Yellowknife’s Explorer Hotel, long a cornerstone of the Northern Hospitality Industry, proudly unveiled its latest expansion with a grand opening in Spring 2019. This latest edition saw the addition of 72 new deluxe rooms, bringing the total to 259. A beautiful expansion to The Explorer’s conference facilities with a stunning view of downtown, will help grow demand for Yellowknife as a tourism and conference destination.
Last year saw a record number of visitors to the Northwest Territories. Owner Doug Cox says that Yellowknife has natural competitive advantages. “We’re in such a beautiful and pristine environment,” he says.
It’s our beautiful northern environment that Doug and The Explorer Hotel set out to highlight when designing the new spaces. The large Aurora Signature Suite on the eighth floor offers unparalleled views of the city and its natural surroundings including its own deck for observing the aurora or hosting one-of-a-kind private functions.
“The new deluxe rooms will set a new standard of luxury and comfort in Yellowknife,” Doug says. Our vision is that The Explorer Hotel is a destination quality property where people will come from near and far to spend time enjoying the hotel experience itself - as much as the City and the environment. “It’s a work in progress that will never end,” he says. “We are all about where the market is going, not where it’s been in the past.”
Improving on an already great hotel experience will no doubt delight The Explorer’s largest segment of guests: repeat customers. When asked what keeps bringing people back to The Explorer Hotel, Doug is quick to point to the excellent staff and extraordinary level of service they provide. But don’t take his word for it, The Explorer Hotel is the top-rated accommodation on Tripadvisor.
“The environment we’ve created is a warm and friendly experience,” he said. “Many of our repeat customers have told me they consider The Explorer their home-away-from-home.” In addition to the friendly and welcoming staff, beautiful rooms with great views, Mr. Cox also points to the Executive Chef Gregor Zundel. “We’ve got a true chef-led kitchen,” he said. “This is fundamental to a destination quality, full-service hotel.”
Chef Gregor hails from Switzerland and has cooked in kitchens all over the world from London to Port Douglas, Australia, to the Cayman Islands. During his tenure at Stand’s Old House restaurant in Invermere, BC, it was nominated for the best restaurant in British Columbia. His menu at Trader’s Grill specializes on elevated Northern Canadian cuisine, including Arctic Char, Elk tenderloin and Bison ribeye steaks, but be sure to leave some room for dessert as Chef Gregor is a trained pastry chef.
Yellowknife is in the midst of a culinary boom with a few new restaurants and bars raising the bar for great food in the city. NWT Brewing Company’s Woodyard Brewhouse & Eatery, Stake, Copperhouse, Birchwood Coffee Kǫ̀. have joined mainstays like The Explorer’s Trader’s Grill, Bullocks Bistro and Thornton’s Wine & Tapas Room for places to have a great meal and night out. Doug sees having other good restaurants as a key part of the overall strategy to improve the Yellowknife experience.
While the City is justifiably renowned as an Aurora viewing destination, there are also other spectacular visitor experiences that draw people to Yellowknife. Expanding restaurant offerings are increasing the variety and quality of the foodie offerings, and there are a multitude of reasons to explore the City by foot. Yellowknife has safe, pedestrian-friendly streets and access to small and medium-sized hiking trails from right within the city. There are interesting sights, shops and services downtown and in Old Town. Visitors can also take advantage of fantastic day trips for fishing (ice fishing in winter), guided hikes, helicopter flightseeing, dogsledding, fat biking, indigenous experiences, and learning about the city’s gold mining and bush pilot history. And tourism opportunities and offerings are growing.
Doug notes that “Tourism is a very important global growth industry. Two members of our senior management team were recently in China and Korea showcasing our product and demonstrating what Yellowknife can offer as a destination. We understand how significant The Explorer Hotel is as an economic generator in Yellowknife and NT and this comes with responsibility. We are putting our money and human resources to work every month, helping to market, sell and expand opportunities for everyone. Plus, we know we have a lot of new rooms to fill!”
It’s a role Doug has been focused on for the last 15 years. He bought The Explorer Hotel in 2004 and says it was in “rough shape” as that time. His first step was to upgrade all 127 rooms and regain the hotel’s position as the top business and conference hotel in the North. He says the turn-around effort was very successful. The next big investment came in 2008 with completion of a 60-room addition. Increasing scale allowed The Explorer to attract more experienced people and significantly up their game from a service point of view.
With other hotels recently coming onto the scene, Doug looked at the market and decided there was still room for another expansion to The Explorer Hotel; this time including the conference centre. He emphasized that such expansions are a long-term strategic investment, taking years to pay off. The Explorer’s expanded conference capacity now exceeds its guest room capacity, so it should have a beneficial effect on other accommodation providers.
With these beautiful new deluxe rooms and state of the art conference facilities officially opening in March, The Explorer’s team believe that the Hotel is bigger, better, and more impressive than ever! They are proud to now be able to showcase it to the world!