Downtown Calgary needs a boost and new hotels are the best candidate for the job.

At least, that’s how Richard White of the Calgary Herald sees it. White was inspired by a recent trip to San Francisco and the city’s wide array of trendy hotels that encourage nightlife and tourism.

According to White, awesome hotels, like San Francisco’s Hotel Triton or Queen Ann Inn, “provide the heartbeat for its surrounding area, creating a steady supply of curious tourists and visitors eager for new experiences. It’s people like these who help propel everything from nightlife and restaurants to the arts and culture scene”.

Calgary’s hotels, on the other hand, are tailored to business travelers. They’re prone to being boring, and lack the draw and appeal of trendier hospitality that gets people out and about the city at night.

Although there are a few Calgary contenders, like the Hotel Arts, or Kensington Inn, they just don’t make the grade for urban tourists, and certainly aren’t catalysts for street-oriented retail pedestrian developments. That’s what White really wants to see go down.

White admits things are better today than they’ve ever been, but once office workers flee the downtown core for the day, so does the hustle and bustle of the city, leaving a shut down downtown that lacks vitality.

But don’t think he is quick to blame hotel developers for the hospitality dry spell he’s seeing. He knows they go where the market is and that the corporate traveler trumps all others in Calgary.

Instead, White wants to see some local development pioneers committed to bringing urban vitality to Calgary’s streets, so it can thrive as a tourist attraction.

What do you think? Is White on the right track, or is Calgary perfectly fine how it is?

Photo courtesy of Hotel Triton

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