Practically along the waterfront, the 377-room Fairmont Pacific Rim offers a true sense of place in a vibrant city that’s both urban and outdoorsy. Families will appreciate the suite configurations (many with two bathrooms!) and the proximity to attractions such as Stanley Park, the Gastown neighborhood, Granville Island and more.
From the lobby to the rooms to the spa, this five-year-old property (built in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics) feels incredible contemporary and artsy. Art, in fact, is a strong theme here, including the hotel’s exterior — it features a shimmering, perforated steel screen meant to allude to North Vancouver’s rainforest, plus several photographs of seemingly ordinary, working-class Vancouverites by esteemed photographer Fred Herzog. As a parent, we got a kick out of walking around pointing out some of the pieces to our 5-year-old daughter, who had her own interpretations.
We stayed in a Stanley Park View Suite, which was pretty spacious by city hotel room standards and boasted two bathrooms. The view was less of the park and more of the surrounding area and harbor. Still, the floor-to-ceiling glass in the bathroom made for nice city views.
The undisputable highlight, though: a freestanding tub in the larger of the two bathrooms, both fun and utilitarian come bathtime. We traveled with our almost 1-year-old as well and found it a bit tricky to keep him from bumping into corners and tables, but this would have been the case most anywhere. All was swiftly forgiven, considering that in-room dining arrived with pureed carrots (and a stuffed beluga whale toy) just 20 minutes after we asked if they could steam and blend some veggies for our littlest one. It was this service and treatment of our children that really won our hearts.
The hotel’s restaurant, ORU, is every inch elegant and chic yet still manages to cater to and look after families. We enjoyed a meal of coconut-corn soup, beet salad, and vegetable risotto, all washed down with the best Pinot we had the entire trip. Art makes for a lovely backdrop during a meal here, too. The word oru is derived from Japanese and loosely means “to fold,” hence the origami-like ceiling sculpture as you walk into the restaurant.
Ask one of the restaurant staff to bring you into the private dining room to take a peek at Pencil Art, an installation entailing some 500 colored pencils that are grouped by hue and rotated frequently. (Also worth noting: Fairmont has a nifty hotel-wide policy that allows children 5 and younger to eat free from the kids’ menu, while 6- to 11-year-olds eat half-price off the regular menu.)
If Mom or Dad can sneak away to the onsite Willow Stream Spa, it’s well worth it. The 11,000-square-foot space, on the hotel’s fifth floor, offers the full gamut of massages, body treatments, facials and more. Plan to arrive early enough (or linger after your treatment) to take a dip in the private Jacuzzis on the outdoor deck.
While all the amenities and services do give the Fairmont Pacific Rim an upper hand when compared to other Vancouver properties, the location is what really sets it apart. We could easily have borrowed bikes from the hotel, but with two smaller ones, we opted to just explore by foot or by car.
It’s a short walk to the waterfront area, where there’s more public artwork to be found, such as an orca sculpture made of Lego-like block pieces. The new FlyOver Canada ride, a 10-minute simulated flight showcasing the country’s varied and rich geography, is here as well. Riders feel like they’re soaring over snow-capped mountains, pine forests, waterfalls and golden wheat fields.
A 10-minute drive from the hotel is the Vancouver Aquarium, within Stanley Park. With live sea otters as well as beluga whale and sea lion shows, it was a highlight of our four-day trip. We also managed to make it to the Bloedel Conservatory, where we were on the look out for golden pheasants and Gouldian finches. We spent one afternoon strolling around the cafes and shops in Gastown, including stops at East Van Roasters and Tacofino.
All in all, we were really glad we had made the Fairmont Pacific Rim our home base in Vancouver. It was sophisticated yet child-friendly, and close enough to attractions yet serene in its own right.
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Editor’s Note: The Fairmont Pacific Rim provided a media package for Ciao Bambino to review the property. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Tanvi Chheda except where noted.
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