The inside of the Royal Hotel in Fernie is looking very different after being gutted to allow its renovation into a boutique hotel. Pictured is the ground floor in August 2021 looking east . (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

The inside of the Royal Hotel in Fernie is looking very different after being gutted to allow its renovation into a boutique hotel. Pictured is the ground floor in August 2021 looking east . (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Grand plans for the Royal: Work continues on Fernie’s heritage-listed history

The Royal Hotel will be renovated into a boutique hotel which will (hopefully) open in 2022

The Royal Hotel in Fernie is looking a little different, both inside and out, with the historical building (almost) completely gutted to make way for plans for a boutique hotel.

The project, which has a completion date on December 2022, is owned by four businessmen that wanted to help restore the old building.

“There are all these great old buildings that used to hotels, so we thought why not bring them back to their old glory, but at the same time create an experience that caters to the skiers and snowboarders in winter, and the mountain bikers and anglers and other visitors to Fernie in the summer,” said one of the owners, Andrew Cockburn.

With the work being put into it (it’s currently being cleared of drywall, old flooring and notably- windows), the Royal will be reborn with around two dozen hotel rooms and three or four suites, along with an open-plan ground floor lobby, lounge and bar, but what’s on the roof twill make it extra special according to Cockburn.

“What we’re doing on the roof is we’re adding an extension – three incredible suites with 360 views, which will all be amazing, and then we’re going to have an open patio bar where you can sip your drink while looking at 360 views of the valley,” he said.

Having a hotel downtown would also be a great opportunity for visitors to explore downtown businesses rather than stay on the hill or the edge of town.

Speaking of the hill, Cockburn said that the hotel would have dedicated space for storing and working on gear like mountain bikes, fishing gear, skis and snowboards as a way to ensure visitors had peace of mind.

Cockburn also said they were taking steps to ensure the history of the building, with the owners having recently been granted a Heritage Alteration Permit by the city of Fernie to add some items to the building as they bring it up to modern code.

“It’s something that’s very important to everyone on the team. The history is what attracted us to this project – the character of the whole downtown and the heritage buildings.

“We hired a heritage consultant who did a full heritage audit and report which was part of our package to the city to ensure we were following the heritage guidelines (both provincial and federal) to ensure we are preserving the character, look and feel -and with the design, we are not changing the outside in any way shape or form,” he said.

The owners have also engaged with professional masons to help with repairing the brick facade and interior of the building, and how to preserve and incorporate the river-rock foundations in the basement.

Around the back of the building, the Royal also hosts a prominent mural that Cockburn said they had no plans to destroy.

“We love the mural, and know its very important to Fernie. We will preserve it in some way shape or form (but) we haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet.”

Finally, the trains. The Royal Hotel is less than 100 m from a level crossing that sees considerable freight train traffic that travels fast enough to require the sounding of whistles.

“One of the things we’re going to do is – because its boutique hotel and people want to sleep at night – hiring a sound acoustics professional – there are some mitigation you can do, such as triple pane glass and certain installation you can use to really attempt to improve it.

“You’re never going to sound proof it … but we’re going to try to dampen it.”

The Royal Hotel is currently being boarded up for work to continue inside as they head towards their goal of December 2022 completion.

“We know thats very ambitious, but we’re working quite diligently on getting our building permit application ready for submission sometime in September. If we can get approvals on that, its really getting construction going.”

The Heritage Alteration Permit issued last week allows the owners to add an extra level to the building, construct an elevator and stairwell tower, and make exterior form and character changes to the existing building.

READ MORE: City grants Heritage Alteration Permit to Royal Hotel



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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