Designed in the Georgian Revival style by local architect Robert Garrow and Seattle architect John Graham, the 12-storey hotel featured 320 rooms, a ballroom done up in an Aztec motif, and a basement tavern with arched entrances that evoked Olde England.
It was reputed to be the first Vancouver hotel to feature bathrooms for every room. The construction cost was $1.5 million, and its deluxe furnishings brought the bill up another $1 million.
The Vancouver Sun marked the opening with a special six-page Hotel Georgia Edition. The hotel had a swish opening gala featuring 200 local bluebloods, with entertainment from the hotel’s own big band, Frank Stuart’s Hotel Georgia Orchestra.
The Georgia played host to royalty in 1927, when the Prince of Wales (King Edward VIII) stayed there. But after the Hotel Vancouver opened its royal suite in 1939, the royals bid adieu to the Georgia.
So the hotel became the home of entertainment royalty, instead. The list of big names who stayed there is nearly endless: Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Marlene Dietrich, Ginger Rogers, Sir Laurence Olivier, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Nureyev, Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano, Louis Armstrong, the Rolling Stones, Lawrence Welk, and Tommy Dorsey. (The Beatles booked a room, but never stayed there.)
The late, great promoter Hugh Pickett always put his acts in the Georgia, partly because long-time manager Bill Hudson was very accommodating - Hudson earned Pickett’s gratitude by allowing Nat King Cole to book a room there in the early 1950s, the first time a black person was allowed to book a room in any of the major downtown hotels. Pickett said if there was any trouble with Cole staying there, he would never ask Hudson to go out on a limb like that again. Hudson later told Pickett the only trouble was that everybody wanted Cole’s autograph.
In 2006, the Georgia had a top-to-bottom renovation that saw a 48-storey condo tower built onto the site of its parking garage. The $400-million project was completed in 2011.
-John Mackie, thevancouversun
revelrysociety: Naturally, our members were set to welcome the Georgia back into existence, as our room was booked. However the Hotel’s plans to re-open on this day, the buildings 84th birthday were dashed due to an early spring snowstorm which hindered construction plans. We would have to wait until July to launch our Official Expedition into the Hotel Georgia’s past on it’s July opening day; the 15th of July, 2011, to be exact.
About 3 p.m. on May 1, 1986, the BC ferry Queen of the North glided under the Lions Gate Bridge. A murmur rose from a throng of people standing at the rails beside the Pan Pacific Hotel – Prince Charles and Lady Diana were about to arrive.
The royal couple had crossed Georgia Strait from Nanaimo, where they had traveled after spending the night in Victoria. Their whirlwind tour of British Columbia would also include stops in Kamloops, Kelowna and Prince George. But the bulk of their week-long B.C. visit was spent in Vancouver, where they helped open Expo ’86 on May 2.
Prince Charles may have been next in line for the British crown, but it was his wife who really charmed the masses. The Sun dubbed her reception “Dianamania,” and contributed to the hype by featuring a seemingly endless series of photos of Diana, wearing a seemingly endless series of dresses.
“The royal wardrobe got a workout Thursday as the Princess of Wales changed three times during the day,” reported the Sun the day after her arrival.
“In Victoria and Nanaimo and on her arrival in Vancouver, she wore a grey-and-turquoise hat and grey accessories. At an evening cocktail reception at the Pan Pacific Hotel’s Crystal Pavilion, she was in a red, buttoned-down-the-back dress that had a red and black butterfly motif at the ankle. And at dinner at the Hyatt Regency she was in full royal regalia: An ivory-coloured lace gown with plunging back and the diamond and pearl Queen Mary tiara.”
It was an eventful visit. The British tabloids went bonkers when Diana met rocker Bryan Adams before a gala event at the Expo Theatre May 3. Adams had done his power ballad Diana in soundcheck, but omitted it from his short set, which prompted the Daily Mirror to headline “Star’s Love Song to Di is Banned…But Charles Can’t Stop Her Flirting.”
Diana had a brief fainting spell on May 6, when “her knees buckled and she began to crumple to the floor of the California pavilion.” Sun writers Dave Margoshes and Valerie Casselton dubbed it “the most celebrated faint in B.C. history,” but she recovered and the next day flew with Charles to Japan.
The ferry that brought them to Vancouver sank on March 22, 2006 after it veered off course and crashed into Gil Island off the north coast. via thevancouversun
Through July, Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. celebrates the vast Autopias and Plains of Id of Los Angeles with programs and exhibits like Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940–1990 at the J. Paul Getty Museum. We’ll be around, soaking it all in, meeting some of our new neighbors, and sharing what we see and learn right here. via acehotel
We’ve been posting updates and keenly following progress of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s show, Grand Hotel, since it was announced late in 2011. We’re happy to report that the opening is upon us, and taking place this Saturday, April 13th. A black tie gala is being held on Friday, April 12th.
The Society for the Preservation of Historic Revelry’s excitement around this exhibition is due, in part, to the fact that much of our activities, and events, revolve around hotels.
Our members are often motivated by the deep relationship hotels share with the people, places, and stories, we often try to retell. They offer ideal gathering places for our members. For guests staying in them, hotels are a launchpad to entwine oneself in the lifestyle that a particular hotel represents. Checking into one is the quickest way to become, if only for a short while, someone else.
The exhibition runs until September. An Ace Hotel popup shop will be part of the gift spread — perhaps an early clue to their opening a location in Vancouver — and the VAG’s proximity to some of Vancouver’s best hotels makes Grand Hotel a great way to spend a late afternoon.
“Everyone has a hotel story.”We suggest you add to yours by visiting either the Hotel Georgia, or Hotel Vancouver, just across the street, afterwards, for cocktails and a little Vancouver history.
thevancouversun: The Man They Call Reveen
Illusionist Paul Reveen died at his home in Las Vegas Monday. After immigrating to Canada from Australia in 1961, Reveen wowed Vancouverites with his popular stage show featuring illusions and hypnosis.
In 1972, Reveen hypnotized Rosaire Paiement of the Vancouver Canucks to try to break the jinx that saw him scoring only one goal all season.
The so-called “Impossibilist” drew large crowds across Canada. Those who didn’t see him live may recall his TV ads that promised “you’ll never forget Reveen.”
Governor General Jeanne Sauvé cutting a giant Vancouver map birthday cake in Stanley Park. April 6th 1986.
“Tillicum” the official mascot of the 100th Birthday of Vancouver in front of an under construction, Canada Place. April 6th, 1986.
Vancouver at 100. This poster suggests citizens to start planning their project now to participate in the “celebration of the century.”