In the late 1800’s Brantford-Brant was a burgeoning community as a centre for Canadian industrialism and growth.
The majestic hotels welcoming the wealthy of the time included: Hotel Kirby 1852; Bodega Hotel 1850s; Brant Hotel 1858; and The Arlington in Paris 1850. By the 1960’s all were lost to fire except the Arlington, pictured above today, since renovated to a modern facility.
In the 1960’s there was great hotel construction phase including: Jolly Baron (also known as Holiday Inn/ Quality Inn/ Brantford Hotel) now under demolition; Comfort Inn; Days Inn; and Best Western. These latter three are still proud to be serving our visitors and tourists today. However, the limited hotel capacity induced the construction of less expensive motel accommodations proliferated along Colborne Street.
The need for high-end overnight or business extended stay capacity has exceeded the supply for several decades.
Between 2006 and 2010 much of downtown was razed or re-purposed and significantly led by residential developer Gabriel Kirchberger including a novelty themed Bodega Inn Extended Stay Suites. This and the development of Laurier Brantford was an incentive for vast hospitality growth in the downtown core.
However, with a lack hotel vacancies, sports tournaments were handicapped in offering visiting teams’ local access. Events and concerts saw guests leaving the day they arrived and coming back after spending the night at other community’s accommodations. It was detrimental to the hospitality industry specifically and economic development generally.
Visionaries identified the need and offered solutions including changes in the downtown area but were not necessarily enthusiastically welcomed by consecutive municipal decision makers.
Vranich Developments included hotels in his downtown core vision for re-purposing as well as other amenities to support growth.
One artistic rendering by artist Mike Swanson included a complete rebuilding of downtown to include accommodations, restaurants and access to the Grand River activity for tourism. However, beyond the Laurier/YMCA construction in the last year, little has been done to date.
Over the past decade and not without incredible struggles including standoffs by native protesters, and a slump in economic development, four new deluxe hotels have risen to help fill the needs of Brantford-Brant: Hampton Inn – Hilton (Danny Bawa); TownePlace Suites – Marriot (Bawa); Holiday Inn Express (Darko Vranich); Home2Suites – Hilton (Vranich).
Both the Vranich corporation and the Bawa family saw the opportunity and moved to invest in the future of Brantford-Brant. The Hampton Inn, on 403 near the Northwest Industrial Section of Brantford is a jewel in the Hilton chain and Danny Bawa persevered through the troubled native protests at considerable financial loss to meet the needs for business and sports guests. Then Darko Vranich brought his extensive hotel experience to East Brantford near Cainsville to build the Holiday Inn Express. Seeing the incredible market upswing, Vranich added the exclusive Home2Suites which opened this Fall also designed by Hilton giving extended stay suites for businesses.
And in November, the Bawa family just did a ribbon cutting for their Marriot TownePlace Suites.
The Marriott property boasts: the largest full-service conference room, 8000 square feet, in Brant/Brantford, for up to 600 people including all audio and visual needs that can be divided into smaller thirds if necessary; suites with jacuzzi tubs; full sized refrigerators; Board facilities; Wi-Fi and convenient technology accessible environments.
All of the new hotels offer: accessible rooms, up to two queen or a king-sized beds; complimentary state-of-the-art work-out facilities; and a salt water pool.
The hospitality industry can now welcome all sized conferences, sports teams, weddings trade shows and special event amenities as well as approximately 400 additional first class rooms and suites practically doubling previous capacity.
The recent hospitality boon to Brant/Brantford is an invitation to new visitors and events that brings in tens of thousands of economic development/ tourism dollars through the hoteliers and other local businesses each month.