Growth starts to level for Oak Bay hotel

Accommodation occupancy averaged four per cent higher across Greater Victoria last year compared to 2015

Madone Pelan

Madone Pelan

Oak Bay Beach Hotel continues to feel the early rush of being new when it comes to growth numbers.

“It’s an exciting time to be in this industry and for me to be at this resort, we’re seeing fantastic numbers,” said Madone Pelan, director of sales and marketing at Oak Bay Beach Hotel. “Much like most of Victoria, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel saw significant growth in 2016. We are all very proud of it.”

Realistically, as a newer hotel, they expect to see large growth in jumps. They grew 10 per cent in 2016, doubling Victoria’s number of five per cent. Last year it was closer to 20 per cent.

“We expect to slow to five per cent in 2017. That will bring us much more in line with the rest of the city,” Pelan said. “It’s beginning to level off and we’re starting to see the same patterns as the rest of the city.”

Greater Victoria’s accommodation sector reported an average occupancy of 74.23 per cent in 2016, up more than four per cent from the average of 70.16 per cent in 2015, according to statistics released by Chemistry Consulting. The average daily room rate was $159.55 in 2016, up $11.81 from $147.74 in 2015. Revenue per available room was also up, jumping $14.78 to reach $118.43 in 2016.

“There are many factors favouring the tourism industry across Canada, but I think what we’re seeing is that everyone in Greater Victoria is rowing in the same direction,” Paul Nursey, president and CEO of Tourism Victoria, said in a news release. “Our team works closely with business and all levels of government to make sure we’re ready when opportunity knocks. Most importantly, Tourism Victoria has a strategy to put more conference business on the books outside of our traditional high season, and we are working to diversify our leisure travel business. Combined, this will create more reasons for people to visit and invest in our destination.”

Group business tends to book in advance, providing a foundation to build on.

“It wasn’t an area of a lot of focus prior to me coming on board,” Pelan said. “That was my background so coming over to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel with that focus we’ve made some inroads to building that business.”

With a strategic focus on those type of bookings, there are early indicators the Oak Bay destination should do well this year and next, Pelan says.

“We’re pacing ahead with some great group business and weddings already in 2017 and into 2018,” she said.

While there are many rooms in the downtown core returning to the inventory this season after renovations, the boutique nature, and

“We’re a bit more insulated from those impacts downtown,” she said.

Last year, Greater Victoria benefited from positive international coverage, spotlighted as a “must visit” destination in Vogue and featuring prominently as the backdrop for stories about the Royal Visit. Victoria earned the No. 7 spot on a list of Best Cities in the World (outside the U.S.) by Conde Nast’s 2016 Readers’ Choice survey – ahead of world-class cities such as Paris and Barcelona.

“We know that tourism has been very strong and these numbers match our expectations,” said Bill Lewis, chair of Tourism Victoria.

“All the fundamentals are in place for another strong year as we look to build on the momentum of the last two years. With Canada turning 150, and the New York Times and Lonely Planet naming our country as the No. 1 place to visit, there is every reason to believe the tourism industry will continue to be a major driver for Greater Victoria’s economy in 2017.”

By the numbers

Statistics compiled by Chemistry Consulting also show more people travelled to Greater Victoria in 2016 compared to the year before. Victoria International Airport reported 1,856,099 people arrived in 2016, the most ever recorded. And B.C. Ferries had increases in the number of vehicles (1,924,872), passengers (6,131,210) and buses (22,539) in 2016.

It was also a banner year for the Victoria Conference Centre. The VCC had a double-digit increase in the number of delegate days, recording 106,808 in 2016 compared to 96,590 in 2015.