New Castle Hotels and Resorts celebrated the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Westin Nova Scotian, a historic hotel with a toast by Halifax Mayor Mike Savage from the first keg of a commemorative brew, Westin 20, crafted by Halifax-area microbrewer, Nine Locks Brewing.
The vintage 1930 Nova Scotian was a few weeks away from the wrecking ball in April of 1996 when New Castle founder David Buffam and his team acquired the historic hotel and began reviving it for a new life as the first Westin franchise. It previously had been one of Canada’s cherished grand dame, hotels; host to visiting royalty and the first stop on the road to citizenship for many of the one-million immigrants who arrived via Pier 21.
“We saw a hotel with great bones and remarkable character that truly was part of Canada’s history,” said Buffam. “It was immediately clear to us that in the right hands, it could have a brilliant future, too. We’ve never regretted taking that leap of faith and now, nearly half of our hotel portfolio is in Canada.”
“Not only did they save a treasured landmark, but the reopening of the Nova Scotian was a catalyst for the redevelopment of the entire south end of Halifax,” said Halifax Mayor Mike Savage. “At the time, this part of town sorely needed investment and a new outlook, and New Castle played a big role in the improvements we’ve seen since.”
Since the re-opening on August 6, 1996, the south end of Halifax has become a lifestyle hub featuring the only national museum in Atlantic Canada, the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, the Cunard Center and dozens of shops and restaurants as well as the new ViaRail Train station.
“When we opened, it was a challenge to convince groups that our part of town was safe,” said General Manager John Wilson, who opened the hotel as the assistant controller. “Now we regularly welcome the Prime Minister, and each November we host defense ministers from around the world when the Halifax International Security Forum meets. Now, we are at the center of everything that is fun and attractive to both visitors and locals in Halifax.”
Since its reopening in 1996, The Westin Nova Scotian has become the go-to hotel for major sports and entertainment events including:
- 2003 World Junior Hockey Championships
- 2004 World Women’s Hockey Championships
- 2006 Juno Awards
- 2008 IIHF World Hockey Championships
- 2010 Briar Championships
- 1997-2007, 2011, 2012 and 2017 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Basketball Championships
“The success of this hotel is a testament to the people, like John, who have been here since the very beginning sharing a level of friendly, Canadian hospitality that is unmatched by any other hotel in Halifax,” said Gerry Chase, president and COO of New Castle. “We made history by saving a landmark hotel and making it the first Westin franchise and we’ve never looked back. In fact, we’re looking forward to another 20 years with Westin, and our longtime associates.”
According to Guido Kerpel, regional vice president for New Castle, the 20th anniversary celebration will continue throughout the year with an upcoming announcement of property enhancements, the unveiling of a lobby display highlighting the hotel’s history, and other surprises.
“We have 20 years as a team and 86 years as a landmark historic hotel
in Halifax,” noted Kerpel. “Those are milestones that should be savored throughout the year.”