Crashing the Goat
by Malcolm Yates
Photo by Bianca Peters
“Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose” is an old proverb by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr that you’ve likely heard many times before: the more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s a cute opener, perhaps capturing your attention. And it may even be apt for what follows, if not entirely accurate. The Chieftain Hotel & Pub in downtown Squamish has changed names, signs, looks & feels. But has it changed? I would argue in the affirmative but come see for yourself. Welcome, one and all, to the Crash Hotel and The Goat Pub!
The Urban Sparq Hospitality group is in the business of seeking unique and interesting locations. Once sought, said spot is then rebranded or revitalized in such as way as to A) become a profitable business and B) provide a new and improved connection to the community. For a look at their track record one has only to peak at The Pint Public House in Vancouver (one of five, across Canada) or their first Crash Hotel in Edmonton. Well, they’ve certainly found their “unique & interesting” location in Downtown Squamish, now comes the rebrand.
The Chieftain Hotel has been a landmark here in town since it was built, back 1958. And while The Chieftain’s iconic sign will remain on site to satisfy our need for nostalgia (after a quick trip to the sign clinic, that is, for a rejuvenating neon drip) a new name adorns the front awning of the hotel and a gorgeous carving (that we’ll get to in a bit) welcomes customers into the pub. Why “Crash” though?
Individually themed rooms
Chad Hubbs, the hotel and pub’s general manager, has an answer for me: “As in, I need a place to crash for the night. A crash pad.” Look, they know this hotel isn’t for guests seeking inner peace or total tranquility; the nightclub is in the same building; they hand out earplugs when you check-in for goodness sakes! “We’re looking for that younger crowd, that wants to stay and play and take advantage of all Squamish has to offer. We’re centrally located with a cool, eclectic vibe. We want people to have fun.”
And let me tell you folks, the overhaul on this place absolutely embodies that ethos. Each room is individually themed, from ski and snowboard featured walls to murals painted by local artists running the gamut from graffiti chic to an octo-elephant that conjures up Cthulhu. There’s even an old chairlift (the chair, not the lift) in one of the rooms, so you can practise getting on or riding off in the privacy or your room before hitting the slopes for real! Or you could use it to tie your shoes. There are rooms for two, rooms for four, rooms with bunk beds, essentially any manner of guy or girls night out, bachelor/bachelorette scenario can be taken care of here at Crash and they all look great. But before you even think about getting some shut-eye, let’s go to The Goat.
Photo by Malcolm Yates
To get to the pub first you have to see the sign, which is your basic black, angular affair, save for the exquisitely carved mountain goat head bursting from the crag, drawing you in. Carved by Ryan Cooke of Carver Kings fame, it’s worth a good gander before finding yourself double-fisted with the fun & games inside. We’re talking pinball machines, classic arcade games, pool table, TV’s, all the toys and trappings one could hope for while being served beer. And it’s all cloaked in an outdoor aesthetic: see more skis, more boards, an old Whistler gondola cabin slash new DJ booth, or the ACTUAL Travelaire camper that they skinned and placed alongside a mural of the great outdoors or the ACTUAL Stawamus Chief, visible from the windows while going for the high score! Does The Goat live up to its G.O.A.T. handle? Greatest Of All Time? I dunno, but it’s pretty darned cool.
Classic arcade and pinball machines
So, to address the deep, philosophical question posed in the first paragraph, has this place “plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose?” With apologies to Monsieur Karr, the Crash Hotel and The Goat have flipped the script and created their own sweet spot, adding a breath of fresh air to a community that breathes in nothing but freshies all day long! Merci beaucoup.
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