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Rosewood Hotel Georgia ranks among world's top 25 hotels; plans temporary closure

Hotel is set for renovations, and will close for three months starting in January
The Rosewood Hotel Georgia first opened in 1927 and had 313 rooms until renovations that ended in 2011 made the suites larger, resulting in 156 rooms and suites | Chung Chow

Vancouver's Rosewood Hotel Georgia ranks as one of the world's 25 best hotels, according to Hotels magazine's latest edition.

The publication's inaugural list of the 25 best hotels in the world, chosen by its editorial team, lists the hotels in alphabetical order by geography. Criteria for inclusion is not listed.

The list therefore winds up being wide-ranging in that it also includes properties such as the Bulgari Resort in Bali, which has 59 villas and five mansions. Other urban hotels include the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong, the Mark in New York City and Le Bristol in Paris.

"This award is a testament to our dedicated team's unparalleled services and the exceptional hospitality experiences Rosewood Hotel Georgia continues to deliver for guests," the Rosewood Hotel Georgia's managing director Safwan Abu Risheh told Hotels magazine. 

His hotel first opened in 1927, and it underwent extensive renovations between 2007 and 2011 as part of an estimated $500 million project that included building a 50-storey tower behind the hotel at the northwest corner of Howe and Georgia streets.

The renewed hotel reopened with an Art Deco feel, and larger accommodations. The previous 313 rooms became 156 rooms and suites. 

Celebrated chef David Hawksworth opened his 2,800-square-foot fine-dining restaurant in 2011 at the hotel. He later added a café called Bel Café. The Rosewood Hotel Georgia then in 2015 opened a bar named Prohibition, which was below street level and only accessible by Howe Street. That cocktail lounge closed in January 2020. 

The hotel now plans to close for more renovations between Jan. 1 and March 31, the hotel's director of sales and marketing, Paul Li, told BIV this afternoon. 

"The lobby will be reimagined," he said. "Certainly a level of sophistication and elegance is what we're aiming for."

He said the hotel's 1927 Lobby Lounge would go through a "physical transformation." That lounge is based on a mezzanine above the lobby and it will stay there.

Li said that when the hotel reopens it will also have a bar on the ground-floor level, with tables and seating for people to enjoy drinks. 

"Where we have the front desk, it will be transformed into a bar," he said. 

The January through March period is a slow season for downtown Vancouver hotels. The Rosewood Hotel Georgia's temporary closure will be a loss, however, for people who want to stay at its prime intersection.

Cadillac Fairview's 30-storey hotel branded as the Four Seasons Hotel, on the northeast corner of West Georgia and Howe streets, closed at the end of January 2020.

Cadillac Fairview was unhappy in 2017 with how Four Seasons Hotels Ltd. was running the Cadillac Fairview-owned property and it sued the company for  furnishing the hotel "in an inconsistent and uninviting manner."

Cadillac Fairview said in its notice of civil claim that the hotel “was tired, dated and not in keeping with typical first-class luxury hotels.” The Four Seasons denied each of Cadillac Fairview's allegations

The lawsuit, however, underscores how important it is for five-star hotels to renovate and stay current. 

Cadillac Fairview has largely rebuilt the former Four Seasons Hotel building but it is not yet sure what the site will evolve to become.

"We haven't finalized our plans for the building," Cadillac Fairview senior vice-president Tom Knoepfel told BIV this afternoon. 

"There may be a residential component to it. I don't know. We haven't determined the final use for the building. I would expect that, ultimately, at least a portion of the building will be a hotel."

Tourism advocates have long advocated for more hotel rooms to be built in the city.

Prices for hotel rooms have soared. Vancouver's average July hotel-room price jumped to $346 per night – the highest monthly rate ever recorded by a Canadian city, according to CoStar. 

This has spurred some developer interest.

One potential project is at 717 Davie Street – a street address that does not currently exist but which would be where the Cold Tea Restaurant is situated, at Granville Street. A rezoning application for that project was submitted to the city by Musson Cattell Mackey Architects on behalf of Deecorp Properties.

Amacon is building a 120-room hotel at 150 Robson Street.

Some other potential future Vancouver projects include: 
• a 32-storey, 578-room tower at 516-534 West Pender Street, which Marcon aims to build after navigating a rezoning process;
• a 30-storey, 393-room tower at 848 Seymour Street that involves Paul Y. Construction, Forme Development and Perkins & Will Architects; and
• an office building at 1144 Burrard Street that Amacon may convert into a hotel.

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