated and rebranded as part of the Hilton chain’s Greentree brand, with work starting in September.
And, according to his slide presentation, that will mean the end of the iconic pseudo-exotic style of the 26 year-old hotel – long dubbed “the pink palace” by locals.
In its place, patrons can expect to see a more muted colour scheme including copper and grey tones and wood texture accents, subtle floor patterns, modern furnishing and indirect, “sparkly” lighting effects to create more interest in large spaces such as the lobby.
“You’re going to see a lot of marble and wood, somewhat like a contemporary west-coast style, but modernized,” he said.
The building will retain its high ceilings, open-plan common-areas, 150-room configuration creating uncommonly large suites, and unusual 50-50 ratio of banquet and meeting space to room space, he said.
But while the hotel’s pool will be retained, the grotto effect will be replaced by a rectangular shape, he added.
The redesign is meant to appeal not only to appeal to families and children, but also the business community as a resource for meetings and post-meeting relaxation, he said.
“We want to make our business part of your business,” he said.
Work on the hotel will likely require a window that could be “as short as 18 months and as long as two years,” he said.
“It’s going to be extensive.”
Chen noted that the hotel has “not had any major renovation and improvement since it was built in 1992.”
While also noting that illustrations in the presentation from CHIL Interior Design – internationally-recognized hospitality designers – were “conceptual” only – and subject to further decisions and fine-tuning – Chen left no doubt that the look of the hotel will change dramatically.
“We’re going to modernize pretty much everything. We’re realizing that it’s a skeleton only that we bought.”
Chen said that while renovation work was originally supposed to begin later this month, it was deemed advisable to hold off on demolition and reconstruction until the fall.
Until then, the hotel’s new management team, headed by manager Margarett Lange, will continue to operate with the existing decor and fittings.
“The summer is our test, our time to make sure we can run the hotel,” he said.
Lange told Peace Arch News that, while details have yet to be finalized, the hotel will likely operate through the renovation process, which would be conducted in phases.
“We want community involvement in the hotel,” she said. “Everyone here has some ties to the hotel, whether through attending weddings or other celebrations and events. We want to retain that tradition, while we show them a rebuilt hotel.”
Board of trade chief executive officer Anita Huberman described the hotel renovation as “an elegant investment into the city of Surrey – I’m looking forward to more meeting space (in the city),” following the presentation.
Three chartered buses took participants to different industrial locations throughout the city, where they learned about progressive and innovative advances by Surrey companies in a variety of fields.
“People are always amazed by all the industrial assets that Surrey has,” she told Peace Arch News, adding that among businesses her bus toured was the South Surrey plant of Advance Wire Products, which is increasingly specializing in retail display fittings.
“It’s really interesting to see that, in the Campbell Heights area, we’re manufacturing products used in grocery stores that are being shipped all over the world,” she said.
“Even though I’ve been with the board for 25 years, things that businesses do here in Surrey still surprise me.”