Peter Watts is a big picture kinda guy.
With a diverse background that includes management of award-winning hotel properties, resorts and restaurants, Watts has a clear vision of what it’s going to take to make the recently opened Microtel Inn & Suites in Oyster Bay a success.
“I want to get more people coming to the Cowichan Valley and if that happens we’ll get more heads in beds,” says Watts, who managed the Best Western Hotel in Chemainus for several years and has played an integral role in the development of Tourism Cowichan.
“My whole mission with Tourism Cowichan is to take off my hat as a hotelier and focus on tourism,” he explains.
The 81-room Microtel Inn & Suites, operating under the Wyndham brand, opened this week. The project is a partnership of MaterBUILT Hotels and the Stz’uminus First Nation through its Oyster Bay Development Corp.
Located on the Stz’uminus First Nation land, just north of Ladysmith, it’s a key component of a commercial development on 18.5 acres of land at the intersection of Oyster Sto’Lo Road and the Trans Canada Highway.
Ladysmith Credit Union, a gas bar and a Tim Hortons outlet are already located on the site and future developments could include a restaurant and other retailers.
Watts says the Microtel concept embraces rooms and suites that are slightly smaller than other hotels but are built for efficiency and comfort. Rates range from about $139 to $189 depending on season.
Amenities include an exercise room, business centre and a state-of-the-art pool and waterslide facility.
The Oyster Bay property is the newest in a chain of Microtel Inns & Suites by Wyndham that includes more than 300 hotels worldwide, including 15 in Canada with another 35 scheduled to open by 2021.
Watts suggests the location at Oyster Bay couldn’t be more ideal. The hotel fills a void that has plagued Ladysmith for many years and with the Nanaimo airport just a short drive up the highway, Watts says he’s pursing a number of partnerships in the business and tourism sectors.
“I’ve been talking to the wineries and Wild Play and others. We’d like to work with restaurants and work with various events,” he says.
The hotel will be a catalyst for future development and commercial expansion in the region, Watts predicts, adding the Ladysmith business community is keen to get involved.
“I am providing the wagon. They have to put the horse in front and we’ll go places. There is so much potential here.”
A grand opening is planned for late June.