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Fairmont gets facelift

Ritzy hotel will be even ritzier after multimillion-dollar renovation

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Rooms on three floors of the downtown hotel are getting a top-to-bottom makeover. The work is expected to be finished by the end of September.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Rooms on three floors of the downtown hotel are getting a top-to-bottom makeover. The work is expected to be finished by the end of September. Photo Store

One of Winnipeg's ritziest hotels is about to get ritzier.

The small army of workers descended upon the Fairmont Winnipeg this week to begin a multimillion-dollar renovation to the Portage and Main landmark.

Thirty-six guests rooms, including four suites, will be overhauled on the hotel's 18th and 19th floors -- or Fairmont Gold floors -- which are geared toward high-end customers.

Every bedroom will have new chairs, lamps, carpets and wallpaper as well as new tiles and larger mirrors in the bathrooms. (The televisions will remain the same -- 42 inches -- as they were replaced relatively recently, said Colin Burdeniuk, the hotel's director of rooms.)

Rooms on the 17th floor are also being refurbished, just a few months after a pipe burst and flooded a number of them. Workers were ripping up carpeting, stripping wallpaper, removing light fixtures and sanding down the hallway in a cloud of drywall dust this week.

The renovations will also extend to the lobby, which will be opened up -- thanks in part to the elimination of its business centre and the destruction of a couple of walls -- and the Velvet Glove restaurant, which will be updated with refurbished seating and lighting.

Once the updated restaurant is unveiled, its chefs will launch a new menu to commemorate it.

"The city is changing and growing. A lot of other hotels are looking at renovations and the Delta has just renovated. This is our commitment to our guests," said Pascale Rocher, executive assistant in communications at the Fairmont.

The renovations should all be done by October.

The "Gold" floors operate as a "hotel within a hotel" and give guests the option of a private check-in and a private concierge service that makes dinner reservations and books tickets for local shows.

"A lot of restaurants will hold tables open for us at places that are harder to get into," she said.

This is far from the first time the Fairmont has reinvested in its property. From 2010 to 2012, it renovated 160 of its regular rooms as well as its mezzanine level with all of its banquet space.

Over the past year, the Fairmont has hosted a number of high-profile visitors to the city, including Prince Charles, Paul McCartney, Michael Bublé, Beyoncé and Bonnie Raitt.

Burdeniuk said because virtually all guests have their own laptops, tablets or other wireless devices and every room has Internet access, the business centre has been underutilized in recent years. If there is new demand for it in the future, the Fairmont will consider opening up another one, he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 17, 2014 B3

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