Vintage Toronto Ads: A Castle on the Harbour
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Vintage Toronto Ads: A Castle on the Harbour

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Source: the Financial Post Magazine, November 8, 1980.

While the Hilton Harbour Castle marketed its fine views and lakefront location to businessmen and average travellers, we imagine there may have been the odd guest who wanted to book a room just because Keith Richards was busted there a few years earlier.
Metropolitan Toronto was in the midst of a hotel boom when the fifty-million-dollar Hilton Harbour Castle officially opened on April 11, 1975. It was one of nine major hotels (which included the Bond Place, the Chelsea Inn, the Hotel Toronto, and the Prince) that opened within a two-year period. A glut of new rooms, combined with a tanking economy, led to a drastic drop in hotel occupancy rates. The Harbour Castle was among the hardest hit—despite enticements like the view from the rooms, four entertainment venues, and a kitchen headed by highly regarded former Westbury Hotel head chef Tony Roldan, occupancy sank as low as 28.5% during its first year in operation. Older hotels that hadn’t renovated in years were severely hit, perhaps most dramatically at the King Edward, where nearly a quarter of the rooms were closed off by the start of 1976.
It would take a detailed flow chart, and a Keith Richards–sized supply of intoxicants, to explain the corporate manoeuvrings that resulted in the Hilton/Westin brand swap between the Harbour Castle and Hotel Toronto in 1987.
Additional material from the March 20, 1976 edition of the Toronto Star.

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