by Brendan M. Lynch | August 01, 2004


Tout à vous:
Montréal’s new
offerings will appeal to
meeting planners.

Montréal dates back to 1642, when Paul de Chomedy de Maisonneuve, founder of the city, planted a wooden cross on Mount Royal. Now, a rainbow of lights is illuminating many significant buildings constructed in the subsequent 362 years. 
    Throughout Old Montréal, night brings on the  many-hued display intended to focus attention upon various building styles and architectural eras. For instance, the Notre-Dame Basilica, the pièce de résistance of Old Montréal’s impressive Place d’Armes, lately has been lit up in soft blue.

Latest developments
A $176 million expansion and modernization of Montréal’s colorful Palais des Congrès convention center was completed at the end of 2002. The  facility doubled its exhibition and meeting space to 330,520 square feet and added new loading docks, storage space, bus terminals and 1,200 parking spaces. 
    Everywhere in Montréal’s convention center district, city planners have mixed the fine arts into building expansions and neighborhood developments. On the huge Bleury Street glass façade of the Palais des Congrès, for instance, a high-tech art installation, named “Translucide,” juxtaposes imagery from video screens, computer monitors, the Internet and electronic devices. Inside, panels from the work decorate the main hall. 
    The governments of Canada, Québec and the city of Montréal plus private investors put $66 million into developing a new downtown sector, the Quartier international de Montréal, which opened in June between the city’s business center and the Old Montréal historic district. In the midst of the new quartier and close to the Palais des Congrès center is “La Joute” (“The Joust”), a formidable new public sculpture by the late Québécois artist Jean-Paul Riopelle in a setting that combines mist, fire and water.

Hotel update
Montréal continues to add  major properties and smaller boutique hotels to accommodate a broad spectrum of meeting groups. 
    At the end of the summer, the W Montréal will open in the middle of the city’s new Quartier international. The first W Hotel in Canada will feature 152 guest rooms and six meeting rooms ranging in size from 349 square feet to 1,518 square feet. 
    Also in the Quartier international, Le Riopelle is set to open in fall 2005, facing the Palais des Congrès center. Designed especially for business clients on extended stays, the property (named after artist Jean-Paul Riopelle) will feature 42 guest rooms and 69 condominiums.
    The Hôtel Godin is slated for a September 2004 debut. The 138-room property is an extension of the Godin Building, which some consider to be Montréal’s grandest art nouveau landmark. 
    The 218-suite Residence Inn by Marriott Montréal Westmount, 11 miles from Montréal-Trudeau Airport and convenient to Montréal’s business and entertainment districts, opened in June 2003. All suites at the hotel feature kitchens, balconies and free high-speed Internet access.
    The 258-room Hotel Sofitel Montréal opened in October 2002 inside a former office building made of steel and glass. The property features four meeting rooms that hold from four to 60 people and a 1,050-square-foot ballroom that can host parties of up to 300.
    Several new boutique hotels have opened in Montréal. Among them: Le Saint-Sulpice, offering 108 suites, is near both the Notre-Dame Basilica and Montréal’s Old Port. The Hôtel Nelligan has 64 rooms, 27 suites and four conference rooms. And the Hotel Le St-James offers 20 rooms and 41 suites set in a stately 1870 mansion.