The Ritz-Carlton, 100 Years of Excellence


The Ritz-Carlton was born in symbiosis with its time: an era of opulence. The spirit of its beginnings has bridged time, defining itself as a lifestyle for those who embrace quality, impeccable manners, and luxury. Since 1912, the “Grand Dame of Sherbrooke Street” has been witness to world personalities, from General de Gaulle to Winston Churchill, from Catherine Deneuve to Ella Fitzgerald. Not to mention Queen Elizabeth II, hosted the same night as eccentric pianist Liberace … who had already booked The Royal Suite (12 rooms over 4000 square feet) prior to the arrival of Her Majesty! But why such an infatuation with the Ritz-Carlton? Its opulent decor and superb cuisine of course available both in its restaurant and rooms (and at all hours of the night!) but especially for its unparalleled service, always attentive and discrete. The exceptional competence of General Managers over the years has been a major contributor to the success of Ritz operations.

Established in the Golden Square Mile (home to the Canadian elite) at the height of its glory, the ‘Carlton’ was the dream of four business magnates of St. James Street: Sir Herbert S. Holt, Charles B. Gordon, Sir H. Montagu Allan, and Charles R. Hosmer. Although all gifted administrators, none had experience as an hotelier. However, all had the gift of listening to sound advice. They sought the counsel of César Ritz, proprietor of the famed Paris hotel, and secured an arrangement to attach Ritz’s name to their future hotel. Montréal therefore ushered in the first Ritz-Carlton in the world. Constructed by the architectural firm of Warren & Wetmore, responsible for New York’s Grand Central station, the five star hotel played host to the wedding of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and was witness to the first Canadian transcontinental telephone call by the Bell Telephone Company.

If the Ritz-Carlton benefited from prosperous times in Montréal including those engendered by Expo 67 and the 1976 Olympics, it suffered from the 1929 crash, and the decline of city fortunes at the end of the twentieth century. So much so that in 2008 the Ritz-Carlton closedits doors in order to undergo a $200 million four-year facelift, and a return to its origins. Today, with its Five Diamond AAA rating (the only one in Québec), restaurant run by famed chef Daniel Boulud, prestigious new residences, and restored legendary decor, the Ritz-Carlton begins a new chapter in its glorious history.

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