When it was known as the Pacific Inn, the South Surrey hotel was nicknamed ‘The Pink Palace’ because of it’s unusual bright pink colour scheme.
But the hotel – which had been announced for a $25-million redevelopment as a DoubleTree by Hilton property in 2018 – has since embraced not only its colourful nickname, but also a new identity as a film studio facility.
Known these days as Pink Palace Film Studios, the 150-room hotel’s principal paying guests are B.C.-lensed film and television productions taking advantage of the high-ceiling building and its airplane hangar-sized atrium, plus extensive parking on the five-acre site – and close proximity to the U.S. border.
Notably, for a five-month period late last year and earlier this year, it was the location for a horror web series based on Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic novel The Stand. Set in Las Vegas, the series, starring Whoopi Goldberg and Alexander Skarsgard, debuted Dec. 17 on CBS All Access.
“We’ve also worked with Riverdale, Batwoman and Van Helsing to name just a few,” said general manager and liaison Margarett Lange.
No longer featuring a tropical theme on the inside, she said, the hotel has been repainted in more neutral colours and the former restaurant has been removed to create even more space.
Each subsequent production has done its share of improvements geared to their requirements, she said, and some have been retained.
“If they have built something that meets our standards, then we’ve kept it, and they’ve always been good about cleaning things up for the next production coming in,” Lange said, adding that the building functions as a large sound stage that can accommodate just about any environment a production wants to build there.
In between productions the facility takes advantage of the building’s slightly spooky ambience – and rumoured haunted status – for a series of paranormal and historic tours, particularly an Overnight Paranormal Tour and Ghost Hunt conducted according to COVID-19 health restrictions at Halloween, Lange said.
“Before Covid we were going crazy with film productions, and when that stopped, we started doing the tours – until that stopped because of the new regulations (on gatherings),” she said.
“Fortunately, film has picked up again,” she said. “We have a new production just coming in that we can’t discuss yet.”
The company works closely with Surrey’s Film Office, Lange said, and helps promote local restaurants and businesses to production teams. It also works with community groups, and offers facilities at reduced rates to student productions that might otherwise not be able to afford to get into a studio.
“It’s basically a win-win for everybody,” she said.
She agreed that the hotel’s new uses have been an exercise in creativity and adaptability, especially since plans to redevelop the site, currently on hold because of pandemic-related uncertainty, were always going to be a long-game strategy.
“We closed (the hotel) in October of 2018 and the day after it closed we turned it into a film studio, because we weren’t sure what we were doing at that point.”
Because she was used to working with the film industry through earlier employment with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, she had plenty of contacts on which to build the new business, she said.
“And because I come from a hotel background, that helps us give the film companies the extra service level that makes it more friendly for them,” she added.
“There are so many studios out there, you have to be competitive and this gives us a competitive edge.”
For more information visit pinkpalacefilm.com