For more than a century, our hotels have been at the heart of it all. The exhilarating events, memorable meetings, and defining moments that have taken place within our hallowed halls are fascinating and countless. A look at some of the more notable ones:
1885 Bermuda's The Fairmont Hamilton Princess opens its doors, making it the oldest hotel in the Fairmont collection.
1888 Canada's first grand railway hotel, The Fairmont Banff Springs opens, bringing to life the vision of General Manager and soon-to-be President of Canadian Pacific Railway, Sir Cornelius Van Horne. It’s not all joy though, as Van Horne is furious to discover initial hotel plans give the kitchen the magnificent views of the Bow Valley. A rotunda is soon built to give the view back to the guests.
1889 Britain's first luxury hotel, The Savoy, opens and pioneers a number of “firsts” for hotels, including “ascending rooms” (electric lifts), 24-hour room service through a “speaking tube” connected to the restaurant, and its own laundry service and postal address.
1890's Silver baron James Graham Fair purchases the land where Fairmont's namesake San Francisco hotel now resides, hoping to build a family estate. His daughters begin planning on “The Fairmont” as a posthumous monument. “Fairmont” combines the name of the hotel’s founding family with its exclusive location atop Nob Hill.
1890 Society hostess Lady de Grey gathers a group of female contemporaries to dine at London’s The Savoy, a strike for equality, making it socially acceptable for women to gather for meals in public without their husbands, and inspiring generations of ladies-who-lunch.
1893 Fairmont Le Château Frontenac opens in Quebec City, the first of a series of "château" style hotels built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company.
1896 The first woman to smoke in public, The Duchesse de Clermont-Tonnerre, chooses The Savoy as her venue.
1899 Claude Monet takes up residence at The Savoy for two months, painting his famous series of views of London and the River Thames. He returns in 1900 and 1901 to continue the work.
Canadian Pacific Hotels introduces professional Swiss Mountain Guides to the Canadian Rockies. In the 55 years they teach thousands to ascend mountains safely, no one is seriously injured while climbing under their supervision. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise revives the tradition in 1997.
1904 Fairmont The Norfolk opens as the first hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. The capital city literally grows up around it.
1906 The Fairmont San Francisco, just days before opening, is saved from collapse during the Great Earthquake by its mammoth Corinthian marble columns. From its strategic position atop Nob Hill, the hotel becomes the emergency command post for rescue efforts.
1907 Exactly one year after the Great Earthquake, The Fairmont San Francisco opens as the first hotel to bear the brand's namesake. Its reconstruction is overseen by Julia Morgan, later considered the nation's preeminent female architect.
1907 New York's The Plaza opens. That same day, the first motorized, metered taxi fleet makes an appearance on city streets, congregating at the hotel and offering free rides to guests. Room rates are $2.50 per night.
1911 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is published. As the author was a recent guest of The Fairmont Hamilton Princess, rumor has it that the secret garden is in Bermuda.
The first meeting of The Other Club, a private dining club founded by Sir Winston Churchill, takes place at The Savoy. Club continues to this day for political leaders to engage in civilized debate and dining.
1912 Boston's The Fairmont Copley Plaza opens on the original site of the Museum of Fine Arts. Rose Fitzgerald, future mother of President John F. Kennedy, makes her social debut at the hotel. The Kennedy clan hosts events there for decades.
The opening of Ottawa's Fairmont Château Laurier is delayed when Charles Melville Hays, the hotel's commissioner, perishes aboard the Titanic, which also claims furniture set to outfit the new property. The new hotel, which is opened by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, then Prime Minister of Canada, offers separate sleeping quarters for men and women.
1914 Fairmont Le Montreux Palace in Switzerland is used as a hospital to shelter Allied soldiers throughout World War I.
1920's During Prohibition, permanent residents and guests of The Fairmont Empress invent countless ways to hide their liquor. Winston Churchill is secretly served his favorite brandy in a china teapot.
Also during Prohibition, a float plane carrying illegal malts for hotel guests crashes into the glacier-fed lake in front of The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
1924 Guglielmo Marconi makes first wireless broadcast to the United States from The Savoy with a simple exchange of messages transmitted in the middle of a music program by The Savoy Orpheans, a popular British dance band.
Over 200 men and 50 teams of horses clear the land for The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course. Existing soil is poor, so the hotel purchases farmland near Edmonton and brings in 40 boxcars of topsoil by rail.
1925 U.S. President William H. Taft opens Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu's 18-hole championship golf course.
1926 The Fairmont San Francisco's Penthouse Suite is created with three secret passageways – shhhh, they’re still a secret to many to this day!
1927 Kaspar the Lucky Black Cat makes his debut at The Savoy, joining the ranks of the elitist Other Club in lieu of a 14th guest. He continues to round out dinner parties to this day.
1928 Aviator Charles Lindbergh, outfitted in an unusual jumpsuit, makes a spectacular entrance in the lobby of Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City, causing quite a stir. He is on a mission to aid an ailing friend.
1929 The 18-hole Golf Course at The Fairmont Banff Springs is built by Canadian golf master architect Stanley Thompson, and opened by the Prince of Wales. It is the first course in the world to cost $1 million, the equivalent of approximately 25 million today.
The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto opens on the eve of the Great Depression. It is the largest hotel in the British Empire, and a local paper heralds “A city within a city reaches the zenith of human achievement.”
The Super Simplex Projector, one of the greatest cinematic achievements of the 20th Century, is invented and one of the first motion picture machines which produced “talkies” is housed in The Fairmont Royal York.
1930's The Fairmont Copley Plaza becomes the first hotel to install a skating rink.
1930 Playwright Noël Coward finishes Private Lives in the Penthouse suite at Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai while fighting the flu.
The Savoy, the birthplace of some of the most famous cocktails in the world, becomes the first hotel to publish its own book of drink recipes. The Savoy Hotel Cocktail Book has remained in print ever since.
The King and Queen of Siam arrive at The Fairmont Empress with 56 attendants, 556 pieces of luggage and occupy an entire floor. They leave two teak elephants as a gift, which guard the entrance to the hotel’s Bengal Lounge today.
Fairmont Le Château Montebello, the biggest log construction in the world, is created with more than 10,000 red cedars imported from British Columbia by train. Employing more than 3,500 workers, it takes just three months to build.
1932 Betty Grable, “The Girl With The Million Dollar Legs”, and poster girl for G.I.s during WWII is “discovered” singing in the lounge of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows by MGM studio executives.
1936 Fairmont Le Montreux Palace hosts the Montreux Convention or “Traité des Dardanelles”. Nine participating nations (with over 500 diplomats in attendance) sign an agreement regarding control of the strategically vital link between the Black and Mediterranean Seas.
1939 The basement of The Fairmont Hamilton Princess becomes headquarters for an Allied intelligence center where 1,200 censors secretly scour mail being sent across the Atlantic.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth officially open The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.
1940's The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa falls under the control of the U.S. Navy, becoming an 'R&R' site for sailors and marines until 1945.
The Fairmont Royal Pavilion is the first hotel constructed on the West Coast of Barbados.
1943 Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and William Lyon Mackenzie hold The First Quebec Conference at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac to devise plans for the Allied Forces’ campaigns overseas.
Ministers from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg gather at The Savoy to discuss a post-war "customs union", laying the groundwork for today's European Union.
1945 The United Nations Charter is drafted in the Garden Room at The Fairmont San Francisco and signed by 50 countries.
The Plaza's legendary Oak Bar opens.
1946 Britain's Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) is seen in public with her husband-to-be, Prince Philip of Greece, for the first time at a wedding reception at The Savoy.
1948 During the filming of Emperor Waltz at The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, staff is hired to keep Bing Crosby from sneaking off to go fishing or golfing instead of completing the movie.
1949 A fire on board the cruise ship Noronic on Toronto's harbor sends the injured to The Fairmont Royal York, where the lobby acts as a triage centre and guests offer their rooms to those rescued.
1952 Alfred Hitchcock, fascinated by Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, makes it an integral part of his movie I Confess. Hotel manager Mr. Jessop plays himself. Staff members remember Hitchcock's love of rare beef.
1953 Marilyn Monroe films River of No Return at The Fairmont Banff Springs. After she twists her ankle, bellboys jockey to assist pushing her wheelchair.
1955 Eloise, Kay Thompson's classic book about a precocious little girl's adventures at The Plaza, is published.
1959 Film star William Holden and friends buy Kenyan property after enjoying a safari there and one of the world's most glamorous and exclusive clubs is born. It lives on to this day as Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club.
1962 Tony Bennett croons his classic I Left My Heart In San Francisco for the first time in The Fairmont San Francisco's Venetian Room.
1964 Relations between China and France are restored at Fairmont Peace Hotel after a successful meeting between Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and his French counterpart Edgar Faure.
1965 High-priest of pop-culture Marshall McLuhan, famous for his thesis, “the medium is the message” meets with California spin-doctors Gerald Feigen and Howard Gossage at Toronto's The Fairmont Royal York. Their global publicity campaign spreads McLuhan's ideas around the world like wildfire.
1966 Truman Capote throws the "Party of the Century" - the Black & White Ball at The Plaza. Henry Fonda, Rose Kennedy, Lauren Bacall, Andy Warhol, and newlyweds Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow, among others, attend.
1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono hold their famous Bed-In for Peace at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth. International media converge on suite 1742, where the anthem of the anti-war movement, “Give Peace a Chance” is composed and recorded.
1970 The International Olympic Committee (IOC) gathers at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth to announce Montreal as the host city of the 1976 Summer Games.
1975 Princess Grace of Monaco officially opens Fairmont Monte Carlo. Built in part upon pillars approximately 49 feet high, the hotel is entirely heated and air conditioned by a sophisticated system which draws water from the Mediterranean.
1977 Seattle's Fairmont Olympic Hotel gets “Sedated” when punk band The Ramones show up for a gig in the Georgian Room on their first West Coast tour. There's only enough material for one set...so they play it twice.
1981 Fairmont Le Château Montebello hosts the G-7 International Summit conference, welcoming Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, François Mitterrand and Pierre Trudeau.
1983 Aaron Spelling shoots the pilot and early episodes for Hotel, a hit TV series about the fictional St. Gregory hotel, at The Fairmont San Francisco. The hotel's signature look is later recreated on a Warner Bros. lot.
1986 The Plaza is deemed a National Historic Landmark in the United States.
1988 The Fairmont Palliser becomes the official Olympic venue and headquarters for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) during the XV Winter Olympics in Calgary.
1990 Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (then Canadian Pacific Hotels) is the first hotel company in the world to launch a comprehensive environmental mandate. The pioneering program, called the Green Partnership Program, is emulated by others in the decades that follow.
1992 The Fairmont Banff Springs is designated a National Historic Site to recognize its role in opening the West of Canada to tourism, and the building of a nation.
1999 Fairmont Hotels and Canadian Pacific Hotels merge, forming Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, a leading luxury hotel brand which today has over 60 landmark properties worldwide.
2001 Fairmont introduces Willow Stream Spas, its signature spa brand, offering treatments which draw on the nature, energy and essence of each spa's surroundings.
2002 Fairmont welcomes its first property in the Middle East, Fairmont Dubai. Its distinctive design is a modern interpretation of an Arabic wind tower or barajeel.
The Fairmont Vancouver Airport is the first hotel in North America to offer an entire floor of hypoallergenic guestrooms.
Vancouver's The Fairmont Waterfront welcomes the brand's first official canine ambassador, Morgan, a Black Labrador. More than a dozen dogs now call Fairmont hotels home, much to the delight of guests.
2006 Fairmont St Andrews in Scotland hosts The Northern Ireland peace talks, leading to the St Andrews Agreement, the cornerstone to peace in Ulster today.
Kingdom Hotels International and Colony Capital purchase the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts portfolio and merge it with the Raffles and Swissôtel brands to create a new luxury hotel powerhouse, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International (FRHI). Qatari Diar joins the party a few years later, becoming a major shareholder in the luxury hotel brand’s parent company.
2007 Fairmont celebrates its Centennial with a yearlong series of special events. The Fairmont San Francisco and The Plaza also mark a century.
Fairmont Mayakoba's El Camaleón golf course, Greg Norman’s first in Mexico, hosts a new event on the PGA TOUR - The Mayakoba Classic. It's the first official TOUR event outside the U.S. or Canada.
2008 Fairmont's abuzz. Bees arrive in rooftop gardens at The Fairmont Royal York and The Fairmont Waterfront. This sweet and sustainable trend is adopted by many other Fairmonts in the years that follow.
2010 Fairmont Peace Hotel and The Savoy reopen to great acclaim after extensive restoration projects.
Makkah Clock Royal Tower, A Fairmont Hotel, opens in Islam's holy city. At 76 stories, it's the world's tallest concrete building. Its 130 foot Royal Clock, which announces daily prayers, is five times bigger than London's Big Ben, and can be seen from 10 miles away.
2011 Fairmont launches Lifestyle Cuisine Plus, the hotel industry’s first brand wide program that caters to guests with specific diet-dependent conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and celiac disease, as well as unique dietary preferences including macrobiotic, raw and vegan diets.
2012 The Fairmont Copley Plaza and Fairmont Château Laurier join the elite ranks of 100-year-old iconic hotels. Both hotels celebrate with noteworthy renovations including the restoration of the 1929 art deco pool at Ottawa’s grand Chateau.