Hotel project grows: Holiday Inn on Gasoline Alley includes conference space for 500

Red Deer’s reputation as a convention hot spot should strengthen next year with the opening of a full-service Holiday Inn in Gasoline Alley.

Artist’s rendering of Holiday Inn hotel project south of city in Gasoline Alley

Red Deer’s reputation as a convention hot spot should strengthen next year with the opening of a full-service Holiday Inn in Gasoline Alley.

Afzal Rajan, president of Edmonton-based Zainul & Shazma Holdings (1997) Ltd., said his company hopes to begin work on the project within the next few months.

The 116-suite hotel, which would include a 500-person conference centre, should take about a year to complete, he said.

Cost of the facility, which would boast a family restaurant, lounge, waterslide, pool and other amenities, is estimated at $16 million to $18 million.

Rajan announced late in 2005 that his family-owned company planned to develop a Holiday Inn on a 2.64-acre parcel on the east side of Hwy 2, next to Gasoline Alley Harley-Davidson.

But work was delayed pending the completion of new Holiday Inn Express hotels by Zainul & Shazma Holdings in Hinton and Edson.

The original plan for Red Deer involved a 100-unit facility with meeting space for 150.

“It’s a bigger project,” confirmed Rajan, adding that the hotel is expected to draw convention business from Edmonton and Calgary, as well as guests from busy Hwy 2.

A full-service hotel hasn’t been built in the city for some time, he pointed out, so the time should be right.

Zainul & Shazma Holdings also operates the Holiday Inn Express hotels in Red Deer and Rocky Mountain House, and has a full-service Holiday Inn at Hinton.

Rajan said the current economic slowdown should allow for the Red Deer hotel to be built quicker and more cheaply than would have been the case previously. By the time the business opens, the economy may have picked up, he suggested.

Financing is in place, he said, and development approval has been obtained from Red Deer County.

The hotel will be one of the first in Western Canada to have Holiday Inn’s latest design.

Rajan previously owned the Travelodge and Super 8 Motel in Red Deer. He purchased the Holiday Inn Express — then the Rainbow Motor Inn — in 1998.

Meanwhile, work is also poised to begin on a Hampton Inn and Suites hotel on the opposite side of Hwy 2 in Gasoline Alley.

The Randhawa Group of Companies Inc. announced last fall that it is building a 110-unit hotel with a swimming pool and fitness area.

“As soon as the ground thaws, you’ll see our machines on site,” said Aman Randhawa, who operates the Edmonton-based company with his father Karnail.

“We hope to open early 2010.”

The Hampton Inn and Suites is slated to be built on a two-acre site on the northwest corner of Leva Avenue and Lake Street.

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