Algonquin reopening delayed by slow renovations

The southwestern tourism town of St. Andrews is facing another summer without the Algonquin Hotel as renovations to the iconic hotel are behind schedule.

Iconic St. Andrews hotel will not open before late August

The southwestern tourism town of St. Andrews is facing another summer without the Algonquin Hotel as renovations to the iconic hotel are behind schedule.

Summer is a crucial revenue-generating season for St. Andrews but one of the town's landmark attractions is in the midst of a $25-million renovation project.

St. Andrews Mayor Stan Choptiany said local businesses weren't really prepared for a summer without the Algonquin last year, and some merchants saw a drop in revenue as much as 30 to 35 percent.

He said that slow summer tourism season forced the business community to pull together in 2013.

Choptiany said the town has seen a revitalized chamber of commerce.

"We've had new leadership step forward and we've gone from last summer when there were I think we were down to less than 30 of the merchants willing to work together and now we have over 110 people who are signed up," he said.

The Tudor-style Algonquin hotel was built in 1889 by the St. Andrews Land Co. The hotel was once owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway Co.

In March 2012, the New Brunswick government sold the historic hotel to New Castle Hotels and Resorts and Southwest Properties.

The resort was expected to reopen on June 1, but the Algonquin's manager said the soonest the hotel could reopen is late August.

Winters will be different

When it opens its doors again, the Algonquin will be a part of Marriott's Autograph Collection, a brand of luxury hotels.

Choptiany said the Algonquin hotel has still managed to operate in some capacity, even though it's technically closed for renovation.

For example, the hotel has been able to open up some of its rooms and site facilities for a local triathlon being held this coming weekend.

The business community has been told to expect big changes when the Algonquin is up and running again, especially in the winter months, said Choptiany.

Local shops will have to be open, even on cold February days, he said.

"Realistically, you've got old, 200-year-old buildings that are hard to heat. And a lot of the store owners choose not to open.

"Well, we have to develop strategies, and we have to develop kinds of stores and kinds of opportunities for the demographic of the guests that will be coming to the Algonquin."

The hotel will bring winter jobs the town has never had before, he said.