PENTICTON - Penticton Lakeside Resort, Convention Centre and Casino will be sporting a name change, along with other more significant changes over the next two years.
The hotel’s General Manager, David Prystay, recently announced the hotel would not be renewing their lease with Lakeside Casino when it expires in 2017.
Prystay says the hotel plans to increase the size of its convention space, complementing the hotel’s existing convention centre, eventually making the Lakeside the largest privately operated convention centre in the interior B.C.
The existing casino space will be turned into additional convention space, along with additional rooms.
The casino’s lease expires in May, 2017.
Prystay says a minimum of 60 new rooms and an additional 22,000 square feet of convention space will more than double the hotel’s present 21,000 square feet of space. Prystay says he will be competing with the city and the rest of the valley for convention business.
Prystay says the hotel will now be able to handle conventions up to 1,500 participants.
“We can handle pretty much everything up to that number, but those are few and far between, so we’ll probably be going after the small to mid-size, 100 to 500 category. With that we’ll be able to handle, maybe three at the same time on this property,” he says.
Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit says the need for more high-end, up to date rooms has been identified as an issue in the Penticton market
“I think it’s fantastic news the Lakeside is reinvesting in the community,” he says.
Adding convention space and rooms, as well as renovating existing rooms, represents a substantial investment that could spur other city accommodators to do the same, Jakubeit added.
“For David to lead the way is very exciting news,” he says.
Jakubeit says he is working hard to ensure casino jobs, revenue and taxes remain in the city, calling the revenue “significant.”
In addition to an annual hosting grant of $1.6 million annually, the casino is also one of the city’s bigger utility users, in addition to paying tax.
“They hand out a number of other grants, too, but strictly from a revenue perspective, they are probably closer to $2 million,” he says.
Jakubeit says he doesn’t see Lakeside Resort’s plans as competition with the city’s convention business, saying Lakeside’s expansion could result in more convention business in general for the city.
“I think it’s a good thing. The improvements could help address some of the issues bigger convention seekers have had with using Penticton,” he says.
Jakubeit says he hopes the city will have some information to pass along soon regarding the casino’s relocation, noting the casino’s lease expiry is less than two years away.
Jakubeit says the casino has been responsible for a $40 million grant to the SOEC construction, as well as having contributed to improvements at the Lakeside Resort through a former program known as the Development Assistance Compensation (DAC) fund.
“It has been a significant contributor to the community and the region,” he says.
Penticton’s Lakeside Casino is owned by Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Limited of Burnaby. Public Relations Director Tanya Gabara says the company continues to be committed to Penticton, adding the company wishes to “grow their offering in Penticton.”
She says the company is working to create an operation that offers hospitality and gaming all in one footprint. She says the company has discussed a number of options with Lakeside Resort which included their desire to expand, but says the resort did not express interest in pursuing them.
“We’re not content to continue with the offering we have. We want to create something that our customers have told us they are looking for,” she says.
“We’re still in the development stage, still looking for alternatives,” she says, adding there will be a formal announcement made once the company finds a suitable location.
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