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Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver Executive Junior Suite Introduction
Brad and I were attending a function at the Vancouver Art Gallery with friends from his undergrad, so rather than worrying about taxiing home to the suburbs (can be seriously tough from Vancouver without Uber) we decided to book the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver Executive Junior Suite. American Express travel (just a regular booking, not a Fine Hotels and Resorts rate) had a really great deal for a one-night stay, pricing out just shy of $300/night for the entry-level suite. This worked well for us, as the suite offered a separate living room which would allow for us to entertain a bit before heading to the Art Gallery, located conveniently across the street.
The Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver gets polar reviews from luxury hotel enthusiasts. One camp appreciates the understated luxury and legendary Four Seasons service, while others argue the property is just way beyond it’s prime, and needs to be completely gutted to get up to standards. Cadillac Fairview (the landlord) agrees with the second group, and is actually suing the Four Seasons for failing to maintain standards of a luxury hotel.
While I tend to agree that certain aspects of the property are seriously dated (the bathrooms), and the finishes aren’t as flashy as some other Vancouver properties, such as The Fairmont Pacific Rim Stanley Park Suite or The Rosewood Hotel Georgia Junior Suite, there’s something about the hotel that I love. Also, the price was right, with other comparable luxury hotels pricing out nearly double for a similar sized room, and the location couldn’t be better for our plans. We’ve stayed at the property before and had a great experience, so decided to give it another try!
We arrived at the property shortly after 3:30pm and were met at the car by a couple of friendly doormen. The hotel is located in the heart of Vancouver on the corner of Howe and Georgia, directly above the Pacific Centre Shopping mall (arguably Vancouver’s flagship shopping centre, though I don’t think it’s that great). The exterior of the hotel is… old. There’s nothing flashy about the architecture – it looks like any other grey office building in the world.
The valet staff couldn’t have been nicer, giving our dogs plenty of attention after the long drive. Valet parking is $49CAD per night, which is expensive, but actually cheaper than many of the other luxury hotels in the city. The ground floor lobby features a nice seating area with escalators up to the second floor where the check-in desks are located.
We went up the escalators and found the check-in desk empty, where a friendly associate welcomed us back to the property. She confirmed our room as an Executive Junior Suite and advised us we would be on the highest floor featuring this layout, in room 1701 with views of the art gallery. Check-in took about 5 minutes, with no attempt at up-selling to the next room category (something I despise at luxury hotels), at which point the associate walked from behind the counter and handed me the room keys (a typical small touch offered by Four Seasons).
The hotel recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation, and while obviously they weren’t able to gut the guest rooms, they did do a beautiful job on the hallways and common areas.
Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver Executive Junior Suite
Our room, 1701, was located just opposite the elevator banks on the 17th floor. The suite was a fairly standard layout, with a small hallway with closet and bathroom doors opening up to the main living room. According to the website, the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver Executive Junior Suite measures 534 square feet, which isn’t actually that large, though the space did feel quite open.
The main living room featured a sofa (pullout) and chair with coffee table, a minibar with flatscreen television, with a comfortable but basic office desk against the window.
There was a small selection of magazines on the coffee table. I always love reading Montecristo – a local Vancouver lifestyle magazine, and of course, drooling over the beautiful Four Seasons Resorts around the world through their Discover booklet.
Interestingly enough, the hotel room featured a DVD player, similar to The Four Seasons Resort Whistler. While I guess it’s nice to have, I do wonder when the hotel will refit the rooms with smart TV’s with streaming services, like some newer (hipper) properties are doing.
Under the TV was a minibar, featuring fridge with a selection of beverages and snacks for purchase. On our last stay in a standard room the mini-fridge was empty with a menu to fill it should you require, which I much prefer as we generally bring our own wine and like the empty space. At least it wasn’t a sensor fridge, so emptying the contents for our personal use wasn’t too difficult.
Unfortunately the room featured a Keurig coffee maker, which is gross, to say the least. I expect a luxury hotel (especially a suite category) to have a Nespresso machine by 2018.
There’s also some incredibly expensive bottled water for sale, which is odd considering you can get unlimited Four Seasons branded water through housekeeping…
The entrance hallway featured a small but functional closet to the right of the door, and the bathroom entrance on the left.
In smaller suites I prefer the bathroom be off the living room rather than the bedroom, so that’s a plus for this room. Unfortunately that’s where the positives end. It was…. uhmmm… how do I put this… bad. Like really bad. While everything was spotlessly clean, there was just nothing luxurious about this tiny space, which featured a shower/tub combo about 2 inches away from the toilet, and absolutely nothing in the way of storage (even the hairdryer was just awkwardly placed on the counter). When I was a kid we used to take road trips and stay in Best Westerns, which is kind of what this reminded me of (though I’m sure the small details and cleanliness can’t be compared).
At least the amenities were plentiful, with L’Occitane bath products (not my favourite), plenty of luxurious towels, and a lit make-up mirror.
The bedroom is separated from the living room by a set of french doors and features an extremely comfortable king bed opposite a dresser and television with a small seating area in the corner.
Four Seasons beds are the most comfortable in the industry, in my opinion, and feature soft and luxurious linens with fantastic down pillows.
The city views were great, with The Rosewood Hotel and Vancouver Art Gallery visible from both the bedroom and living room.
Hotel Pool And Fitness Centre
One of the highlights of the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver is the unique indoor/outdoor pool and modern fitness centre. While some of the area is feeling a bit retro (the tile), there’s no arguing that this is one of the best city pools out there, with a unique indoor/outdoor pool, jacuzzi tub, and plenty of seating.
The fitness centre is large and unique, with some of the equipment wrapping around one side of the pool deck. While I personally don’t mind, I’ve heard some complaints that this takes away from the tranquility of the pool area.
Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver Executive Junior Suite Bottom Line
I admit, I’m a bit of a Four Seasons fanboy, which may play into why I love this hotel. Four Seasons is one of the most premier luxury hotel brands in the world, and I’ve had some pretty terrific stays at some of their best properties, including the Four Seasons Shanghai Pudong and The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale.
The Vancouver property, admittedly, is a bit of an anomaly. At roughly 40 years old, the building itself is well beyond it’s prime, and I don’t know if the hotel ever plans to completely refurbish the guest rooms, or just start from scratch when the lease is up. The service, though, is Four Seasons all the way, which is to say it is professional, courteous, and completely 5-star.
Unfortunately, the Four Seasons brand doesn’t have a traditional loyalty program, though I’m hoping they introduce something after the Mandarin Oriental recently launched their ‘Fans of MO’ program. Until then, you can still get some added value by booking through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts, which is available to American Express Platinum and Business Platinum Cardmembers and comes with added benefits including a $100USD property credit, guaranteed late checkout, room upgrade subject to availability, and daily breakfast for two. Hotel rates in the summer are expensive, but if you happen to be in Vancouver over the shoulder season this is a property I would highly recommend, as rates can often be found sub-$300/night, sometimes with 3rd or 4th night free promotions, which is tough to beat for a luxury hotel stay in Vancouver!
Have you stayed at The Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below!