Victoria’s Queen Empress
Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia will celebrate their official Grand Opening on June 28, following a stunning restoration. Named in honour of Queen Victoria, the two-year and over $60 million project celebrates both the history and natural beauty of the west coast, and elevates the historical property into a new era of modern luxury.
Recently unveiled to guests, the restoration’s final phase showcases a renovated health club and pool; refreshed Willow Stream Spa with an expanded lounge, updated reception and revitalized retail area; and 229 luxurious guest rooms. Gracing the exterior of the building is the porte cochere, which was constructed to provide a sense of welcome prior to entering the spectacular new reception lobby. The showstopper is the “Twill Flower” – a six meter high floral-shaped chandelier. Hand woven with approximately 250,000 crystals the sculpture is homage to Victoria’s reputation as the City of Gardens.
“We’ve taken a landmark building and restored the original architectural elements with modern, elegant touches. It’s a fairy tale transformation and a milestone for this beautiful castle”, said Indu Brar, the hotel’s general manager. “And, we’re ready for the world to see it.”
Fairmont Empress opened in 1908 and lured world travelers to the far flung destination of Vancouver Island. The hotel hosted the likes of Winston Churchill, Bob Hope, and members of the Royal Family. In 2014, Vancouver developer and philanthropist Nat Bosa and his wife, Flora, purchased the hotel and commenced the comprehensive two-phase renovation shortly thereafter.
“When Flora and I bought the hotel, we had a vision of restoring this Grand Old Lady to her former glory. True to my words at the time, this old mistress has given me some headaches, has cost me one hell of a lot of money, but is now beginning to bring us some pleasure,” said Nat Bosa.
Phase One of the iconic restoration launched in June 2016 with the grand opening of Q at the Empress -a bold new restaurant and bar. Designed by Puccini Group, an internationally recognized hospitality firm, the venue reflects a modern sense of royalty with traditional coffered ceilings, quartzite bar, elegant furnishings and artwork featuring Queen Victoria. The re-imagined Lobby Lounge – home of the world-renowned Tea at the Empress – reveals a modern Victorian parlour featuring a fresh colour palette inspired by the original Empress tea service china, whimsical artwork and textured furnishings alongside a beautiful central bar where evening cocktails are served.
Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) of San Francisco, the world’s leading hospitality interior design firm and notable designer of Raffles and St. Regis properties, oversaw the design of Fairmont Empress’ lobby, guest rooms and Fairmont Gold with a mandate to respect the architectural and historical integrity, and infuse a modern, upscale design inspired by the area’s natural beauty. Fairmont Gold, with private concierge and check-in services, has expanded to 65 guestrooms and includes two new lounges and a spacious outdoor terrace that overlooks the inner harbour providing Victoria’s most impressive sunset view. The addition of a Royal Suite – designed by Franc Ranieri of Kreel Creative Design – will captivate those looking for the ultimate in luxury.
With the restoration of Fairmont Empress complete, the hotel is once again poised to welcome an echelon of the world’s most discerning travelers.
Fairmont Empress Hotel 721 Government Street, Victoria British Columbia – 250 384 8111, 1 866 540 4429
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.