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Vintage Toronto Ads: Someday Your Prince Hotel Will Come

Today’s ad offers an ideal 1970s entertainment lineup for upper middle class patrons on business, vacation, or a wild night in the suburbs. The Royal Box offered dinner theatre twice a night. The “merely posh” Le Continental filled the decade’s appetite for romantic meals loaded with soft jazz and slabs of meat (chateaubriand for two, ma belle amie?). Katsura supplied a then-exotic Japanese dining experience. The Brandy Tree offered fancy drinks and a piano bar. The Coffee Garden catered to those for whom none of the above appealed to (or were affordable for) and to those with an appreciation for macrame walls.
Opened on July 10, 1974, this luxury hotel was the first foray by Prince Hotels International into North America and its second outside of its Japanese base (the first was in Guam). In an article published shortly after the hotel opened, the Toronto Star noted that:

A recurring theme of conversation with the hotel executives was a determination from the outset not simply to transplant a Japanese hotel to Canada but to fit it in with the environment (even the dead trees on the property have been left standing) and with Canadians (domestic materials, almost exclusively, Canadian architects, local people comprising almost all the operating staff).

Another way the owners ingratiated themselves to nearby residents was through minor hockey sponsorship a year before the hotel opened. The team won their division and Prince executive Kikuo Yamazaki treated them to a party at his home.
The Prince experienced growing pains, tearing through three operations managers and four PR firms by the time Christmas of ’75 rolled around. By March 1976, the hotel was one of three the Star marked as the emptiest luxury spots in Toronto, along with the Harbour Castle and the Plaza II (now the Marriott in the Hudson’s Bay Centre). The paper felt that apart from a few specialty suites and Katsura, the hotel didn’t provide enough Japanese decor and atmosphere. With its average occupancy hovering under 32%, Prince did not move forward with further North American expansion plans.
Ownership eventually passed to the Westin chain. A quick browse through the hotel’s website reveals two elements that are still in operation: the Brandy Tree Lounge and Katsura.
Source: Toronto Life, February 1975. Additional material from the August 24, 1974, December 9, 1975 and March 23, 1976 editions of the Toronto Star.


  • leftist

    It might strike you as odd, but these Vintage Toronto features are my favourite. Keep them coming!

  • Adam Sobolak

    FYI, the Prince was designed by Ron Thom–don’t know how much of his style remains; but it does make for a useful decade-later counterpart to the now-gone Inn On The Park. (And relative to that, it probably represents the tail end of whatever IOTP signified, i.e. suburban hotels as actual emblems of up-to-the-minute luxury and aspiration, which even “locals” might frequent much as they frequent, say, the Drake today.)

  • TokyoTuds

    Huh … I just walked past the Shinjuku location of the Prince Hotel here in Tokyo. I think they still do alright in Japan. For kicks, here is the link to the satellite photo of the Shinjuku property.,139.700362&spn=0.001551,0.002288&t=k&z=19
    It is the very narrow building between the railway line on the left and the street on the right.