by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | June 4, 2013

Delta MontrealDuring the C2-MTL conference held last week in Montreal, I spent time with sales representatives from two of that city's Delta properties, who brought me up to speed on the Toronto-based brand. This Canadian mainstay, which once languished in the shadows of parent company Fairmont Hotels & Resorts until it was bought by British Columbia Investment Management Corp. in October 2007, is now cutting loose with a bold rebranding strategy that focuses on a new tech-savvy design and aggressive expansion into major urban markets.

Delta Toronto renderingLeading the charge is the chain's new president and CEO, Kenneth Greene, a longtime executive with Wyndham Hotel Group, most recently as president and managing director, Asia Pacific region. Since taking the reins last September,  Greene has announced a slew of multimillion-dollar renovations at properties to bring them up to new brand standards, as well as a robust development pipeline that will see the addition of two properties later this year in Waterloo and Kingston, Ontario. They will be followed by the opening in fall 2014 of the brand's flagship hotel, the 556-room Delta Toronto. The 45-story new-build, which will be the chain's poster child for future properties and its strategy to become "the next generation four-star premium hotel chain," will anchor the new Southcore Financial Centre mixed-use complex. Featuring 15,000 square feet of meeting space and a green roof, it will be connected to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Union Station and the PATH network by an enclosed pedestrian walkway.

A few hotels were ousted from Delta's portfolio as part of the chain's brand repositioning, including the 1,590-room Delta Chelsea Hotel, Toronto's largest, which the company has managed for 37 years. Delta's management contract with the property ends at the end of June, at which time it will be renamed the Chelsea Toronto Hotel and become the first in Canada to be managed by Hong Kong-based Langham Hospitality Group. "It was a tough decision to part ways," Greene told the Toronto Star.

Central to Delta's brand repositioning is a brandwide rollout of its new ModeRoom guest rooms, which feature a clean, modern design and are laden with technology features for the road warrior. I got a firsthand look at the 456-room Delta Montreal, which has just completed a two-and-a-half year, US$20 million renovation. The results are stunning. Its sister property, the 711-room Delta-Centreville, which features 35,000 square feet of meeting space, is in the midst of a US$12 million upgrade, which will wrap up in spring 2015.

Don't expect to see any Delta-flagged hotels popping up on this side of the border any time soon. According to company executives, Canada has an abundance of opportunities for chain growth that will keep them on home soil for the unforeseeable future.

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