Hotel renovations in progress |

(Editor’s note: This story was first published on February 1, 2022. This version corrects the spelling of Lesley Wong’s first name.)

THUNDER BAY — Work is underway at the former Shoreline Hotel on Thunder Bay’s waterfront with the vision of new owner Haseeb Mushtaq.

“It will be an upscale boutique hotel and will be the first of its kind in Canada,” Mushtaq said.

Aiden By Best Western launched the line of hotels in the United States with only 15 others worldwide. Thunder Bay will be its 16th site.

Before work began, the building had to be completely stripped, leaving only the wiring, plumbing and infrastructure envelope. Everything, including furniture and carpeting, has already been removed.

“I think it’s a really good building,” Mushtaq said. “If we wanted to build this kind of hotel today, it would be so expensive. It’s all solid brick and all solid concrete. . . . This building has good strong bones.

Each of the hotel’s 65 rooms will be redesigned by designer Lesley Wong and feature local waterfront “flair” with new carpets, flooring, paint, wallpaper and furnishings. All balconies will be closed and artwork for the walls will be acquired locally.

A rooftop terrace and bar will be set up on the fifth-floor roof, which will provide guests with great views of the waterfront and the scenic lake.

Mushtaq says the continental breakfast will include locally brewed coffee and fresh pastries from local bakeries instead of bulk muffins found at other hotels.

“It’s something local and unique for breakfast guests,” he said. “This is no ordinary hotel, rather it is an experience we want our guests to remember.”

Mushtaq says all the materials they need to outfit the building have been ordered and they are waiting for a building permit which they should have within a month.

Meanwhile, the ground floor Beacon restaurant and Pier 61 bar, both owned by Ben Arvelin and Julie Garman, have also been stripped and are ready for transformation. A water main break that flooded an area of ​​the restaurant in late January forced them to close the business a day before the scheduled closure.

“It was something we had to take apart anyway,” Arvelin said. “If life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

Large copper pipes and an oak bar are being recycled within the community, possibly to an artist, in an effort to keep them out of the landfill.

Arvelin and Garman, owners of the two companies for five years, have survived very turbulent times.

“We went through a serious roller coaster with different people running the hotel and eventually we took over the bar and Ben worked really hard to transform this place,” Garman said. “With COVID closing and opening, it’s been a roller coaster ride. So hopefully all is well with COVID and we can open and stay open.

The couple are really excited about the transformation and the addition of the patio which will enhance their bar and restaurant with the extra outdoor space.

“The patio upstairs is going to be really amazing,” Arvelin said.

“Right now we’re going to be doing seasons and bookings and we’re still looking at maybe expanding year-round. It will also attract more people. I mean in the winter, you can still dine up there, have a great view of the Sleeping Giant, and have a glass of wine with your girlfriend.

“It’s one of a kind in Thunder Bay and I don’t think we have anything like it anymore.

Arvelin says they will hopefully attract a whole new crowd and bring new excitement to the building.

All three agree that the new hotel and its amenities will highlight the northern core and the waterfront in the evolution of new restaurants, shops, boutiques, bars and terraces.

Arvelin says Mushtaq sees the potential and is excited to work with him to make the hotel an important part of the developing area.

“With the waterfront, with the cruise ships coming in here, the lookout that we have where we are located, it’s just phenomenal,” he said. “We have the ability to take it to the next level. . . . It’s scary and exciting because something new is always the scariest thing – but you step forward with new ventures and try new things – and it’s going to be spectacular.

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