Hamilton Earns a Reputation as a Prime Spot for Events and Conferences

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Vrancor Group has invested over $250 million in the revitalization of downtown hamilton, built two new hotels and revamped a third, all in a matter of two blocks in just five years, and says it’s committed to further development in a city of “unlimited potential.”

Increased hotel capacity, a range of quality venues and attractions, and a “buzz” about the city are helping to significantly boost the number of events and conferences coming to Hamilton.

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“Hamilton has earned a tremendous reputation as a host city and has a large, loyal following of meetings and conventions that keep returning,” said Karen McQuade, regional director of sales and marketing for Vrancor Hospitality.

“Hamilton offers a convenient, easily accessible destination that guests love. But it’s the very authentic guest experience that keeps groups coming back.”

Vrancor Group owns 19 hotels in Ontario and has its headquarters in Hamilton. Its portfolio includes Sheraton Hamilton, which was fully renovated in 2013.

That same year, Vrancor built and opened Staybridge Suites Hamilton Downtown. It then earned the prestigious Developer of the Year award from Hilton Worldwide for its Homewood Suites by Hilton Hamilton, which opened in 2014.

Hamilton now has more than 1,600 first-class hotel rooms spread across the city, says Carrie Brooks-Joiner, Manager of Tourism and Events for Tourism Hamilton. Offerings include everything from historic boutique inns to charming bed and breakfasts to internationally recognized hotel chains.

Plans are in motion for several new hotels, including one at McMaster Innovation Park.

Hamilton’s hotel occupancy has grown close to 6 per cent since 2015. Increased hotel capacity enables the city to host large conventions and events, such as the JUNO Awards, the Canadian Country Music Week, the Tall Ships Regatta, the North American Indigenous Games, the Pan Am Games, American Public Gardens Association, and numerous top-billed concerts including Paul McCartney, Elton John, Tragically Hip and Garth Brooks.

Such events build on large, homegrown happenings in Hamilton, such as Around the Bay Road Race, Supercrawl, and Festival of Friends. Visitors are excited to explore numerous attractions, including local waterfalls, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Royal Botanical Gardens, and the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.

Hamilton is well known for hospitality and offers a long list of advantages, says Brooks-Joiner.

“There is so much we offer compared to other destinations in Ontario and Canada. Hamilton is a very real city. We have a very positive buzz about the city and its vitality. People want to be here.”

Midway between Toronto and Niagara Falls, Hamilton offers great highways, GO access, an expanded airport and a highly walkable downtown, says BrooksJoiner. In just minutes, you can be at the waterfront, hiking on the Niagara Escarpment or exploring fascinating heritage and architecture.

“We look at tourism as being the front door to economic development for the city. When we attract someone as a leisure or business tourist, they are excited by the experience and choices that the city has to offer.”

That includes venue options that range from funky adapted industrial spaces to modern, high quality hotels and banquet centres, says Brooks-Joiner. The city boasts a large downtown convention centre and arena, and a new outdoor stadium at Tim Hortons Field.

A five-year tourism strategy focuses on attracting more sporting events, building on Hamilton’s global strength in the medical and education sectors, and capitalizing on the city’s emergence as an arts, culture and culinary powerhouse.

Plans are underway to coalesce Hamilton’s music scene into a Music City identity and McQuade says cooperation between Hamilton, Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo to create a regional advanced manufacturing supercluster will drive new business.

With the future looking bright on so many fronts, Vrancor will absolutely be building more hotels in its hometown, says McQuade.

“We believe in Hamilton. It’s a great city with unlimited potential.”

Read the full Perspective Hamilton 2017 feature here.