It had been a relatively crazy couple of months of travel for both Brad and I, with my trip to Hong Kong for easter and Brad spending 3-weeks in China as part of his Education training. His return aligned with our 1-year anniversary of being married, and I knew I wanted to spend it somewhere great, but wanted to stay close to home.
Fairmont is our favourite hotel brand, with luxury properties and consistent service. Also, as Platinum members in the Fairmont President’s Club, we are often treated to room upgrades, welcome amenities, and other VIP treatment. We’ve stayed at The Fairmont Pacific Rim several times, including a recent stay with our friends to celebrate New Year’s Eve, so it was an easy choice to return for this special occasion. We booked the hotel through American Express Fine Hotel’s and Resorts and were able to use a 3rd night free certificate from our President’s Club account. The free night along with all of the added value from the FHR program nearly justified the annual fee on my American Express Platinum CardAmerican Express Platinum Card in a single hotel stay!
Brad arrived a few hours before me in the early afternoon and had no problem checking in (a guaranteed early arrival is a benefit of Platinum status in the Fairmont President’s Club). Check-in is always a breeze here, and never seems to take more than a few minutes. While waiting for me, he decided to have lunch at Giovane Cafe – a small eatery in the hotel lobby.
I arrived just before 4 pm and met Brad at the door. He said we had a room on a lower floor, with a small walkout balcony, but with restricted views. The Fairmont Pacific Rim has some of the best harbour views in the city, but lower floor views are obstructed by the Vancouver Convention Centre. I talked to the front desk and they quickly found us a room on a high floor, with a mixed harbour and city view (Deluxe Partial Harbour View Room). I’ve stayed in several unobstructed view rooms before, but kind of liked the mixed city/water view that this room provided!
All of the standard rooms at The Pacific Rim are nearly the same, and that’s to say there’s nothing standard about them. The decor is contemporary west coast, with rich woods and neutral colours, and I love the pop of green in the illuminated picture above the bed. The room is configured like many hotel rooms, with a large king bed in the centre opposite a long work desk and television, with a small seating area near the window overlooking dramatic harbour and city views.
Like all Fairmont properties, the bed was extremely comfortable, with high-quality linens and pillows. The built-in wood side tables featured a telephone, a classic alarm clock, an iPod docking station, and notepad and pen. There were also individual reading lights along with a wall-mounted lamp on each side.
The room felt large, thanks to the huge floor to ceiling windows allowing a lot of natural light. The small seating on the far end included two leather armchairs and a small table. The space was unique in that each chair provided very different views of Vancouver!
I really like what The Pacific Rim did with the television and desk area. Rather than having separate spaces for both, there is a large built-in desk that houses the office desk, minibar, television area and even includes a small bench area for sitting.
The entire room can be controlled with an iPad, including the drapes, room temperature and lighting. Unlike some electronic systems, I find this one intuitive and simple to use. You are also able to order room service, request services, manage folio, etc from the iPad.
For a non-specialty room, the bathroom is fantastic, and easily one of the best in Vancouver. A large soaking tub, walk-in shower, and built-in television in the mirror all come standard. Of course, the robes and towels are plentiful and high quality and amenities are Le Labo Rose 31 – one of my favourites. The hotel management must know how much I like them because halfway through our stay they presented some of the larger bottles personalized for both me and Brad. Nice touch!
My one minor criticism of the bathroom is the design of the door. Though beautiful, the frosted glass sliding door does little to insulate the room from light pollution in the night if your partner needs to use the bathroom. Admittedly, I was the one sleeping closest to the bed, so if you’re a light sleeper you may want to sleep on the other side!
The Pacific Rim has no shortage of amenities, from a great spa and outdoor pool with bar service…
To a world-class fitness area…
And a bustling lobby lounge with live music and a great atmosphere. There really is something for everyone to enjoy!
Since the weather was so nice, we decided to take advantage of a hotel amenity we hadn’t yet used on previous stays – the BMW bike rentals! Complimentary for Fairmont President’s Club members, guests can enjoy a 3-hour rental each day including helmet, bottled water, and trail maps! Brad and I have lived around Vancouver our entire lives and have never actually biked the much beloved Stanley Park Seawall! What a great way to spend the afternoon!
Dining is an area Brad and I rarely splurge on but thought it would be nice to treat ourselves for our first anniversary. Also, The Pacific Rim had just recently re-opened their main restaurant, Botanist, and we were eager to give it a try.
Located on the second floor above the lobby lounge, Botanist blends contemporary style and outdoor living, with warm pastel colours and lots of green!
We ate breakfast here every day, and enjoyed dinner on our last night, and really enjoyed each service! Interestingly, there is no buffet style breakfast offered daily, which is something many people will miss (though I’m not personally a fan of buffet-style food). Being a Fine Hotel and Resort booking, we were entitled to daily breakfast for two. A couple of the days we ate downstairs off the menu, and once we ordered room service. While some properties limit the breakfast to a dollar amount, there didn’t seem to be one here!
The evening dining experience was the highlight of the stay, with the space being transformed into a warm and inviting space.
When I made the reservation, I let the staff know we were there celebrating our anniversary. Waiting at our table was a beautiful flower arrangement with a card from the Botanist team. Shortly after being seated the staff presented us with some complimentary champagne to celebrate our special occasion.
The Botanist menu is small, but clearly well thought out with something everyone could enjoy. We decided to go for the tasting menu, with wine pairing, which was a first for both of us. While not inexpensive, this provided a bit of everything from the menu with expert wine selection and was an experience neither of us will soon forget. There wasn’t a single dish we didn’t enjoy, from the seared root vegetables to the delicious quail, everything was done perfectly and presented with great attention to detail.
The Fairmont Pacific Rim is still my favourite hotel in Vancouver, and right up there out of all the hotels I’ve visited around the world. What truly separates a 5-star hotel from a really good 4-star is service, and this is where The Pacific Rim shines. It just so happens the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, was staying at the property the first night we were there. To say his presence was noticed would be an understatement, but the staff didn’t seem phased, and the service wasn’t lacking whatsoever, which is more than impressive.
Little touches, such as personalized Le Labo bathroom amenities and flowers with dinner remind me why I fell in love with this hotel on my first stay a couple of years ago – they really make you feel like the most important guest in the hotel. Somehow they manage to be anticipative of needs without being overbearing, which is very tough to do well in my experience. This service, along with stylish rooms and world-class facilities, keeps me coming back and leaving more satisfied than the last stay. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this hotel to anyone celebrating a special occasion and can’t wait to return for our next staycation!