Could The Fairmont Pacific Rim Become The New Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver?
Full disclosure: I have no inside information – I’m simply speculating, but wanted to share my thoughts about what I believe could be a possible option for the new Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver.
Brad and I just finished up a stay this last weekend in a beautiful Stanley Park Suite at The Fairmont Pacific Rim, and the entire time we were there I couldn’t help but think of the possibility of the property being rebranded as a Four Seasons Hotel after 2020 when the current hotel above Pacific Centre closes it’s doors.
As one of only three properties in Canada, The Four Seasons Hotel closing is a fairly significant loss to Vancouver. It’s not surprising though, as the Vancouver location has long been considered an anomaly in the chain, with dated rooms and common areas. Our last stay in a Junior Executive Suite was nice, and the service was phenomenal, but the room really lacked any ‘wow factor’.
Given the building is 40+ years old, it’s not surprising that Four Seasons wasn’t willing to invest the amount of money needed to bring it up to standards (with the landlord launching a lawsuit against the hotel last year), and as a result, decided to close the doors permanently when the current lease expires.
Four Seasons has said that they are committed to another property in Vancouver when they find the right location and partner, but haven’t given any details beyond that.
Why I Think The Fairmont Pacific Rim Could Become The New Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver
Similar to The Four Seasons Hotel, The Fairmont Pacific Rim has always been somewhat of an anomaly to me, but for the opposite reason – it’s too nice for the Fairmont brand. Don’t get me wrong, Fairmont has some beautiful properties around the world, but The Pacific Rim always felt a little bit like it didn’t belong. In my experience, Fairmont properties are one of three styles:
- Historic and charming
- Upscale business
- Resort factory
Vancouver was already well represented by Fairmont, with The Waterfront around the corner, and The Hotel Vancouver a couple blocks up, along with a fantastic airport hotel in Richmond. Adding a fourth Fairmont hotel to the market seemed like a strange move, and I can’t think of any other city in the world comparable in size to Vancouver that has four properties under the same brand.
My thinking is that it was the best option at the time, but imagine it would have been flagged as a Four Seasons when it opened had it been possible. Just try to imagine the Four Seasons Logo here instead. It seems so right.
Management contracts change all the time (The Mandarin Las Vegas is set to become a Waldorf Astoria this summer, as reported by One Mile At A Time), so it’s not unreasonable to think the Pacific Rim could become the new Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver. Here’s some of the key points that got me thinking during our last stay.
The Fairmont Pacific Rim is a relatively small hotel
At just 377 rooms, it is the ‘smallest’ Fairmont property in Vancouver, and more comparable to the current room count at the existing Four Seasons. In general, true luxury hotels will have less rooms to provide better service, so this could make sense. Furthermore, the Pacific Rim has an executive floor and a variety of guest rooms and suites that could easily be marketed by another luxury hotel without much renovation.
While The Four Seasons has decided to close the current property in 2020, I really doubt they want to remain out of Vancouver for long. Four Seasons is an iconic Canadian brand with limited representation in Canada. I can’t see them off the market for years while they develop a new property, especially considering the demand for luxury accommodations in Vancouver during high season.
Location And Proximity To Whistler
Whistler is home to one of only two other Four Seasons properties in Canada, and I feel there are a lot of people who book vacations including stays at both hotels. There could even be a good opportunity for Harbour Air flights between the hotels, since The Pacific Rim is located in arguably the best location in Vancouver just opposite Coal Harbour. Having a true luxury hotel in Vancouver could be mutually beneficial for both properties.
The Fairmont Pacific Rim Is Nearing A (Minor) Renovation
While arguably still one of the nicest hotels in Vancouver, the property is starting to show it’s age, with some cosmetic/furniture updates needed. It could make sense to do all of these when changing management, since rebranding would require a lot of refreshments anyways.
Fairmont Merging With Accor
I imagine that with the merger between Fairmont and Accor, and the replacement of Fairmont President’s Club with Le Club AccorHotels, there will be some property owners that choose to leave the Accor group. Sometimes the stars just need to align, and the timing of the merger with the lease expiry at the current location could result in a good opportunity for all involved.
Systems Already In Place
The Fairmont Pacific Rim basically operates as a Four Seasons Hotel on a service level. There’s no other Fairmont property (in my experience) that comes close to the level of personalized service and guest recognition that The Pacific Rim consistently offers. As an example, Brad and I ate at Botanist this last weekend and were greeted by the hostess who remembered us by first and last name, and also remembered that we were there the same time last year celebrating our anniversary. That’s beyond impressive. All of the staff here operate at a 5-star level, so changing flags to another 5-star brand wouldn’t require much retraining outside of company specific policies.
On a different note, I was very critical of our only stay on the Gold Floor at this hotel a few months ago, and now in hindsight I realize it wasn’t necessarily because the service/product was bad, it’s because the regular service is too good. Essentially, there wasn’t any noticeable difference between Gold level service and regular rooms to justify the price difference. At other hotels, such as The Fairmont Chateau Whistler, you really see the difference between Gold level and standard rooms.
Final Thoughts On The Pacific Rim Becoming The New Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver
Away from the surface, there’s obviously a lot I don’t know. The management contract could be too expensive to get out of, there could already be a new development earmarked for the new Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, or we may see a different property reflagged.
However, I do know that The Pacific Rim is a hotel that felt a little bit too nice for The Fairmont brand since the beginning, and much too nice to be an Accor property. My gut is telling me that the timing of everything will present a great opportunity for both The Four Seasons and the owners of The Pacific Rim.
I sincerely hope to see this property rebranded. I don’t think I’ll be staying at many Fairmont properties after July of this year when The Fairmont President’s Club is discontinued, and tend to reserve non-loyalty stays for true luxury hotels, which usually ends up being a Four Seasons property. Pacific Rim is probably the nicest hotel in Vancouver, and one of my favourite spots for a weekend away. I can only imagine it getting better if Four Seasons landed the management contract for their new Vancouver hotel.
What are your thoughts on The Fairmont Pacific Rim becoming the new Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver? Do you think it’s a possibility?