The Vancouver Native Housing Society opened its doors Thursday (October 16) for a tour of Skwachàys Lodge, a facility that the organization says is the first aboriginal arts and culture hotel in Canada.
The newly revamped boutique hotel on West Pender Street has been open for business since August, hosting visitors in 18 rooms that feature original work from aboriginal artists.
Vancouver Native Housing CEO David Eddy said the hotel was at about 75 percent occupancy in August. Seasonal rates for the rooms, which each feature different designs, start at $149 a night.
Aside from the 18 hotel rooms, Skwachàys Lodge also features 24 live/work studios for aboriginal artists, the Urban Aboriginal Fair Trade Gallery on the main floor, a smudge room and sweat lodge, and workshop space in the basement. All profits from the hotel operation and the gallery subsidize rent for residents in the studios.
The building initially opened in June 2012. The hotel portion of the facility was originally used as a lodge for aboriginal people staying in Vancouver for medical purposes. Low occupancy rates prompted the conversion, but the facility will still incorporate some units for patient travel.
The artists who collaborated with Vancouver interior designers on the rooms are Corrine Hunt, Clifton Fred, Lou-ann Neel, Sabina Hill with Mark Preston, Richard Shorty, and Jerry Whitehead.