Retro celeb hotspot to reopen as West End rental suites

Pacific Palisades construction in 1966. Photo credit: Vancouver Public Library

Where did Johnny Depp, Sharon Stone, Katharine Hepburn, Bob Hope and even the mustachioed Tom Selleck all hang out while in Vancouver?


If Vancouver is North Hollywood, then the city’s version of The Roxy during the 1970s and the 1980s was the Pacific Palisades hotel bar in the West End. While many Vancouver landmarks come and go, the modernist Pacific Palisades buildings – two towers between Robson and Alberni on Jervis – will relaunch as rental suites with an open house May 5.

More scoop on the history of Vancouver’s celeb hang out after the jump.

Photo credit: Vancouver Public Library

In Vancouver 2012, we stroll past Robert Redford filming near Occupy Vancouver without batting an eye. Mission Impossible 4 is in town. Tom Cruise just bolted down a flight of stairs and raced across a street, dodging parked cars. No biggie. We’re used to our glamorous film location status.

But back in the 1970s and 1980s, during the golden years of Pacific Palisades party era, filming in Vancouver was just getting off the ground.

“We got all the movie stars staying here but the big thing was Thursdays and Fridays, you couldn’t get into our bar. That was the big feature,” says the Pacific Palisades’ original developer Mel Zajac, who hired architects B.G. Marr & Associates to build Pacific Palisades in 1966.

“The biggest stars (to stay at the hotel) were of course Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn. A funny thing happened. Johnny Depp got into a fight in front of our hotel with one of the fellows from out of the bar and Bob Hope was staying at the hotel. He called me and said. ‘Mel there’s a fight at the hotel. It’s Johnny Depp,’” says Zajac. “The only person who didn’t stay at our place was Frank Sinatra.”

Pacific Palisades exterior in 2012. Photo credit: Pacific Palisades

After the hotel’s heydey PaPa continued to host celebs who valued the size of the suites and the friendliness to celeb pets over the tacky yellow and green colour schemes.

“The rooms weren’t state-of-the-art. They needed some serious updating,” said former Pacific Palisades security guard Sara Greenwood Pipes.

According Pipes, Jack Johnson, The Strokes and The Kings of Leon were also guests.

Many movies and TV shows were filmed on location at the Palisades. Pipes signed a privacy agreement that keeps her from discussing more dirt on human celebs. She does mention, however, that 12 trained penguins were flown in from the West Edmonton Mall to film a movie.

Pacific Palisades was restored and converted into 234 studio and one bedroom rental suites between 2010-2012, keeping the original building’s walls and room layouts intact. New residents may well inhabit celeb guestrooms of yore. They’ll also benefit from amenities that weren’t around for Depp. Think communal creative work spaces and a yoga studio. Find out more here.

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