Royal Connaught 112 King Street East

The reopening of the Royal Connaught was a highly anticipated event in the city, to say the least. When I began the blog in 2011, I attended a Haunted Hamilton Ghost Walk in the downtown core and the Royal Connaught was one of the sites of the tour. The structure was abandoned and we were told tales of the hotel in its day. At the time, I certainly didn’t predict that a few years later I would be inside, viewing the newly restored building in all its glory, dressed to the nines along with a who’s who in Hamilton.

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I had the opportunity to speak with the team behind the relaunch, Ted Valeri and Rudi Spallacci, during my broadcast live-to-air from Gore Park on 93.3 CFMU. That broadcast was one of my highlights not only of the summer, but during my whole I Heart Hamilton experience. It was fantastic to get to learn all about the rich history of the site right from these two gentlemen. [Listen to the show!]

The official opening was a few days after that interview, at the beginning of June. I was fortunate enough to attend the preview event before it was open to the public. It was an overwhelming moment to walk through the doors and take in the beautiful building. Even before entering, I was nervous!

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The PR team Kim Graham & Associates did a great job reaching out to local personalities, business owners, and media. It would be a daunting task to contact as many as they could, but I was delighted to see so many blogger friends – The Hungry Gnome, Rebuild Hamilton, Not My Typewriter, This Must Be The Place, and of course, Joey Coleman, who is always on the scene!

I met up with Mathieu Brazeau and Leanne Borges. We had a wonderful time exploring the space and mingling with acquaintances and meeting new ones. Mathieu is always my perfect partner in crime for a little schmoozing!

With Leanne Borges and Mathieu Brazeau. Photo by Jeff Tessier.
With Leanne Borges and Mathieu Brazeau. Photo by Jeff Tessier.

One of the suites was available to view and I loved getting to see its design – just gorgeous. My outfit conveniently matched the décor, so I had to pose for a photo. Mathieu dubbed it, “At Home with Kristin,” to which I joked, it’s from my new reality T.V. show coming this fall.

We were also able to view floor plans for more suites. I really like how each is named after a street in Hamilton – The Aberdeen, The Dundurn, The Queenston, The Wentworth, and more. Very classy.

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It wouldn’t be a party without the food! Two Black Sheep were on hand with oysters and Red Hill Coffee Trade were ready with their delicious blend and treats by Hotti Biscotti. This was the fancy type of party where servers also walked about with food and drinks on trays. You just can’t resist when they pass by you. At one point, Mathieu, Leanne, and I staked out a strategic spot by the kitchen. You know it’s bad when the servers start recognizing you and beeline right for you, holding the tray like, “Another one?”. The mini cordon bleu was a favourite. Along with champagne and wine on the trays, there was a bar dedicated to beer, and one to martinis. Suffice it to say we gave everything a thorough sampling. It was a grand celebration!

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Making the night feel even more like the Gatsby-esque dream I’d always wanted to visit, there were models dressed up complete in the style of the 1920s. It really helped make the experience. The Royal Connaught attempts to blend the past with the present; obviously we must acknowledge what the structure once was, but bring it into the modern world as well. It was just the right balance.

This event was really a treat and something I’ll always remember, and be glad to have been a part of. I look forward to what the Royal Connaught will contribute to the ongoing rejuvenation of the downtown core.

– Kristin

kristin
ihearthamiltontour@gmail.com
Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (www.ihearthamilton.ca), where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing an influential social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

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