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Hotel Georgia www.residencesatgeorgia.com,
$400 Million project re-development. The Perfect Marriage. An ideal pairing. A
beautiful mélange of historic elegance and ultra contemporary design.
Private Residences at Hotel Georgia - 'Boutique building' brings on the world
Sotheby's U.K. and scouts from U.S. to Argentina are piqued
Private Residences at Hotel Georgia
First-class hotel rooms, private limo rides and harbour boat-and-seaplane tours were just some of the perks top international Sotheby's sales representatives enjoyed last week when they visited Vancouver to preview the Private Residences at Hotel Georgia.
The 12 top realtors, who search the world for accommodations for high-profile clients like Jennifer Lopez and Barbra Streisand, were themselves treated like celebrities while in Vancouver as guests of the Delta Group, which is developing the $400-million project.
And while sales for the Private Residences at Howe and Georgia don't officially begin until late summer, clients for this elite group of property scouts will soon be in the know on what will surely be one of Vancouver's most lavish and premiere addresses. The Delta Group is completely renovating the 80-year-old Hotel Georgia -- a Vancouver landmark seeped in history -- and building an adjacent 48-storey residential tower. Both are to open in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Residents of the Private Residences, which will have 155 condos, will enjoy all the amenities the refurbished boutique hotel will offer, including a 55-by-15-foot ozonated lap pool, a 20,000-square-foot spa with separate yoga and Pilates studio, a wine cellar and humidor and a grand screening room. This was a first visit to Vancouver for United Kingdom Sotheby's director Charles Smith. Although interviewed after only 24 hours in the city, he says he was impressed enough to recommend the Private Residences as a place worth investing in for his clients overseas.
His London office represents approximately 1,000 active purchasers.
Smith says house prices in London are approximately $5,000 to $6,000 per square foot so the Private Residences, expected to be priced between $1,500 to $1,800 per square foot, are definitely a bargain. (Sotheby's will release price ranges next month and detailed prices in September.)
"It has got that lovely mix of the old and new and the purchasing power is very strong here for the English people in the U.K. It's a deal, and you have the infrastructure too," Smith says.
"You have to question why you are going here and the answer is all around you. The skiing, the sailing. It seems to be a wonderful place to come."
Sotheby's International Realty Canada and the Delta Group have entered into a unique marketing arrangement, giving the the leading marketer of luxury real estate the opportunity to inform international clients first about the project.
Scouts came from Kauai, Buenos Aires, Beverly Hills, New York, Florida and San Francisco for the preview.
Delta president and CEO Bruce Langereis, who hosted a dinner and wine-tasting for the group at his own luxury residence, says they opted to bring in international clients early because they have the time, with sales not set to begin until late summer.
He expects that when the sales complete, about one-third of the condos will be locally owned, with the balance second or third homes for international buyers.
"The key thing is we like to think of ourselves as boutique builders instead of taking a hotel and residence and lumping it together. We want to preserve Hotel Georgia and bring in a feature restaurant, quality gym operator and spa where each component is the best it can be."
Langereis says he sees the rejuvenation of the Hotel Georgia as a big responsibility because it is such a well-known and loved building in the city.
Speaking to the guests at the preview last week, Langereis told them he hoped instead of just leaving Vancouver with the literature on the Private Residences, they would have an understanding of how much "heart and soul" was going into the project.
Dana Volrich, Sotheby's vice-president of business development in Vancouver, says that to Vancouverites, the Hotel Georgia is really an iconic landmark.
"Obviously for people in Vancouver the Hotel Georgia has a warm spot in people's lives," she says. "There's a real interest [by the developer] in maintaining the historic details and bringing in modern contemporary luxury."
Volrich, the daughter of former Vancouver mayor Jack Volrich, says she has fond memories of visiting Hotel Georgia as a child on the arm of her dad when he was in office.
"Dad's office was just around the street and my aunt worked at the court house [which was then] nearby," she says.
"I used to be my dad's sidekick at events whenever my mother couldn't make it. I remember coming here and thinking how big it was and luxurious with the chandeliers and historic details. You didn't see that in a city as new as Vancouver."
Volrich, who lives in downtown Vancouver, says if she was in the market for a new residence, this is the place she would want to be because it is in the heart of the city, noting its proximity to the art gallery, luxury shopping district and fine restaurants.
"The Hotel Georgia is really a destination within itself," she adds.
The hotel first opened its doors on May 7, 1927 and was the place to stay for some of the top acts that came into town.
Elvis Presley stayed in room 1226 at the venerable establishment when he played Empire Stadium on Aug. 31, 1957.
Other big acts to visit the hotel included Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Lawrence Welk, Tommy Dorsey and the Rolling Stones. Celebrity guests included Bob Hope, Marlene Dietrich, Ginger Rogers, Sir Laurence Olivier, Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davis -- to name a few.
Errol Flynn didn't stay at the hotel, but he was seen drinking there often the week before he died in a Vancouver apartment.
REMEMBERING THE GRAND
The old Hotel Georgia impressed a young Dana Volrich (left, in the Private Residences sales centre) with its grandness.
'I remember coming here and thinking how big it was and luxurious with the chandeliers and historic details,' the Sotheby's International Realty Canada executive reports.
'You didn't see that in a city as new as Vancouver.'
© The Vancouver Sun 2007