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'Very good opportunity': 172-room hotel finally opens in Nanaimo

A long awaited hotel in downtown Nanaimo has finally opened.

After a soft opening in March, the Courtyard by Mariott hotel has officially opened its doors in the Harbour City.

"Opening a hotel in the spring time on Vancouver Island is the time you want to be doing it," said Ryan McRae, senior vice president for business development for hotel firm Hotel Equities.

The 172-room hotel is posed for success, according to Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog, and in the middle of that expected long term success is the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

The nation played a key role in getting the nearly two-decade project to fruition.

The hotel sits on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, and its location has a lot of historical significance.

"It's one of our main village sites where a lot of our people lived over time," said Snuneymuxw Chief Mike Wyse.

Several Snuneymuxw members also work at the hotel, including in management roles.

"Snuneymuxw First Nation are a key partner for us on this," said McRae. "They actually have a significant ownership interest in the asset."

Local First Nation art can also be seen throughout the hotel.

An opening ceremony for the Courtyard by Mariott hotel in Nanaimo is shown. June 1, 2023. (CTV News)"It’s a very good opportunity for our people, our community, that gave us the greenlight to move forward," said Wyse.

"We really wanted to create a sense of place [that's] local here to the Snuneymuxw territory and the City of Nanaimo," added McRae.

In April, construction of a new foot passenger ferry terminal for service between Nanaimo and Vancouver began as well.

The Snuneymuxw First Nation is a partner in that long awaited venture too.

It's a project that's taken just as long as the hotel to develop.

"We are so connected to this land and being a part of the progress moving forward is such a big uplifting for our community," said Wyse.

The Courtyard by Mariott is also expected to attract larger events to the Vancouver Island Conference Centre across the street, which will boost the local economy and help revitalize the downtown core.

Just don't expect to get a room in the next few days.

"We are actually fully sold out," said McRae. "One hundred per cent occupied."

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