British Columbia has a dual reputation: a rugged, untamed, mountainous and rural destination—especially in Vancouver—and a chic, convenient and affordable urban getaway for the West Coast’s jet set. Whether your clients want a quiet retreat with trees and lakes or a swanky urban adventure, there is a luxury property that fits every Canadian vacation.
Warren Hastings, an English immigrant to Canada, built Hastings House in 1940 to match the antique furniture he had brought from his 11th-century Sussex-style house. The result: A cottage on 22 acres of land that looks like the setting for a fairy tale, and that is so isolated it is accessible only by float plane or boat. With only 18 rooms and suites spread over several buildings on the property, guests are guaranteed the perfect peace and quiet they need to recharge their batteries.
A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Hastings House names its rooms rather than number them, making each space unique and individual. The Church Hill Cottage, the Hillside Suites and the Somerset Spaces are ideal for families and groups; Manor West, Manor East, Farm House East, Farm House West, Essex, Sussex and Somerset offer the best views.
King Pacific lodge’s Princess Royal Suite spreads over two floors and each guest staying in the accommodation enjoys a complimentary Princess Royal Hot Stone Massage.
The restaurant at Hastings House, managed by Chef Marcel Kauer, specializes in local cuisine, with an ever-changing menu to reflect whatever is freshest and at its peak. There is a four-course chef’s menu, and insiders recommend the specialty Dungeness Crab, Island Venison and the Island Mussels. Full English breakfasts are available and “wake-up” hampers are delivered to guest rooms each morning.
Hastings HOuse’s Sealoft features large windows overlooking the garden and ocean.
The spa at Hastings House offers two treatment rooms, a powder room and a steam shower. Treatments are also available in-room; the most popular are the one-hour relaxation massage and the signature décor facial. Note: Spa treatments should be booked at the time of reservation. Spa Director Terra Dimmock, who is also the most-requested masseuse, can be reached at the hotel’s main e-mail address.
Luxury travel advisors should contact Shirley McLaughlin ([email protected]; 800-661-9255).
King Pacific Lodge, a Rosewood property on Princess Royal Island, is also small, intimate and exclusive. It is open only from May to September, and guests can arrive only by private charter plane from Vancouver (the flight is included in the room rate and as part of the reservation process).
With only 17 rooms and suites (all of which feature king-size beds and slate-lined soaking tubs), King Pacific Lodge serves as a tranquil getaway from urban stress and emphasizes the surrounding woods for activities. Guests can go hiking, heli-hiking, fishing (either individually or with a guide), kayaking or even whale-watching.
The restaurant at King Pacific Lodge also focuses on the local environment, changing the menu regularly to offer whatever is freshest. (Hint: We hear that the salmon, no matter how it’s prepared, is a must.) Guests are encouraged to share tables to encourage camaraderie and conversation, but the maitre d’ can arrange seating to visitors’ preference, whether indoor or out on the deck.
The Lodge’s intimate spa only offers two treatment rooms. Built of fir with driftwood accents and painted in rich mossy green hues, the spa reflects the tranquility of the surrounding landscape while echoing the sophistication of its Japanese heritage. The complex offers a sauna, steam bath, plunge pool and Jacuzzi. For preferred times (early morning or before dinner), treatments should be booked at least a month in advance. However, treatments can also be booked on arrival. The most requested luxury spa treatment at the resort is the Deep Tissue Massage, which runs 55 minutes. Spa directors and staff vary by season, so find out whom to request at the time of reservation.
Luxury travel advisors should contact Director of Sales Debbie Fleming[email protected]; 888-592-5464).
Of course, not everyone visiting British Columbia wants to get lost in the wilderness. In the heart of Vancouver’s vibrant downtown scene is the (Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver, which opened in September 2008 and takes up 15 floors of a 61-story building.
The hotel has its own limousine and can arrange for private stretch limousine service. Float planes and helicopters can land at Harbour Air Terminal, a seven-minute drive from the hotel, and Vancouver International airport is a 30-minute drive away.
Shangri-La vancouver Executive Balcony King Room have private balconies according guests impressive city views.
Of the hotel’s 119 rooms, the Orchid Suite (no. 1502) is the property’s premier accommodation at a spacious 1,395 square feet. Our sources mention that suites ending in -02 offer more room and views down Georgia Street toward Stanley Park and the North Shore Mountains. Large groups and families can book entire floors (there are 15 rooms per floor) and select from a variety of room types and connecting options. All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and offer city views. Butler service can be organized for any guest on request. (Even pets can share in the luxury with a complete setup, including bed, bowls and treats.)
King Pacific lodge is in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest.
The Shangri-La Hotel features a 7,000-square-foot CHI Spa with six treatment suites, including one couples’ suite. We are told that the two most popular treatments are the CHI Balance Massage and the Element Vitality treatment. Luxury travel advisors should contact Spa Director Marie Kury ([email protected]; 604-661-3359) to book appointments with Leah (a specialist for the Element Vitality treatment) and Taeko (known for manicures and pedicures).
Gourmands will love the hotel’s Market by Jean-Georges restaurant, the latest offering from Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his first restaurant in Canada or the West Coast. Insiders say the rice-cracker-crusted tuna appetizer is a must-try. Reservations should be booked two to three weeks in advance.
Shoppers will be delighted with the Shangri-La’s location: By Design (Shangri-La’s own signature store) is the only store in Canada that carries Shanghai Tang accessories (it also carries d’Porthault linens); Burberry has its only free-standing Canadian store within the Shangri-La complex; and Hermès, Tiffany, Gucci and Louis Vuitton have stores within a one-block radius.
However, those wishing to book a room at the Shangri-La for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver will be disappointed as the hotel is already sold out for the Games.
Marc Télio, President of Entrée Canada, knows how to organize a luxurious Canadian getaway:
“BC is made up of several spectacular destinations that offer a variety of activities, adventures, wildlife viewing and culinary pursuits. Throughout the province we are blessed with a great collection of luxury wilderness resorts, guest ranches, romantic inns, elegant city hotels and world-class adventure resorts. Cruising privately along our extensive waterways is also an extraordinary experience.
“In my opinion, the best way to serve [a] guest is to offer [a] wide range of products—almost as a menu—to see which two or three options are of most interest and which are the best fit to their budget. Of course, we know all of these experiences with firsthand knowledge and we assist the travel advisor on what to offer and how to position it with all those items that ‘you need to know.’ Things like: are the bears in abundance over a set of dates, or how is the fishing during a particular time period?
“Once we learn which options best suit the guest, we marry the right logistics and develop the itinerary. We help them make sense of it, [because] it can be quite daunting. some lodges only have arrivals and departures on Thursdays and Sundays, others on Fridays and Mondays. Some are trying to link it up to the Rocky Mountaineer. This is the trick, putting it together cohesively and seamlessly, [and] then operating it carefully to ensure all movements run smoothly. The success is in the small details; knowing how it all runs to make it easy for the guest.”
Through December 31, Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver is offering a $305 per night package that triggers a $100 room credit ($200 for a suite), free Internet and 4 p.m. check-out. Visit www.luxuryta.com/shangri-la.