Rates rise
Hotel group points to renovations, pricier competition

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

Inuvik ( May 12/00) - Rate increases at three Inuvik hotels can be attributed to extensive renovations, training and market prices.

David Connelly, spokesperson for the Mackenzie Delta Hotel Group, which owns the hotels, said the Mackenzie Hotel and Eskimo Inn have both undergone changes and the Finto Motor Inn is in the process of reopening following a winter closure and some serious remodelling.

"Yes, there's been a moderate increase in rates, and that reflects renovations and the high cost of utilities," he said.

"We upgraded the rooms at the Finto and a lot of the associated infrastructure, and half of the rooms have been converted into executive suites complete with computer connections," he said. "The other rooms saw a general sprucing up."

The rate rise means the "rack" or basic rate for a single room at the Mackenzie and Eskimo now go for $149 a night, up from between $110 to $115 at this time last year and following a rate hike when Mackenzie Delta acquired the three hotels last summer. A rack single at the Finto now goes for $159, and budget, corporate and double-room rates have also increased at the hotel.

But Connelly says Inuvik's rates, compared to other Northern hotels, remain among the lowest. Of 10 hotels from communities like Cambridge Bay and Iqaluit, his figures showed only the Yellowknife Inn's single rack rate to be lower than the Finto's, and rates at the Mackenzie and Eskimo were lowest.

"Obviously, if compared to communities north of the Arctic Circle and Yellowknife, we're anywhere from 20 to 25 per cent less expensive than the most expensive rate."

Connelly also pointed to an extensive staff training program launched by the hotel group as well as the half-price rates offered to delegates attending the recent Catch the Spirit 2000 business conference as contributing to costs.

Asked why the rates remain among the lowest by comparison, Connelly would only say, "We'll have to look into that."

Inuvik Mayor George Roach said the rate rises appear reasonable. Town council had voiced some concern by the evolving hotel monopoly last summer but Roach said he's been in discussion with the hotel group and understands their arguments.

"One of the problems was that while Inuvik rates were not that high compared to other communities or places I stay at for business travel -- at from $150 to $200 a night -- the quality was just not that good," he said.

"This was the biggest complaint I'd hear from government workers coming to Inuvik."

Roach said he'd heard good things about the quality of the renovations and knows people expect to pay a little more when they travel this far North.

"If the rates are too high they can have an adverse effect on tourism," he said, "but on the other hand if they're in line with other hotels across the country, fine."