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Château Montebello's Chinese chapter set to close

The Chateau Montebello is located about halfway between Ottawa and Montreal in western Quebec. (Michel Aspirot/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The Chateau Montebello is located about halfway between Ottawa and Montreal in western Quebec. (Michel Aspirot/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The Chateau Montebello is located about halfway between Ottawa and Montreal in western Quebec.
The Chateau Montebello is located about halfway between Ottawa and Montreal in western Quebec.

The log-built Fairmont Le Château Montebello sits on the Ottawa River, about halfway between Ottawa and Montreal. (Michel Aspirot/Radio-Canada)

A decade after it was purchased by a Chinese real estate development company, Fairmont Le Château Montebello is once again up for sale.

The historic log resort, a former Canadian Pacific Railway hotel situated on the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Montreal, boasts more than 200 guest rooms, a golf course, dozens of kilometres of skiing and snowmobile trails, and a 26,000-hectare game preserve.

In 1930, 10,000 western red cedar trees were freighted from B.C. to build what's known as "the world's largest log building."

But its current owner, the China Evergrande Group, has been called "the world's most indebted developer."

It's been nearly two weeks since a Hong Kong judge told the company that with $300 billion US in liabilities and no plan to refinance, it's time for the company to liquidate its assets. Justice Linda Chan said "enough is enough" after Evergrande failed to offer adequate communication or resolution over more than 18 months.

A photo taken during construction in the summer of 1930 shows the walls and foundations of the building that would become Chateau Montebello
A photo taken during construction in the summer of 1930 shows the walls and foundations of the building that would become Chateau Montebello

A photo taken during construction in the summer of 1930 shows the grand hotel's walls and foundation. (Fairmont Montebello)

300 jobs safe, mayor says

Even with the 2014 purchase, Fairmont stayed on as managers of the resort, which has kept that company's name.

On Wednesday, Montebello Mayor Nicole Laflamme said she hopes if and when the resort is resold, the Fairmont name will remain.

"We would not want to see Fairmont disappear," Laflamme said.

Montebello Mayor Nicole Laflamme said she hoped Fairmont would stay on as managers of Chateau Montebello
Montebello Mayor Nicole Laflamme said she hoped Fairmont would stay on as managers of Chateau Montebello

Montebello Mayor Nicole Laflamme said she hopes Fairmont will continue to manage the resort hotel. (SRC/Audrey Neveu)

Albert Elkeslassy, who opened an upscale clothing boutique in the town about seven years ago, said he hopes any new owner will invest in restoring the hotel's reputation as a world-class luxury resort.

"Especially people who know the Château [and who] used to come years before, they said the quality is below what they expected," Elkeslassy said.

For Laflamme, Wednesday's news lifted the cloud of uncertainty that had descended with rumours of Evergrande's financial problems.

She said the hotel's 300 jobs are safe for now, but she hopes new owners will take over soon.