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Investors close to buying Sooke Harbour House and hotel

Internationally renowned Sooke Harbour House restaurant and hotel has gone on the market for $6.5-million under a court-ordered sale to pay off a $3-million mortgage. However, a B.C.
Visitors enjoy lunch during Canadian Food Day at Sooke Harbour House in 2010.

Internationally renowned Sooke Harbour House restaurant and hotel has gone on the market for $6.5-million under a court-ordered sale to pay off a $3-million mortgage.

However, a B.C. investment group is hoping to take ownership before another buyer appears.

The group’s spokesman said it will be finalizing details in coming days under an existing agreement to buy the waterfront property from its long-time owners. This plan would pay off the mortgage and permit the group to embark on further improvements at the 2.55-acre site.

Frederique and Sinclair Philip purchased the picturesque waterfront hotel 37 years ago at 1528 Whiffen Spit Rd. The 28-room hotel and restaurant is a destination for locals and visitors, including movie stars, and it has earned local and international tourism awards.

Flowering gardens, a hotel filled with art and organic and local offerings in the restaurant are among its features.

The boutique hotel was listed for sale about two weeks ago as a result of a foreclosure action in the Supreme Court of B.C. by the Business Development Bank of Canada. Court documents state the bank is owed about $3 million on a mortgage.

Gary Haukeland, real estate agent with NAI Commercial, said from Vancouver that the firm is marketing the property on behalf of the Business Development Bank. There has been some interest, he said.

Building space totals 33,405 square feet and the listing includes a nearby parking area.

Frederique Philip said this week that they own and run the business and are working on refinancing with a third party to pay off the mortgage. She declined further comment.

In June of last year, she talked about extensive planned renovations that would be made possible by a team of investors.

Local resident Tim Durkin, representing SHH Holdings Ltd., said in a statement that it has $3.1 million in trust to pay out the mortgage once legal formalities are completed in coming days.

SHH Holdings is a group of sophisticated investors from B.C. that is consistent with the term “friends and family,” he said.

A $1-million capital program this year has seen rooms upgraded, a new bar-restaurant added called the Copper Room and infrastructure improvements, Durkin said. An art gallery showcasing First Nations work and a new spa are among future plans.

The Philips own the shares until they are transferred out of escrow, under the planned buyout, Durkin said. After that, all shares will be held by the holding company and then the Philips will have 5.69 per cent of shares in the holding company, Durkin said.

This purchase is taking place in stages as various milestones, including needed renovations, take place to improve the hotel’s performance, Durkin said. The hotel is experiencing high occupancy rates, he added. As improvements affect projected earnings, that increases the value of the property, thus creating a more favourable picture for lenders.

The buyout and transfer of shares wraps up the agreement, Durkin said.