Queen Elizabeth Hotel lays off 600 ahead of major renovations

Montreal's historic Queen Elizabeth Hotel — perhaps most famously known as the site of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's 1969 bed-in — will close for a year to undergo major renovations to its rooms and common areas.

Famous site of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's bed-in to close for 1 year starting June 2016

The Queen Elizabeth Hotel is going to get a $140-million facelift in 2016-2017. (Google Maps)

Montreal's historic Queen Elizabeth Hotel will close for a year to undergo major renovations to its rooms and common areas.

Ivanhoe Cambridge, the real estate arm of Quebec pension fund manager the Caisse de Dépôt, says it will invest $140 million to renovate the hotel, part of the Fairmont chain.

John Urban found a 36-shot roll of negatives of the famous John Lennon and Yoko Ono bed-in at a Montreal hotel in 1969. He believes his former roommate took them. (Submitted by John Urban)

The closure — June 2016 to June 2017 — will see the majority of the hotel's 600 employees laid off for between nine and 12 months, although they will be offered jobs at other hotels and properties managed by the Fairmont chain.

The hotel said the "new concepts" it is implementing will lead to an increase in the total number of jobs after reopening.

Suite 1742 — the famous room where John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their bed-in in 1969 — will be part of the renovations, according to a spokesperson with Ivanhoe Cambridge.

She said the room will be accentuated with more details about the bed-in to "increase the historical experience."

Work on the hotel's common areas and 500 of the guest rooms is expected to be complete in time for summer celebrations marking Montreal's 375th birthday and the 150th anniversary of Confederation on July 1, 2017.

The rest of the rooms will be ready by December 2017.

Ivanhoe Cambridge chairman Daniel Fournier said in a statement Thursday that the transformation would "mark the hotel's return as Montreal's leading business destination and preferred venue for international events and global business conferences."

With files from CBC News


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