New Nanaimo Hotel to attract 70,000 young Chinese tourists

The SSS Manhao International Tourism Group (Incorp. 2012) from China is proposing to build a 21 storey, 240-room hotel at 100 Gordon Street in downtown Nanaimo behind the Conference Centre and the Great Canadian Casino.

SSS Manhao is a subsidiary of Suzhou Youth Travel Services Co. Ltd., a travel agency from Jiangsu Province. In 2010 SSS Manhao built a hotel in Fiji. That same year they also visited Atlanta, Georgia with a similar proposal. This year, SSS Manhao is looking at locations in Nottingham, UK and Nanaimo.

Based on their 14 minute presentation to Nanaimo City Council on Monday, May 13, 2013, the proposed 145,000 sq. ft. building is to cost $50 million and will have commercial spaces on the ground floor. The other floors are as follows:

  • 2nd floor = hotel amenities
  • 3rd floor = pedestrian link to Conference Centre with more retail spaces
  • 4th = pool, spa
  • 5th to 16th = hotel suites (197 rooms)
  • 17th = bar and restaurant

They require a perpetual lease of 200 parking spaces in the Vancouver Island Conference Centre because it’s not possible to have sufficient parking at the hotel (based on their studies) so they have to look elsewhere for parking. The parking spaces would be leased at $3.17 per day based on usage.

Why would tour groups require parking if they arrive by plane and are transported by bus to this new Nanaimo hotel?

SSS Manhao International Tourism Group proposes that they will:

  • “attract” 70,000 young Chinese tourists annually to the hotel
  • establish a new tour route with an overnight stay in Nanaimo
  • promote the conference centre
  • enter into a partnership with VIU to have students in hospitality work at the hotel
  • house international students
  • sell off individual suites to investors in order to recoup capital costs.

No mention was made if they will have direct flights from China to the Nanaimo Airport. Using temporary foreign labour from China was not included in the presentation.

The hotel is to be similar to their hotel in Fiji designed by GBL Architects. GBL Architects were responsible for the rezoning of the Vancouver Olympic Village and involved in the Pacifica Tower building in Nanaimo.

Questions from Council and answers from legal counsel representing SSS Manhao:

Ruttan: Will you build a 4-5 star hotel? A: “Of course, and he wants to build an extension to the Conference Centre as he is the owner of the hotel and the tour leader.”
Pattje: You will take advantage of a 10 year tax break.
Pattje: Can the current company who operates the Conference Centre stay? A: “Haven’t figured that out.. they can promote and we can promote.”
Johnstone: The City was built on the backs of the Chinese..[interesting] how things have come full circle.
Kennings: Staff are working with NEDCOR, the next step is to put forward an agreement. A: “We’ve prepared an offer to purchase which contains a few standard conditions, we want to move forward and make plans away from city officials.”

Although the property is appraised at $565,000 there are still soil studies that have to be done.

What earthquake studies have they done? No. 1 Mine shaft is nearby and the hotel site is sitting on fill on the former Commercial Inlet.

There are currently a total of 57 five-star hotels in North America, China and Singapore, according to Forbes.

What will 70,000 young Chinese tourists want to do while in Nanaimo? Will SSS Manhao want to take over the Great Canadian Casino and the Conference Centre and turn these both into a mega Macau Casino?