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New Boutique Hotel To Launch “The Keefer Bar” In Chinatown…

A Blade Runner-esque rendering of The Keefer Bar, soon to open in Vancouver's historic Chinatown
A rendering reminiscent of Blade Runner reveals the interior of “The Keefer Bar”, opening soon in historic Chinatown

There have been changes since we first put this page up:

I’ve been doing research for a new Van Mag story this week and it has been keeping me in and around Chinatown. One space that I’ve been really interested in is The Keefer, a completely renovated building at 135 Keefer (the same block as Bao Bei). When Scout first broke the news of its coming back in August it was going to be a boutique hotel. They’ve now changed the concept to include just four boutique luxury short term rental suites – the sort of digs movie stars and big wigs enjoy. The owner, Cam Watt, gave me a tour last night with bar manager Danielle Tatarin (one of my favourite bartenders, lately of DB Bistro). The Keefer Bar is still very much a tangled mess of construction, so much so that it didn’t warrant a photo. What stoked me on the visit instead was the finished penthouse suite, complete with Douglas Coupland tripping the light fantastic on the walls, a glass-bottomed pool ceiling, and just about the nicest rooftop deck I’ve ever seen…

Here’s a gallery of images from the penthouse suite:

  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver
  • The Keefer | Vancouver


From the little known Department of It Was Bound To Happen Sooner Or Later comes The Keefer, a new “Boutique Hotel Residence” currently under construction at 135 Keefer Street in Chinatown. And with the hotel comes a liquor primary lounge with 60 seats and a small kitchen. It will be called “The Keefer Bar”, and we reckon they’ll open at some point before Christmas, maybe as soon as November at the end of January.

It smells a little of The Drake in Toronto, but we’ve only just met…

On the hotel:

| screenshot image from TheKeefer.com

I walked by yesterday and it’s pretty slick. It had better be if they plan on selling rooms for $800 to $2,950 per night! It was originally built for the Vancouver Gas Company in 1910, and just underwent a top-to-bottom reno by Gair Williamson Architects that set Two By Four Developments back $6 million. The newly refurbished structure incorporates original brick, timber beams, and double hung wood-sash windows.

Here’s an excerpt from a press release that will be distributed to the mainstream media soon.

Set against the rich backdrop of Vancouver’s vibrant Chinatown, The Keefer goes beyond everything the sophisticated high roller has come to expect. Creative Director Wendy Williams Watt said if she could characterize the design of this building it would be, “Sean Penn or Chloe Sevigny; sexy, stylish and with attitude”.

With four distinctive lofts residing in a revamped Edwardian building, The Keefer, opening October 2009, is Vancouver’s first small hotel.  Featuring everything from custom Douglas Coupland installations to a glass bottomed pool which doubles as part of the penthouse ceiling, Vancouver’s latest addition to the hotel scene has arrived with a bang.

“Smaller, more specialized hotels are a growing trend”, says The Keefer’s General Manger John Mayne. “Boutique, luxury accommodations have seen lots of success around the world, like The Lowell just off of Madison Avenue in New York, or even The Egerton House in London.  The difference with The Keefer is that it’s edgier and with four lofts our service can be much more focused.”

With private elevators opening directly into each 2400 square foot, full floor loft, the space feels more like a privately owned abode than a room to let. But the experience only begins there. No detail at the Keefer has been overlooked especially when it comes to the visual, cultural and artistic journey guests will encounter.

Nice. Usually when we hear the words “sophisticated roller”, we want to run, but it’ll take more than just a little overzealous PR polish to kill for us what sounds like a super double plus extra good concept. Somewhere else in the press release there’s a reference to Douglas Coupland being the “it” boy, so…yeah…we’re stoked enough to forgive anything.

| screenshot image from TheKeefer.com

The website mentions a rooftop, glass-bottomed pool which will also make up part of the penthouse’s ceiling. There’s also “comprehensive room service”, and that includes food. Word is we will see an upscale-plated, traditional dim sum menu with Karl Gregg from Two Chefs and a Table doing the implementation. I’ve been told that we can probably expect sui mai made with Sloping Hills pork, so that means I’m already half sold (“it” boy be damned).

On the bar:

A cocktail called The Asian Heartthrob from “The Keefer Bar”

The bar is being conceptualised by Battersby Howat, the same aesthetes behind Davie’s best lounge, 1181. That it’ll be a looker is therefore a foregone conclusion, as beauty is a test that those dudes never had to take.

Wind up or wind down at The Keefer Bar. Inspired by its Chinatown heritage, the bar is infamous for its dark, ominous interiors. As the hotel’s street level venue, guests mingle with adventurous locals and graze on Asian street tapas, while well versed bartenders spin classic cocktails using fresh ingredients from local Chinatown markets. The Keefer Bar provides the perfect public space to your private domain.

Take a peek at these renderings of the bar. I see shades of Blade Runner and Pirates of the Caribbean 3 mixed in with messed up memories of Space Lounge. I’m sure its neither nor and just my imagination…





On the People

Left to Right: John Mayne, General Manager | Cam Watt, Owner | Matt Haynes, GM of The Keefer Bar

The following is unedited PR text:

John Mayne | General Manager, The Keefer Hotel

With over 24 years in the hospitality industry, John Mayne knows hotels.

In 1986, with a Hotel Management diploma and a few hospitality gigs under is belt, John moved to Vancouver just in time for the chaos that was Expo ‘86.  Eventually landing at the Four Season, he showed promise and moved up the ranks, from Bellman to Front Office Manager.  John quickly made his mark and became a well respected member of the Four Seasons team which consistently held the coveted 5-diamond rating.

Looking for a challenge, John took a position as Guest Services Manager at the Pan Pacific in 1996 and was an integral part of the management team that helped the Pan regain their own 5-diamond rating.  In 2000, he made the switch to the Wedgewood Hotel as front office manager, furthering his reputation as a leader of “turn around” teams, with an intense focus on service and training that allows hotels to grow into respected, world-class, properties.

John continued to make a name for himself in the industry, taking on several positions with luxury resorts and world-class boutique hotels from around the world.  Stints included Reservations and Revenue Manager at Raffles Resort Canouan Island, Front Office Manager at the Humber Valley Resort in Newfoundland and most recently, Director of Rooms at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa. Over the years, John has gained a special understanding of what it takes to be a leader in the industry.

Cam Watt | Owner, The Keefer Hotel & The Keefer Bar

A Vancouverite through and through, Cam was born and raised in the city that surrounds The Keefer Hotel.

In 1986 Cam, a recent Arts grad from UBC, decided to make the leap into Law School… Three days later he quit – and co founded the Canadian Springs Water Company.  From 1986 to 1996, Cam ran the company, which grew into one of the top, natural spring water providers in Canada.

In 1997, Cam made the switch to real estate development and since then has taken on restoration projects ranging from heritage homes in Vancouver, a strip mall in Calgary to a power center in Langley.

In 2006 he purchased The Keefer with a goal to restore the renowned heritage building into one of Chinatown’s architectural gems.

Matt Haynes | General Manager, The Keefer Bar

It might sound like a line – but Matt Haynes loves bars.

Growing up in rural Newfoundland, Matt was known as the guy who threw great house parties.  Not just any party, mind you.  Matt was the kind of person who would hire security, caterers and bands, charge a cover, and make sure that the hundreds of his “close, personal friends” were all having a good time.  Just don’t mention to his folks that he started doing this at the age of 15.

Working in hospitality is more of a lifestyle than a job for Matt.  By the time he was 19 he’d become one of the top nightclub promoters in St. John’s and was eventually promoted to Head of Promotions and Assistant Manager at Liquid Ice, one of the most prominent bars in town.

Looking for greener pastures, Matt left Newfoundland and headed to Vancouver to pursue his commerce degree all the while continuing to bartend to put himself through school.  Matt soon came to the conclusion that he’s a true barman at heart and jumped head first into the hospitality industry.

A huge fan on the history and generalities of the cocktail culture, Matt understands one of the truly amazing things about a great bar… that by putting people at ease and allowing them to kick back and be themselves, they can truly fall in love with an establishment.

There are 10 comments

  1. Excellent looking renderings for the bar. Another great turn around of much under appreciated building. The hotel really put the word”boutique” to good use.

  2. On a brief sidenote I also wanted to point out that The Keefer Bar is now accepting resumes for bartenders, and servers. Classical cocktail knowledge and a great personality and attitude is an obvious prerequisite. Forward any resumes to [email protected]

  3. I am very excited for this new addition to Chinatown. The Keefer will bring a new vitality to this wonderful neighborhood.

  4. Does any one know what the deal is with the food program? There is no mention in any PR.

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