Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.
For 38 years, the Crystal Ballroom in the Omni King Edward Hotel remained empty. Until now.
Last night (April 19), Toronto’s first luxury hotel reopened its elegant event space, unveiling a new, luxurious look nearly 100 years after its debut in 1922.
The occasion was marked by a bustling celebration reminiscent of the roaring twenties, a bygone era when the King Edward, which opened in 1903, played host to Toronto’s elite and famous cultural icons, from Elizabeth Taylor to The Beatles.
Guests gather inside the Omni King Edward Hotel's recently restored Crystal Ballroom
Christophe Le Chatton, general manager of the Omni King Edward Hotel, called the $6.5 million restoration “a renaissance.”
“Bringing back this historical ballroom to the city is going to help us reposition this hotel not only as a classic hotel but one of elegance and refinement,” Le Chatton told PAX. “The events we’re going to attract here are going to be the best events you’ll see in the city.”
The Crystal Ballroom hosted some of Toronto’s most prestigious affairs from the 1920s through to the 1970s, from a state dinner with British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and the Prince of Wales in 1927 to memorable musical performances by greats such as Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman.
The ballroom shut its doors in 1979 as the room couldn’t keep up with Toronto’s evolving city codes, Le Chatton said. Since then, the Crystal Ballroom has remained untouched, save for the occasional movie or photo shoot.
Following Omni Hotels and Resorts acquisition of the King Edward Hotel in 2013, and after a $40 million renovation of the hotel in 2015, the hotel’s ownership made a commitment to “bring back this ballroom and show the city that this is the most premium space,” Le Chatton told PAX.
Christophe Le Chatton, general manager of Toronto's Omni King Edward Hotel
Perched high on the 17th floor of the Omni King Edward, and offering panoramic views of the city and lake, the restored space stays true to its old-world charm, boasting ornate moldings, eight-metre-high coffered ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows that soar.
Additional features include a chic pre-function cocktail space that’s been finished in mosaic tile, a permanent bar, a newly-laid carpet reflective of designs from the early 1920s, and modern-luxury chandeliers and wall sconces accented with crystal elements.
Measuring at 5,000 square feet, the Crystal Ballroom can accommodate up to 300 people (250 for a seated event), paving the way for a new generation of sparkling galas, weddings and important social and political functions.
The minimum spend to book an event in the Crystal Ballroom starts at $50,000, and deals are already in the works for local and international events, such as the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Le Chatton told PAX.
“The flexibility of the room is unrivaled,” Le Chatton said, referencing elements that make the ballroom unique, such as its abundance of natural light, the view, and upper mezzanine level, which can accommodate anything from an orchestra, a table of honour or DJ.
Jazz hands! Dancers get the party going at the Omni King Edward Hotel's Crystal Ballroom re-launch last night in Toronto
Restoring the Crystal Ballroom to its former splendor may revive the glamour of Toronto’s bubbling social scene, but for Le Chatton, it represents much more.
“I want to create memories for visitors and the people of Toronto,” he said. “I want this to be a place where people have an experience they can’t find anywhere else in the world.”
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