History comes alive at 'El'

One of Kelowna's oldest hotels is celebrating its storied history.

The Hotel Eldorado is an iconic fixture in Kelowna. Affectionately referred to as The El, the popular hotel and watering hole was first built in 1926 and has a deep history in Okanagan lore.

The El is the second oldest hotel in Kelowna, second only to the Royal Anne and was the inspiration for the book "The Spirit of the El," commissioned by owner Ted Callahan.

"It's really about the spirit of the El and the spirit of the Okanagan. It's enjoying what the Okanagan is. It's the food, it's the wine, it's the companionship," said Callahan.

Kelowna resident and BC Sports Hall of Fame inductee George Athans Jr. was on hand Friday to share stories and memories of growing up beside the iconic landmark.
Callahan, who also owns Manteo and Eldorado Marina signed copies of his book, and Athans, who grew up nearby and spent many years on Okanagan Lake, contributed a set of water skis for the Eldorado Marina boathouse.

Born and raised in a cottage overlooking the lake, Athans grew up amidst an unmatched natural playground perfect for a young, sports-minded family.

“If you wanted to be involved in sports, what better place than a lake in front of you, five ski hills within 40 minutes drive, and other athletic facilities,” summed up George. “All you had to do was apply yourself.”

As a teen, Athans served notice as a young athlete to watch, winning 10 consecutive national waterskiing titles from 1965 to 1974, the first at age 13. He participated in his first world championship in 1967, and won the world water ski championship in 1971 and 1973.

The Spirit of the El is available on sale at the Hotel Eldorado.

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