Luxury hotel ready to open in Gatineau Park

An abandoned and derelict lodge in Gatineau Park overlooking Meech Lake has completed its transition into a luxury hotel and is ready to open the doors.

O'Brien House will accept first guests next week

This is what the O'Brien House looks like today with the restoration complete. (Hallie Cotnam / CBC)

An abandoned and derelict lodge in Gatineau Park overlooking Meech Lake has completed its transition into a luxury hotel and is ready to open the doors.

The O'Brien House, a four-storey mansion originally built in the 1930s, has its first event Friday night and will accept its first guests next weekend.

On a tour of the property with CBC's Ottawa Morning, co-owner Robert Milling said they want to restore the building to its former glory, which has been a long process.  

"When we started the construction there was nothing more than studs and the stone fireplaces," he said.

The hotel offers stunning views of Gatineau Park because it's situated within the park itself. (Hallie Cotnam / CBC )

The building has a lot of period pieces inside, including a 1920s Underwood typewriter, a phonograph and a clock that once sat in the office of Canada's fourth prime minister John Thompson.

Milling said the typewriter works and any guest who wants to hammer out a postcard on it is welcome to.

"We got it as a counterpoint to modern technology and that's why, frankly, a lot of people are looking to get away," he said.

This Underwood typewriter sits inside the hotel for guests to use. (Hallie Cotnam / CBC )

Commercial concerns 

The hotel will be another commercial property operating inside the park adding to the Wakefield Mill Hotel and Spa, which Milling also co-owns.

He said he understands the concerns, but believes commercial properties can work if they're not intrusive.

"I think they're fairly small and discreet, and most importantly if they're complementary, people seem to like that," he said. 

The NCC has leased the building for five years, with options to extend for another 20. Milling said the deal allowed for the restoration of what was otherwise a derelict building.

"This building was on the verge of burning down, all the windows were broken. It had been forlorn for at least 25 years," he said.

"Now it's fresh and new and lively and has at least another 100 years in it."

Tonight the boutique hotel called "O'Brien" has its coming out party after four years of construction. 7:35

The hotel is named after original owner Ambrose O'Brien, a railway baron who helped form the first organized professional hockey league, which eventually became the NHL.

O'Brien was the first owner of the Montreal Canadiens and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

Co-owner Robert Milling stands outside the restored hotel with a freshly painted red door. (Hallie Cotnam / CBC)
This is what the house looked like before the restoration work began almost two years ago. (National Capital Commission)