What exactly is heritage tourism? The National Trust for Historic Preservation in the US defines heritage tourism as “travelling to experience the places and activates that authentically represent the stories and people of the past.”
According to the World Tourism Organization, heritage tourism is growing “significantly faster than tourism in general.”
Statistics and definitions aside, those who consider themselves “heritage enthusiasts” may have their own reasons for searching out historically significant locations when travel planning. Perhaps holidayers are seeking vacations that offer culture, history, adventure and opportunities to connect with locals. Trips to heritage destinations – whether it a museum, heritage site or re-enactment, historical house or building help us understand our history and offers a physical link to our past. More often these restored historic sites or buildings contribute to the overall cultural and economic well-being of a community while their preserved character adds a sense of place. Revitalized heritage buildings together with newer developments provide layers of historic texture to a city.
I have compiled a list of Heritage Hotels in B.C. that are worth considering as you plan your next vacation or simply a weekend get-a-way. All the hotels are at least 70 years old and all have been lovingly restored while offering modern conveniences. These are just a few of what I consider “hotels with character”.
1. First stop is downtown Vancouver at The Moda Hotel. This 67 room hotel was formally known as “The Dufferin” or as locals dubbed it “The Duff”. Opened in 1908 and named for a former Governor General of Canada, Lord Dufferin, the Moda now offers hip accommodations in a beautiful heritage building. I love their website – with lots of historical information and photos. http://www.modahotel.ca/
2. Next stop is the 29 room The Royal Hotel, located in downtown Chilliwack, circa 1908. Operating continuously since opening 105 years ago, the Royal was treated to a sensitive restoration in the late 1990’s adding air conditioning, refurbished heritage guest rooms, (some featuring claw-foot tubs and vintage furnishings) and original douglas fir woodwork, while maintaining all the heritage charm. http://www.royalhotelchilliwack.com/index.html
3. The Inn at Spences Bridge (in Spences Bridge) is the oldest on the list, a left-over from the gold rush days of 1860’s British Columbia. The small, quaint hotel offers 12 rooms and spectacular views of the Thompson River and surrounding mountains. The inn is a must stop for train enthusiasts, as both CN and CP trains pass through Spences Bridge. http://www.spencesbridge.ca/
4. Situated in downtown Kamloops, The Plaza Hotel offers 67 boutique-style guest rooms in the lavishly restored 1928 hotel, as well as a restaurant and wedding & meeting space. http://www.theplazahotel.ca/
5. The Wells Hotel, located near the historic gold rush Town of Barkerville, originally opened in 1933 and provides 13 renovated guest rooms complete with an outdoor roof-top hot tub. http://wellshotel.com/
6. In the Kootenay town of Nelson, where arts and culture plays a prominent role you will find The Hume Hotel. Originally sporting a cupola and bay windows, these architectural features were removed during an earlier renovation to the hotel. The Hume was treated to a million dollar renovation in 1980 with all 44 guest rooms and suites updated. http://www.humehotel.com/our-history
Why not consider staying in a place with history – include heritage accommodations in your travel plans. If the walls of these history filled hallways could talk – the stories they would tell!
“A concerted effort to preserve our heritage is a vital link to our cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational, and economic legacies – all of the things that quite literally make us who we are.”
(Quote from Steve Berry – American Author and founder of the organization “History Matters”)