March 4

UPDATE: Oak Bay Beach Hotel in receivership

Lenders called in loans, online community responds with support

  • Thu Dec 4th, 2014 6:00am
  • News

A Vancouver Court has appointed a receiver to take over operations of the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.

“This is not a reflection of the calibre of management team we have at the hotel, which is exceptional,” hotel owner Kevin Walker said in a release last Thursday. “Our real estate sales have been under performing and our lenders were no longer patient. Shawna and I will collaborate with Ernst & Young and their team and we wish to thank everyone who supported us over the years. While our hearts are breaking over this decision by the courts we are extremely proud of the level of hospitality we brought to Victoria.”

While the hotel operations are exceeding expectations, real estate sales were struggling and the lenders called in their loans, they said in their statement.

The struggles with the real estate sales didn’t come as a surprise to Oak Bay realtor Cassie Kangas.

“I love the new hotel, it’s fantastic. But the real estate, the units were poorly designed and they were overpriced. They overvalued what they’d be able to get for those,” said Kangas, with DFH Real Estate.

She said the units sold as hotel rooms and put into a rental pool were fine, but those being sold as condos were getting little interest from buyers.

“I’ve showed the units and people just didn’t like the design,” said Kangas. “They were just awkwardly designed, and the higher priced ones were the most awkwardly designed.”

She said it’s going to be tough for whoever takes over the real estate operations at the hotel because it’s impossible to change the configurations of the rooms and they will have difficulty in adjusting the price enough to attract buyers.

“They’ve done in-house marketing, they’ve done marketing with realtors on MLS and the feedback’s been the same from everybody — international clientele, local clientele, it’s all been the same.”

Within an hour of the online announcement an outpouring of support filled the comment section.

“This stinks, the Walkers have worked so hard to ensure Victoria and its guests continue to enjoy the beauty and pleasure of a grand lady. The staff at the OBBH are shining examples of exemplary hospitality,” wrote Gyneth Erskine Turner. “The careful craftsmanship of the renovation is evidence of a vision to create both a beautiful and durable building able to withstand the ravages of time. How sad that the fickle winds of commerce will exclude them from continued stewardship.”

The Walkers state that hotel operations will not be impacted.

Bruce Walker and business partner Glenn Anderson bought the Oak Bay Beach Hotel in 1972. Bruce’s son Kevin and daughter-in-law Shawna purchased the hotel in 1995. In 2006, the doors to the hotel were closed and reconstruction began.

The current 100-room hotel and 20 luxury residences opened in spring 2013. It was built on the same oceanfront lot the previous hotel at 1175 Beach Dr. Amenities include seaside mineral pools, a fitness centre, Boathouse Spa and Baths, The Snug pub, the David Foster Foundation Theatre and a fine-dining restaurant.

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com