The Explorers Society Hotel brings boutique trend to Revelstoke

Historic McKinnon Building remodeled into nine-room boutique hotel that blends contemporary design with historic themes.

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Explorers Society Hotel owners Rebekah and Stephen Jenkins. Photo: Eliisa Tennant

12 minutes and 720 seconds. That’s how long it took Rebekah and Stephen Jenkins to make one of the biggest decisions of their life. While drinking a beer one evening they received a call from their real estate agent that the primary offer on a building they held a back up offer on fell through. 12 minutes was sufficient time for them to fall in love with Revelstoke’s historic McKinnon Building.

The historic McKinnon Block building at 111 First Street West in downtown Revelstoke’s heritage district has been extensively remodeled into The Explorers Society Hotel, which opened in 2017. Photo: Eliisa Tennant/Revelstoke Mountaineer

To some it might seem impulsive for an American couple from Seattle, Washington to walk into an old building, spend a few short minutes inside to dream up possibilities, create a vision for a boutique hotel and restaurant then purchase it on the spot. But for a couple who has been invested in the idea of making a life here since 2007, it was really about time to take the next step.

In 2007 Revelstoke started down the path to becoming a resort community with the opening of Revelstoke Mountain Resort. This sleepy little mountain town popped up on the international radar and caught Stephen Jenkins’ attention. He came to Revelstoke looking for the start-up skiing experience that had eluded him in the States. Initially he stayed in various hotels, but after falling in love with the community he and Rebekah decided to build a home in Arrow Heights.

Inside a suite. Photo: Eliisa Tennant/Revelstoke Mountaineer

The couple had remodeled homes in Seattle but never built from the ground up. It was this build that gave them the taste for design and architecture. Creating this home from scratch then opening its doors as a rental to other ski and snowboard enthusiasts set the wheels in motion for vision behind The Explorers Society and adjoining restaurant Quartermaster Eatery. “It was meant to be a haven for us, but also a place that skiers and boarders could share. We started to get this really nice payback from it … these people that walk into your home they are all from cool places, they have cool stories they’re all here for a reason and they would stay at our home.”

Inside one of the renovated heritage rooms. If you’re looking for a new, authentic boutique hotel experience, we recommend The Explorers Society Hotel. The rooms vary significantly, but they share characteristics with this room: a reclaimed heritage brick building with lots of modern aesthetic, exposed raw materials like wood, concrete and brick, tied together with many contemporary twists based on the design vision of owner Rebekah Jenkins. Photo: Eliisa Tennant/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Opening their home and hosting people from all walks of life, but driven by the same passion, paved the way for Revelstoke’s newest boutique hotel. The nine beautifully appointed rooms play to the Jenkins’ desire to deliver a unique and intimate experience for their guests — expanding on their initial enjoyment of having people stay in their rental and welcoming people into this stunningly remodeled building. Rebekah did have some design mentoring from Brian Paquette of Brian Paquette Interiors in Seattle, but the building showcases Rebekah’s impeccable taste. Highlights include the contrast between softly white-washed wood and concrete walls, the elegant tin roof panels, the boldly tiled floor, and the industrial chandelier. These features are all individually unique but together compliment each other in an exquisitely modern way, while still paying tribute to the buildings rich history. It’s obvious that Stephen is both proud of the building remodel and with his wife’s vision and execution of the project. “Rebekah did all of this — the colour of the cushions, the finish on the table, what we did with the lighting, the three colours of green on the chairs — it’s all her. Rebekah comes from a very creative family. Their family is a combination of artists and engineers. She has both the analytical power and the creative power to pull off a massive project like this.”

A bathroom at The Explorers Society Hotel. Photo: Eliisa Tennant/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Walking through the boutique hotel, located in the heart of the city on First Street just off Mackenzie Avenue, with Stephen is walking through 3D art. And while the finishes and final remodel are staggering what is most impressive is the devotion the Jenkins’ have to The Explorers Society and to our community. Whether it be through employing local staff, referring their guests to other locally owned businesses, committing to excellence by making the addition of Revelstoke culinary guru Olivier Dutil St-Pierre to the Quartermaster Eatery or by hosting community events in their event space, the Jenkins’ have completely committed themselves to embracing the city of Revelstoke as their forever home.  “For the traveller we are creating a memory — that’s what you take away from a trip. Guests are walking into the lobby after a day of heliskiing and saying “this is the best day of my life” and we get to share that with them and that’s powerful. For the community we are a destination. I want the community to hang out here — this is not just a tourist place. This is a community place; a place for you to celebrate your birthday or host your wedding.”

Inside a room at The Explorers Society Hotel. Photo: Eliisa Tennant/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Love for the community brought the Jenkins to Revelstoke, love has made them invest themselves wholeheartedly into the success of The Explorers Society and Quartermaster Eatery and love for creating an experience for locals and tourists within this mountain paradise is what is going to make their business a fixture in downtown Revelstoke for many years to come.

There is a lot to explore for a small hotel: a rooftop patio next to a reception room, a rooftop hot tub, a hall, a restaurant and when we visited, the final touches were being made on a spirits tasting room located in the old boiler room. Photo: Eliisa Tennant/Revelstoke Mountaineer

This article first appeared in the April/May issue of the print Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. Learn more about what’s happening in Revelstoke today at www.revelstokemountaineer.com.

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Eliisa Tennant
Born with adventure in her heart and raised in Revelstoke, Eliisa Tennant spends most of her time soaking up mountain life. Whether it's being on top of the world on a snowmobile or paddleboarding on Lake Revelstoke, Eliisa has a true passion for the outdoors. She is happiest when found behind the lens exploring or writing about her experiences. Contact Eliisa at eliisa@revelstokemountaineer.com.