Just back from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Having visited there over a dozen times, I’ve found that most travellers journey to Winnipeg more for business than sightseeing. Because of its central location in Canada, it’s a popular city for conferences and meetings so book your lodging early. If you’re heading to “The Peg” for business downtown, here are my top six hotel picks:
1) Place Louis Riel Suite Hotel
An “Insiders’ Select 2010 Winner” on Expedia and one of two hotels Frommer’s guidebooks chose as the best in town, this hotel is where we had a very enjoyable stay. All rooms come equipped with a full-size fridge and stove AND, you get free internet and local phone calls. Other features include spacious rooms, great bath products, and contemporary décor with a Manitoba twist. On the premises are a restaurant (which served so-so breakfasts), small grocery store and fitness room. Be prepared to run into some interesting characters when walking around the neighborhood. But, I’m told by locals that this is one of the safer areas in the downtown core. Be sure to ask for a renovated room.
2) Humphry Inn & Suites
While the rooms here are your standard blah neutral ones, I’ve listed this as my second choice because of the great selection of amenities it offers. The Humphry’s perks include: complimentary parking, phone calls, hot/cold breakfast and internet access in the 24-hour business center. Rooms have microwaves, mini-fridges and you have access to their pool, hot tub, steam room and workout facility. It’s located on one of Winnipeg’s busiest and most famous streets so do ask for a quiet room that doesn’t face Main Street.
3) Inn at the Forks
This stylish, eco-conscious boutique hotel has received excellent reviews from several websites and guidebooks I consulted. It’s located at “The Forks” (see photo at right) which is one of the city’s best tourist attractions but the hotel is not as convenient to downtown as the others on this list. On offer are a spa, restaurant, workout facility and complimentary in-room internet. If you want a mini-fridge, you’ll need to request that one be delivered to your room.
4) Fairmont Winnipeg
While I didn’t have an opportunity to do a site inspection of this property, it was either recommended or ranked high on the list of the websites and guidebooks I used during my research. Fairmont is an excellent brand of hotels but from reviews I read, this one is not quite on par with others in the chain which I’ve stayed at or rated when I was a hotel inspector. Guest services include two restaurants, a business centre, spa and health club. Sign up for the complimentary Fairmont President’s Club loyalty program (http://www.fairmont.com/fpc/) and you’ll get such privileges as complimentary in-room internet, free local calls, free health club access, complimentary use of TaylorMade golf clubs and more.
5) Delta Winnipeg
This is another lodging option with uninspiring room décor but a great selection of amenities and is connected by an indoor skywalk to the Winnipeg Convention Centre. Their health club is the largest in Manitoba and includes indoor and outdoor pools as well as a whirlpool, sauna and workout area. They have a small gift shop, Elephant and Castle pub and a restaurant which combines “prairie fare with a global flair”. Rooms have free internet and local calls. Having grown up on the Canadian Prairies, I was captivated by the Manitoba landscapes (see photo at left) in the lobby and restaurant created by Romanian artist Gabriela Diaconu, who is based in Canada. Check out her work at http://artshock.com/category/image-galleries/prairie-landscapes.
6) Mariaggi’s Theme Suite Hotels
Although this property is geared towards couples rather than businesspeople, it’s such a unique hotel that I wanted to include it on the list. Ranked #1 on Trip Advisor‘s list of Winnipeg 53 hotels, Mariaggi’s is so popular because of its eight globally themed rooms – i.e. India, Rome, China, Indonesia, etc. Each room has a hot tub, steam unit, microwave and fridge. And, many have fireplaces while some even have pool tables and waterfall hot tubs. There are none of the amenities offered up by the above hotels (including telephones!) but with rates starting at $200+/night, there is obviously a demand!