Len Wansbrough, president of Metropolitan Hospitality, shows off one of the refurbished rooms in Saanichton’s Motel 6 to Al Hasham, former president of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. Metropolitan Hospitality purchased the former Western 66 Motor Inn from long-time owner Charlie Danbrook (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

New Saanich Peninsula hotel owners see plenty of room in the inn business

New Motel 6 in Saanichton aims to leverage off its location near airport

A group of local entrepreneurs believe a refurbished hotel in a familiar location will help them succeed in the competitive accommodation industry.

The first Motel 6 on Vancouver Island officially opened its doors Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included representatives from Metropolitan Hospitality, the company that purchased and renovated the hotel from its previous owner, and Realstar Hospitality, the company that franchises Motel 6 in Canada. Also presented was Nick Claxton, Chief of the Tsawout Nation.

“We see a good niche market here, and we are committed to the hospitality industry,” said Len Wansbrough, president of Metropolitan Hospitality, in an interview before the ribbon-cutting. “The property is well established after being here for 35 years, so we are kind of leveraging off that. By renovating the property, we are becoming better than our competitors and we want to provide a better guest stay and try to compete in that realm.”

Metropolitan Hospitality purchased the hotel from long-time owner Charlie Danbrook following his retirement. Danbrook, who is turning 90 years old this year, had operated the hotel as Western 66 Motor Inn for 35 years in the 2400-block of Mount Newton Cross Road just off Highway 17.

Metropolitan Hospitality’s purchase extends the portfolio of the company. It also owns Holiday Express Inn in Colwood and manages Saanich’s Howard Johnson by Wyndham Victoria Elk Lake Hotel and Suites, along with a couple of other properties.

Wansbrough said the hotel has an attractive location. “It’s close to [the Victoria International Airport], the ferries, and Butchart Gardens, ” he said. It also lies near the industrial area that has sprung up around the airport, a fact that generates a lot of corporate traffic. “Proximity to the airport is pretty key,” he said.

The categories of customers that stay at the location include out-of-town construction crews, as well as residents from other parts of Vancouver Island such as the Cowichan Valley, who are travelling through the airport, under a special program offered by the hotel.

The location also caters to travellers, who are looking for economy-level type of accommodations while visiting Victoria for various activities.

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“Downtown you can’t really get to the economy-scale market, but this is close,” said Wansbrough. For example, the location recently hosted out-of-town marathon participants, said Wanbrough. “So it’s quite a mix,” he said. “We also get overflow business from [travellers] who missed their ferries, or their flight got cancelled.”

The business also works closely with the Saanich Peninsula Hospital and Healthcare Foundation. “We have a program with them to rebate back to the foundation for preferred stay,” he said, adding later that the location also offers corporate, government, military and bereavement rates. “We want to be part of this community,” he said. “I’m from here. I’m not leaving and I want to support the growth of Victoria.”

Renovations to the 87-room-hotel started in early January 2009 and wrapped up in late August.

“Basically, we did all of the roofs and the exterior, the decking and the interiors are all re-done,” said Wansbrough. Those changes included new furniture, bedding, and other additions, he added. “We just brought it up to the next standard that customers expect today. We are pretty happy with the way it has turned out. Motel 6 has been a good brand for us to bring to Victoria.”

For Wansbrough, his involvement with the hotel also marks a return to an earlier part of his business career. “I was in the building supply business and sold [Danbrook] all of his building material.”


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