It won’t be long before you can go beyond the art shops and museums to immerse yourself within a First Nations cultural experience.
The Skwachàys Lodge at 31 West Pender is a new boutique hotel on the fringes of Chinatown and is currently undergoing a renovation of its guest rooms to incorporate a unique aboriginal-themed experience.
In 2012, the historic century-old Victorian building and its brick facade were preserved as part of an adjacent Vancouver Native Housing Society’s social housing development.
An art gallery and healing lodge for out-of-town First Nations patients to stay while receiving medical treatment were also incorporated into the development. However, there was insufficient demand to fill the healing lodge’s rooms which led the Society’s decision to renovate the rooms into a boutique hotel to increase their revenues.
Six renowned local hotel interior designers have donated their time and services to team up with seven aboriginal artists and designers to create 18 unique rooms with the installation of original carvings, blankets and paintings. According to the Vancouver Sun, one room will be designed with an celestial and lunar theme while another will have birchbark wallpaper and cut pieces of birch trees to arouse the memory of powwow dances from the Prairies.
Each floor will also have its own animal spirit – the Raven, Eagle, Bear, Wolf and Orca.
The hotel could potentially include other hands-on, premium price programs such as aboriginal carving, weaving, and painting, and then taking home whatever works of art created.
Rooms will cost an average of $225 per night and the new hotel is scheduled to open in May 2014. It is expected that much of its business will come from the city’s cruise ship travellers and it has also partnered with hotel booking websites such as booking.com and expedia.com.
As part of the building’s original renovation, the building already features a traditional northern longhouse with a 40.5-foot tall totem pole on its rooftop.
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