Victoria’s Empress Hotel was recently sold before most people even knew that it was being listed for sale! Nat Bosa, a well-known developer from Vancouver, closed on the 106 year old hotel sale less than 3 weeks after it was announced for sale. It had been previously owned by Ivanhoe Cambridge, a Quebec pension fund company, who had purchased the Empress Hotel in 2007. The hotel offers 477 rooms and was designed by the same architect as BC’s legislature and BC Assessment showed the value of the Empress at $89.9 million, although the sale price has not been released to the public.
The Empress Hotel is rich in history (and ghostly sightings). There are many reports that ghosts and apparitions haunt the iconic hotel, including a ghost said to be that of the architect himself. On the 6th floor, guests have reported seeing the ghost of a woman resembling a maid.
In 1980, The Empress Hotel was designated as a national historic site because of its Chateau-like design. Canadian railways companies had promoted business travel along their railway and steamship lines in the 1900’s, and had many castle-like hotels built to encourage an elegant and upscale travel destination. It was enlarged in 1910 and became a popular tourist hotel for the rich and famous who traveled to Victoria in the 1920’s.
Gossip followed this chateau for decades and Shirley Temple allegedly hid out in the Empress after leaving California when she received death threats! Many events for royalty were held at the Empress and it became famous for its afternoon “high tea” that serves 800 guests and tourists each day!
With so much rich history, the Empress Hotel will forever be an important testament to Victoria’s development over the past 100 years. The Bosa family has not publicly announced what their plans are with the hotel, and hopefully, the legacy of the Empress Hotel will continue unchanged except for ownership as the hotel employs 500 staff to look after the needs of its guests.
So, the next time you drive past Victoria’s Empress Hotel, you can share with your friends and family a little more history of this classic hotel.