The Transformation of the Fairmont Empress

To appreciate the vision behind the ongoing transformation of the Fairmont Empress, one only need look to the branding of its new spaces. The Q Restaurant and Q Bar  opened this June as part of phase one of the $30-million+ renovation — that’s “Q” for queen, by the way.

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Photograph by Jeffrey Bosdet.

“The whole focus for us is putting a modern twist on royalty,” says general manager Indu Brar, who joined the Fairmont Empress this April. “It’s targeted to the younger royals, but there’s a nod to Queen Victoria, who will be showcased in the space. It’s a restoration back to 100 years ago when the hotel opened, which was an era of glamour. The vision is about honouring the past and being really focused on creating our future.”

Brar’s impressive resumé includes key roles at other iconic Fairmont properties, such as her time as hotel manager at The Plaza in New York and as general manager at the Battery Wharf in Boston. Most recently, she was the general manager at the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver.

Along with 235 refurbished rooms and the new Q Restaurant and Q Bar, a Lobby Lounge was unveiled this June. During the day it is home to the new tea service; in the evening it transforms into a glam cocktail lounge. The Bengal Lounge will be converted into a private event space, but will maintain its famous character.

The second phase of the renovation begins this October and will see upgrades to the lobby, pool, spa and remaining rooms. The big reveal is in the spring of 2017.

“We are just half way done,” Brar says of the new spaces. “This is just a peek of what’s to come.”