Elora Mill Hotel and Spa experience proves to be worth the wait

“Bottom line is this project is good for Centre Wellington,” said Centre Wellington Mayor Kelly Linton at the ribbon cutting of the Elora Mill Hotel and Spa.

The Elora Mill renovations, which began when Aaron Ciancone, owner and president of Pearle Hospitality submitted a bid for the property, located at 77 Mill Street West in Elora, in August of 2010, were on the verge of completion at the ribbon cutting ceremony on July 5.

The Pearle Hospitality company was expecting its first paying hotel guests on July 6.

Ciancone said that when he was making the decision about purchasing the mill he asked people he knew, and people he didn’t know, if they’d heard of the Elora Mill. Many of those he asked said that the town was beautiful but they had never returned.

“I was one of them and it was really at that moment that I said ‘that was the piece,’ that people had so many fond memories of this place but it really needed a little bit of love and care and attention and so it was at that point that I realized, ‘let’s take the leap of faith, let’s submit the bid, and see what happens,’” he said to about 60 people at the ribbon cutting.

“And it was only a few days or a few weeks later … we were successful.

“So that’s when my heart dropped and the journey began.”

Linton said the opening was exciting and thanked the Elora Mill for becoming a part of the community.

“You’ve worked hard with our staff, you’ve worked hard with Heritage Centre Wellington, you’ve worked hard with the BIA, you’ve worked hard with other stakeholders to ensure that the Elora Mill and Spa is part of this town and that’s commendable,” he said.

“Also you clearly demonstrate that you’re not satisfied with anything less than the best for the Elora Mill.”

Mill general manager Geoffrey Wild also thanked the Centre Wellington community for its support in the project.

“We can have all the most beautiful facilities and features and everything that we have but from my perspective … it’s really our people that we have around us that make the difference,” he said.  

“So we’re immensely proud of the whole buy in from the community as well.

“The amount of people that we managed to source from here, both older generation, newer generation coming together to really turn this property into something spectacular.”

Linton said he was proud of the township’s part in the entire development.

“Pearle Hospitality is the star of this movie but the township has played a supporting cast role,” he said.  

“Way back in 2015, the council recognized this project was not only good for visitors, it was good for this community, it was good for Centre Wellington.

“That’s why our strategic plan, we committed that we would fast track the project and do everything within our control to make sure the application process went quickly and that we didn’t put up any unnecessary administrative roadblocks, that we could move ahead with this project.”

As of July 5, a number of the guest rooms were complete, the restaurant was set to open and the two venues in the The Granary, The Grand and The Irvine, were open and had already hosted weddings before the official opening.

While it was Pearle Hospitality that transformed the Elora Mill, Centre Wellington played a role in improving the municipal area leading to and from the building. Linton said the township projects were funded through a blend of the MacDonald Trust Fund and tax supported money. Some of the projects included revitalizing Mill Street, rebuilding Price Street, rebuilding the sewage treatment pumping station and rebuilding underground utilities and services that run under Mill Street.

He said the township will be beautifying Mill Street within the next couple of months and it has begun building the Victoria Street pedestrian bridge in downtown Elora.

“I understand that this is a once in a generation project, it’s revitalizing downtown Elora, it’s rebuilding our heritage assets, it’s rehabilitating a brownfield site across the river and reclaiming a south bank of the Grand River,” Linton said.

“And is a huge boost to our economy – 150 million (dollars) in investment, 150 full time jobs.”

And it’s not complete. Ciancone said the portion of the north side of the Grand River that opened on July 6 is just the first phase of the overall development.

“It’s taken eight years to get to this point and the project has exponentially grown, so much more than what I had originally imagined,” he said.  “I’m very honoured and very fortunate to be here, at this moment and to be part of such a passionate and caring community. And to be a part of a great hospitality team, the Elora Mill staff.”

Wild added, “So there’s a lot of pressure from here on out. Our excitement starts tomorrow when we welcome our first paying guests to the hotel.”