PORT HARDY, B.C. — Kwa’lilas Hotel — formerly the Port Hardy Inn — has opened its doors after a year-long renovation. The first Aboriginal-owned hotel to offer stay-and-play cultural experiences on the North Island celebrated the opening with traditional blessings, dances, songs and food. The Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nation, who fully own and operate the hotel, officially unveiled the transformation that represents a legacy for the community and a unique opportunity to showcase their culture and history through artwork, food and eco-tours experienced by guests.
“This is an emotional day for our community, the realization of a vision we had to proudly share all of who we are and where we come from as a people. Kwa’lilas Hotel is inspired by our traditional Big House, the centre of our community. Our roof features a smoke hole that vents steam as a signal to visitors that they are welcome to stay, rest and rejuvenate, at any time,” says Paddy Walkus, chief of the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nation. “The project has lit a fire of excitement amongst our community as we realize today what is possible when we stay true to our ways and celebrate our origins.”
Through k’awat’si Economic Development Corporation, the economic catalyst of the Nations, the property underwent a complete transformation led by the community-owned k’awat’si Construction company. “It was important for the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nation not only to work on a project that celebrates their history and culture, but also to understand that a project of this magnitude will create a legacy that will be a part of the rejuvenation of the north island — attracting new visitors, businesses and services to the region,” says Conrad Browne, CEO of k’awat’si Economic Development Corporation.
The hotel features 85 guestrooms plus meeting space to accommodate up to 150 people. Ha’me’ (food) Restaurant and Na’xid’ (drink) pub feature Aboriginal-inspired west-coast cuisine. A curated selection of authentic local Aboriginal art can be found throughout the hote,l celebrating local traditions, stories and culture. Hotel guests can also choose to participate in a selection of eco-adventure tours and cultural experiences guided by community members and local experts.