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Vancouver Island landmark undergoing major renovations

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The iconic Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. will soon undergo millions of dollars in renovations after a change in ownership. Steve Halliday, asset manager for the 106-year-old National Historic Site's new owners, Nat and Flora Bosa, said they are looking to doing roughly $30 million in renovations.
Empress Hotel
The 106-year-old Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. will soon undergo major renovations totalling roughly $30 million. - Photo: FAIRMONT HOTELS AND RESORTS

The iconic Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. will soon undergo millions of dollars in renovations after a change in ownership.

Steve Halliday, asset manager for the 106-year-old National Historic Site's new owners, Nat and Flora Bosa, said they are looking to doing roughly $30 million in renovations.

"The icons of Canada's history need to be protected," Halliday said, noting that the Vancouver-based owners are already in discussions with the Victoria's city officials and heritage experts to ensure the building is preserved.

"Careful planning is the culture Mr. and Mrs. Bosa are following," he added.

Halliday said he can't emphasize the owners love for the hotel enough, noting that Nat Bose refers to it as a Mona Lisa.

He said they are the first B.C. residents to own the hotel.

Halliday said construction will likely involve work on the hotel's 477 guest rooms with soft and hard goods. The owners are also considering upgrading the food and beverage facilities.

"What we are trying to do is improve this iconic asset to be the oasis of victoria where people, particularly locals, want to come back," Halliday said.

"We want to continue the legacy of The Empress."

The Bosa's company, Bosa Development Corp. has condominium developments and a property management portfolio in Vancouver, Whistler, Calgary and California.

It purchased the hotel late last month.

The hotel was acquired from Ivanhoé Cambridge, a Canadian real estate company and continues to be managed by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The ivy-wrapped building , named for Queen Victoria, was designed by Francis Mawson Rattenbury an English architect and is more than a century old.

Rattenbury also designed the B.C. legislative buildings, The Crystal Garden and Vancouver Art Gallery. In addition to 477 guestrooms and suites, the hotel has a spa, indoor heated pool, a whirlpool, a fitness centre, 22 meeting rooms and the largest ballrooms in the city.

"The hotel is part of the fabric of the community and we look forward to welcoming the residents of Victoria, as well as showcasing it to past and future guests. This is the city's most elegant retreat, home to royalty and Hollywood stars, and we are honoured to be part of this ongoing legend," said the Bosa's in a release following the purchase.

by Russell Hixson last update:Jul 22, 2014

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