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‘Six decades of success’: The secret behind a Victoria hotel’s 60-year legacy

General manager Sam Kirsch says the hotel acts as the ‘unofficial ambassadors of the Island’
The iconic teal and yellow colours contrast with the beautiful vegetation of one of Vancouver Island’s best hotels. (Jake Romphf/Victoria News)

A beacon of hospitality for six remarkable decades, the Robin Hood Inn & Suites is one of Victoria’s cultural gems.

Founder Rolf Ullrich laid the foundation at 136 Gorge Road East in 1963, and the hotel celebrated its 60th anniversary in June.

General manager Sam Kirsch says that before joining the team, he saw the hotel’s cultural value and wanted to contribute.

“I remember it from when my parents and I came to Victoria years ago when I was a teenager, and it kind of stuck with me all those years,” said Kirsch.

Building on the rich history, every Robin Hood team member, then and now, has contributed to the hotel’s transformation, making hospitality the pinnacle goal. Word on the street is the facility is home to some of the comfiest, most luxurious beds the city offers.

“We bought some of the best beds in the industry because, seriously, we know people need a good sleep,” said Kirsch. “Robin Hood is good because you can enjoy the five-star amenities without the five-star price … We are a stay-real place, and what you get is more than you expect.”

The Robin Hood got its name from politicians who met with Walt Disney in the late 1940s, hoping to create its Victorian-era-themed park in the city. Following suit, many hotels in the area opted to adapt their name to accommodate the Victorian-era vibe.

Guests can expect a continental breakfast with freshly baked croissants with many free services, such as courtesy shuttles from the airport or ferry, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, to name a few.

The Ullrich family doesn’t just accommodate visitors to Victoria; according to Kirsch, they are often recognized as unofficial ambassadors of the community. Kirsch says they try to embrace the city’s multicultural tapestry, most recently creating videos that celebrate the myriad of cultures Victoria and Vancouver Island provides

Today, it stands as a tribute 1960s roadside inn, amalgamating vintage charm with modern planning. Featuring its own pillow menu, the hotel puts comfort first. Trading in flash for authenticity and character, the hotel offers distinct advantages over others within the area due to its charm.

“We finally got recognition,” said Kirsch. “It was nice to get recognized as one of the five nominees of the best hotels in British Columbia by the B.C. Hotel Association.”

Rooted in tradition yet constantly evolving, team members, Kirsch and the Ullrich family have sculpted the Hood’s narrative.

However, it doesn’t only rely on nostalgic lore to keep its doors open. The intergenerational relationships and experiences have helped establish the facility’s legacy of being a place to remember.

Of course, guests have come and gone, as have some of the younger staff who have grown up and explored other careers, but according to Kirch, they always come back.

Kirsch says staff member ,Pink Yu, was a graduate of Royal Roads University who worked as an operations manager at the hotel and was awarded “future leader of the year” by the B.C. Hotel Association at the Kelowna Summit. In addition her professor, Trina White of the Parkside Hotel, was named the Hotelier of the year.

“Making people feel welcome and cared for, that’s what we do,” said Kirch. “Two students (former employees of the hotel) are both getting awards this year at the B.C. Hotel Association Summit in Kelowna, which is such a wonderful thing to see, and these are the things we are most proud of.”

The ability to give people lasting memories is also what Kirsch says helps drive his and the other staff members’ passion.

“We had a couple who live in the U.S. … 30 years ago, they stayed at the hotel, celebrating their 10th anniversary. They came back last week to celebrate their 40th.”

Kirsch says these stories are the ones that touch his and the staff’s heart because it is a testament to the hotel’s long history of accommodation.

READ MORE: Victoria hotels hit Top 10 for international travellers

Bike storage and complimentary shuttle rides are just some of the amenities available at the Robin Hood Inn & Suites. (Jake Romphf/Victoria News)
A Robin Hood Inn & Suites room. (Jake Romphf/Victoria News)