SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - The interior of the Ocean View Resort looks like any other building under construction, open studs and bare floors.
The difference is, this building has been in progress for over 20 years.
The resort, located at the end of MacKenzie Drive, “the busiest dead-end road on the island,” was started in the 1990s. Designed originally to be a Japanese spa, it’s gone through several revisions to where it is now, said Dallas Desjardins, vice-president of P.E.I. Ocean View Resort & Golf.
After the original builders sold out, the next owners built the west wing of hotel rooms before development stalled again.
The latest owner, Shizhong (Sean) Liu, has built the east wing and the two-storey rotunda with plans for a five-star luxury resort marketed to international visitors, said Desjardins.
Friday, Desjardins was standing on a bridge over a dry water feature in the original lobby.
“As it is right now, there’s nothing in here. There’s not a pipe, not a wire, not a wall,” said Desjardins. “Furthermore, we actually have to do some demolition first before we start because the old layout doesn’t quite work with what the owner of this property wants to do.”
Liu purchased the resort in 2005 but wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with it at the time, said Desjardins.
Liu sat on the investment until 2013, when he built the east wing and rotunda. He has since purchased the Summerside golf course and some additional land. Now Liu owns around 300 acres called P.E.I. Ocean View Resort & Golf.
“He just wants to diversify his portfolio a little bit. He’s into aroma chemicals and he’s looking at delving a little bit into tourism and hospitality.”
Liu owns three factories and a laboratory in Tianjin, China.
Friday, Desjardins walked through the site to discuss what has been done and what’s next for the luxury resort.
From above, the 113,000-square-foot facility is shaped like a “Y.” In the two arms are 69 luxury hotel rooms. The “joint” and the “stem” are what Desjardins calls the “core”. That’s where the lobby, restaurant and spas will be.
At the very bottom of the “Y” is the rotunda, two stories of tinted glass. It’s flanked by large stone dragons, facing seaward.
“Pictures don’t do this place justice,” he said, standing in the rotunda the view an expansive 180-degree panorama of Summerside harbour and city skyline. “You can see the Confederation Bridge on a clear day, and it looks nice at night as well.”
The exterior electrical and septic work is complete. Much of the work done so far inside has been to get ready for construction work. Desjardins said a lot of the west wing was a mossy garden when they first tackled the renovations.
Once the plumbing is in, cement floors with electric in-floor heat will be installed. Then construction will begin to proceed more swiftly.
The two wings of rooms will be built up to drywall between now and August 2019.
The south-facing executive suites all have a water view. They will be a spacious 720 square feet, and rooms in the east wing will have a private balcony or terrace.
Rooms on the north side will be more a more typical hotel room, 400 square feet with two queen beds and bath.
The core will have some more guest rooms, conference rooms – aimed at weddings with up to 200 people – as well as two spas.
There’s a lot left to do, and Desjardins was hesitant to give an opening date. He’s thinking beyond 2020, though.
“Everybody’s always asking for a date, I’m tentative to put a date on it, just because it is such a major project.”
Tara Maddix was pleased to see the resort development come back on line with Desjardins at the helm.
The development is bringing work to the city, said Maddix, the manager of operations at the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce.
“The money coming back into the local economy is really exciting,” she said. “That’s going to create a lot of work for the local businesses here.”
She’s optimistic the hotel’s future guests will enjoy their stay in the city. There’s lots for visitors to do, she said, adding it’s a great family destination.