Parkside Victoria Resort and Spa: all local and green to its roots

(pictured fr. left) Former Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe, former MP David Anderson, Aviawest Resort Group founder and President Andrew Pearson and architect Richard Hulbert cut the green ribbon at the resort's grand opening on June 25th.

The fact that a new urban resort was built and opened in Victoria, a veritable sea of luxury hotels, during an economic downturn is amazing enough. The fact that it was built to Platinum LEED standards is even more astonishing, especially since building that green costs a lot of, er, green.

So, I arrived at the Parkside Victoria Resort and Spa to cover its grand opening with a great deal of excitement and just a bit of healthy inquiry. Would the Parkside live up to the green hype? Or was it just another corporate hotel financed by anonymous investment firms pretending to be something other than it was?

What I found at the Parkside was the future of the urban resort: a socially and environmentally responsible good neighbour.

photo courtesy Aviawest

A home base

Whether you are in Victoria for personal or business travel, the Parkside is conveniently located near the myriad of venues, activities and attractions of the Inner Harbour. Explaining and describing all that there is to see and do here could be the subject of many more articles. But what you do need when exploring this lovely city is a good home base and the Parkside is that place.

I made the quick walk from the bus terminal up to 810 Humboldt Street, to find the 126-room resort sitting comfortably between its regal and historic neighbours. Its award-winning design compliments the graceful beauty of the established neighbourhood, and sitelines, old trees, and architecture are honoured not obliterated by this new building.

My suite was maximized for space with a small but sophisticated kitchen and eating area—perfect for dining in—and a cozy seating room with gas fireplace and large windows that opened at top and bottom. A small balcony had doors from both the seating area and bedroom allowing for the ‘green’ air conditioning mandated in the building of Parkside, a delightful natural ventilation system that I call “fresh air.” My view looked west out to the old Anglican Church of Our Lord, and over to the Empress Hotel.

The decadent king-sized bedroom was easily closed off from the seating area by French doors, a welcome option for someone wanting to sleep while others watched the flat screen TV in the seating area. The bathroom was accessible from bedroom and hall and had Aveda bath products, and rich, soft towels. Having it all to myself: priceless.

Fractional ownership with full benefits

The Parkside Victoria is a hotel and resort, and you can stay and use the services like any hotel at competitive rates. But you can also become an owner at Parkside. Shared ownership is the foundational business model of Aviawest and, similar to other fractional ownership companies, members buy portions of a specific resort unit and request the weeks when they want to use their space. The remaining time is put into a rental pool, which Aviawest manages.

Owners can also trade their time for time in a similar unit at another Aviawest property or for access to vacations around the world through Aviawest’s affiliates. In fact, one man I spoke with bought a fractional unit at Parkside but has never stayed there. Instead he’s traded his time for vacations in Belize, Hawaii, and the Phillipines. “Shared ownership at the Parkside is reimagining how we use the city, and reimagining how we use our travel investment,” said Aviawest CEO Jim Pearson. Former Environment Minister and MP David Anderson, speaking at Parkside’s grand opening, agreed. “Urban land utilization is a high priority and shared ownership addresses that.”

Aviawest CEO Jim Pearson stands in one of Parkside's several rooftop gardens

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