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Pair of hotels planned for city’s north side

The owner of Holiday Inn & Suites in Gasoline Alley and Holiday Inn Express in south Red Deer is preparing to make a $25-million investment on the city’s north side.

Zainul & Shazma Holdings Ltd. plans to develop a pair of hotels at 6329 Orr Dr. These would consist of another Holiday Inn Express and a Staybridge Suites — both brands of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG).

Shazma Charania, a partner in the family-owned business, said the hotels would be connected and share a swimming pool. But each would have its own reception area.

Staybridge Suites is IHG’s extended-stay banner, with suites designed for guests booked for weeks or even months. They contain full kitchens and offer other amenities like laundry facilities.

“They’re like little apartments,” said Charania, adding that there’s a local need for this type of accommodation.

The final design, including the number of rooms in each hotel, has yet to be finalized. And development approval from the city is still required. But it is hoped that construction can begin this summer and the businesses open some time in 2014.

Charania said the design will be a first for Canada. Her family got the idea from a similar project in London, England, where they were attending the 2012 Summer Olympic as guests of corporate sponsor IHG.

In addition to providing two accommodation options at the same location, having side-by-side hotels create synergies, she said. The project will also give Zainul & Shazma Holdings — and Holiday Inn — a presence on the other side of the city.

Charania said the new hotels are expected to create more than 50 jobs. Filling these could be a challenge in Alberta’s tight labour market, she acknowledged, but her company’s favourable track record should help.

“We’ve been established in Red Deer for so many years ... and we’ve earned a reputation in the hospitality industry.”

In addition to its Red Deer properties, Zainul & Shazma Holdings owns a full-service Holiday Inn and a Holiday Inn Express in Hinton, and a Holiday Inn Express in Edson. With the new Red Deer development, it will have approximately 650 rooms in its portfolio.

The company was named IHG’s Americas Region Developer of the Year for Canada in 2009 and 2011. Charania recalls how its Gasoline Alley hotel and conference centre was showcased at IHG’s 2011 conference in Las Vegas, with more than 5,000 people in attendance.

“They put our property on display in that conference and brought the name Red Deer to a lot of Americans.

“Being a former board member of Tourism Red Deer, I was really proud to have that.”

She said the Holiday Inn & Suites on Gasoline Alley, which opened in the fall of 2011, is performing very well.

“We couldn’t be more pleased. The local support has been phenomenal.”

Just as that property has filled a local need, Charania is confident her company’s new hotels will as well.

“Our vision is to be the market leader.”

Information about employment opportunities at Zainul & Shazma Holdings’ hotels can be found online at www.bestsleepintown.com.

hrichards@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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