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Canadian Railroads > Chauteau Laurier hotel to get controversial expansion


Date: 07/06/19 11:21
Chauteau Laurier hotel to get controversial expansion
Author: eminence_grise

The Chateau Laurier is a Fairmont Hotel in downtown Ottawa, originally built by the Grand Trunk Railway. It is the premier hotel in Ottawa, just across the Parliament buildings and has always been where diplomats and celebrities stay.

An additional 174 rooms are planned in a futuristic expansion of the hotel. However, reaction to the architects plans from the public has been very negative, saying that it ruins the distinguished Chateau style of the original building which many feel fits well with the neo-Gothic design of Canada's Parliament buildings.

The hotel says that the public are entitled to their opinion, but the hotel is a private building on private property, and as long as the extension meets building codes, they can build what they like.

The Chateau Laurier was opened in 1912, in fact it was scheduled to be opened by the Grand Trunk CEO, Charles Melville Hays on his return from a meeting of the GT Board of Directors in London, England. The Grand Trunk and White Star Line had a ticketing agreement, so it was logical that Hays was on the "Titanic". He did not survive.

Throughout the years, many press conferences and public appearances took place at the Chateau Laurier, so it was well in the public eye.

It was across the street from Ottawa Union station, and the one through track which carried the CP across the river to Hull (Gatineau) QC ran right beside the hotel, which built a terrace above the tracks . The "Complete Transport System" advert from a CN public timetable depicts the Chateau Laurier and its proximity to Union Station.

In 1966, this station was replaced by a suburban station, and the old Union station became a conference centre.

The Chateau Laurier has had several renovations over the years, but all have retained the stately exterior appearance of the hotel.

Will Fairmont react to the strong public outcry regarding the new extension?  






Date: 07/06/19 18:48
Re: Chauteau Laurier hotel to get controversial expansion
Author: DrawingroomA

eminence_grise Wrote:
,,,
>
> Will Fairmont react to the strong public outcry
> regarding the new extension?  

I'm not sure how many hotels are actually owned by Fairmont. In the later years of Canadian Pacific ownership, they started selling off hotels but retained the management contract. I have to wonder what influence Fairmont has.

Larco Investments Ltd. owns the Chateau Laurier. Many other famous ex-railway hotels are privately owned, e.g. Ivanhoé Cambridge owns the Chateau Frontenac; Oxford Properties (Omers) owns the Banff Springs Hotel, the Chateau lake Louise and the Jasper Park Lodge.

Nat and Flora Bosa own The Empress. There was some concern in Victoria about changes made by the new owners. The ivy was removed fom the exterior. The famous Bombay Room restaurant and bar was closed. I was in Victoria a couple of weeks ago for a few hours and had a quick look. It could be worse, I suppose. The lovely Empress Room has been turned into a bistro. One of the first things that happened under Fairmont was the removal of all silverware in the restaurant. Now the tablecloths are gone. The wood panelling and gorgeous ceiling were preserved, though. Afternoon tea still looks like an elegant affair - minus the silver - and at $84 plus tax and tip it should be.

The owners of the various hotels seem to have the same attitude as the owner of the Chateau Laurier: it is their hotel and they will do what they want. Realistically that's the way it will be.

 



Date: 07/07/19 11:37
Re: Chauteau Laurier hotel to get controversial expansion
Author: eminence_grise

I've never stayed at the Chateau Laurier, but if it is like other railway hotels of the period, I'm guessing many of the rooms are very small by toady's standards. Certainly, walls can be knocked down, making two small rooms into one big one, but often there are structural reasons that prevent this.

Many guests have come to expect large rooms and large bathrooms when paying for a premium room. Views from the room are important too.
So it is that a "glass cube" new build may be the best way to accommodate the needs of the premium guests.

How can the addition be built and not spoil the exterior, or does that matter?

 



Date: 07/07/19 12:19
Re: Chauteau Laurier hotel to get controversial expansion
Author: DrawingroomA

eminence_grise Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I've never stayed at the Chateau Laurier, but if
> it is like other railway hotels of the period, I'm
> guessing many of the rooms are very small by
> toady's standards. Certainly, walls can be knocked
> down, making two small rooms into one big one, but
> often there are structural reasons that prevent
> this.
>
> Many guests have come to expect large rooms and
> large bathrooms when paying for a premium room.
> Views from the room are important too.
> So it is that a "glass cube" new build may be the
> best way to accommodate the needs of the premium
> guests.
>
> How can the addition be built and not spoil the
> exterior, or does that matter?
>
I know what you mean about small rooms in older hotels, but I have been pleasantly surprised with the size of rooms in some of the older CN and CP hotels. I have stayed at the Chateau Laurier many times and never had a small room or bathroom. When two rooms have been made into one this is usually obvious, but other than creating lots of suites I wasn't aware of that. The Chateau Laurier is built in a U-shape, so many of the rooms have a view across the courtyard/car park at the opposing wing. Many do have good views, though.

Other railway hotels that have surprised me by the size of the rooms (I mention only the hotels where I have stayed several times so as to not form an opinion on just one or two observations) are the  Fort Garry in Winnipeg, the Nova Scotian in Halifax and the Macdonald in Edmonton. The 1953 addition to the latter CN hotel was demolished in 1986 shortly before the hotel re-opened as a CP hotel.

One fairly modern (by railway hotel standards) hotel that has a lot of tiny rooms is the 1958 Queen Elizabeth in Montreal. Although there are many units where  two rooms have been made into one or into suites there are still a lot of very small rooms.



Date: 07/07/19 13:23
Re: Chauteau Laurier hotel to get controversial expansion
Author: Lackawanna484

The Hotel Vancouver has a number of very nice, larger rooms.  My wife and I stayed there a few times.  The Empress in Victoria has a mix of larger rooms on lower flights, and smaller rooms on high floors.  I was told these smaller rooms were for the ladies' maids and servants who travelled with the person in the large room, downstairs.



Date: 07/07/19 13:43
Re: Chauteau Laurier hotel to get controversial expansion
Author: eminence_grise

It would be interesting to know the client base at the Chateau Laurier. I know the hotel hosts many conventions relating to affairs of governance. I suspect that tourism isn't a big part.

I think there may be a strong market for luxury rooms from those on an expense account. 

I worked for a few years at a hotel which had a very favourable negotiated rate for provincial and federal government employees, and often they would elect for an upgrade at their own expense.

Getting back to a railway theme, a much sought after mediator by the railways and the unions was based in Ottawa, and always chose the Chateau Laurier for the meeting place.
"Mac" also was favoured by Canada Post and its unions. Mediation is a serious and sometimes stressful process for the parties involved. "Mac" would shuttle back and forth between the meeting rooms, and the media would lie in wait to try to find out what was happening. Mac was recognizable because he wore a plaid jacket representing his Scottish clan.
He wouldn't divulge anything to the media until he was ready to announce an outcome, but he knew many of them, and if he was not in a hurry, he would engage in friendly banter.

Before he became a mediator, he was a CNR station agent and like many mediators, he was previously a union officer. At one time, the CN hotels were represented by the CBRT&GW, which would also have been Mac's union as a station agent. He said that the CN and CP were very different at the bargaining table, but usually were civil to each other. Canada Post was a different matter.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/07/19 13:52 by eminence_grise.



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