Living up to its image as the epitome in unique luxury, a Hilton hotel has arrived in Barrie with an anticipation that had potential guests clamouring for reservations weeks before the facility actually opened. Located on Bryne Drive opposite the new Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton dominates a prominent hilltop offering its guests a view of lush forests in the back or a bird’s eye-view of the city out front with Kempenfelt Bay beyond. From the moment guests approach the drive-through portico, they are in Hilton-land. Welcoming travel-themed music entertains while suitcases are unloaded and makes the transition to the interior environment virtually seamless. While checking in, guests are introduced to the unusual vow given by their hosts. “We not only provide you with a great stay at a great value, we take it a step further with our unconditional 100 per cent satisfaction guarantee,” states the company policy, offered in writing. “It’s simple. We offer friendly service, clean rooms, comfortable surroundings every time. If you’re not satisfied, we don’t expect you to pay. That’s our commitment and your guarantee.” For local resident and hospitality veteran Charlene Grenier, who was hired last fall as the new hotel’s sales and marketing director, the promise is a daunting but exciting challenge. “Things go wrong all the time (in this business),” she laughs. “But we can’t let them. It’s our commitment to good service.” From the outset, the décor suggests the different approach that is taken here. Oversize black and white photographs grace the walls of the lounge. A large-screen television set, perpetually available coffee and tea, and comfortable sofas invite guests to linger in the common area long after the complimentary hot breakfast buffet, with four rotating menus, has been cleared away. The hotel, which opened at the end of February, takes pains to distinguish itself from a generic experience. Hallway carpeting shatters expectations with a recurring design of large blue blossoms running along one wall, while a complimentary diamond gradient lines the other. Patterns and tone used in guest-room furniture and wallpaper are equally unique, providing a homier-than-average atmosphere. “The colour-scheme throughout is non-traditional,” says Grenier. “It’s vibrant and playful.” The little touches all add up to an overall difference. Distinctive room signs, for example, spark memories even while suggesting a world of possibilities. From hay bales and horseshoes, to a paddle wheel and picnic, the tiny monochromatic images offer a gallery of delights before guests ever pass over the marble thresholds into their rooms. Exclusively designed pillow-top mattresses and luxurious linens await in all 104 guest rooms, from the king suites to the more traditional. Additionally, all have access to high-speed wireless internet and a host of in-room amenities like hair dryers, coffee makers and easy-to-use clock radios. The suites feature microwaves and fridges as well. The hotel also offers a recreational indoor salt-water pool, whirlpool and large fitness centre. Business travellers can use the computers, printer and photocopier in the first-floor business centre, and take advantage of the Printer-On print-valet service 24-hours a day. “Say it’s 2 o’clock in the morning, you’re working on your laptop and you want to print something,” Grenier says. “You can just send the document to print and pick it up in the morning.” For corporate conferences and other special events, the Hampton Inn has five meeting rooms to choose from. Together, the Opal and Topaz rooms can accommodate up to 75 people, while the nearby Ruby and Emerald rooms can be used in combination as break-out or reception rooms, or as stand-alone function spaces. The good-things-come-in-small-packages Diamond boardroom features a fixed table that seats 12. State-of-the-art audio-visual equipment can also be arranged. “I love that they are all named after jewels,” Grenier smiles. “They all have floor-ceiling windows with lots of natural lighting.” Working in partnership with the local food-services firm Executive Catering, Grenier and her team can assist with all aspects of event planning including full-service catering. Having worked the first four months for the hotel off-site, she’s thrilled to see the construction phase come to an end. She and the rest of the experienced 25-employee team moved into the new facility only a few weeks prior to opening. “It’s hard to not work out of a hotel when you’re in the hotel business,” says the ever-cheerful Grenier. “We’re all just really excited – finally a Hilton property in Barrie! We’ve got a lot of group business already on the books.” For more information, call Grenier directly at 705-719-9666, extension 6002, or visit www.HamptonInnBarrie.com.