By Karen McKinley
Reprinted from the February issue 2018 of Northern Ontario Business
For years, Parker House Suites has been a temporary home for business travellers, as well as judges and lawyers who are just metres away from the city courthouse.
As of last October, Ken Birtch and his wife, Lorena Dudley, are the new owners of the historical 1920s-era building on Elm Street, near the downtown.
Birtch said they are making a few changes, but want to preserve the ambiance.
“We know it’s about making people comfortable,” he said. “It’s not about being glitzy or fancy; they want room to spread out and relax. We want people to feel at home.”
The building’s history always intrigued him.
“I’ve been having a great time reading up on it from city records. It was a private home of a judge and his family, and this is a big house for a single family.
“I’m learning so much about this place and the general history of the area.”
The house was built on a hill in a then-wealthy neighbourhood of Sudbury. The back garage was a carriage house.
Many of the homes on the west end of Elm Street have been converted into businesses with “maybe one or two” left that are still private, he said.
Birtch and his wife purchased the building as a kind of retirement plan after a decades-long career with the Greater Sudbury Police Service.
The couple has 13 years of experience together running bed and breakfasts, so this is a natural transition for both.
They are still running and taking reservations while they make small changes to the suites, including replacing some of the in-room electronics and the keys with coded keypads.
Parker House Suites boasts three suites, and each has its own ambiance and unique features. All of them include a fully stocked kitchenette, a large bathroom, Wi-Fi and a large flat-screen TV.
The Elm Suite is described by Birtch as the most casual of the four, with a spacious bathroom, en-suite kitchenette, and a private entrance.
The Alder Suite is considered the most luxurious, with a Jacuzzi tub and a cozy off-bathroom kitchenette.
The Studio Suite, which takes up most of the basement, provides a private and spacious living area with a large kitchenette, decorative fireplace, and living area, as well as a cedar closet.
“Really, what I tell people is all they need to bring (for the kitchen) is their own groceries. We have everything else,” said Birtch.
Each one is priced according to their size and overall theme. One of the big changes coming, he said, is the clientele and pricing.
In the past, it was marketed toward executive travellers. Now, he is aiming for anyone looking for a large, comfortable suite without the large price.
“I haven’t done much research on the pricing levels in Sudbury, but we want to make this as affordable as a room or deluxe suite in any hotel,” he said.
“I still get people who are coming here for several days or weeks, but I’m advertising to all. Length of stay is negotiable.”