The Buzz starts out this week in Kaslo.
The folks who saved the Kaslo Hotel from serious dilapidation back in the early 2000s, John and Susan Eckland, have sold the 126-year-old landmark.
Jason Remple and Kerry Luckey, owner/operators of Stellar Heli Skiing, have taken over as of the start of the year.
This is a great tale from the not-so-little village up the lake, which is booming with new residents and heaps of real estate acquisition.
Back in the 90s, Remple started his admirable career in the adventure tourism industry elbows deep in Selkirk Snowcat Skiing’s dish pit. Meadow Creekers and snowcat icons Al and Brenda Drury took the young Kaslovian under their wings and within a few years Remple was lead guide and operations manager.
But in 2005 Remple and Luckey, also a born-and-raised Kaslo denizen, struck out on their own and opened a truly boutique heli-ski business in the Purcell and Selkirk peaks above the family home.
“We’ve come a long way since we were literally working off my tailgate the first few years,” Remple laughs. With three kids in tow, Luckey wrote marketing materials, made all the guest and staff lunches, took bookings and kept an ear on the patrol and pilot radios, while Remple turned and learned the details of Stellar’s 425-square-kilometre tenure (the smallest of any B.C. heli operation.)
The pair met a couple former mogul racing aces from Sweden who jumped in as investors at a critical chapter in Stellar’s story — Stephan Engstrom, who launched the Peak Performance outdoor garment line, and his buddy Bjorn Algkvist.
Having done business with the Ecklands and the hotel for years, Remple says the purchase of the Kaslo Hotel just made sense.
“We had a great working relationship with em. One of our slogans is ‘where comfort meets adventure,’ and I think that’s where Kaslo is headed,” Remple says, noting the increasing numbers of motorcycle tourers, mountain bikers, anglers, paddlers and skiers coming to the north end of the lake to holiday.
Remple has brought on former Kaslo Golf Course manager James Danby as the hotel’s GM and longtime Stellar and Kaslo Hotel employee Leslie French joins on as assistant GM. Aaron Armstrong, formerly with the Hume Hotel and previously executive chef of the Penticton Lakeside Resort and Conference Centre, is the hotel’s new head chef.
Here’s a mindful consideration for business owners and managers looking to invest in their staff’s well being. And their own too. Kaila Kaufmann and her team at Bambu Yoga — which celebrates its 10th anniversary in September — are offering corporate-wellness passes for you and your employees. Cool idea.
Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism needs to fill nine of the board’s 12 directors seats. The NKL AGM is Wednesday, June 22, at the Balfour Golf Course. Check out NKL’s new Kootenay Lake Road Trip app and its new Mural Tour app too, with voices from Kootenay Co-op Radio.
Speaking of KCR, the station held the largest event in its 23-year history Saturday when over 500 people took part in the station’s membership drive block party at Lions Park, with help from the Nelson Lions Club, Louis Fortier Design, Kootenay Co-op grocery store, Popov Leather, The Blindman, Inland Allcare, Thor’s Pizza, Oso Negro, Simply Siam, Holy Crêpes, and Gina’s Gelato.
With fuel prices and inflation headed for the skies, the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce can save your business some bucks.
If you’re a Chamber member — that’s only $15 a month — you get access to the best small business benefits package in Canada, which reduce spends on must-haves like health and dental benefits, fuel, insurance, training, e-commerce upgrades, expansion planning and advice on an array of professional services (think: online marketing and ad-buying, hiring, payment processing, ROI analysis, payroll and human resources management, personal and operational data security, wireless and cloud services, anti-bacterial/microbial cleaning and environmental sustainability programs. A tonne of stuff!)
What’s more worth considering: with wages rising, and labour in huge demand, the Chamber’s benefits package is a great plus when its comes to hiring and retaining valuable co-workers and staff. Plus, the package is administered locally through Glen Sutherland and partner Lucas Hart at Sutherland and Associates Financial Services. Click on discovernelson.com/membership.
After losing the business in a major commercial fire on Victoria Street a couple summers ago, Nelson’s spectacular culinary scene has regained Busaba Thai Cafe, now cookin’ at the corner of Baker and Kootenay. The business was rescued by new owners — Thai sisters Nid and Bell Padermchok and their respective husbands, Boom and Paul. With Boom and Paul having worked for Thai restaurants in Vancouver’s Kits and Commercial Drive neighbourhoods for many years, they were all ready to make a move.
“So we decided to open an authentic Thai street food venue, with the food we grew up with,” says Nid. “Then, we got news from our friend that the previous owner of Busaba wanted to sell the business. We thought it was a good opportunity, so we came to Nelson to see the space and we fell in love with the town.”
The restaurant fit the family’s concept perfectly. The patio should be open this weekend.
Some big-time local names in story telling and the chronicling of historical record have helped Kootenay Mountain Culture land a terrific partnership with the Columbia Basin Trust. The magazine has launched a new podcast, called Headwaters: Stories From The Source.
The first three episodes look at the region’s Doukhobor culture, manufacturing innovators throughout the basin and unique ways to save endangered species.
Other compelling podcasts of local note: Imagine Kootenay’s You Can Do That Here, with economic development ace Andrew Zwicker, who has documented a remarkable 125 business innovators from throughout the region. Also, Al Woodman’s Sound Of The Kootenays, featuring musicians of the region, and The Avalanche Hour, based out of Oregon and featuring local snow safety expert Dom Baker, who most recently featured the work of veteran outdoor educator Graeme Marshall and the ATLAS Program at L.V. Rogers.
Nick Smirnow and his downtown alt-economy fixture Still Eagle are still soaring after 30 years.
Back before words like organic, fair trade, recycled, and eco-everything were adopted by main stream advertisers for socially conscious and/or craftily spun marketeer-talk, Smirnow was walking the walk as a trailblazing activist, philanthropist and entrepreneur.
He opened Still Eagle in 1991 as a small alternative environmental storefront. It was one of Canada’s first hemp stores, selling hemp twine to high-quality eco clothing made from alternative fibres, fair trade baskets, ethical yoga wear, natural body products, hemp hats, organic socks, fair trade jewellery, and informative books. They now support ethical, fair trade suppliers from Canada and around the world including Efforts Hemp Wear, The Hempest body products, Marseilles Remedy Thieves Oil and Baba Baskets.