Feel like royalty as a guest at one of these grand dames in the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts collection.
Castle in the city in Vancouver
Outside: Holding a prime downtown location, Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is minutes away from some of the city’s biggest attractions including Granville Island, Robson Street shopping, Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver Aquarium, Gastown, Canada Place and Science World. Shoppers are spoilt for choice with high-end brands Tiffany and Louis Vuitton nearby.
Inside: Last year Fairmont Hotel Vancouver unveiled the results of a four-year, $55 million restoration inspired by the hotel’s rich history, including the Heritage Suites on the 14th floor which show a luxe attention to detail to incorporate heirlooms of its storied past with modern amenities and commemorate the Royal visit by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth who were guests at the grand opening in 1939.
Eat: Black gold. Shades of green. Impression of Monet’s water lilies. Elk in the woods. These are not new shades of paint, they are stories on a plate served at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s Notch8 Restaurant. Truly imaginative and utterly delicious seasonal food dictated by nature and served as individual works of art are a lasting memory of Fairmont’s ‘Castle in the City’.
Legend: Some guests love this hotel so much they have never left. Legend has it that the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is ‘enchanted’ by a friendly ghost, the glamorous Lady in Red.
- Pinch the bathroom soaps and lotions. It’s impossible not to when it’s the luxury Le Labo Rose 31 products with your name personally printed on the label.
- Order the sublime coconut chia pudding with organic yoghurt and seasonal berries for breakfast.
- Relax with a signature cocktail at Notch8 while enjoying live jazz entertainment. Requests welcome.
Alpine wonderland in Whistler
Outside: Nestled against the backdrop of Whistler’s iconic Blackcomb Mountain in Upper Village, Fairmont Chateau Whistler appears like a castle in a fairy tale hugged by gardens of colourful tulips, daffodils and spruce and cloaked by snow-topped peaks. In Spring and Summer activities extend to golf, bush walking the lush countryside, bear-watching, ziplining over spruce forest canyons and mountain biking some of the world’s best trails. In Winter it is a ski-in ski-out resort.
Inside: The hotel itself, being five-star, is exemplary, with spacious rooms, dreamy beds with puffy white doonas, premium toiletries, WiFi and views to die for. In winter a valet collects your ski gear at the door and stores it while you enjoy a tipple at the bar or warm yourself by the fire.
Indulge: The delicious Scandinave Spa is the perfect wind-down after a day of activity.
Eat: The Wildflower Restaurant offers a delectable seasonal menu with a focus on regional produce and serves honey harvested from its own rooftop hives as part of the Alpine Breakfast Buffet spread. At dinner, the Tomato Gin Soup is highly recommended; not only is it constructed and flambéed at your table, the flavours captured in a simple bowl of anything but humble tomato soup warm the cockles of your heart. More cafés, bars and shopping options are a short stroll away.
- Join the free Fairmont Gold Club for exclusive extras during your stay. Its benefits cover all Fairmont properties.
- Take Fairmont Canine Ambassador ‘Alta’ for a walk.
- Go bear spotting (from a distance) around the 9th hole of the Whistler golf course, though we weren’t lucky enough to spot one during our stay.
- Catch the regular free shuttle bus to the other village precincts.
- Enjoy a botanical gin and tonic cocktail spiced with charred rosemary and sage at Bar Oso in Whistler Village.
Regal in Victoria
Outside: Commanding breathtaking views of Victoria’s bustling inner harbour (which doubles as an international airport for an endless stream of seaplanes) The Empress, built in 1908, is a National Historic Site in Canada and one of the most stunning properties in the Fairmont family.
Inside: Following a recent $60 million renovation, The Empress is at her regal best, retaining the grandeur that has attracted kings and queens, Hollywood starlets and political heavyweights in its time, but offering modern luxury down to the finest detail. The spacious rooms have upgraded bathrooms, flat screen TVs, charging ports, WiFi, luxury toiletries and comfy king-sized beds spread with crisp linen.
Highlight: High Tea in the Lobby Lounge is an art form, available to visitors as well as in-house guests. The tea selection is exquisitely presented in a timber box with compartments showcasing 21 ethically-sourced tea combinations. Tea is served in bone China that was designed for use by Queen Elizabeth in 1939 accompanied by house-made treats such as shortbread, raisin scones with clotted cream and strawberry lavender jam, and caramel banana cake (rumoured to be Prince Harry’s favourite). It is said Sir Winston Churchill himself bypassed Prohibition Laws by requesting his gin be served in a teapot at The Empress.
Eat: Q at the Empress is the main restaurant, serving delightfully inventive cuisine showcasing local delicacies that may only be in season for a few weeks a year. Don’t be shy in asking the wait staff to explain items on the menu or you might miss out on tasting things as wonderful as fiddleheads (greens), geoduck (very large clam), halibut and steelhead (fish).
- Visit the resident marmot ‘Roger’ who shares his little slice of paradise in The Empress gardens with the hotel’s bee hives.
- Order The Empress 1908 Gin which transforms in colour from indigo to a soft pink with a splash of citrus.
- Munch through bowls of the famous charcoal-spiced popcorn at the Q Bar. One bowl is not enough. Trust me.
- Indulge in the lush Willow Stream Spa facilities for a treatment or enjoy the Finnish style sauna, steam inhalation room and mineral pool.