The owner of the biggest hotel in Yarmouth is investing close to $7 million on renovations to two local properties and hiring at least 50 people over the next two years.
Mark Rodd, president of Rodd Hotels and Resorts, says the investment in their Grand Hotel and Colony Harbour Inn is due in great part to the ferry service between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth.
“That ferry is so crucial to our business,” he said.
He referred back to when the ferry service ended in 2009. The Colony closed in January 2011 and several other accommodation businesses in the area also struggled due to a lack of business.
Service resumed in 2014 with the Nova Star sailing between Portland and Yarmouth. Bay Ferries took over that route with The Cat in 2016. The atmosphere and economy in Yarmouth has changed considerably since 2014.
“Now you come here and it’s exciting. Sip, the new breweries, the whole downtown has been revitalized. Housing seems to be booming here now. People are coming here to renovate houses, real estate prices are going up,” said Rodd.
He added that he hopes people who are against the ferry will consider what it’s done not just for southwest Nova Scotia but much further away.
“It reaches our properties in Prince Edward Island. If that ferry service wasn’t there, those people (visitors) are driving around – they’re going to New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island and not necessarily going to Halifax. It’s a very, very important link.”
Work has begun on the Colony, with the contract awarded to Garian Construction Ltd. New roofing will be installed and all of the windows and vinyl siding are being replaced. “The whole exterior will be a whole different look than what you see down there now,” said Rodd.
PTAC heating/AC units are also being added. Rodd says the interior renovation package will be awarded soon.
A lot of the renovation elements and/or installation of them will be from Nova Scotian companies. Rodd estimates the renovations on both hotels will result in close to 150 jobs.
The Colony is not scheduled for completion until September.
At that time it will open and Rodd will close the rooms division of the Grand to upgrade those.
Renovations include upgrades designed to refresh and modernize guest rooms, fitness facilities, meeting spaces and common areas.
Employees from the Grand will be moved to work at the Colony in September and return to the Grand when work is done there. Hiring and training of close to 50 permanent Colony employees will take place this winter.
In May 2020, both properties will be open.
Rodd says there will be some sort of food & beverage operation at the Colony but at this point exactly what that will entail hasn’t been determined.
Colony Harbour Inn Background
The 65-room hotel closed in January 2011 after operating for 40 years.
The restaurant stayed open until 2013 after the hotel closed.
The property was up for sale for several years. In early 2017 furnishings and items inside the hotel were donated to SHYFT Youth Services, which provides services and assistance to homeless and at-risk youth.
More about the Colony Inn: