British Columbia has a dual reputation: on one hand, it’s a rugged, untamed, mountainous and rural destination and, on the other, a chic, convenient and affordable urban getaway for the West Coast’s jetset.
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 solely 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.
The restaurant at Hastings House 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.
The spa at Hastings House offers only two treatment rooms, but services, such as the signature décor facial, are also available in-room.
Luxury travel advisors should contact Shirley McLaughlin ([email protected]; 800-661-9255).
The Finley manicured gardens at Hastings House (here) are full of flowers, herbs and fruit trees.
King Pacific Lodge, a Rosewood property on Princess Royal Island, is also small, intimate and exclusive. Open only from May to September, guests arrive via private charter plane from Vancouver (the flight is included in the room rate).
With only 17 rooms and suites, King Pacific Lodge serves as a tranquil getaway from urban stress and makes good use of the surrounding woods.
Guests can go hiking, fishing or kayaking.
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 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 is built of fir with driftwood accents, and painted in rich mossy green hues. 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. 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 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 service. Float planes and helicopters can land at Harbour Air Terminal, a seven-minute drive from the hotel, and Vancouver International Airport is 30 minutes away.
Of the hotel’s 119 rooms, the Orchid Suite (No. 1502) is the property’s premier accommodation. 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. Butler service can also be arranged. (Even pets can share in the luxury with a complete setup, including bed, bowls and treats.)
The 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.
Shopaholics will be delighted: By Design (Shangri-La’s own signature
store) is the only store in Canada that carries Shanghai Tang accessories; Burberry also 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.
Heads Up: 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.
“BC is made up of several spectacular destinations that offer a variety of activities, adventures, wildlife viewing and culinary pursuits. Throughout the province we have a great collection of luxury wilderness resorts, guest ranches, romantic inns, elegant city hotels and adventure resorts. Cruising along our extensive waterways is also an extraordinary experience.
“The best way to serve a guest is to offer a wide range of products to see which options are of most interest and which are the best fit to their budget. Once we learn the options that 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.”