Written by Lin Stranberg
Photos Alfonso Arnold
All wardrobe courtesy of Nordstrom Vancouver | Stylist: Sarah D’Arcey
Now in its 10th year, the Homebuilders Association Vancouver (HAVAN) Ovation Awards highlights the top projects built, renovated, designed and marketed in Metro Vancouver.
And the annual Ovation Awards Gala, coming up on May 4, is the biggest night of the year to celebrate the people behind the projects — BC’s leading builders, renovators, designers and architects.
Once again, this year’s Awards Nominee soirée emcee is Bianca Solterbeck, a beautiful, hardworking and savvy TV personality, who creates viewer entertainment around fabulous homes. She’s known for her work on Shaw’s Leo Award-nominated Dream Homes, a show that introduced audiences to the crème de la crème of West Coast real estate, from country estates to waterfront condos and even a float home. Now, together with Peter Verge, her former Dream Homes co-host, she is co-hosting Luxury Hunters on DIRECTV, the top satellite TV service in the US.
“Luxury Hunters takes a fun, lighthearted look at luxury, with a focus on design,” says Bianca, who was a driving force in the show’s development. “And
we try to make it as experiential for the audience as we can.”
Bianca and Peter take turns giving the audience a tour of the home, typically in the double-digit million dollar category, and then viewers tweet their preference to determine the favourite. “It’s not your typical renovate-and-reveal show, and we really wanted to break away from the standard three-judges format.”
It may sound like a cushy job, but it’s challenging to find homeowners who are willing to open their doors to a TV crew and expose their homes to a vast
viewing audience. The homes tneed to be different from each other and have a distinct “wow factor” all their own.
“There isn’t just one luxury lifestyle,” Bianca said. “As I move toward Season 2, I’ve been increasingly focused on the green luxury ‘wow factor’ – features lik e rainwater irrigation, a Tesla power panel – or high technology features like keyless fingerprint entry.”
Luxury Hunters was shot entirely in 4K HDR (High Dynamic Range), a cutting-edge technology requiring sophisticated new camera equipment, colour work and other newly developed skills. Bianca learned this specialized new technology on her feet as she put together a crew, led the production team and acted as co-host. She devoted three months of 14-hour days running the show and did what it took to get it right. Besides all the technical challenges, there was an ongoing creative urgency to keep hitting the right note, a fine balance between information and humour. Bianca is a roll-up-your-sleeves kind of woman, who basically ran the show. “The buck stopped with me,” she says, “and I’m proud of the final result.”
She adds: “I’m also tremendously proud to be emceeing the Ovations Awards Gala for the second year in a row. In this fast and furious industry, it’s so important to take a step back and celebrate the designers, builders and architects who set the trends with their dedication to excellence. My dad is a builder and I learned from a young age to appreciate quality in construction and design. My shows celebrate fine homes and great design, and the Gala gives me a chance to meet the people who create these beautiful homes. I’m grateful the industry has welcomed me as their emcee, because it gives me a chance to celebrate them as well.”