Québec City’s only Relais & Châteaux property, the Auberge Saint-Antoine, occupies a prime spot in the Lower Town, which is often much quieter than the upper tier. Made up of three historical buildings, the hotel incorporates its history in its design, and the modern lobby and rooms feature artifacts uncovered on the site. The combination of contemporary architecture and historical treasures (including glazed pitchers and rusted keys) with homey touches like roaring fires and plush throws indicate the kind of obsessive care that has gone into the project. The Price family, who owns the hotel, has been influential in the city’s political and industrial life for more than six generations, and their pride in its history infuses the guests’ experiences.
The 95 rooms are done in a simple, contemporary style, and boast modern extras like Nespresso coffee makers, complimentary Wi-Fi, deep soaking tubs and heated floors in the bathrooms. The best are those with terraces, which are some of the most desirable accommodations in the city during the summer months. The historical suites come with kitchenettes and a more formal décor, while the regular suites feature the same design as the rest of the rooms. In addition to the wonderful on-site restaurants, Panache and Café Artefact, there is a gym, spa, meeting rooms and theater, which when not occupied for a conference, can be used by guests for a movie night.
Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge
In the heart of the Pacific Northwest, Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge is a tented camp offering a unique wilderness experience and unforgettable service.
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Walk into the spacious lobby with its majestic vaulted ceiling and you can see why the Chateau Whistler was once the luxury destination in Whistler. It feels like an elegant lodge out of a 1960s James Bond film set in the European Alps (even if it only dates to 1989). Head back to the Mallard Bar and you’ll see posh visitors and relaxed locals sipping cocktails and sampling appetizers by the fire. Step out onto the Mallard Terrace and order yourself a hot chocolate – or hot buttered rum – and take in the view of Blackcomb Mountain as you warm up by one of the blazing fire pits.
Located at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, the Chateau is in a prime ski-in/ski-out location. The Upper Village has just enough restaurants and shops to take care of any last-minute needs, but none of the bustle of the main Whistler Village. If you do want to get to Whistler Village, a scenic walk through the forest will get you there in no time. Besides the Mallard Bar, the Fairmont has three other restaurants, high-end clothing stores and an art gallery.
The only downside to the Fairmont is that its guestrooms are in need of a facelift (the dowdy décor is a bit worn.) Until that happens, the Four Seasons will hold onto the title of most luxurious Whistler resort.
As much a city icon as it is a hotel, the Fairmont Empress has been one of the most famous hotels in Victoria since opening in 1908. Over the years, the property, which is a National Historic Site of Canada, has played host to kings, queens and movie stars, including Queen Elizabeth II in 1939 and Rudyard Kipling, who was a regular visitor. The property is Victoria’s grand dame—a towering, turreted creation with Edwardian-inspired interiors and spectacular views of the city’s Inner Harbor.
While the grandeur of the property is unmistakable, the hotel’s 477 rooms today lack the polish they once had. Purchased by new owners in 2014, the Empress will undergo renovations in the coming years, but for now, the accommodations are dated and a bit tired (dull drapery and worn-in furnishings). The rest of the hotel, however, transports guests to an older, more sophisticated time. A steady stream of guests arrives for afternoon tea in the hotel’s famously ornate, pink confection of a tearoom. Those who aren’t in the mood for Darjeeling and towers of scones can escape to the serene pools and soothing treatments at the hotel’s Willow Stream Spa. The two-hour Island Senses body treatment (a sea-salt body scrub, pine hydrotherapy bath, mud wrap and lavender oil massage) is divine.
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
The Frontenac has long been Québec City’s iconic grand hotel, and few castles or forts are as large as the structure, which contains copper towers, turrets, terraces and more than 600 guest rooms. There’s an elegant entrance complete with liveried doorman standing sentinel out front. The vast lobby, with its coffered ceiling, can get so busy at check-in time that velvet ropes mark off lines for guests to wait. The hotel, which opened in the late 19th century, was clearly modeled on Europe’s grandest properties. Today, it hosts more meetings and conventions than diplomats and dandies.
After a much-needed renovation in 2014, the grand dame features rooms that are quite nice, and for those who want to be located in Upper Town, the Frontenac is the only luxurious option. All of the rooms are different in minor ways because of the building’s eccentric architecture, so a junior suite may have a slanted roof or a circular area in a turret. Of course, the most requested rooms are those with views of the river, but even some of the interior rooms overlook gardens or attractive angles of the building’s fantastical architecture.
Indagare Tip: The Fairmont Gold rooms on the 14th floor do not have direct river views, but the rooms are larger and come with access to a club lounge with its own concierge and snacks served throughout the day. It manages to make the massive hotel feel a bit more intimate.
Anyone whose idea of a blissful hotel stay is ruined by the sight of people streaming off of tour buses. The property was built to handle crowds—and it does.
Fairmont Pacific Rim
Of the three worthy Fairmont hotels in Vancouver, the Fairmont Pacific Rim is the show-stopper. Fairmont’s newest property opened in 2010 in a high-rise tower (the top floors are luxury residences) across from the new Canada Place Convention Centre with its “green” living roof and just a few steps from the Canada Place cruise ship terminal, making it incredibly convenient if you’re taking an Alaska cruise. The Pacific Rim is far more luxurious than the nearby Fairmont Waterfront and eschews the traditional ambience of the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver downtown. It’s as up-to-date as a hotel can be, with all the amenities you could possibly want, including an outdoor pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and a spa. It has a sleek, glamorous quality but the staff couldn’t be friendlier or more helpful.
The glam-factor hits you when you enter the dramatic, marble-clad lobby with its huge windows and long, low, central fireplace surrounded by invitingly comfortable sofas and chairs. A bar-lounge and the new Raw Bar, serving fabulously fresh sushi and sashimi, anchors one end of the lobby. The lounge becomes a happening scene on summer nights and weekends, with live local bands and performers. Giovane Café and Wine Bar, the hotel’s Italian-inspired cafe/bakery/deli, is a quiet, casual spot for breakfast, lunch, coffee and pastries and has a wonderful gourmet-food market.
The rooms at the Fairmont Pacific Rim are large, airy (though you can’t open the windows) and beautifully designed, with superbly crafted finishes of marble and American walnut, floor-to-ceiling windows, desks with built-in outlets and iPads, great beds, and evening turn-down service. For a special experience, book one of the suites with a freestanding Japanese-style soaking tub that looks out over Burrard Inlet and the North Shore mountains, or one of the suites with a balcony and outdoor fireplace. You can upgrade to the Fairmont Gold level, a hotel within the hotel, with complimentary breakfast and afternoon hors ‘d oeuvres served in a special 20th floor lounge with its own staff.
On the sixth floor there is a large outdoor pool and bar-cabana. The Fairmont’s signature Willow Stream Spa offers a complete menu of pampering treatments, and the health club has every kind of equipment you could want.
Fogo Island Inn
For a 29-room hotel on a small, hard-to-reach island off Newfoundland, Fogo Island Inn packs a wallop.
Four Seasons Hotel Toronto
For some, the words "Four Seasons flagship" may conjure images of old-world hotel splendor—a palatial lobby with a sparkling scene. But the Toronto-based company wanted to make a more subtle, sophisticated statement with its 21st-century Yorkville home. Arriving guests access reception via an understated foyer that might easily belong to a high-end residential building if not for telltale floral arrangements. Suspended above the front desk, a large-scale porcelain and wood dandelion mobile sets the tone for the hotel's contemporary Canadiana-inspired design motifs, its seed head wisps casting whimsical shadows as they appear to float away on the wind.
Guest rooms feel fresh and light in cream, grey and pearl with delicate botanical flourishes and wall art that quietly evokes Canada's great woodland wilderness. A typical vignette might include a simple line drawing of pine boughs, a laser-cut leaf rendering and a tiny gold-foil printed moose or fox. Even the veined granite in the bathrooms seems to resemble wood grain in its striations. Fittingly, many of the rooms have views over Yorkville's treetops (about ten minutes from the downtown core, the landscaped, retail-rife neighborhood—formerly an independent village—is right for those who prefer a little bit of distance from the commotion of the city center).
Breakfast and dinner are served at the hotel’s glam, Pop art-accented outpost of Café Boulud, helmed by renowned Chef Daniel Boulud and designed by the first lady of Four Seasons, Ms. Rosalie Sharp. Downstairs, the breezier street-level dbar serves lunch, dinner, and happy hour bites to a buoyant crowd. The 30,000-square-foot spa—also a hit with the neighbors—is the largest in the brand, offering drop-in yoga and Pilates classes, a hair and nail bar, a bromine-treated pool and a sun terrace.
Four Seasons Whistler Blackcomb
Considered one of the top resorts in Canada, the Four Seasons has almost everything you’d want in a ski hotel.
Hotel Le Germain Dominion
In the heart of the Lower Town (and blissfully away from the crowds), Le Germain Dominion is a wonderful boutique option for couples or those with older children. The contemporary lobby manages to be cozy thanks to sleek black fireplaces that blaze during the winter months, plush black-and-white couches and a number of nooks and crannies perfect for cuddling up with a good book.
While modern in design, the property has a lengthy history. The current structure is the union of two buildings: the first skyscraper in Québec City (at nine floors tall) and the former stock exchange. Design elements like bank vault doors and old photography speak to the buildings’ previous uses.
Of the 60 rooms, very few are alike. In order to preserve the historical integrity of the building, the hotel was unable to standardize the rooms in the way that most modern hotels do. Because of this, specific room requests are hard to guarantee—one can only put in a request for a room overlooking the St. Lawrence river, or for one of the five rooms that feature an industrial-chic exposed brick wall. And while there are no connecting rooms for families, a rollaway can be added upon request.
Throughout, the accommodations are very comfortable. Featuring contemporary décor that cannot be found elsewhere in the city, all the rooms abide by a black-and-white color scheme, complete with graphic headboards printed with the building’s imposing façade. Modern touches include Molton Brown toiletries, black-marble bathrooms, Nespresso machines and complimentary wireless internet.
While there is no restaurant on property, the hotel offers round-the-clock room service and serves a light breakfast in the lobby. During the summer, guests can lounge and enjoy cocktails on the terrace adjacent to the lobby. There is a small but capable gym on property, and in-room massage services are available upon request.
Hotel William Gray
Long Beach Lodge Resort
While the Wickaninnish Inn and Sooke Harbour House are geared more toward adults, Vancouver Island’s Long Beach Lodge is the perfect family destination. The resort, with its cedar-shingled exterior and stone chimney, is set on Cox Bay, a wide sweep of white sand opening onto some of the area’s most consistent surfing waves. And unsurprisingly, the resort is all about getting out and exploring the nearby wilderness during a rotation of activities including paddle boarding, hiking, sea kayaking, fishing and nature tours.
The 41-room property’s premiere accommodations are the ground-floor rooms, which allow guests to step right onto the sand. The main building boasts an enormous great room with a stone fireplace, Persian rugs, oversized chairs and sofas covered in nubby chenilles, books and board games, and 270-degree views of the Pacific.
Nimmo Bay Resort
Tucked on the shores of a secluded bay off the coast of British Columbia, Nimmo Bay is an intimate wilderness lodge that has been family run for more than three decades. While some guests come for such outdoor adventures as hiking in the Great Bear Rainforest, kayaking through the Broughton archipelago, or cruising around in a boat to observe the abundant wildlife, the lodge’s real specialty is its highly regarded heli-fishing program. Guests can opt to have a dedicated helicopter pilot for anything from a full day to an entire stay, at a cost starting at 2500 CAD per person per day, to take them to a different fishing spot each day.
For those doing a helicopter program, the day begins as you lift off the resort’s helipad with your dedicated pilot guide and head towards the horizon. You might start by flying over misted spruce tops and the inland passages of the mainland coast as you head towards a remote, salmon-filled glacial river. Then it’s a morning of fishing or exploring until lunch, which may be on a coastal stream or atop a 10,000-year-old glacier. The advantage of the helicopter is in the amount of ground you can cover and the variety of experience this opens up. You might choose to spend a morning on a pristine, white sandy beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island, soaking your feet in the Pacific Ocean, and then head up to mountain summit in the afternoon to admire the view from 7,000 feet atop a diamond-blue glacier.
Nimmo has just nine cabins. It’s worth splurging for the Oceanfront cabins, which are gorgeous and spacious, with hardwood floors and a bedroom and seating area with a double-story wall of plate glass windows overlooking the water and mountains. Outside, a private terrace has two rocking chairs for taking in the view. The beautifully appointed bathroom has a big soaking tub and shower. Upstairs is a second loft bedroom. Set near a waterfall, the Riverside cabins are built with families in mind and have a shared living room area, but the views and layouts are not as memorable.
Food is served in the main lodge. There isn’t a menu to choose from; the chef simply prepares meals, keeping in mind any preferences you have stated prior to arrival. The food is creative, hearty and delicious, focusing on fresh local ingredients with an Asian twist. Amenities at the lodge include two hot tubs, a yoga studio with excellent daily classes, and a fully-stocked gear room with everything you might need for your adventures: waders, hiking boots, water shoes, serious foul weather gear, rain pants and light raincoats. You can also have a massage outside.
In many ways, Nimmo feels more like a visit with friends than a stay at a hotel. Every detail reflects the passion of its owners, the Murray family, who have devoted three decades to building it bit by bit from a humble cabin to a five-star lodge. They are all still very involved, and you may well be treated to Craig Murray playing guitar by the campfire in the evening, or his son Fraser taking you out to scout for wildlife in a boat. This gives the place a real authenticity. While certain parts of the experience are luxurious and others are quite rustic, overall it is a peaceful, soulful and beautiful escape.
Nimmo is best suited to guests who are looking for an intimate hideaway to use as a launch pad to explore the surrounding wilderness. The resort itself is quite small, with a casual living room and dining room, a dock (to sit around the campfire after dinner) and a handful of cabins, so would not be a good fit for someone looking for a big, full-service resort.
Nita Lake Lodge
If you want to stay in a hip, happening, luxury boutique hotel, try the Opus. It’s the only hotel in Yaletown, the trendiest urban area for shopping, nightlife, and dining. The Canada Line subway from the airport stops directly across the street from the hotel, the False Creek waterfront with water-taxi service to Granville Island is just two blocks away, and all the main sights in Vancouver are within walking distance.
The lobby and adjacent lounge look like a retro-moderne stage set, with sheer hanging fabrics, dramatic lighting and contemporary furniture in bold colors. The rooms, all freshly redone, are available in five different layouts, each with its own colors and style (the glowing room colors are eye candy if you’re tired of tepid hotel interiors). The furnishings are stylish and comfortable. Bathrooms are fitted with high-design sinks, soaker tubs or roomy showers (or both), with L’Occitaine toiletries.
The Opus offers some good urban amenities, such as iPads in every room (you can take it with you around the city), free bikes (a real plus in bike-friendly Vancouver), and pet-friendly rooms.
The cool Opus Bar serves an international tapas menu and on weekends becomes one of Yaletown’s see-and-be-seen scenes. (Be forewarned: This area of Yaletown is “club central”, and can be noisy until the wee hours, so book a Courtyard Room if you don’t want to be disturbed.) Opus’s top-notch restaurant, Elixir serves modern French bistro food.
Pan Pacific Mountainside
The Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside is the most centrally-located hotel in town. Walk out your front door and you can choose between gondolas to Blackcomb Mountain and Whistler Mountain, or you can stroll to the best shops and restaurants, all from two to ten minutes away. In fact, in the same building you’ll find ski rentals, ski shops and the Dubh Linn Gate Pub, an excellent après ski destination.
From the heated outdoor pool or hot tubs above Skier’s Plaza you can gaze onto Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Guestrooms come with kitchens and in-room fireplaces, although some rooms are very cozy quarters and the décor is a bit utilitarian.
Pan Pacific Village Centre
The Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre is not a ski-in/ski-out option but is, as the name suggests, very centrally located. You can walk to shops, a movie theatre, two grocery stores and several bars and restaurants in no time.
Rooms come with kitchens and fireplaces, but they are more luxurious and spacious than at their Mountainside counterpart. You’ll also find an outdoor pool and hot tub here. If you want to rush out early to catch some fresh powder, a complementary continental breakfast is available downstairs. Also, you can keep your skis at the Pan Pacific Mountainside location. However, note that each room only gets one ski locker, so if you are a big family you may need to check your skis with the valet.
Rent a Condo
Rosewood Hotel Georgia
For decades, the Hotel Georgia was one of Vancouver’s prime downtown hotels, attracting the likes of Elvis Presley, Katherine Hepburn, and Nat “King” Cole. Then it closed and sat like a forgotten star waiting for a comeback. That happened when the developers of a new luxury condominium tower next door decided to restore the lovely old hotel to its former glory—with the addition of all the modern amenities and technology that guests look for today. The new Rosewood Hotel Georgia re-opened in 2011 and is back on the charts as one of Vancouver’s top hotels.
The ornate lobby, with its Italian marble floors and walls of mahogany, shows off the original fixtures and finishes from the 1920s, when the hotel first opened. During the $120 million restoration, the hotel doubled the size of the rooms and suites and installed luxuriously large bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, walk-in showers with four shower heads, double vanities and heated floors. The furnishings throughout are comfortable, contemporary takes on the Art Deco style that was the hotel’s hallmark. Works from one of British Columbia’s largest collections of Canadian art hang in the rooms and public spaces. Presley fans can rent the suite where the King stayed on his visit to Vancouver, and there are four special penthouse suites with large outdoor patios overlooking the city.
Reflections, the hotel’s rooftop patio lounge, is a popular spot for cocktails and tapas. You’ll also find a state-of-the-art fitness center; a large, indoor, saltwater pool; and a signature Rosewood spa. Hawksworth, the new, award-winning restaurant by Chef David Hawksworth, adjoins the hotel and can be entered through the hotel lobby.
Shangri-La Hotel Toronto
Given that the Shangri-La's heated porte-cochère is located on Simcoe Street, it's conceivable—especially during the months of January and February—that a guest might check out of the hotel without ever having used its pedestrian entrance on University Avenue. But this less trafficked approach, home to one of the most significant public art installations in Canada, is worth braving the elements for. Zhang Huan's 24-ton, stainless steel Rising, which resembles a tangle of branches besieged by a flock of fluttering doves, was two years in the making. While some of its "peace pigeons" ascend the hotel's facade, others appear to have actually "flown" inside, where they can be seen hovering overhead or perched atop the lobby's centerpiece double-sided fireplace. As Huan explained at its unveiling, Rising is an expression of his wish for "beautiful city life to be shared by mankind and nature."
Eastern equilibrium and grace prevail throughout the hotel's Lobby Lounge (as the soaring, luminous central atrium is known), its contemporary grey furnishings accented by purple orchid blooms and statement Chinese calligraphy paintings with lush black brush strokes. At teatime even the tabletops, clad in tiered platters and hand-painted china, and servers, who wear chinoiserie-printed qipao dresses by Asian-Canadian designer Sunny Fong, are complicit in the spell.
But busy city travelers can't live on aesthetics alone; they need convenience, efficiency and access, all of which the Shangri-La delivers in spades. Intuitively designed, tech-intelligent guestrooms with pre-programmed iPads and bedside control panels mean you can schedule tomorrow's room-service breakfast, request a wake-up call, draw the black-out shades and turn out the overheads—all from under the covers. Once your day is underway, whether your agenda is corporate or cultural, the hotel's address at the intersection of the financial and entertainment districts promises minimal schlepping. Opera, ballet, and of course, TIFF, are all within a few blocks' walk, and Soho House Toronto, a favorite rendezvous of the city's creative and media cognoscenti, is within a few steps.
Between the refined, ingredient-driven fare at Bosk and David Chang's three-story, three-restaurant Momofuku satellite next door, those who prefer not to venture out could have nearly a week's worth of pilgrimage-worthy dinners on-property, not to mention live jazz every night. The Lobby Lounge's entertainment calendar, as popular as its afternoon tea, has sparked an animated local scene (be prepared to wait for a table). Peace and quiet can be found on the fifth floor, in one of the curtained cabanas surrounding the sky and candlelit pool, or at the destination hammam-style Caudalie spa, where massages conclude with a mint tea and baklava ritual. Guests traveling to Toronto for work will find the business-pleasure dichotomy quickly becomes muddled. Even a day full of meetings can begin with a private sun salutation in the yoga studio and end with a detoxifying scrub in the hammam.
Caring hospitality being a touchstone of the Shangri-La brand, the service here is as polished as the glossy new high-rise itself. Occasionally, it is downright exuberant. Upon spotting our party outside the airport, our driver leapt out of the car and bounded—joyfully—across the parking lot to greet us. After a morning's journey, not even the state-of-the-art infrared sauna could have revived me as much as his heartfelt welcome.
Sooke Harbour House
An hour’s drive southwest of Victoria, Sooke Harbour House is home to one of Canada’s most acclaimed restaurants. The property is a rambling white-clapboard inn set on a wind-whipped promontory facing the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The inn’s owners, Sinclair and Fredérique Philip, are known as pioneers of terroir cuisine (the idea that a food’s flavor comes from its soil and climate), and have transformed their backyard into nearly two acres of herbs, vegetables and edible flowers. A six- or seven-course culinary adventure unfolds each night in the inn’s candlelit dining room.
Each of the inn’s 28 guest rooms is different; most are spacious suites with slightly improvised—but entirely charming—décor: cotton slipcovered sofas, kilim rugs, fireplaces and antique chests piled with books. This is the sort of place where nothing is too perfect, but everything is exactly right for the setting. The atmosphere and seclusion conspire to let you do absolutely nothing—or at most, to pour a glass of port from the decanter the Philips have conveniently left on your bureau, strike a match to the kindling and curl up.
The Ritz-Carlton Montreal
Since opening in 1912, the Ritz-Carlton Montreal has been a beacon for sophisticated travelers and international dignitaries, hosting the likes of Winston Churchill and Richard Nixon, as well as being the venue of choice for Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s wedding ceremony. The first hotel in the world to bear the name Ritz-Carlton, Montreal’s palazzo-style hotel was the site of the inaugural transcontinental phone call in 1916. Despite its lengthy history, the Ritz is not timeworn; a $200 million renovation (finished in 2012) completely modernized the hotel, while preserving the historical integrity of the building.
For sophisticated travelers, the Ritz-Carlton is the most luxurious property in Montreal, offering a level of service and accommodation that cannot be found elsewhere in the city. With 91 rooms and 31 suites, there are ample room types for families, couples or friends traveling together, and even the most basic rooms are plush and sleek. All accommodations boast high-tech bathrooms equipped with TV’s, rainfall showers and heated floors and counters as well as deep-soaking tubs. The higher category suites are corner rooms with great views, and some feature the marble fireplaces that remain from the original 1912 hotel. The Royal Suite is the largest in the city, at 4,7000-square-feet.
Every aspect of the hotel is state-of-the-art, from the saltwater swimming pool, heated with recycled waste energy from the kitchen, to the spacious gym with the latest exercise technology. The onsite restaurant, Maison Boulud, comes from legendary chef Daniel Boulud, and features multiple nooks including a greenhouse, patio and formal dining room. The Sunday brunch is a highlight. For Champagne connoisseurs, the Dom Pérignon Bar is the only one in the country.
If you’re looking for a small, romantic, sophisticated hotel with spacious rooms, a fine restaurant, a full-service spa, and a central downtown location, you can’t do any better than the Wedgewood. Independently owned by Greek-born Eleni Skalbania, whose elegant personal touch is evident throughout, the Wedgewood is the only Vancouver member of the Relais & Chateaux group.
The Wedgewood is located on busy Hornby, directly across from the B.C. Law Courts and close to trendy Robson, but it does not broadcast its presence to the street. It’s discreet, discerning and low-key, with blue, French-style awnings. Enter the lobby and you enter a world that looks like a charming European inn with flowers, antiques and an understated elegance. This is the magic of good taste and camouflage, for the hotel occupies a 14-story building dating from the 1960s.The lobby opens onto Bacchus, the hotel’s cocooning, wood-paneled lounge and restaurant serving Modern French cuisine. With windows that open onto Hornby Street, elegant décor and live piano music in the evenings, Bacchus has long been a favorite spot for quiet cocktails and dinner.
The rooms at the Wedgewood are spacious and have private balconies (the best views are those facing the Vancouver Art Gallery and Law Court). Furnishings and antiques are of the highest quality, and the marble-clad bathrooms with deep soaker tubs and separate walk-in Roman showers are simply the best.
For something even more spacious and special, book one of the four penthouses with large garden terraces and fireplaces.
The award-winning Wedgewood also features a small but well-equipped health club and a spa that features Epicuren skin care products.
Westin Bayshore Resort & Marina
This is Vancouver’s only resort hotel with its own marina, and the views from all but a handful of its rooms are mesmerizing. The Bayshore overlooks Coal Harbour and Stanley Park on one side, and Burrard Inlet and the city on the other. The hotel is occupies two buildings, the original low-rise from 1961 and a newer tower, with a giant pool, restaurant, and conference center between them.
The enormous glass-walled and marble-paved lobby is an airy wow, and the furnishings and décor throughout provide an upscale resort ambience, but don’t expect any individualist surprises in this enormous resort/convention hotel. All the rooms received a makeover in 2009 with comfortable, casual, contemporary West Coast furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows that open wide to views of Stanley Park, Burrard Inlet, or the city skyline. For a little more room and a better view, book a Deluxe Tower Room with a balcony. The bathrooms in both buildings are nicely finished but fairly small, with tub/shower combinations (one or the other in the Deluxe Tower rooms). All in all, you’ll find the professionalism, service and quality that you’d expect to find in a high-end Westin property.
A good fitness center and a Vida spa is part of the complex, and the huge outdoor pool makes the hotel a fave with families.
Perched on the rocky shoreline of Tofino’s Pacific coast lies the Wickaninnish Inn, one of the first properties to reside on Vancouver Island, it opened in 1996, and also one of its most luxurious. The 75 rooms and suites are handsome but understated, with down comforters, gas fireplaces, soaking tubs, floor-to-ceiling picture windows and balconies overlooking the crashing waves and craggy shoreline. Most importantly, each room boasts sweeping ocean views and a his-and-hers set of Helly Hansen rain gear, should guests forget any essentials.
At the inn’s Relais & Châteaux restaurant, The Pointe, guests can dine on local oysters while browsing the 27-page wine list in a dining room cantilevered above the coast. Those looking to indulge further can visit the pampering Ancient Cedars Spa, where guests lazily unwind after days spent gallivanting around the surrounding wilderness. Because after all, that is how a stay at the Wickaninnish should be spent; exploring the pristine region on land and by sea. Activities on offer include hiking, bear- and whale-watching, fishing, paddle boarding, surfing and bird-watching (each room is stocked with a pair of binoculars). A nearby aquarium makes a great half-day trip for those traveling with children.