The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald shared renderings of its renovation plans for the Confederation Lounge on social media. The response, however, was not quite what staff anticipated.

More than 170 people commented on the hotel’s Instagram post.

Instagram user @rhanchan said, “Now this looks like every other new restaurant. Loved the old look.”

While @lauriekjensen said, “Worst decision ever @fairmontmac as it already has so much beauty and history. Please reconsider!!”

“I think people have a right to voice their opinions and share,” said Garrett Turta, Fairmont Hotel Macdonald general manager.

“You realize and you see the passion and care that people have for this hotel, so I think it’s nice to see people are passionate and people care about it,” he added.

“It’s the crown jewel in our skyline and I think it’s really important to people that it still reflects and tells the story of the building and of its history in Edmonton,” said Dan Rose, Chair of the City of Edmonton Historical Board.

Rose is “disappointed” with the new look.

“It looks like it takes something that is a definitive landmark and a destination and turns it into something that is just another sort of non-descript, pretty bland attempt at a regular old hotel,” he said.

“The finished product will not look like any other hotel,” argued Turta.

Hotel Macdonald renovation

“I think it’s a rendering and I think it’s a computer generated design so you can’t see everything fully into that, and it’s a quick rendering so I think once it’s fully done I think everyone’s needs and wishes will certainly be met and maintained,” he added.

In 1984, the Hotel Macdonald was the first building to be designated as a historic resource in Edmonton and Turta said they’re working with the city to ensure the renovations maintain its heritage component.

“Nothing will change that’s going to be significant,” he said.

 “It’s about time to refresh things, change the carpets, change the chairs, change the paint on the walls.”

“And a lot of the furniture you see in here is only four years old so it actually has not been here that long”

Fairmont Hotel Macdonald

The artwork, including the Fathers of Confederate painting will remain, so will the ceiling mouldings, cherubs and the original woodwork from 1915.

“We did see some comments that they’re changing the windows; the windows are very historic, that is not true the windows will stay. There’ll be different maybe curtains on them or something like that, or just light shades but the windows are staying the same,” said Turta.

Still, Rose says many involved in various historical organizations in the city are not happy.

“Once you change it, it’s hard to go back to what it was. It’s not necessarily the original lounge when the building opened, but it’s still something that people still have a very strong connection to,” he said.

The $22-million renovation project actually started in 2016 when guest rooms on the seventh and eighth floors were redone.  Work on the remaining rooms will start in August, with renovations to the lounge, lobby, meeting rooms and gardens to follow.

“This is Edmonton’s hotel and we want to make sure that we maintain that,” said Turta.