Yellowknife will lose 58 hotel rooms when the Coast Fraser Tower closes for business on July 15.
The hotel will be replaced by rental apartments offered by Midwest Property Management. On its website, Midwest says the hotel’s rooms “will be converted to apartments with beautiful, newly renovated units ready for move-in.”
Midwest adds it is “experiencing great demand” for the new units in the 14-storey building, which was built in 1970.
Meanwhile, a small notice at the foot of Coast’s website for the hotel notes: “Enjoy Yellowknife’s premier suite accommodations until July 15, 2018, as this property will close at this time.”
Kyle Thomas, a Yellowknife tourism advocate who runs the popular website Yellowknife Online, said the hotel’s quiet demise created “kind-of an odd situation” for the summer ahead.
“We’re always looking for more accommodations for the increase in visitors we’re constantly seeing, so it’s odd that Coast Fraser will just quietly disappear and we’re going to lose 58 rooms,” Thomas told Cabin Radio.
“In September last year we had this crisis where we couldn’t find any rooms. If we have another September like that – it’s only two or three months away now – and we’ve lost 58 rooms, what are we going to do to help counteract that? The numbers are going up, we do need those rooms.
“If you think that’s double occupancy, that’s potentially 116 people per night who are looking for other options or could be left in the dark – unless the Explorer has a magic wand and can finish their renovations a little earlier.”
The Explorer Hotel is working on an expansion, though that is not expected to be ready in time for September’s peak aurora-viewing season.
Longer-term projects, such as new accommodation in Old Town and a study into the feasibility of a hotel at Yellowknife’s airport, are in the works.
While removing availability for tourists, converting the hotel suites into apartments adds capacity to Yellowknife’s housing market. Rent for residents of the building will begin at $1,700 per month for a one-bedroom apartment; starting rates for three-bedroom units are $2,300 per month.
Thomas suggested an enterprising Yellowknife resident should consider opening a hostel to provide travellers on a budget with an alternative to AirBnB.
“So often I get questions about individual travellers looking for cheap alternatives,” he said.
“Hostels are an interesting, community-based place. Why hasn’t Yellowknife thought about something like that?”