Argus Properties Ltd.

Hotel Eldorado - An Okanagan Legend

July 13, 2016

Hotel Eldorado

An Okanagan Legend

by Chris McBeath

As Kelowna begins to hum with summer activity, the Hotel

Eldorado will be in the front and centre of the festivities.

Marking its 90th year, the much-loved “El” is honouring its

heritage of aristocracy, love, lakeside tradition, and many

a colourful character.

“The Hotel Eldorado really is one of Kelowna’s most iconic

destinations,” says Sean Coward, General Manager. “From

its inception in 1926 through its halcyon era of the 50s and

60s to today, there are so many stories to share.”


Real Life Folklore

Those stories start with the hotel’s founder, the flamboyant

Countess Bubna. Divorced from her Austro-Hungarian

count, the former actress was a social oddity at a time

when marriages rarely dissolved. Her mother was equally

controversial. As the mistress of the supremely wealthy

Duke of Sutherland, she inherited a sizable fortune upon

his death—monies that provided the financial backing for

by Chris McBeath her daughter to open The Eldorado Arms

Hotel, as it was originally called.



“The hotel quickly became Kelowna’s most sophisticated

and exclusive social club as well as the place to gather, stay,

and get married,” Sean explains. “We really want to rekindle

that folklore, and as 2016 rolls forward, we have planned

a number of activities to celebrate our yesteryear and the

inter-generational nature of the property.”


History with Flair

Earlier this year, the hotel re-introduced its traditional

afternoon tea, launching the summer-long tea events

with a lavish affair involving 100 ladies dressed in period

costume. Plans are also in hand for different aquatic

demonstrations—such as water skiing, rowing, and a host

of regatta activities. Many will be themed to recall the style

and sass of the roaring 20s! Watch for hotel staff decked

out in vintage nautical attire.


“We’re leveraging our heritage and giving it a contemporary,

Okanagan twist, especially in our food and beverage selections,”

Sean enthuses. “These include feature drinks like Pimms, restyled

traditional cocktails, and dining masterpieces like Chateaubriand

for two.” Also look for a lot more animation along the waterfront

boardwalk, 1,000 feet of shoreline that takes guests to and from

the Manteo Resort. Ideas under discussion include an art walk

with buskers, a concert series, and on-the-go food and beverage

concepts such as a gourmet food bike and soft serve ice cream




Investing for Tomorrow

Getting to this point of celebration has been

a long time coming. The El’s refurbishment

began with Jim Nixon and his family in the

1980s, establishing the current lakeshore

location and building on the legacy of those

who came before. Now in the hands of the

next generation of ownership—Ted Callahan

and Argus Properties—the El is ready for an

evolved renaissance.


“The last two years have been a very exciting

time of investment,” Sean notes. “As a 52-room, independent

property, we prioritized expenditures on getting our PMS systems

streamlined for effective room revenue management, OTA

coordination, pre- and post-stay communication, and futureproofing

our ability to stay ahead of our guests’ needs. Now,

armed with timely and valuable guest feedback, we are embarking

on investment into the transformation of our guestrooms and

common areas, implementing changes that will improve the guest

experience even more.”


“We also wanted to support our staff members in their work. Many

of them have been with the property for a decade or more and are as

much a part of the El’s history as our guests.” Sean continues. “We

have invested in our F&B infrastructure—in the kitchen and front of

house. This has cut our service times in half, and by relocating the

liquor store and adding onto our dining terrace, we have increased

our capacity by more than 54 seats. We’ve also made the ambiance

of our lounge and restaurant very luxe and sexy.”


Fulfilling a Vision

Sean obviously thrives on stickhandling change and creativity.

His 20-plus year career includes experience in a cross-section

of hospitality sectors, climbing through the ranks from the

kitchen to front of house to food & beverage director. Working

as management and on projects with Intrawest, Predator Ridge,

various sports facilities, brand restaurants, and ski resorts, Sean is

well prepared to coordinate and lead large teams. Joining the Hotel

Eldorado two years ago as director of operations put him at the

vanguard of the hotel’s refurbishment and now as general manager,

he is intent on fulfilling the vision that was seeded so long ago.


“The Hotel Eldorado has also been about offering a superlative

guest experience and how we have carried that over from one

generation to the next - not just for our guests but for our staff and

our owners too,” describes Sean. “Caring is endemic to everything

we do, and with the vision, support, and investment of our new

ownership, I am confident that we can make the El experience

better than ever for generations to come.”

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