When the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre opened its doors for business, welcoming guests for the first time just over two years ago, it was heralded as the first new hotel to be built on Manitoulin Island in more than a century.
Its location is spectacular: on the waterfront, beside the Manitoulin Tourism Association’s Welcome Centre and the very first commercial structure the Island side of the swing bridge.
A new, modern hotel is a good thing for the Manitoulin Island economy as it offers the possibility of providing accommodation for large groups, including bus tours, whose participants in practical terms need to be housed under the same roof.
The same thing goes for people coming to Manitoulin for conferences and seminars for unless this sort of accommodation is available to them, they will hold their events in communities where everyone can stay together.
The six First Nations who own and operate the new hotel have been very brave over the past two years in directly managing the facility themselves, with hiring appointments undertaken by a local board of directors comprised of members from the six ownership communities.
This has been an important initial phase of being in “the hotel business” and learning first hand the complexities of the operation of a 60-plus room facility and all that goes with it.
It is a logical next step that a professional hospitality management firm has been engaged to oversee the direction and training of staff and the further development of the hotel and the expansion of its services.
The hotel’s board of directors now knows a great deal about what the hotel can be and, so, with this important two years’ experience, is in an ideal position to understand and comment on the decisions of its new management partners.
It was a brave and bold initiative on the part of the six partner First Nation communities to build a new hotel and then to operate it themselves and the foresight that went into the conception and construction of the new landmark is now being applied to ensuring its long-term success.