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Boreal Community Media

Delta hotel opens on Thunder Bay waterfront

May 03, 2019 06:40AM ● By Editor

The view from an eighth-floor balcony at the Delta Thunder Bay Waterfront Hotel. Photo: Leith Dunick,

By Leith Dunick of - May 3, 2019

It’s a day skeptics said might never come.

Even Gisele MacDonald’s family wasn’t sure it was the right project to sink money into.

But after years of delays, on Thursday afternoon the first guests will check into the eight-storey Delta Thunder Bay Waterfront Hotel, a 149-room, $35-million venture that was a decade in the making.

MacDonald, president of the Resolve Group, said she never doubted for a moment the hotel, which drew the ire of waterfront development opponents when first proposed in the mid-2000s, would eventually open its doors.

Construction began in 2014 and the ownership group originally targeted a spring 2016 opening. Legal battles and liens pushed it back three years. 

“I can honestly tell you it’s extremely satisfying, very excited to be able to bring this project to Thunder Bay. It’s obviously been a very long time in coming and I’m just very pleased and proud to bring the Marriott hotel here. (It’s) a four-star and I think it’s very well deserved and people in Thunder Bay deserve this kind of calibre of hotel,” MacDonaldsaid.

“I’m sure if you talked to my family, they will tell you for sure they were saying ‘Give it up.’ I can tell you, it’s been a struggle, but I’m a great believer that when you make a commitment and you’ve gone this far, I gave my word that this was what it was going to be and through that struggle, I’m just very proud to say we’re here today.”

While the new hotel’s top feature is a spectacular view of the Sleeping Giant, the facility is modern and top-of-the-line in every way.

From the Anchors Aweigh restaurant to the floor to ceiling windows on the ground floor to a wide variety of room styles, ranging from $179 a night for a regular room to $489 a night for the presidential suite on high-demand nights like the Thunder Bay Blues Festival, the hotel is expected to be a magnet for business and leisure travelers alike.

General manager Corinne Oatman-Howell, said it’s an exciting day.

“It’s been a long road and everything’s turned out great,” said Oatman-Howell, who took the post a little less than a year ago, having most recently helped run a Delta hotel in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

“The staff has worked so hard to get us here.”

Oatman-Howell said the hotel’s location makes it unique on a crowded Thunder Bay accommodations landscape.

“It’s a bit unusual in that it’s situated in a park and you don’t often see that. But with our floor-to-ceiling glass windows we have spectacular views of the Sleeping Giant and Lake Superior, which is great,” she said. Demand has already been high.

Until the past couple of days customers have only been able to book dates for May 12 and beyond. Business has been brisk, with the presidential suite already claimed during the Blues Festival and conferences booked as far ahead as 2021.

Mayor Bill Mauro, on hand for a ceremonial ribbon cutting, said it’s great to have private-sector investment like this in the community, calling it a good sign.  

“This is a significant investment here in Thunder Bay and for all who live here, work here, play here, I think it’s a good signal that people can invest here, create jobs and create opportunity.”

About 70 people are presently employed at the hotel, although Oatman-Howell said upward of 90 will be on staff when the hotel, which is still having some finishing touches completed, reaches full capacity.

City tourism manager Paul Pepe called it a great addition to Thunder Bay.

“We have more inventory, more choice for consumers in the city. And when we’re attracting conventions we have more rooms now, we have more meeting space that we can sell to convention planners across Canada. And you can’t beat this view,” Pepe said.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith has been the editor of Thunder Bay Source for 16 years and has served a similar role with

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