A planned luxury lodge on the Dettah Road may have a hard time accepting reservations this winter.

The preliminary, conceptual design for the lodge, shown here, had already been simplified to a single story. The Skywatch Lodge and Spa is now facing construction delays and won’t begin accepting reservations as previously scheduled in January.
photo courtesy of Deneen Allen

The Skywatch Lodge and Spa was meant to begin booking rooms in January, but has yet to break ground.

Announced last November, the 37-room, five-star resort was scheduled to open for business this spring, after 41,000 square feet of new buildings was constructed on the site of what was once the Somba K’e Treatment Centre.

“Currently there is nothing on the site,” stated Renu Bakshi, a spokesperson for Coromandel Properties, a partner in the project. “The site has been cleaned/cleared and readied for underground service and foundation work to begin.”

That’s far behind where construction was expected to be. In May, Deneen Allen, CEO of Solstice Destinations, another partner behind the lodge, told Yellowknifer the buildings would be “closed in by winter.”

The Vancouver-based partnership planned to invest $25-million in the resort, with construction of a spa, fine dining restaurant and heated outdoor infinity pool.

Allen told Yellowknifer in May most of the construction, from the guest wing, maintenance area and staff quarters, were modular construction, while the main lodge and spa were to be built out of pre-fabricated panels imported from Alberta.

Bakshi declined to elaborate on what is holding up the construction or provide a detailed timeline on when it would get back on track.

“The reason for the brief hold is that Coromandel is reviewing development plans to ensure delivery of the most impactful project in Yellowknife,” he stated.

Jerry Zhong, principal of Coromandel Properties, was equally nonspecific.

“At the moment, Skywatch Lodge and Spa is briefly on hold and we anticipate resuming in earnest in 2018,” he stated in an email.

He was still enthusiastic about the project, stating construction would resume after the development plans had been reviewed “to ensure delivery of the most impactful and stunning project to Yellowknife.”

According to the plans, the lodge would be able to host 74 guests. Rooms were billed in May at $1,324 per person per night, all inclusive, or the entire property could be booked for $60,000 per night.

The lodge was designed by Yellowknife-based Taylor Architecture Group to include vast swathes of glass, to better cater to a tourism market eager for Northern lights.

According to the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, 108,480 visitors travelled to the NWT in 2016-17, an increase of 16 per cent from the year before.

Spending also increased, growing 21 per cent across the territory, with visitors shelling around $200 million in 2016-17. Aurora viewing increased by 23 per cent as well, with 29,800 people travelling to the territory to glimpse the aurora.

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