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New Banff hotel to replace aging Swiss Village

The Town of Banff has given Banff Caribou Properties the green light to demolish Swiss Village and replace it with 175-room hotel.
The Inns of Banff Swiss Village is going to be demolished and replaced with a new 175-room hotel. FACEBOOK PHOTO

ANFF – Banff Caribou Properties plans to demolish Swiss Village and replace it with a new 175-room hotel at the north east end of Banff Avenue.

Banff’s Municipal Planning Commission last week approved development of the new hotel at 600 Banff Ave. as the second phase of the company’s development plans. In March, a major facelift of the neighbouring Inns of Banff got the go-ahead.

“We did consider creating one big hotel at one point, but decided through the process that it made a lot more sense to not try to blend old with new,” said Gordon Lozeman, Caribou’s president and CEO.

“In the end, there will be two separate and distinct hotels on the site, much like there is now with the ‘Inns’ and the ‘Swiss’ – just a lot higher quality.”

The two-phase development project is expected to take three to four years to complete, with a plan to rebrand the Inns of Banff as The Canoe. The planned new hotel, which replaces 54 units of the Swiss and its adjacent cabins, is being called The Otter for now.

Caribou Properties will get going on renovations to the existing Inns of Banff property this fall, with construction of the new hotel not expected to begin for at least two years.

Lozeman said the plan for the new hotel builds on the successes the company has seen at The Fox and The Moose, with upscale rooms, pools with views, and significant investment in common areas and amenities.

There will be a lobby-restaurant building on the front of the property at the corner of Marmot and Banff Avenue, but he said a restaurant concept is yet to be determined.

“It has been a long time in the works and the Swiss Village is well beyond its best-before date, so we’re keen to get going,” Lozeman said.

The new hotel is one of the last developments under the federally legislated commercial development cap for the Banff townsite.

Dave Michaels, manager of development services for the Town of Banff, said a combination of commercial development allotments and commercial floor area from the demolition of existing buildings results in a total of 7,098 m2 of commercial floor area available.

He said that leaves 130 m2 of unallocated commercial floor area on site for future commercial development.

“The project complies with the legislated commercial growth cap by making use of commercial development allotments received on the site and reconstruction of existing gross floor area,” Michaels said.

As for the renovation plan for the Inns of Banff, Lozeman said major improvements would be made to the exterior of the building, including a complete replacement of siding, balconies, railings, windows and doors.

“We’ll also be doing in-room upgrades, and some amenity upgrades too, the most notable being the replacement of the outdoor hot pool,” he said.

“We’ll eventually remove the circular portion of the lobby building and re-create the lobby and front-entry, but that won’t be for at least 18 months.”

Meanwhile, the Town last year commissioned a traffic analysis to determine the effects of several developments happening in this area, which looked at a five-year and 15-year future horizon, to 2022 and 2032 respectively.

The projects include the Legacy Trail extension to Marmot Crescent, Husky gas station with convenience store, Voyager Inn redevelopment and the Ti’nu housing project, as well as this new development at 600 Banff Ave.

“It concluded that while there would be an increase to delays for turning, these would be considered within the acceptable limits in the context of extreme summer peak conditions,” Michaels said.

Cathy Ellis

About the Author: Cathy Ellis

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