CIBT Education Group, an education management company, has purchased a 17-storey luxury hotel in downtown Vancouver, BC with the intention of converting it into student housing for international students.
The organization manages schools in China, the Philippines and the Middle East in addition to the well-established and well-respected Sprott Shaw College, which offers diplomas to 7,000 domestic and international students annually.
The organization’s CEO Toby Chu, stated that when the renovations are completed in about six months, the Viva Suites hotel will offer 200 beds, a fitness centre, an electronic library, a TV lounge, and a free shuttle service to area institutions. The CIBT Education Group will also provide an airport pickup and shuttle service, a hot meal service, IT support, social activities, and academic counseling. Rent will range from $900 to $2,500 per month
Chu, a Hong Kong native and highly regarded local entrepreneur, stated that the company has three additional projects in various stages of development and nine more in the planning stages in Vancouver and Richmond. Mr. Chu also suggested that with the international student population projected to grow and with a rental vacancy rate of less than one per cent in the Greater Vancouver area — and less than 0.5 per cent in the downtown core — there is a desperate need for such housing. Chu maintains that a lack of reliable housing for international students is jeopardizing the city’s reputation and its position as a hub for this overseas clientele. Based on data from 2011, about 100,000 foreign students are living in the Great Vancouver area, contributing over $1 billion in housing revenue and $5 billion in tuition revenue to the B.C. economy, according to a company news release.