Last Thursday the Antonopoulos family celebrated the tenth anniversary of their Hotel Place d’Armes with an all-out bash. Boxing circa 1930 was the evening’s colourful theme, so lucky invite-only guests (like me) were entertained by some live fist fighting in a miniature ring, “cigarette girls” (serving sushi) dressed in feathers and flapper dresses, an oyster bar, drinks aplenty, a slick jazz band, and guest of honour Lucian Bute , the Montrealer who recently defended his super-middleweight title after a spectacular knockout match with Jesse Brinkley on Oct. 15 at Montreal’s Bell Centre.
Maria Antonopoulos, who’s Marketing Manager at the hotel, told me that Bute’s a family friend. I managed to snap a photo with the buff boxer – and accidently touch his bicep. If this were Facebook or Twitter, I’d add a smiley face here.
Speaking of buff, history buffs will be interested to know that Hotel Place d’Armes was the first boutique hotel in the Old Montreal. The ornate 19th century façade is a beautiful nod to our city’s past: When it originally opened in 1870, the prime corner spot served as headquarters for the Great Scottish Life Insurance Company. The street, upon which it sits, St-Jacques, was actually the Wall Street of its day. Maria and I chatted briefly about the history of the hotel (see video), which has expanded over the years and now occupies three adjacent addresses—including Rainspa, my choice spot for facials. Just saying.
And who doesn’t love a rags-to-riches story? Hotel Place d’Armes is owned by brothers Costa and Tony Antonopoulos, Greek immigrants who arrived in Canada in the late 1960s. Working their way up from blue collar jobs (Tony’s first salary was reportedly 30 cents an hour), the two are now CEOs of a host of other boutique hotels, including the Nelligan, Petit Hotel, and Auberge du Vieux-Port, as well as six restaurants and two bars. All of which is now in the hands of a second generation of Antonopouloses – a brood that consists of a confusing number of males named Dimitri – many of whom were present at the celebration along with their dads.
After I had a few glasses of bubbly, mingled with the chichi crowd, raided the buffet table and watched a few rounds of boxing (yes, a little surreal); round twelve was over for me. It was time to head home and take off my heels—and get that Rocky soundtrack out of my head.
55 St-Jacques st.