Frederique Philip.

Foreclosure not in the plans for Sooke Harbour House

Investors unroll new expansion plans for Sooke hotel

Reports of the demise of the Sooke Harbour House through foreclosure are unwarranted and inaccurate said co-owner Frederique Philip.

“We are absolutely not in foreclosure,” said Philip. She said they have not been served a foreclosure and are just weeks away from paying back their loans to Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

The action taken by BDC was pursuant to their time policy for non-performing loans. Court documents state that the BDC had launched foreclosure action against the Sooke Harbour House. The Sooke Harbour House currently owes $2.9 million on a 1997 mortgage on two properties. The properties are assessed at $3 million but this is not the true market value of the property. In 2012 the property was listed for sale at $5.9 million.

Monetary restructuring is currently taking place to accommodate their expansion projects with a group of investors. Plans include a $2 million investment in Phase I and another $5 million in Phase II. The investors are closing on a $3.5 million debt package as part of their overall financing and the BDC will be paid out of that new interim senior secured debt.

“Things are taking longer than expected,” said Philip via email on Friday. “A few glitches happened also during that time that have showed down the process. This is not a set back, just a small hiccup!”

Many factors contributed to the revenue erosion experienced by the hotel including; the 2008 global financial crisis, high energy prices, a strong Canadian dollar, lack of working capital, coherent marketing plans, as well as family issues. Many of these factors are no longer an issue in the larger picture allowing for a more optimistic outlook in the tourism industry.Expansion and upgrades will include complete upgrades to the existing oceanfront guest suites; a new casual restaurant serving local craft beers on tap along with the same food philosophy as has been practiced for the past 36 years. A new spa facility, a permanent art gallery featuring local and First Nations art, and 22 new guest suites, to be completed by October 2016, are among the extensive plans. Plans are in the works for “The Ocean Club”, an exclusive club open to 100 members who will enjoy the hotel as well as a day sail on the hotel’s chartered 50-foot sailing vessel. There are many other changes which are all intended to enhance revenues and the hotel’s appeal to travelers and locals.

The Sooke Harbour House has a long history in Sooke. Thirty-six years ago Frederique and Sinclair Philip purchased the small inn at the foot of Whiffin Spit. They have been front and centre in the Slow Food movement and have been awarded numerous international honours both for their inn, food and their wine cellar. The Sooke Harbour House has consistently been named one of Canada’s best inns and restaurants. The hotel has been used for feature films and movies, has welcomed movie stars, politicians and the rich and famous, while always maintaining its small town charm and reputation for fine food.

“The thing to do is to believe in the Sooke Harbour House and our capacity to go forward as planned even with this little hiccup,” said Philip.