Vancouver Getaway: Trains & Tikis part 2

March 3, 2011


Besides escaping winter for a while, my raison d’etre for this trip was to stay at the newly renovated Waldorf Hotel. I’ve been there a couple of times before for Tiki events (in 2005 and 2007) but stayed elsewhere.

The Tiki Bar

A little history: The Waldorf was built in 1947 and in 1955 owner Bob Mills added on a tropical-themed bar (The Tahitian Cocktail Lounge) with a restaurant in the basement (The Hawaiian Room), and banquet room (The Menehune Room). The bar was meant to showcase some black velvet Edgar Leeteg paintings Mills had bought on vacation in Honolulu. In 1970 Mills sold the hotel to the Waldorf’s cook, Frank Puharich. His family still owns it.

Leeteg nudes in the Tiki Bar

While many classic Tiki establishments of the period have fallen to the wrecking ball over the years, or have been updated out of existence, the three tropical rooms of the Waldorf Hotel have survived almost intact. But by the 1990s the spaces were only used sporadically, for special events and an occasional film shoot.

Apparently the hotel was almost sold to a liquor store chain, but the owner couldn’t bring himself to do it. Instead it was leased to musician Thomas Anselmi (Slow, Copyright), restaurateur Ernesto Gomez (Nuba), and designer Scott Cohen, who spent three months renovating and restoring it, and turning it into “a creative hub in the heart of East Vancouver where contemporary art, music, food and culture convene under one roof.” Lofty!

Sunny days

I’ve been looking forward to staying there since they reopened on Hallowe’en last year. I was especially anticipating hanging out in the Tiki Bar every night and trying the two restaurants – The Leeteg Room (with a contemporary Spanish menu) and Nuba (Lebanese).

Unfortunately, after I booked my room, the hotel informed me that a big-budget Hollywood movie would be shooting there that week and that most of the amenities I was going there to enjoy would be closed for much of my stay! Aargh!

Entrance to the Tiki Bar under wraps for filming

Equipment tent

Craft services (i.e. food) tent

So what’s the big Hollywood movie that was causing all this distruption to my winter getaway?

The latest Alvin and The Chipmunks sequel: “Chip-wrecked”. In 3D! The plot:

On vacation aboard a luxury cruise ship, Alvin, Simon, Theodore and the Chipettes are up to their usual antics, turning the ship into their personal playground, until they become ‘chipwrecked’ on a desert island. As Dave Seville frantically searches for his AWOL charges, the ‘Munks and Chipettes do what they do best – sing, dance and wreak havoc. But they’re in for a surprise when they embark on an island adventure with their new friend – a castaway who’s more than a match for Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Look for it in theatres at Christmas. For a brief moment I thought it might be cool to run into Amy Poehler on set until I read the cast list more carefully and realized she was doing a voice.

More Waldorf to come.

This excellent article goes into a lot more detail about the history of the Waldorf and Edgar Leeteg.


One Response to “Vancouver Getaway: Trains & Tikis part 2”

  1. Jenny Says:

    I’m so happy to hear this place has been revived – I remember driving by there a few times in the late ’90s/early 2000s and thinking it must be pretty dang cool inside (I think the bar was never open or maybe one time they were having a private event and I just peeked in …)

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