Back to top

Savoy Hotel project nears completion as new facets prepare to come online

The outside still needs a little work, but the inside of the Savoy Hotel is looking like a Million Dollars plus. — The Nelson Daily photos

The past is melding with the present in the Savoy Hotel to offer the downtown of Nelson a new, multi-faceted, high-technology jewel that is now close to completion.

The Shambhala Music Festival-owned Savoy Hotel has been progressing well into its second year, with a nightclub and restaurant already open, and a micro-brewery, café and outdoor patio to follow suit shortly this spring.

It’s a metamorphosis for the venerable building that previously housed several businesses including a restaurant, nightclub, pub and hostel before it burned over eight years ago.

There has been significant investment in the building to renovate it and utilize much of the existing envelope — including the brick walls and stone foundation — when it might have been easier to knock it down and rebuild, but co-owner of the hotel and the festival, Jimmy Bundschuh, said it was necessary.

“The building has a great deal of history in Nelson, especially for those of us at the Shambhala Music Festival,” he said.

When the festival first started out, they were involved with the various venue owners in the building, organizing shows and events over the years at the various incarnations of the club that has now become Bloom Nightclub, the building’s first stage.

“You can tell peoples’ age in this town by the name of that nightclub when they were going out. Be it Kip’s, Avalon or Fluid, many people in the Kootenays have special memories there,” Bundschuh said, which is why they kept the bones of the building intact.

The idea for buying the building had been in the works for some time, he said, but right after it was first purchased the initial vision has been to keep its long-serving elements intact: comfortable accommodations with a topnotch restaurant and unique spaces for dancing and events.

“The largest visible change is that we’ve switched the lounge and the restaurant spaces on the main floor,” said Bundschuh. “The night club layout is very similar to historic arrangements, same with the hotel floor. We are modernizing everything and upgrading the building's condition back to new.”

There are several businesses and features that the Savoy now incorporates, including The Falls Music Lounge, a place to go out for a “delicious meal and finely-tuned cocktails, while taking in quality live music and socializing with friends and meeting other like-minded folks in the community,” Bundschuh said.

The Falls also features a micro-brewery, which will be up and running shortly with beverages brewed on site.

Bloom Nightclub has been open since last summer, featuring arguably the number one sound system in the area.

“It's a great place to go dancing or take in a variety of shows, like comedy or burlesque,” Bundschuh said.

When the vision is completed, the entire building will contain several more businesses, including the soon-to-open Farm Fresh Café, a place to grab a fresh, quick drink (or coffee or smoothie) plus “swiftly-served” meals to eat in or take out.

As well, around 60 people will be accommodated on the soon-to-be constructed seasonal outdoor patio outside of the Savoy Hotel on Falls Street, which the Savoy received city council approval for recently. The patio will be three times larger than anything currently existing in Nelson.

The Savoy Hotel will also be a boutique hotel for those looking to enjoy a lively holiday, Bundschuh explained.

Even when the hotel is complete, the name, the Savoy Hotel, will remain.

“Yes, we are keeping the name, with the aim of respecting and honouring the history that comes with the building,” Bundschuh explained.

And the Savoy Hotel will respect and honour the community, in both economic, traditional and social aspects.

“I am hoping this property will compliment this town well. We are constantly trying to add new options for people that love good food, drink and live music,” said Bundschuh.

The Savoy is also creating jobs for many people in the community, from those working in the kitchen, to front-of-house staff like servers and bartenders, as well as musicians and DJs, not to mention those that have been working on the renovations.

Where it all began

Shambhala Music Festival is an annual electronic music festival held during the first week of August at the Salmo River Ranch, a 500-acre cattle ranch, in the West Kootenay mountains.

The festival lasts three days and two nights and offers a mix of music and art in nature.

The festival began in 1998 and has grown to become the largest and one of the longest running electronic music events in Canada.

Since the beginning, it has been a family-run event and has never accepted any corporate sponsorship.

In the summer months, the ranch becomes home to volunteers and event staff who contribute to repairing and adding onto the many permanent structures on site.

It has six uniquely themed stages, including: The Pagoda; The Living Room, AMP (AMPhitheater); The Fractal Forest, The Village, The Grove; and Nebula.

In 2011 and 2012 Shambhala won Best Large Event at The International Breakspoll Awards.