Renovations to Hotel Macdonald’s Confederation Lounge met with mixed reviews

The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald is about to undergo renovations to its Confederation Lounge and the changes are being met with some push-back, particularly online.

“It’s been very mixed. I’m not going to lie, there’s a lot of passion in the city about it,” hotel general manager Garrett Turta said Thursday.

The hotel released renderings of the new design on its Facebook page earlier this week. The photos show a lighter, more modern-looking lounge.

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Several people commented on the Facebook post, sharing their displeasure with the new design. Most people were concerned the new look wasn’t in keeping with the hotel’s rooted history.

“I like how it is now. Not everything has to be modern… that’s the charm of the Hotel Mac… it’s historic in look and feel,” wrote Donna Lewis.

“Oh, dear, I wish you wouldn’t,” Nadine Riopel wrote, in part. “The traditional decor is in line with the character of the building. It’s comfortable, it’s opulent, it feels special and luxurious. A tweak, a freshening up, would be OK, but not a complete about-face to mid-century modern, please.”

The estate, library-style lounge — as it’s described by the hotel — opened its doors with the hotel in 1915. The last major renovation to the room was done in 1991.

“It’s about just timing and refreshing and making sure that we’re creating that experience for our guests that they really want to enjoy and continue to enjoy as they have for the previous decades,” Turta said.

Some of the changes being made include new tables and chairs, new flooring and new lighting. Some of the painting will also be changed.

Turta wants to reassure patrons the certified historical elements of the lounge, including the woodwork, windows, fireplace and the Fathers of Confederation painting will not change. The cherubs and Cornish work in the ceiling will also remain as they are, he said.

“It’s really about cosmetic and soft changes. There is no grand structural changes. There’s nothing changing within the room,” he explained.

“The room will still present as it looks today but just with updated furniture, a little bit lighter, a little bit smaller, new flooring, different lighting and stuff like that.

“Some people really love it and some people really hate it. However, I would say that it’s a rendering and it doesn’t take into account all the detail that will still come back into the hotel that will stay. And that’s a big thing for us, is making sure that all of that detail stays with us.”

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The renovation work is scheduled to start in September and be complete in early November.