Longtime residents of Ladysmith remember a time where the Traveller’s Hotel boasted the best bar in town — although some of those memories may be a bit hazy.
The Traveller’s has been closed for years, but now the Roethe family from North Vancouver are hard at work to open the Traveller’s up to the public once again.
“It’s a family project, we’re all working on it together. We like Ladysmith… we like this building. Not a lot was happening with it. A lot of people had taken a crack at it and for lots of different reasons it didn’t come together,” Michael Roethe said. “We put our offer in and our interest — low and behold we got it — and then we had to start work.”
Michael Roethe has a background in hotels and hotel management which led him to take on the project. This will be his biggest project so far.
The ground floor of the Traveller’s will be a restaurant and bar with hotel reception. Upstairs will be a “boutique hotel” with approximately 20 rooms. Roethe said the hotel’s central location will give tourists the opportunity to take in Ladysmith, and activities in the area.
Hazmat abatement work has been completed, including the removal of asbestos. On the inside, the only remaining pieces are ornate radiators and the building’s bones. Roethe said that heritage aspects of the building, including the front facade will remain intact.
“We’ve worked really hard to come up with a design that’s within the Town’s design guidelines. We don’t want to make a drastically different modern building, we want something that looks like it belongs here. The hotel’s been here for a long time, it was a fixture here in the community, and we hope to be that again,” Roethe said.
Although maintaining the building’s heritage is a key aspect for the Roethes, there will be significant changes to bring the building in line with B.C. building code standards. Those changes will include seismic upgrades, fire suppression, emergency exits, wheelchair access, and an elevator. New windows will also be installed to open up the front of the building.
Now that abatement work and rezoning has been completed for the building, the next stage is building permits. The Roethes are consulting different designers to come up with concepts before their application. Roethe anticipates the project will break ground by summer 2020. He estimates construction will then take at least a year.
Roethe is keenly aware of concerns around parking in the downtown core. He said they have made a contribution of close to $30,000 to the Town’s municipal parking fund. Roethe also said that the hotel will not take any parking on 1st avenue.
A bulk of the construction work will take place in the back parking lot of the Traveller’s. There will be some work on the front of the building, but Roethe said the disruption will be minimal.
“We’re not going to block any of the roads or bother anybody like that,” Roethe said. “There will be a little bit of noise, but I think the benefits far outweigh the negatives. When the hotel is finally done people will have a nice community business running next to them — somewhere they can go and enjoy.”