Travel

Indulge Like a Rock-Star in Vancouver

Some hotel suites are junior, and some are royal or presidential, but when your hotel suite is large enough to host your rock-star fantasies, then there’s every reason to indulge. In fact, now that you know you’ll be living like a rock star at the DOUGLAS in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, rewind the camera and let’s start this journey anew.

For those of us who live on the East Coast, there’s something magical about flying cross-country against time and then landing in the West beneath an endless blue sky. That Western blue sky and the brilliance of the Pacific, shimmering beneath the sun. For some people, Vancouver feels like the San Francisco of Canada: an emerald-green peninsula surrounded by cerulean waterways, coniferous forests, and snow-capped mountains.

A picture-perfect city ready for its close-up, Vancouver merits its nickname “Hollywood North,” a title it’s held for more than twenty years as the third largest film and television production center in North America. For a glimpse of Vancouver’s residential grandeur, have your driver cruise through the prestigious First Shaughnessy neighborhood, a leafy enclave well-known for its historical estates and magnificent mansions built in a heritage “English picturesque aesthetic,” many of which have been featured in various films.

By the time you arrive at the DOUGLAS in downtown Vancouver, your head will be swimming with celluloid dreams. Named for British Columbia’s ubiquitous coniferous tree, the DOUGLAS opened in 2017 as an Autograph Collection hotel within the Parq Vancouver entertainment complex situated above the waterfront between Yaletown and Gastown.

To access the lobby at the DOUGLAS, a private elevator bank with infinity mirror whisks you upstairs to the sixth-floor Park, a verdant oasis in the sky. Designed by landscape architect Christopher Phillips, the urban forest holds more than 200 pine trees and 15,000 local plantings. Stone and wood walkways wend through groves of trees surrounding a pristine pond while providing access to various rooftop bars and restaurants, as well as the hotel lobby.

A 25-foot glass-enclosed Douglas fir serves as the hotel’s front desk, complemented by artworks from local indigenous artists. Guests are greeted with a restorative glass of locally brewed kombucha which fuels you for the rock-star fantasy that awaits you in your one-bedroom king suite with panoramic views. If your cameras aren’t yet rolling, you’re missing your entrance.

The DOUGLAS suites measure 1,200 square feet and run the entire width of the building, from east to west, offering breathtaking vistas from downtown Vancouver to the ferries traversing False Creek. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the living area look onto BC Place and the nightly light show illuminates the exterior of the 50,000-seat stadium. The dining area seats four, and there’s a powder room done in marble with all-natural Aesop toiletries. A plush sectional in the living room is flanked by a mid-century sling chair and leather ottomans.

At this point, if there’s not already Champagne chilling in a bucket, then dial room service and order flowers and bubbly. With a suite this size, there’s no excuse for not living large. Go ahead and FaceTime your mother; let her know you’re living well by walking her through the living area with its 55-inch television and Pullman kitchen with Illy coffeemaker, and then show her the walk-in closet, and the bedroom with desk and sitting area, and that king-sized bed. Then head on into the marble bathroom with a shower large enough to fit the entire swim team. Not that you need to mention this to your mother, not unless she, too, is living your rock-star fantasy life.

As the birthplace of the 100-Mile Diet and its locavore principles, Vancouver benefits from a bounty of regional farms and farmers’ markets. Farm-to-table and conscious dining are embraced by most local restaurants, many of which purchase their produce at Vancouver’s beloved Granville Island Public Market. What was once an industrial wasteland beneath the Granville Street Bridge was transformed in the 1970s into one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in British Columbia. Each year, the island attracts millions of visitors, most of whom wander in a kind of blissful daze amongst the seemingly endless variety of food purveyors.

Open seven days a week, the Public Market is where foodies go to graze. My idea of no-guilt gluttony is to linger all day. The False Creek Ferries drop you off at the base of the market, and from then on, you’re free to eat whatever you want whenever you want from more than 70 food vendors. Arrive early enough for breakfast, and then meander through the numerous shops and boutiques, and then eat some more for lunch, and then consider where to eat again for dinner.

During the summer, Granville Island is home to the Vancouver International Jazz Festival – and then in September, the island hosts Vancouver Fringe, the provocative, boundary-pushing theatrical festival with a pop-up Fringe Bar that provides as much entertainment as the various theatres. Equally wild and wonderful is Vancouver’s week-long Vancouver Pride Festival, which has become the largest Pride celebration in Western Canada since its inception in 1978. 

Notable for its Barbie pink park benches and bus stops, Vancouver’s Davie Village has been the center of the city’s LGBTQ+ community for years. Rainbow banners fly from the lampposts, and the rainbow crosswalks are reminders of the neighborhood’s reputation as a sanctuary for LGBTQ+ people. For a lesson in Canadian LGBTQ+ history, head into Little Sister’s book emporium and learn about the censorship trial that the little bookstore won against Canadian Customs. The decision by the Supreme Court of Canada is not only a victory to be celebrated, but also a reminder of the need for LGBTQ+ pioneers in the fight against censorship. If you’re so inclined, step lively into the giant Barbie pink megaphone on Jim Deva Plaza and exercise your voice, loud and proud.

Given the focus on well-being in Vancouver, it’s not surprising that the city offers more than 200 miles of bicycle paths. Whether you’re walking or cycling, the DOUGLAS makes an excellent base camp for wandering the city – and all the better when you return for a signature stress relief spa treatment at Spa by JW. Located on the 17th floor of JW Marriott Parq Vancouver, the expansive spa features a fitness center, treatment rooms, and eucalyptus-infused steam rooms, as well as access to Aqua Lounge where an outdoor hydrotherapy pool overlooks False Creek. Poolside service features a collaboration with Veuve Clicquot, so raise a Champagne toast to the night ahead.

Culinary indulgence is basically a fact of life in Vancouver. With one of the highest rates of Mexican immigrants in the world, Vancouver offers some of the most vibrant Mexican food outside of Mexico. Vancouver is also home to North America’s second-largest Chinatown, as well as multicultural neighborhoods such as Greektown, Punjabi Market, Little Italy, and Japantown. Whether you’re eating a fish taco at Tacofino, or the signature flame-seared sushi at Yaletown’s Minami, grabbing a Japanese hotdog at Japadog, or dining on Vietnamese street food at Lunch Lady, you’re eating some of Vancouver’s best.

For the finest of Pacific Northwest cuisine, there are few better options than the Victor, the breathtaking open-air restaurant located atop the Parq Vancouver. Managed and operated by Blau + Associates (as in Elizabeth Blau, the woman who transformed Vegas into a world-class dining destination), the Victor buzzes with incandescent theatrical energy, thanks to a crackerjack team of professionals serving a savvy clientele of catwalking locals and in-the-know visitors. In a room so elegant and effervescent, Champagne is almost de rigueur – and a perfect prop as you try not to stare at the actor in the Gucci shades seated in the green leather banquette. Executive Chef Garett Blundell earned his chops at various Michelin-starred restaurants, so order without restraint; you’re in good hands as you graze the menu as avidly as you gaze around the room.

Be sure and save room for a nightcap at D/6 – because you don’t want to miss the speakeasy hidden behind the bookcase. Later, when it’s time to retire upstairs, do so with the awareness that breakfast awaits at Honey Salt. The farm-to-table restaurant is a verdant haven with a design scheme befitting the core philosophy of Vancouver’s clean-living lifestyle. As you dive into the avocado toast with poached eggs, you’ll find it hard not to smile. It’s another beautiful day in Vancouver – with so much more to indulge.

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Published by
Mark Thompson

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