THUNDER BAY – Embracing the past is going to be the future for the Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel.
The city’s historic, century-old north downtown core hotel on Thursday announced plans for a rebrand and a multimillion dollar renovation that will invoke memories of its early history.
Hotel general manager Tony Scarcello said the project is budgeted at between $3 million and $4 million and will be done in several phases with completion expected to take a couple of years.
“We’ve been here for over 100 years – 107 years. We have a lot of history. We’re not a cookie-cutter. We’re one of a kind. I think the guest experience is going to be a lot different than other properties,” Scarcello said.
“We find not only our older guests but our younger guests look for the history. We’ve had paintings up, pictures up of old soldiers going off to war. People stop to look at those pictures so there is an interest in history.”
One of the first hotels in Thunder Bay, the 120-room Prince Arthur now finds itself in a much different landscape than it did in 1911.
“The hotel industry is changing. We’re not the only property in town anymore,” Scarcello said. “We felt it was time for us to change and think about our future.”
The renovations include an updated look to the exterior façade with canopies and flags while the interior will have a refurbished main lobby, ballroom, updated guest rooms and a new elevator.
Classic features such as the staircase, mezzanine balcony railing, crown moldings and the 100-year-old marble will remain.
“A lot of the characteristics of the hotel will remain intact. We won’t be changing anything like that but we’re going to make it a little more modernized with the comforts of today but with the look of yesterday,” Scarcello said.
Stephanie Ash, the chief executive officer of Firedog Communications which led the rebranding concept, said the Prince Arthur is still seen as Thunder Bay’s original hotel.
The new design returns the hotel to its regal roots, with a colour scheme that predominantly features royal blue accents. The revamped logo plays off the old PA emblem.
Ash, herself a British expat, saw the project as a special opportunity to work with the British family that owns the hotel.
“There’s very little British history left in Thunder Bay and so we can really be something very unique and we’re really excited to look at guest experiences as this brand rolls out, bringing historical experiences and British experiences, to this hotel that are one of a kind,” Ash said.
Waterfront District BIA chair Jim Comuzzi called the hotel a cornerstone of the downtown core.
“The excitement that everybody is building in this area is unbelievable,” Comuzzi said. “To bring this iconic building back to the way it was back in (1911), it’s amazing. I’ve spent my whole life in this downtown core and seeing the Prince Arthur come back to life is amazing.”