Hostelling International Winnipeg is the only hostel in Winnipeg that fills the youth market niche. The hostel facility was converted from 60-year-old dilapidated hotel into a quality, contemporary hostel that features a live music pub, a restaurant and bike rentals. A recently appointed management team has brought stability to the facility and a consistent, respectful tourism experience, increasing the overall sustainability of the project for the long-term.
In 1997, a community-based Board of Directors identified a need in the Winnipeg market for clean, affordable rooms to serve the budget conscious youth traveler. The only hostel in town offered 30 beds and was consistently turning away travelers into a city offering limited affordable options. The community was also faced with the challenge brought on by an approximately 60-year-old hotel in the core of Winnipeg's downtown. The hotel was dilapidated and though it was generating significant revenue, activities common in this facility were deemed unsustainable and inconsistent with a healthy community.
The Response and the Result
Hostelling International Winnipeg Downtowner is a story of transformation.
The community-based Board of Directors - comprised of nine community leaders from the public and private sector (including the Forks North Portage Partnership, Manitoba Public Insurance and private sector firms) - was assembled and was successful in raising $2,500,000 to purchase and renovate the Gordon Downtowner Hotel. The facility was in much need of an upgrade and was reliant on VLTs and a Cold Beer Store for revenue.
After an extensive renovation of the entire facility, the hotel transformed into a clean, affordable, safe place for youth travelers to enjoy accommodation, food and drinks and live independent music. Travelers discovered the hostel, bringing a positive impact to the local community.
The Hostelling International Winnipeg Downtowner brings communities together by providing an environment where youth from many cultures interact on a day-to-day basis. According to management there is no judgment regarding cultural backgrounds, traditions and dialect. All guests are treated with respect:
At Hostelling International Winnipeg Downtowner, management believes that operational structure, documented operational policies and procedures and long range planning will assure a sustainable tourism experience in the Winnipeg youth market. All upgrades and initiatives are done under the guiding principle that actions are balanced between the health of the business and the health of the community and environment.