Banff’s Mount Royal Hotel, ravaged by fire, set to open July 1
It’s been about 18 months since flames reached high into the sky above the Mount Royal Hotel in Banff but the management company and construction firm tasked with the renovations say the iconic facility will be ready for guests on Canada Day.
On December 29, 2016 a fire broke out on the rooftop of the 135-room hotel, and the flames eventually brought down the roof onto the third floor, causing extensive damage.
No one was injured in the fire that was believed to have been started by a propane torch that came into contact with combustible materials on the roof.
12 hotel suites were directly affected by the fire, but a significant portion of the hotel suffered extensive water damage.
David McKenna, president of the company that manages the hotel, says that it’s surprising how much work has been done to restore the hotel since the latest fire.
“The amount of energy, planning and execution of this has been frenetic. Truthfully, I think that in some other places this project would have taken well over two years, if not three years to execute.”
McKenna says that there was no question that they would rebuild the hotel, but they had to make sure that they kept all the historical legacy of Mount Royal intact.
“We felt the best and most proper thing to do was to try to maintain the historical legacy of this location of the heart of Banff and then rebuild around that. As we went down that path, it was remarkable the different stories that came out about this building and the different eras in which it was constructed and the rest is history.”
He says that workers have maintained the entire historical exterior and façade, but everything on the inside is brand new and up to modern standards.
“Every modern amenity has now been built into the hotel, from life safety to electrical to plumbing to sound dampening within the hotel itself.”
Stuart Back, vice president of operations with PCL Construction, was on the ground working as a volunteer firefighter fighting the blaze and says he has mixed emotions about the building now.
“We had plans to do work on this property and we knew we wanted to improve it. So a lot of emotional energy had already been expended and then a fire occurred. Going through the property, being in the fire and being very familiar with it, there were some mixed emotions occurring.”
He says that now, in his role overseeing the restoration of the Mount Royal hotel, his company owes it to the community to do things right and turn the building into something incredible.
“This is an iconic destination and an iconic town for Canadians. So there were considerations here from a planning perspective. We understood how important this was to us and what our goals were in restoring and retelling the story.”
Meanwhile, McKenna says that he’s been inundated with interest from people wanting to book a room in the Mount Royal the minute it opens.
“The demand for the reopened hotel has been phenomenal to the point where we had to manage that. We had to manage the expectations and be careful about when we said we were going to reopen because we needed to be 100 percent sure that was going to happen and we are 100 percent certain that we are going to be open on July 1.”
It cost $45M to rebuild and renovate the hotel after the fire.
(With files from Kevin Green)