It is an iconic fixture in Kelowna. The El Dorado hotel is Popular with both locals and tourists from all over the world. First built in 1926, the El, as it’s affectionately known, has a deep history in the Okanagan.
But now after being owned by the Nixon family for a quarter of a century, the hotel is being sold.
It’s a decision the family admits wasn’t easy.
“When we weighed all our options at this time, in my parent’s stage of life and where we are all at in our personal careers, it felt there was a new chapter that needed to be written about the El,” says director of food and beverage Kyle Nixon.
Kyle Nixon and his siblings were young children when their father bought the El in the late 1980’s and moved it from its original site further down the lake to the current location at the end of Cook Road. Shortly after, the El was destroyed by a suspicious fire but the family rebuilt a near replica of the old hotel.
“My first memories are sitting on lake here and seeing my dad and a big barge coming in. It is pretty neat for my dad to have the vision that he had and people thought he was off his rocker when he told them his idea. I get a lot of personal pride in that and in what he has created and what my family has continued in this hotel,: says Nixon.
Nixon says even though the hotel was never up for sale, over the years his family has received many offers from interested buyers. But no proposition ever resonated until local businessman Ted Callahan came along.
“Other people come to the plate and have said things like you should put up condos and be bigger and I think what Ted said is we could do that and be like other hotels but there is only one hotel like the El so why change it. That was the romantic line that resonated with me,” says Nixon.
Callahan is the President and CEO of Argus properties, a locally based property and development company. Raised in Kelowna, the new owner says he too has an attachment to the historic hotel.
“Well the torch has been passed but the El is the El. I have a great respect for the history of El. As a young child I swam at the El, we played at the El”}
Callahan says he has no plans to change the El, just to carry on the legacy being left by the Nixon family.
“No all staff will be remaining. We are not planning on any changes to staff and no material change to buildings at all. We are certainly looking forward to promoting it as the gem it is,” says Callahan.
Callahan already owns the 4 Points by Sheraton Hotel by Kelowna International Airport. He’s also hoping to get approval from city council to build a 26 storey hotel at the corner of Manhattan and Sunset Drive in the downtown’s north end.