Spectacular views, attentive service, and even free bikes are your’s at the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver, BC.
Next time you’re Vancouver, British Columbia, that shining international city by the sea surrounded by snow-dusted mountains, try staying at the Fairmont Waterfront, a luxury property with the perfect location for visitors.
The Fairmont Waterfront is one of four Fairmont properties in Vancouver. Each has its own personality and, of course, all have same high standards this iconic hotelier maintains in locations around the world. The Fairmont Waterfront is one of two on-the-water Fairmont Hotels in this city (the other, the Fairmont Pacific Rim, is just a block away.) It’s situated right across from Canada Place, the massive building where the cruise ship passengers embark/disembark on the many ships that dock here. It fronts Coal Harbor, a working port busy with tugboats, barges, pleasure craft, float planes, and helicopters buzzing about.
The first impression of the Fairmont Waterfront is one of luxury and service. The massive lobby with plenty of marble and glass invites. While there was a line of eight or so waiting at check-in, I stepped into the President’s Club queue and was immediately greeted warmly and assisted by the reception staff. (Membership in Fairmont’s President’s Club is free and offers perks like faster service at reception and free high-speed, in-room WIFI.)
I opted for Gold, a level of personalized service and amenities that’s well worth the price difference. The gold level rooms are located on the 9th floor. My room, a king, was generously-sized and featured a huge window overlooking Canada Place, the water, the orange industrial skeleton of the shipyards, and the heli-port. It was fun to watch the helicopters take off and land like so many busy bees. There was even a smaller operable window that I could open to allow in the cool breezes.
The room was decorated in a modernist style, in cool white and shades of grey with black accents and attractive geometric patterned carpets. The bed, big and super comfortable, was piled high with over-sized pillows and a duvet that was mercifully cool. There was also a huge flat-screen TV, writing desk, and plenty of drawers for clothing as well as an overstuffed chair and ottoman and lamp for reading. I only wish they’d have switched the location of the bed/reading chair and the TV consul so that I could sit in bed or in the reading chair and gaze at the water views. As it was, my view from the bed and/or chair was the room’s walls!
The room also featured a good-sized safe (something I always appreciate when I travel), and fluffy robes and slippers. The bathroom, tiled in grey marble, had a big glass shower with rain head and shower wand. The bath was stocked with large soft towels and Rose 31 toiletries. Housekeeping on this floor is twice daily and includes turn-down service and newspapers delivered to your room on request.
The best part of the Gold Level service is the Gold Lounge, an area with comfortable tables, chairs, and small couches where a complimentary breakfast of dishes like eggs, sausage/bacon, yogurt, etc. are served. There’s also a serve-your-self espresso machine as well as teas and an honor bar. In the afternoon, they serve appetizers like cheeses and dips, pickled vegetables, cured meats, and smoked salmon. After 7 pm, there’s a selection of desserts.
Gold level guests often enjoy their drinks and snacks on the lounge deck that overlooks the water and the amazing golf-course-like eco-roof of the Vancouver Convention Center. All around are glass-fronted high-rises and, at this level, there are always refreshing breezes no matter how warm the weather. I enjoyed breakfast on the deck with a few other guests, a hungry seagull, and grand views as my companions.
The other advantage Gold level guests enjoy is that you can use the lounge desk like a reception or concierge desk. Instead of waiting in line downstairs, you can order everything from theater tickets to a complimentary bicycle or even check out here.
When I visited the Fairmont Waterfront in May, the weather was so gorgeous I couldn’t resist reserving one of the hotel’s free bikes. The three-speed bicycles come with front basket and helmets and are a great way to see this beautiful city. Vancouver has made a concerted effort to encourage bicycling with broad bicycle paths separated from car traffic and pedestrians crisscrossing the city.
The Fairmont Waterfront is right on the water, which also means it’s right on the seawall bike/walking path that skirts Coal Harbor and leads to Stanley Park, the city’s huge urban park. The ride is relatively flat, a good thing for this relatively out-of-shape woman who hadn’t been on a bike in years. But, as they say, you never forget how to ride a bike, and before long, I was happily peddling along the park’s shady pathways. In fact, the ride was so pleasant, I rode for two hours (bikes are free for three).
Biking isn’t the only way to get some exercise at the Fairmont Waterfront. All guests have access to the hotel’s third floor outdoor pool and gym. The gym features the latest cardio machines (treadmills, bikes, ellipticals) as well as free weights. I utilized a treadmill that came with individual TV that made my 30-minutes workout pass quickly.
While I didn’t dine at the Fairmont Waterfront (except in the Gold Lounge), guests can eat at Herons West Coast Kitchen + Bar. The Executive Chef, Dana Hauser, and her culinary team embrace fresh, local and sustainable ingredients. They grow herbs and vegetables in a 2,100 square foot rooftop garden and honey from our on-site honeybee colony. I did sample some incredible “bites” from Chef Hauser and, Next time I visit the Fairmont Waterfront, I’m making a point to enjoy their food too. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor