High-end hotel operator Four Seasons is closing its premier operation in downtown Vancouver, shutting down after 40 years in the wake of a lawsuit that accused it of running a “tired, dated” operation that fell below the standards of first-class luxury.
Four Seasons issued a statement that said its lease on a 30-storey location in the city’s downtown core won’t be renewed and that its hotel would stop operating in January, 2020. The statement did not elaborate.
Four Seasons manages the hotel under an agreement with the property’s landlord, Cadillac Fairview Corp., which also owns the Pacific Centre shopping mall attached to the hotel.s
Cadillac Fairview sued the Four Seasons in the fall over the way the hotel was being run.
“Four Seasons Hotels had furnished and equipped the hotel below the standard of a typical first-class luxury hotel,” the lawsuit statement of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court in October said.
“Four Seasons Hotels had furnished and equipped the Hotel in an inconsistent and uninviting manner, with an overall appearance that was tired, dated and not in keeping with typical first-class luxury hotel.”
The lawsuit said certain public areas of the hotel had not been updated in 40 years and guest rooms were furnished and equipped with “low-quality” products and furnishings.
Lawyers for the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts company rejected the allegations in a response to the claim, declaring the hotel had been honoured for its operation with praise that included being one of only two hotels in the City of Vancouver to be awarded a five-star rating by Forbes magazine.
Four Seasons also said it was averse to financing expensive renovations to the property so close to the end of its lease in 2020.
Lawyers for the parties in the case did not respond to questions on Wednesday.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, launched by Isadore Sharp, opened its first hotel in downtown Toronto in 1961, with a commitment to distinctive, quality service that came to include European-style concierge services and other luxuries as it opened operations around the world.
While the fate of the lawsuit remained unclear on Tuesday, Four Seasons said it would be concluding its management of the hotel on Jan. 31, 2020. Once it closes, Four Seasons will have only two Canadian locations, in Toronto and Whistler.
Four Seasons gave no reason for the exit in a statement issued by Kate Colley, public relations director for the hotel. However, Four Seasons said it would carry on until it takes its last guest in about two years.
“Until Four Seasons ceases management, it is business as usual and employees will continue to provide the same legendary service guests have come to expect from Four Seasons.”
In a statement, Cadillac Fairview declined comment on questions about the Four Seasons announcement.
Ty Speer, president and chief executive of Tourism Vancouver, a destination marketing organization and business association representing approximately 1,000 tourism-related members, said the end of the Four Seasons is bad news for the business.
“It’s a real shame for the industry. It’s a high-quality property well-loved by our visitors. It is a shame to lose that out of the [hotel room] inventory,” Mr. Speer said in an interview.
“From a tourism point of view, this is not the kind of thing we like to see in our city.”
In the past 15 years, Mr. Speer said downtown Vancouver has lost about 1,600 rooms at the same time that more visitors are coming to the region. He said no one is specifically to blame for the trend, but there’s a need for more spaces and protecting what is available.