The recent approval for the construction of 70 additional rooms at the Penticton Lakeside Resort is good news for its general manager David Prystay.
Construction is expected to begin in March 2016 following the results of an analysis determining what type of foundation is required for the project, which will see expansion happen on the west side of the building adjacent to Rotary Park.
“Being a wood structure, it’s going to be lighter than a traditional concrete and steel structure, so I’m sure the footings will not be as extensive as they were built, for example, for the casino or the hotel,” he said, adding the cross-laminated timber manufacturing is a renewable resource and one that will retain the integrity of the structure for decades to come.
As work begins on the hotel’s re-construction, renovations will also begin on the hotel’s existing 20,000-square-feet of convention centre facilities.
The overhaul will include new carpeting, paint, sound system and chairs.
Earlier in 2016, Prystay decided to break ties with Gateway Casinos and Entertainment, which is looking to relocate from its existing location at the Penticton Lakeside to an area near the South Okanagan Events Centre. The move was recently approved by Penticton City Council.
“The plan is in May of 2017 when the casino leaves, is to renovate the 22,000-square-foot casino into additional convention space,” said Prystay, which he noted will allow the hotel to accommodate conventions as large as 1,500, or three smaller-sized conventions of 500 people.
The renovation will also include the addition of a covered patio that will stretch along the hotel and provide views of Okanagan Lake, as well as providing greater flexibility to create a trade-show or exhibit-type atmosphere for attendees.
By having the additional rooms and most up-to-date convention space, Prystay’s goal is for the hotel to become the one-stop place for groups wanting to hold larger conventions, and to become the premier convention spot in the Okanagan Valley.
The hotel was built in 1982; Prystay took over in 1993. Together with their partners, the Prystay family owned four hotels: Best Western Sands in Vancouver, Vernon Lodge, Ramada Lodge in Kelowna and the Penticton Lakeside. The family no longer owns the Sands hotel, leaving them with a trio of hotels in the Okanagan Valley—a move that allows Prystay to better oversee the day-to-day functions.
As a youngster growing up in North Vancouver, Prystay helped his parents with the family-owned apartment building, doing chores such a painting and mowing the lawn. The purchase of their first hotel while Prystay was in high school allowed him to get experience working night shifts at the front desk.
However, the fact he’s been in the hotel industry for nearly four decades comes as a surprise to him, because he started out as a member of the Vancouver City Police Department, where he worked for three-and-a-half years.
After moving to Texas to work at a family-owned hotel in there, he soon found himself back in Vancouver in the late 1970s. He admitted the hotel business is fraught with challenges, partly attributed to the fact they never close.
Staff numbers at the lakeside fluctuate from about 370 in the summer months, down to about 200 in the slower seasons.
Each working day he arrives at the hotel around 9 or 10 am, until about 6 to 8 pm, six to seven days a week.
To unwind from the daily rigors of managing three hotels and staff members he works out five times a week, spends time with his wife, Lynne, his grandchildren, and his 10-acre farm which grows the produce for the hotel’s restaurants, The Barking Parrot, Bufflehead Tapas Room and The Hooded Merganser.
He doesn’t watch much television and prefers to read non-fiction books such as biographical or documentary works.
Prystay enjoys the life he’s built in Penticton, starting with the many friendships he’s developed, to the hot summer temperatures, the convenience of having multiple world-class wineries nearby, the many outdoor amenities, and the ease of getting around in a town where rush-hour traffic means it’ll take him eight minutes to get to the hotel.
And while he envisions the day will come when he starts to back away from the daily duties of the hotel business, he vows to find something to keep himself busy.
What about golf?
“I don’t golf. I have golf clubs in my office that my staff bought for me when I turned 50. They’re sitting there in the office,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve lent them out to lots of people.”
By Scott Trudeau