December 10th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 48
Longtime owners reflect on 20 years running historic Cosmopolitan Hotel
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black Photo
In honour of their longtime patrons, the Sigvaldasons are offering drink specials at the Cosmopolitan Hotel all December.
Pass Herald Reporter
After twenty years of running the historic Cosmopolitan Hotel in Blairmore, its owners are selling their business to two couples, one from Lacombe the other from China, for an undisclosed amount.
Longtime owner Cliff Sigvaldason says running the Cosmopolitan, which at one time incorporated four businesses including a bar, hotel, restaurant and catering service, has been a lot of work.
“It’s time to move on,” says Cliff. “It’s time for somebody new to come in and see what they can do with the hotel. Somebody young and energetic.”
But you don’t work all those year’s in a Crowsnest hotspot without having a few memorable experiences.
“This was quite a few years ago,” says Cliff’s wife and business partner Lynne Sigvaldason. “[But] we used to have the bar, when we first took over. This is where everybody used to come.”
“One time we had a couple in here and they were fighting amongst themselves, husband and wife. The wife decided to make the husband jealous so she started talking to a younger guy. Then the husband left and when he came back, he had a big brown bag.”
“He stood at the door and he says to his wife “you’re going to need these,” and he threw the bag at her and the bag came open. And inside was Fredrick’s of Hollywood underwear. All kinds of underwear.”
Then there was the time one of their bar patrons claimed he was an American federal agent who’d dropped by for a quiet drink.
“One night, it was a Sunday night, we get a call at about 12 or one in the morning,” says Lynne. “Our bartender tells us there’s a young guy in here and he’s an FBI agent and he’s packing.”
“She thought he had a gun and she says, “I don’t know what to do.””
Cliff went down to investigate and the customer did indeed have an FBI badge. Suspicious of its authenticity, Cliff contacted the RCMP who promptly arrested the patron and hustled him out of the hotel. As it turned out, he was not an American federal agent.
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“When the cops did something like that, I always went to the back door in case someone ran into trouble, like if the cops ran into trouble,” says Cliff.
Cliff saw that the police officers had un-cuffed the customer who was trying to explain why he had been posing as a federal agent.
“He told them that no he was not an FBI agent, just that he’d taken a shine to the bartender,” says Cliff. [He thought if he] said that that’s what he was, then she would go out with him.”
The RCMP made the customer apologize to Cliff and to the bartender and then they let him go.
And then there were the exotic dancers.
“We’ve been controversial,” says Lynne.
Years ago, on a handful of days during the week, the Cosmopolitan became an impromptu gentleman’s club that featured dancing girls hired from an agency in Edmonton.
The Sigvaldasons got the idea from an employee who worked as an exotic dancer herself and still had connections in the industry.
The law prohibited them from having dancers in the bar area because of their video lottery terminals but the Sigvaldasons cleverly solved the problem.
“We used to have [the dancers] in the restaurant of all places,” says Lynne. “We’d close down the restaurant in the afternoon and set up a stage and a dancing pole. At the end of the night we’d take down the pole and take down the stage and nobody was the wiser. People would come in for breakfast the next morning and not even realize we had dancers in the restaurant.”
In honour of all the customers who starred in these stories and supported the business over the years, the Cosmopolitan will be offering drink specials of all kinds throughout the month of December.
“Some of our customers who are 18-19 years old, they weren’t even born when we first started here,” said Cliff.
After selling his dairy farm, Cliff moved to the Pass from Manitoba in 1981. He worked at Teck’s Coal Mountain operation for 12 years before buying the Cosmopolitan in 1994.
Lynne is from England and gained experience in the hospitality industry at the Highwood Motel in Blairmore before partnering up with her husband and Mable and John Clarke.
The husband and wife business team say they have enjoyed working together these many years.
“We get along really good. I know it’s hard for a lot of couples to work together. But I think our relationship is stronger because we work together,” says Lynne.
“I let her be the boss,” says Cliff.
After selling their business, the Sigvaldasons say they want to stay in the Pass.
“We’ve often talked about moving after selling the hotel. But now that it’s all becoming a reality, I think we’re going to stay here. It is a beautiful place,” says Lynne.
December 10th ~ Vol. 84 No. 48
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