It has only been open for over a year and already the Quality Inn and Suites is going to have to clear some more shelf space for another award.

At the Val-d’Or Chamber of Commerce 32nd Annual Business Awards, CREECO and Val-d’Or Mayor Fernand Trahan of Trahan Holdings took home the prize for best overall business in Val-d’Or for 2011-2012 for their jointly owned hotel.

The award came as a big surprise to the partners who sat cheering on the other award recipients, not expecting anything at all.

“What is notable is that we were only open for 10 months when we submitted our application for the award,” said Rodney W. Hester, Business Development Coordinator for CREECO.

“Normally the committee looks at businesses that have been open for over a year, so we’re thinking, next year we’ll be illegible to apply to a number of the other awards that are part of this gala and hopefully bring more award results to our business.”

The partnership with Trahan, one of Val-d’Or’s most prolific businessmen, is one of many for the CREECO team, and is most likely the one to have gained the most recognition in the shortest period of time.

After being open for only eight months, the hotel was awarded the national “Rookie of the Year” and provincial “Spirit of Hospitality” awards from the Choice Hotel Chain, beating out many other competitors from across Canada.

For Hester, the elements that make this partnership stand out is how the timing of this project came about – finding the right partner to work with and the hotel vacancy in Val-d’Or at an all-time low. For the past 40 years, Cree communities have also been hemorrhaging funds into Val-d’Or that would never make their way back into Eeyou Istchee hands.

The fact that race relations have not always been smooth between the residents of Val d’Or and their Cree neighbours, the CREECO-Trahan partnership is such a worthy success that it continues to garner recognition.

“I think understanding each other, openness to understand one another, having that dialogue and focusing on the positive stuff. There is a tendency to look at the not-so-good stuff and if we focus on that, then they become really bigger than they are. If we really focus at the positives that can come out of a relationship, then those positives are going to get bigger and brighter for us going forward,” said Hester.

And, Trahan is very much on the same page as Hester.

“It means that the hotel is a great success for the Cree Nation and my community. This partnership is going to stand as an example all over Quebec as well as around our own community that it important for people from Val-d’Or to go into ventures with the people of the North.

“The Crees are very proud of this and as Mayor of Val-d’Or, my community is also very proud. We have become a real success story,” said Trahan.

Considering how well the hotel is doing and the state of the economy in the North with the current mining boom, Trahan said he is feeling quite confident about the next hotel that the same partnership will be opening in Baie-Comeau.

“My job is to help them out and make sure that they have everything they need to make this next project a success,” said Trahan.