Iqaluit's Discovery hotel to stay a hotel after new owners take over

Iqaluit’s Discovery Hotel has been sold to new owners who intend to keep it as a hotel, the current owner says.

Hotel sale closes October 15, plan is to retain all the current employees

The sale of the Discovery Hotel in Iqaluit closes October 15. (Travis Burke/CBC)

Iqaluit's Discovery hotel has been sold to new owners who intend to keep it as a hotel, the current owner says.

The family-run general contracting company Tower Arctic bought the building in 1979. John Jacobsen, the president and CEO of Tower Arctic, says the company was not looking to sell the hotel, but it was approached with an offer, the timing worked out and an agreement was reached.

The new owners will retain all the current staff and a provision was included in the agreement to allow the corporate staff continued access to rooms and meals, Jacobsen said.

"It will continue with the same management and staff and, other than the ownership, there should not be any changes — or at least that is the present intention of both parties," Jacobsen said.

1955 to today

Tower Arctic built the Discovery Inn in 1955 as lodging for Pan American Airways staff during stopovers on Trans-Atlantic flights.

"PanAm operated that facility until the dawn of the jet age when they no longer required a technical stop in Frobisher Bay [Iqaluit], at that time, and then it was held by various airlines," said Jacobsen.

The company bought the building back from the Quebec-based airline Nordair in 1979. In 1989, it was upgraded to its current layout. Renovations were completed in 2014 to turn it into its current state as a boutique hotel.

"We've always been successful in that we catered to not so much the tourist market, but the business/government market and I think that's the majority of client base to this day," Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen says the company starting the restaurant in the hotel was "happenstance" because the business wanted to provide above average food to its staff and he found "more and more people wanted to eat with us."

"We took pride in our food and beverage operation and endeavoured to make it the finest place to eat in Nunavut, I guess I have a proclivity to say it is the best, but others may disagree."

The sale closes Oct. 15.