Skwachàys Lodge: Portal to the Past
Visitors to British Columbia who are interested in learning more about Canada’s First Nations now have the enticing option of staying in an authentic and entirely Aboriginal-themed hotel.
Recently, popular Vancouver blogger Miss604 went on a special tour of the new Skwachàys Lodge along with Squamish Nation’s Chief Ian Campbell and Amanda Nahanee.
“Skwachàys is a traditional Coast Salish name that references the place name around the end of False Creek, with a number of sloughs and marshes that represented a portal into the spirit realm,” Campbell said while at the lodge, located just at the historic gateway to Vancouver’s Chinatown.
The stately 18-room facility is billed as an Aboriginal boutique arts hotel, and is the first of its kind in Canada. More than just a hotel, the lodge features an artist’s studio where a number of talented First Nation artists hone their crafts and create works. An art gallery and gift shop allows visitors to purchase those and other beautiful works by Aboriginal artists. There is also the opportunity to be part of a sacred healing experience at a traditional sweat lodge, led by a First Nations Elder.
Originally opened in 2012 as an Aboriginal healing lodge for visiting First Nation members, as well as an artist space, the gallery facility has been redeveloped to include new boutique hotel rooms. Each of the 18 rooms has entirely different themes, complemented by original pieces of Aboriginal art and completely redesigned by a talented First Nations designer. Each of the hotel’s floors even has its own sacred animal. And much of the rich wood, materials and items in the hotel have either been reclaimed or donated.
On the outside, the building’s Victorian-era brick façade has been meticulously preserved, but you will also spy a traditional northern longhouse – with 40.5-foot totem pole – sitting atop the heritage building’s urban setting.
“We wanted it to reflect the long history of Coast Salish people in this area,” said Campbell. “And honour that we are in transition as a society, and as a people and this is a lodge that represents that transformation.”
The Skwachàys Lodge officially opened on Aug. 1.