Hotel Georgia renovation – will open early 2011

Friday, January 29th, 2010

$120-million renovation won’t be done in time for Olympics: Rushing things ‘wasn’t the right way to go’

Bruce Constantineau

The venerable Hotel Georgia shut down for a massive renovation two years ago and was supposed to reopen in time for the 2010 Olympics.

But plans changed and owners now expect to open a new-look Hotel Georgia early next year, part of a $350-million hotel/office/condo project scheduled for completion by early 2012.

Delta Land Development president Bruce Langereis said the company will spend about $120 million transforming the iconic 83-year-old property from a 313-room hotel into a 154-room boutique hotel with bigger rooms and updated amenities.

The meticulous task of upgrading the historic hotel, staying true to its original look and meeting modern building standards has clearly taken time. About $20 million will be spent on seismic upgrades alone.

“We looked at trying to do an Olympic opening but we would have been doing it by the seat of our pants and rushing things along wasn’t the right way to go,” Langereis said.

But it hasn’t totally missed out on the Olympic hoopla as the 12-storey building at Georgia and Howe has been wrapped in one of the largest Canadian flags ever made — 32 metres by 64 metres — and operators hope Games visitors will remember the unique corner when they return to Vancouver in the future.

The building needed the protection of an outside covering and Langereis said it made sense to spend $150,000 on a flag that will command a lot of attention during the Olympics.

He promised the hotel that once hosted celebrity guests like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole will regain its former glory.

“We have really delivered what the hotel needed,” Langereis said. “It was a leading hotel when it was first built but got drained of its energy over 80 years and now it’s getting a complete overhaul that will last for another 80 years.”

The hotel will retain some of its original dark wood finishing and builders have made moulds of some finishing that had to be destroyed so the same look can be replicated.

New amenities will include a spa, fitness centre, a nightclub and a restaurant to be operated by renowned Vancouver chef David Hawksworth.

Dallas-based Rosewood Hotels & Resorts will manage the Hotel Georgia, which will be its first Canadian

hotel property. Rosewood also manages King Pacific Lodge on Princess Royal Island in B.C.

The 48-storey tower being built next to the hotel will contain 12 floors of office space and 156 condominiums. Eighty-seven have been sold and one overseas buyer paid $18 million for an 8,000-square-foot penthouse suite.

Langereis has been frustrated by rumours about the tower project being cancelled but insists that was never close to happening, despite a global recession that forced some real estate projects to shut down. He said people thought the project was dead when, in fact, workers were busy constructing an eight-storey underground parkade. “During that difficult time, people chose to have a negative outlook,” Langereis said. “We just persevered and we’re going to finish this.”

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