Photo ItkasanImages/ Victoria Buzz

The Queen has returned, courtesy of Nat Bosa.

Just three years after the Vancouver-based developer bought Victoria’s most iconic hotel, the Empress now has a distinctly different look, both on the outside and within.

Fairmont Patio

To celebrate, the hotel hosted short speeches from Bosa, General Manager Indu Brar, and Mayor Lisa Helps, then a group participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Twice the Original Price

With a final price tag of over $60 million, the restoration ended up costing twice what was initially estimated. But Bosa, a principal at Bosa Development Corp, seemed happy to foot the bill. He’s previously called the restoration “hobby-philanthropy” and described it as a “love affair.”

However, the two years of renovations split opinion among Victorians who’d grown accustomed to the Empress as she was. The eye-catching Ivy-covered walls and classic indoor areas such as the Tiger Room were favourite aspects for many. But Bosa’s vision to enhance the hotel ultimately meant doing away with certain outdated aspects.

For instance, the Ivy that once covered the walls had negative impacts. Not only were the plants breaking down the exterior, but mice and raccoons inhabited the shrubbery.

Ivy-covered Empress
(Don Denton)

“How would you like to leave your window open and a little mouse comes to visit you in the middle of the night?” Bosa said to the Times Colonist in 2016.

A Renovation in Two Phases

Phase one of the restoration finished a year ago, with the grand opening of Q at the Empress – a new restaurant and bar.

Fairmont Bar
Photo courtesy of the Fairmont Empress Hotel

Now, the restoration’s final phase features plenty more for guests to enjoy. A porte-cochere welcomes visitors from the exterior. A renovated health club and pool will allow guests to relax and recreate, as will the refreshed Willow Stream Spa and 229 luxurious renovated guest rooms.

Also new and improved is the lobby, which contains a massive homage to Victoria’s reputation as the City of Gardens – a six-meter high floral-shaped chandelier.

Twill Flower
Photo courtesy of the Fairmont Empress Hotel

The “Twill Flower”, as it’s known, was hand-woven with approximately 250,000 crystals.

Check out our live video of the opening ceremony below:

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