Massive chandelier crowning touch to Empress Hotel’s big renovation

A massive custom-designed chandelier with a floral theme is being crafted by renowned Czech lighting company Lasvit for the renovated lobby of the Empress Hotel.

The chandelier is being manufactured in the company’s Shanghai studios in what the company described as crystal mesh. While the chandelier will weigh in at 1,300 kilograms, the overall installation will be more than 2,000 kilograms, a hotel official said.

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Czech managers will be on site when the chandelier is installed this year.

The hotel did not release any images or design drawings of the chandelier, but said the lighting will have a diameter of more than six metres.

Titled Twill Flower, it will be a major feature in the redesigned lobby and the crowning touch of the final stage in the Empress Hotel’s multi-million makeover. The final cost of the massive renovation — which has included rooms, restaurants and bars — is expected to fall between $30 million and $50 million..

Developer and philanthropist Nat Bosa and his wife, Flora, purchased the hotel in 2014 and said at the time he planned to embark on a major upgrading.

The first stage was finished in spring, in time for the summer tourist season. A restaurant and lounge, a lobby lounge serving the traditional tea during the day, and a new premium area for guests were developed.

As well, 235 rooms were renovated. The remaining 229 rooms in what is called the Humboldt wing will be updated in the final stage.

For now, guests are checking in at a temporary location next to the Victoria Conference Centre.

Plans call for renovations to be completed by June 1, with the spa finished by April, said Empress manager Indu Brar.

A new porte cochère at the lobby entrance will keep guests dry when they arrive at the hotel. The structure will create a “very grand sense of arrival” for guests, Brar said.

The second phase of renovations started in early October. Workers are gutting and redeveloping the lobby, which will be more open and brighter, Brar said. “We are trying to showcase a lot more natural light.”

In the revamped lobby, the concierge service will be moved to what had been the front desk. The check-in area will be relocated on the other side of the room, where round-shaped desks will be placed to create a more welcoming atmosphere, she said.

A new elegant stairway to the second floor will be installed. Silver-coloured vein-cut limestone, which shows the layers of the rock, will be on the floor, along with purple and taupe carpets.

A new staircase will add a “grander presence in the atrium and draw guests up to the new bar and restaurant, while half of the mezzanine is being removed to create a double-height reception area with views of the harbour for the guests,” a hotel statement said.

Workers armed with jackhammers have removed part of the mezzanine.

The hotel’s spa is closed as portions of it are being redone, including changing rooms. More seating will be added, Brar said.

An archives area, mainly featuring photographs, will be installed in the vestibule running from the parking lot into the hotel, she said. As well, historic photos will be featured inside window boxes on guest room floors.

New live-edge tables are being built for the Bengal room, converted into a special-event space. It has new curtains, paint, and flooring. Christmas parties are already being booked, Brar said.

>> Click here for a time-lapse summary of the project during the past month.

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