New Pinestone Resort owners plan expansion
By Angelica Ingram
Less than two months at the helm of Pinestone Resort and Conference Centre, new owners the Aurora Hotel Group are already making big plans for a renovation and overhaul of the tourism destination.
Resort owners Vince and Ravi Aurora addressed Dysart councillors at their Sept. 28 meeting with Pinestone Resort general manager John Teljeur to give an update on what the owners have in mind for the resort.
The group owns other businesses throughout the province, said Ravi, president of the company.
“We fell in love with it [Haliburton] the first time we came to see Haliburton,” he said. “We own a number of other businesses across Ontario, but Pinestone is our focus at the moment. We plan on expanding Pinestone to be what it should have been many years ago.”
Plans thus far include undergoing a $2 million renovation, which will focus on the restaurants, lobby, guest suites and more.
The group would also like to build a car wash/gas station on the property where there formerly was a gas station.
The owners are also hoping to build a plaza/medical facility near the resort.
“In the plaza we’re hoping we can bring in some kind of financial institution, which would be very helpful. As well as some sort of medical facility. Medical facilities that we don’t have right now in Haliburton.”
There is also a possibility the group will be branding the hotel.
In addition to changing the facility, the hotel group wants to strengthen relationships within the community, said Ravi.
“We feel the strength of Pinestone is Haliburton, so why not have Haliburton in Pinestone?” he said. “Our plan is to ... try and bring in local art, different events and stuff that really caters to the locals. Because it’s the culture of Haliburton that really makes it so beautiful.”
Councillors were receptive to the plans and what they would mean for Haliburton County.
“This is pretty exciting stuff,” said Reeve Murray Fearrey.
Ravi told council construction on the plaza would start soon, beginning with the gas station portion.
Deputy-reeve Andrea Roberts congratulated the business owners and asked about the existing ballroom.
“The ballroom has always been a bit of a stumbling block because of the smallness ... [are] there plans to expand the ballroom?” she asked.
Ravi said there were plans to expand, resulting in a fairly large banquet facility.
Teljeur said to tap into some of the competing markets out there, the resort would need the ballroom to be between 5,000 and 6,000 square feet.
“We have about 3,000 right now,” he said. “It really is if you build it they will come.”
Accessibility is another thing the hotel group wants to address at the resort and is looking at putting an elevator in.
Improvements to the parking lot are going to start this week.
Ravi said he anticipates the construction period could take upwards of two years to complete.