Building on our long-term conviction in Canada’s luxury hotel market, in Q2 2023 Oxford—alongside an existing institutional capital partner—announced its acquisition of The Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff, Alberta. Idyllically located on Sulphur Mountain in Banff National Park, The Rimrock is an iconic asset in a globally renowned, high barrier to entry tourism and conference destination. The hotel boasts over 330 guestrooms, 18,000 square feet of event space, and a range of amenities including a 9,000 square foot spa, an indoor pool, four restaurants and bars, a fitness centre, and a seasonal ice-skating rink.
Already a jewel within Banff National Park, Oxford intends to restore The Rimrock’s status a preeminent luxury hotel offering in Banff, transforming the hotel via a comprehensive top to bottom renovation. This investment will enhance the luxury experience, improve the environmental sustainability of the hotel, and amplify its distinctive location in the Canadian Rockies. Global hospitality leader Accor (parent of the globe-spanning Fairmont hotel banner) has been selected to manage The Rimrock through its extensive renovation and beyond, expanding Oxford and Accor’s successful partnership in Western Canada to a total of five hotels.
It is through this lens that in Q3, we caught up with three key figures representing the Oxford/Accor partnership for their insights on The Rimrock acquisition and renovation plan. Robert Bruins, Director, Hotels at Oxford Properties, Mark Purcell, Senior Vice President, Development, North & Central America at Accor, and Gregor Resch, Fairmont Regional Vice President, Canada’s Western Mountain Region, shared their thoughts on the main drivers of The Rimrock’s acquisition, and what excites them the most about the opportunity.
1. Place (Location)
Robert Bruins (Oxford): From an emotional perspective, The Rimrock is a true needle in a haystack—its unmatched views within Banff National Park make it an irreplaceable gem.
On the investment side, Banff’s high barriers to entry position us to take advantage of the current supply-demand imbalance for resorts, which aligns perfectly with our conviction in the sector based on strong structural global travel trends.
Mark Purcell (Accor): As Robert mentioned, Banff National Park is an irreplaceable destination, with significant barriers to entry limiting new supply.
Gregor Resch (Fairmont/Accor): Indeed, an iconic hotel with an equally iconic location. Perched above the Town of Banff and overlooking the Bow Valley, it is a one-of-a-kind resort asset in a one-of-a-kind destination.
2. Potential (Repositioning)
MP: The Rimrock has a great history but has not received the appropriate investment and operational attention in recent years. There is a tremendous opportunity through renovation to transform the property physically as well as through programming and guest experience to build off the beautiful physical setting to ultimately create a truly iconic destination.
RB: What really excites me is the blank canvas that the Rimrock hotel represents. It offers us a remarkable opportunity to reset and redefine the hotel landscape, which is evolving rapidly. This allows us to differentiate the hotel from our core brand hotel portfolio. We aim to carve a niche that will expand the destination's appeal, attracting new domestic and international travellers and capitalize on the absence of a luxury lifestyle resort product in the current Canadian landscape.
GR: The possibilities for growth and evolution of The Rimrock are significant. Working together with Oxford, I know we will be able to create an updated product and experience that will be completely new not only to Banff National Park, but also to Canada and beyond.
3. Partnership (Oxford & Accor)
GR: The expansion of the partnership between Oxford and Accor further solidifies our #1 position in Western Canada. With now five iconic resorts and destinations as part of Canada’s Western Mountain Region, we will not only continue to lead, but we will further expand our reach and success.
MP: We are extremely excited to be building on the existing relationship that Accor and Oxford have through the four Fairmont properties. With the expertise across the partnership, we believe we are best positioned to maximize the value of The Rimrock.
RB: Growing our important relationship with Accor, The Rimrock acquisition presents a ‘bolt on’ opportunity that seamlessly integrates with our existing resort collection. This offers us the chance to showcase our exceptional asset management capabilities to deliver value for our stakeholders while creating connections between people and nature.
Planning and design for the renovation project has begun, with work on the multi-year project anticipated to begin in 2024. The Rimrock Resort Hotel will continue to operate throughout this renovation period. For reservations at The Rimrock, visit rimrockresort.com.