The Omni King Edward Hotel
|The Omni King Edward Hotel|
The front entrance on King Street
|Address||37 King Street East|
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Opened||10 May 1903|
|Owner||Omni Hotels & Resorts|
|Management||Omni Hotels & Resorts|
|Height||190 ft (58 m)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Henry Ives Cobb|
|Number of rooms||301|
The Omni King Edward Hotel is a historic luxury hotel in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The hotel is located at 37 King Street East, and it occupies the entire block bounded by King Street on the north, Victoria Street on the east, Colborne Street on the south and Leader Lane on the west.
The King Edward Hotel was designed by Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb and Toronto architect E.J. Lennox for developer George Gooderham's Toronto Hotel Company, and was granted its name by namesake King Edward VII. The structure opened in 1903 with 400 rooms and 300 baths, and it claimed to be entirely fireproof.
In 1922, an 18-storey tower with 530 additional rooms was added to the east of the original eight-storey structure. On the two top floors of the tower is the Crystal Ballroom, that until the late 1950s was the most fashionable in the city. The room was closed in the late 1950s due to stricter fire codes and was not restored during the 1979-81 renovation. When the Omni Hotel chain invested in the hotel in 2013, restoring the ballroom was one of its announced goals. The ballroom re-opened in April 2017 after a closure of 38 years.
Throughout the years, the hotel has passed through the hands of a number of owners. The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company became owners in 1933 when it foreclosed on the mortgage. Between 1941 and 1950, the hotel passed between C. A. Ripley and Vernon Cardy. Cardy's Hotel chain also owned the Mount Royal Hotel in Montreal, the Royal Connaught Hotel in Hamilton, Ontario, the General Brock Hotel in Niagara Falls, the Prince Edward Hotel in Windsor, Ontario and the Alpine Inn in Sainte-Adèle, Quebec. In 1950, Sheraton purchased Cardy's hotels and assumed management of the property, renaming it The King Edward Sheraton.
The hotel dropped the Sheraton name in 1975, after the opening of the brand new Four Seasons Sheraton Hotel nearby, becoming the King Edward Hotel, but it remained part of Sheraton for another three years, until 1978. After a number of years of decline, Trans Nation, Inc. bought the hotel in 1979 for $6.3 million and closed it on September 2, 1979, for a $30 million restoration designed by Stanford Downey Architects Inc. The property reopened May 7, 1981, as part of Trusthouse Forte Hotels, which bought the hotel outright on December 23 of that year. When Forte acquired Le Méridien hotels from Air France in 1994, the King Edward was rechristened Le Royal Méridien King Edward. The Le Méridien chain was involved in several other acquisitions and mergers between 1996 and 2003 when the brand came under the ownership of Lehman Brothers Holdings.
Starwood Hotels purchased the brand from Lehman in 2005 and the hotel was renamed, dropping Royal, to become simply Le Méridien King Edward. In 2009, a consortium purchased the structure but retained Le Méridien to manage it. The new owners announced a major restoration that included creating 140 condominiums on the third through fifth floors which had been unused for a number of years. In 2012, Skyline Hotels & Resorts, one of the owners, assumed management and marketing from Le Méridien and the hotel became The King Edward Hotel.
Omni Hotels assumed management on August 1, 2013, when the hotel was renamed The Omni King Edward Hotel. After managing the hotel for two years, Omni Hotels bought it outright on November 24, 2015.
Notable dignitaries and luminaries housed in the hotel have included Mark Twain, Rudolph Valentino, Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Margaret Thatcher, Britney Spears, and Ernest Hemingway who had lived in the hotel for a period. The Beatles stayed at the hotel's royal suite during their first visit to Toronto, in 1964, and caused the hotel's biggest commotion to date, when 3,000 fans packed the streets and flooded the lobby. In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono stayed in the same royal suite a day before their bed-in for peace began. In February 1964, "moralists picketed" when Liz Taylor and Richard Burton stayed in a suite together; they were not married to one another at the time, causing a scandal.
The King Edward has not only housed film stars but also film sets, from the mellow, Leonard Cohen’s 1983 musical I am a Hotel, to the melodramatic, Jamie Foxx’s film Bait, which, during a stunt mishap, caused an explosion that shook the building and shattered windows.
- "The Omni King Edward Hotel". Historic Hotels Worldwide. Retrieved 2014-06-18.
- "Ontario Heritage Foundation celebrates King Edward Hotel's 100th anniversary with provincial plaque". Ontario Heritage Trust. 8 May 2003. Archived from the original on 3 May 2015. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
- "The "Fireproof" King Edward Hotel". History of the King Edward Hotel. 19 November 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- "The Crystal Ballroom". History of the King Edward Hotel. 18 November 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- McQueen, Cynthia (15 July 2013). "Omni Hotels to take over running Toronto's iconic King Edward Hotel". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2015-04-04.
One of the central pieces for the renovation will be returning the Crystal Ballroom to its former glory.
- Brait, Ellen (19 April 2017). "King Edward Hotel's Crystal Ballroom reopens after 38 years". Toronto Star.
- "Hotels: Six for Sheraton". Time. 6 February 1950. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- "The British-based company that has been managing Toronto's historic..." United Press International. 23 December 1981.
- "Ontario Heritage Foundation celebrates King Edward Hotel's 100th anniversary with provincial plaque" (Press release). Ontario Heritage Foundation. 8 May 2003. Archived from the original on 3 May 2015. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- "Owners, General Managers & Historic Events Through The Years". History of the King Edward Hotel. 16 November 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- Boyle, Theresa (28 May 2010). "A royal retreat at the King Edward". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2013-11-11.
- "Toronto's King Edward Hotel to Be Managed by Omni" (Press release). Hotel News Resource. 16 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-16.
- "Toronto's King Edward Hotel Sold to Omni Hotels". Hotel News Resource. 24 November 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-30.
- "Skyline Hotels & Resorts Assumes Operation of Downtown Toronto's Iconic King Edward Hotel" (Press release). prweb.com. 27 July 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- "Liz Taylor's Toronto courtship, Montreal wedding". CBC News. cbc.ca. 24 March 2011. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
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