By HARLEY RICHARDS
Advocate business editor
A full-service Holiday Inn at Gasoline Alley could be drawing conference-goers and Hwy 2 travellers by next summer.
Zainul & Shazma Holdings (1997) Ltd. began work on a 111-suite hotel on the east side of Hwy 2 late last week. Located on a 2.64-acre parcel next to Gasoline Alley Harley-Davidson, it will include a 500-person conference centre and banquet facilities. A restaurant, lounge, waterslide and pool are also planned.
All of the suites in the five-storey hotel will contain a fridge and a microwave.
“We really are aiming to open by the summer to hit the summer rush,” said Shazma Charania, director of operations for the family-owned company.
Charania added that the hotel will be one of the first built to the Holiday Inn’s new design standards, with contemporary colours and other features that will give it a “more appealing look.”
An earlier cost estimate of $16 million to $18 million remains accurate, she said.
Based in Edmonton, Zainul & Shazma Holdings owns and operates Holiday Inn Express hotels in Red Deer, Rocky Mountain House, Hinton and Edson. It also has a full-service Holiday Inn at Hinton, where a major renovation was recently completed.
Charania isn’t concerned about the current economic downturn, explaining that consumer confidence appears to be improving.
“Within 12 months, I think it will be strong and we’re going to be opening at the right time.”
She also believe that hotel will benefit from its prominent site on Hwy 2 and central location between Calgary and Edmonton.
“I think Red Deer needs something new with a fresher look.”
A Hampton Inn and Suites is also being constructed on Red Deer County land in Gasoline Alley. That 110-unit project, located further south and on the west side of Hwy 2, is slated to open this year.