US$5.1 billion of high end hotels heading to Canada

Pictured: the site for the BMO Centre Hotel planned for Calgary.
With tourism in Canada working its way back up to pre-pandemic levels, there is a positive mood in hotel development circles, as THP data indicates at least US$5.1 billion has been earmarked for high end projects.

Destination Canada reported that in the year to date to March 2023, year-to-date international arrivals stood at 82% of 2019 levels, with 2.5 million visitors in Q1. This included 1.7 million visitors from the US (85% of 2019) and 752,000 visitors from overseas (75% of 2019).

Pipeline progress

According to THP information, the Canadian upper segment hotel pipeline numbers a minimum of 72 hotels and 12,036 keys.

This represents a 3% rise on the site total in the last 12 months, as when we last took the temperature of Canadian hotel developments, there were 70 on the way.

Development hotspot

High end hotel hubs in Canada are led by Toronto in Ontario province, with at least 13 projects underway.

Kelowna in the westernmost province of British Columbia (BC) is the runner-up on five, while the third spot is shared by BC neighbours Vancouver and Victoria, as well as capital city Ottowa in Ontario, all on four apiece.

Project types

THP records suggest that the upscale segment is in the ascendency, with 78% of the high end pipeline being four star projects, equivalent to 56 sites, as compared to 16 five stars.

Greenfield sites are also proving popular in this vast nation, with 85% of developments being newbuilds (61 hotels), as against seven conversions and four refurbishments.

Long term leads

Upper segment hotel developers seem to be looking more at medium term return on investments, as openings currently peak in 2025, with a minimum of 25 scheduled.

Prior to that, at least 14 projects are due to complete in 2024, plus another three by the end of this year. Further ahead, nine more are slated for 2026, while the remaining 21 have yet to be designated a delivery date.

This pattern is reflected in the project stages of THP’s entries, with 37 in a planning phase, nine in pre-planning and another two at a vision stage, compared to 21 under construction and three in pre-opening.

Brand battle

Some of the major hotel groups are in a close fight for new high end hotel space, with at least 15 developments underway for Hyatt Hotels Corporation and a minimum of 14 projects for Marriott International. Furthermore, Hilton Worldwide has at least seven sites on the slate.

In terms of individual brands, we see that Hyatt’s upscale Hyatt Place line has at least nine additions allocated for Canada, while two Marriott brands claim the remaining podium spots, with Courtyard by Marriott on four and Fairfield by Marriott on three.

Ones to watch

Major projects in the Canadian pipeline include a BMO Centre Convention Hotel recently given planning permission in Calgary. The 220-key site will be a 31,000 sq ft parcel in the city’s culture and entertainment district, at the north entrance to Stampede Park. With opening slated for 2025, the property is being planned as a 4-4.5 star boutique lifestyle hotel offering four food and beverage offerings, and expanded amenities including a fitness centre and 11,000 sq ft of meeting space.

Meanwhile, one of the Hyatt Place additions, Hyatt Place & Residences Toronto, is taking shape in Canada’s most populous city, in the form of a 32-storey tower. This will combine 239 hotel rooms and apartment units, with delivery planned for Q4 2024.