Hotel business booming

Penticton is experiencing a major building boom recently, with the South Okanagan hotel business following suit.

If approved, the 75-room hotel going before council on Tuesday would be the fourth new hotel tower to be built in the South Okanagan in less than two years.

Mundi Hotel Enterprises is getting ready to start construction on 95 and 80-room hotels in Penticton and Oliver, respectively, while the Penticton Lakeside Resort’s expansion opened in July.

“It’s wonderful place,” laughed Ron Mundi, when asked about his large bet on the region.

Kamloops-based Mundi has owned and managed hotels since 2000, currently with six properties in Kamloops, Edmonton and Lethbridge.

He said research into the Penticton market leads him to believe there is room for a new hotel in the Peach City, particularly a “Fairfield by Marriott.”

“I don’t see a level of that branded hotel in Penticton,” he said, adding close proximity to the SOEC and casino made the opportunity more attractive.

In Oliver, where he is building the community’s very first full-service hotel, he pointed to the flourishing wine industry and Area 27 speedway.

The Town of Oliver has been trying to attract a hotelier to town for a decade, and Mundi says he has “no doubt” he will have success in Oliver.

With both properties aiming to open for next summer, Mundi said he expects plenty of synergy between the two, with Oliver picking up some of the overflow from Penticton in the white-hot months of July and August.

But the manager of the Ramada Penticton Hotel and Suites says they have seen growth outside of traditional tourist season, leading them to propose the new hotel tower council will discuss on Tuesday.

“We are finally starting to see the demand in the South Okanagan, so it's just timing for us to have that piece of property available and be able to hopefully open up a new hotel soon,” Jessica (Agur) Dolan said.

“More tourists, but also just more year round guests, I think the construction in the South Okanagan has helped, the new hospital definitely helps, the new casino helped, we are getting more shoulder season business. It's not just July and August anymore,” she added.

Between the four projects, 315 hotel rooms could be added to the local market.

In Penticton, the new hotel builds will further an extraordinary period of growth for the city, with city staff reporting earlier this month building permit applications are up 35 per cent, with inspections up 38 per cent over the same time last year.

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