"The living room of the Ice District": JW Marriott hotel officially opens

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The signature presidential suite, of the JW Marriott Edmonton ICE District hotel on 102 Street downtown, August 1, 2019, will retail for $4500 per night, and features an old-fashioned separate pantry entrance for staff to prepare food service. 


Shaughn Butts / Postmedia

Three guests were already in the lobby for an early check-in before the long-awaited downtown JW Marriott hotel could celebrate its official opening at noon Thursday.

“It was pretty special — a big milestone to get to, but now we’re on to the important part of taking care of our guests. It’s the living room of the Ice District, and we want people to feel welcome,” said Steven Walton, director of sales and marketing at the hotel.

On top of its 350 guest rooms, main floor dining rooms, bars, a speciality fitness club, spa and pool, the JW Marriott has more than 2,000 square metres of meeting and conference space.

“This, in our minds, is as big as (Rogers) arena opening up,” said Tim Shipton, senior vice-president of communications and government relations for the Ice District.

The luxury hotel, with standard rooms starting at about $200, is a symbol of how much Edmonton has progressed, especially in developing the assets it needs to draw visitors, said Walton.

“To me it’s another big step in this evolution that this city is going through. Anyone who’s been here for any length of time can feel a new energy in our city, and it isn’t just the Ice District,” said Walton.


“We bring that chef mentality out into the front-of-house, into the bar,” said Julien Lavoie, director of operations for Oliver & Bonacinis Hospitality, as he demonstrated how to make a Smoked Lemonade in a smoker with torched rosemary at the Lobby Bar, JW Marriott, August 1, 2019. Photo by Lisa Johnson.

Lisa Johnson

There are some details completely unique to the hotel, like an “ice menu” of flavour-infused ice cubes. “We are the Ice District, and we are luxury, so we’ve combined the two,” said Walton. “The Ice District will never run out of ice.”

The hotel embraced new technology, like room keys accessible through a mobile phone app, but the turntable and small record collection in the executive lounge is a throwback to old-school comforts.

And, on the fifth floor, guests will find the entrance to craft cocktail bar Alchemy behind a bookshelf when it opens on a date to be announced.

A public plaza dubbed Ice Plaza is expected to open in spring 2020, and Shipton expects it to become a popular outdoor gathering place for big events and seasonal activities and Edmonton’s own Rockefeller Center.


“As much as the arena is the reactor of the ICE District, the heartbeat is the Plaza with the assets that support it. It’ll give you the Rockefeller Centre experience in the middle of Edmonton,” said Tim Shipton, senior vice president of communications and government relations for the ICE District, on the opening day of the downtown JW Marriott hotel, August 1, 2019. Photo by Lisa Johnson

Across the plaza from the hotel, a new Loblaws will open in 2020 where the old Greyhound terminal was.

“We do feel it’s a transformational project, and those are pretty big words to use with a real estate development. But we want the district to be accessible to all Edmontonians. It will be judged a success by how many people come down and want to experience it,” said Shipton.

lijohnson@postmedia.com

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August 2, 2019 |

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