Study to determine need for hotel in Black Diamond

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 09:08 am

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A Calgary consultant will spend two months scrutinizing a small foothills community to determine if it needs another hotel.

The Town of Black Diamond hired Rich Eichlere Consulting to conduct a $12,500 hotel feasibility study that will show once and for all if the community can support a new hotel after spending years discussing the possibility.

Town council voted in December to pay no more than $16,000 to allow an independent company to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of operating a family hotel in town. The study will be available to hotels and businesses interested in opening shop in the community.

“We’ve been wanting to attract a hotel here for maybe three or four years, but we’ve never taken the steps to show hotels we really have a commitment to work with them to get them here,” said David Petrovich, Town of Black Diamond economic development and events coordinator. “By getting this study done we are showing them our commitment ahead of time so they don’t have to figure out if we are a good location. They will know if we are a good location.”

Petrovich said Rich Eichlere Consulting was selected because of Eichler’s knowledge of the area, close proximity and good reputation as a commercial realtor and consultant. It was also the lowest bid and the other two applicants were Vancouver-based companies, he said.

“He’s got a very good name in the industry and he knows our region well,” he said. “When we put his study in front of a potential hotel owner they are not going to question the numbers, they are going to feel that they are valid.”

The consultation process begins on May 20 and will last two months. During this time Rich Eichlere Consulting will study traffic levels, look at potential user groups, nearby communities, competition and growth, said Petrovich.

“If he comes and says you will only be able to support 20 (rooms) it really limits who we can ask to come here,” he said. “A good average number that a hotel will look at is 70 per cent usage of their rooms in a year. Certain hotels want a minimum number of rooms before they will establish.”

Petrovich said the consultant will consider three locations for a hotel along Highway 7 and 22 – property west of Rona, the Wood King property, which is currently for sale, and a site south of the Oilfields General Hospital.

If the consultant finds Black Diamond can adequately support a hotel, Petrovich said he will meet with various hotel owners and attend a hotel convention in Vancouver next year to make a sales pitch for Black Diamond.

Although Black Diamond already has the Black Diamond Hotel and Cowboy Trail Motel, Petrovich said the town needs a family-oriented establishment.

“We have a very good hotel for the adult visitor but we don’t have one for families,” he said. “That gets pointed out over and over again by our community.”

A family hotel would better accommodate visitors attending tournaments and events in the area, Petrovich said. Visitors are currently directed to Okotoks, which is not helping Black Diamond businesses, he said.

“They’ve been frustrated because that money doesn’t stay in the community,” he said. “A visitor who comes to town and sleeps overnight will spend three times as much as a person who comes and stays at the event.”

Pharmasave Black Diamond owner Jason Spicer said he would welcome a family hotel in town.

“As a resident of the town I know that for big functions that we have had a lot of people have had to go to Okotoks for accommodations, especially during the summer months,” he said. “Anything that brings people into the area that they are allowed to spend a little time into the foothills would be a benefit to all personally as a business that depends on local trade more so than tourism trade.”

Spicer said having visitors spend more time in the community might prompt them to make their home in Black Diamond.

“The only way to do that is to get a feel for the town, which of course could only happen with spending a night or two here,” he said.


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