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Old Jul 11, 10, 6:34 pm
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Asheville, NC
Programs: Virtuoso, FSPP, STARS, MO FAN Club, PEN Club, Bellini Club, Dorchester Diamond Club, Travel Leaders
Posts: 1,851
Vancouver hotel site inspection report

I've been asked several times recently about recommendations for Vancouver, BC, so I'm going to post this site inspection report that I wrote during a recent visit in June. I spent two nights at FS Vancouver, three nights at FS Whistler (not covered in this report), and two nights at Shangri-La Vancouver - and visited a number of other properties as well.

Four Seasons Vancouver. Originally built in 1976, the Four Seasons Vancouver is located atop the Pacific Center, an underground shopping center with more than 100 shops. It’s convenient to downtown Vancouver, shopping on Robson Street, and a reasonable walk to the waterfront and Gastown. The hotel’s rooms recently received a complete renovation.

I stayed in a Deluxe City View room (there are no water view rooms at this property). Deluxe rooms are the same size as Superior rooms but are found on higher floors and offer a better view of the city. How are the rooms? They are a great value for the price, especially with the Preferred Partner amenities — Full Breakfast for two daily (the breakfast buffet is remarkable), one complimentary lunch for two, and upgrade if available — and Experience More “free night” rates currently available. The marble bathrooms are not up to Four Seasons’ usual standards, offering only a single vanity, shower-in-tub, and toilet, all in one small space.

For families traveling to Vancouver, the Four Seasons Executive Suite is a good option, essentially the size of two Deluxe Rooms. Though called an Executive Suite, this is really a full 1 BR Suite with pocket doors separating the MBR from a living room that offers a pull-out sofa bed and a second full bath.

The 1 BR Suite is the size of three Deluxe Rooms, offering a MBR along with a very large living room. This is the only room category in the hotel offering a step-in shower in the master bathroom.

While this Four Seasons is not a WOW, it's an excellent value for the money.

Shangri La Vancouver. This is the place to stay in Vancouver. Opened just one year ago, the hotel has 119 rooms with an “Asian elegant” style. Market may be the best hotel restaurant in Canada, and the Chi spa is gorgeous. The room category of choice here is an Executive King with Balcony, very spacious at 550 square feet. The bedroom has a discrete sitting area with sofa and chair, a large walk-in closet, and a great bathroom. Shangri-La offers free internet, a real plus. Mine was an Executive Corner Balcony room — worth asking for, as it offers a great view out of the wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-ceiling window that runs the full length of the room.

This is one property where you should turn down an upgrade. Executive Balcony rooms are much preferable to the Executive Suites whose 550 square feet are divided by a wall into a small 275 sq. ft. bedroom next to an adjacent 275 sq. ft. living room. If you must have physical separation, it's an option, but otherwise, the Executive Room is better than the suite.

The Loden opened in late 2008. This is a boutique hotel with 77 rooms set on a residential street. Signature rooms would be fine for a business traveler, although workable for two guests. A 1 BR Suite with a living room off the MBR feels considerably more spacious and is the recommended room category here. The Loden is apparently becoming Virtuoso.

Fairmont Vancouver is the only downtown hotel with classic architecture. A large hotel, the 556 guest rooms are a small 350 square feet, and their “long and narrow” shape makes them feel even smaller. Bathrooms are small and cramped; 50% are available with walk-in shower, so be sure to request this when making reservations. Courtyard Suites consist of a narrow bedroom that runs parallel to a narrow living room. I would not recommend this property for most guests.

Fairmont Waterfront is next door to the Pan Pacific right by the harbor. We were shown a Fairmont Gold Harborside room - a small 350 square foot room with a small bathroom (single vanity, shower-in-tub). The hotel does features a very nice outdoor rooftop pool and nice views.

Fairmont Pacific Rim is a brand new property that opened for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. It has 377 rooms and offers a more contemporary feel. Great bathrooms with an up-to-date design - separate tub and shower, separate space for the WC, even a television in the mirror. The Fairmont Gold Corner Suite has a well-dimensioned MBR, separate living room, and two full bathrooms. Not [yet] a member of Virtuoso.

[Note: if you're staying at a Fairmont, join the Fairmont President's Club, if only for the free internet that members get!]

Pan Pacific is no longer Virtuoso. It has 504 rooms with a great location by the cruise docks. Some rooms offer great views of the harbor and the mountains beyond. The hotel offers five, large suites — Royal, Coral, Opal, Jade, and Pacific Room. We saw the Jade Suite, featuring a large living room whose curved windowed wall offers a panoramic view of the harbor. Strangely, this spacious suite still has the tiny bathrooms I saw at so many hotels in Vancouver. Club rooms on the top two floors of the hotel provide guests with access to a beautiful Club Lounge with killer views.
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