Fly See Stay Experience:
Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver lives up to the brand’s reputation for offering personalized service. While I did not ask for a virgin princess or a diamond encrusted watch, my baby related requests were met with the same efficiency and smile. This contemporary luxury hotel is definitely a great kid friendly choice for guests traveling as a family.
Fly See Stay Notes:
Central downtown location Only city/mountain water views
Excellent amenities/services for families Massage suite in lieu of a spa
Kids In The City/Babysitting program 30 minute walk to Stanley Park
Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver had me at the mayonnaise bucket.
Now before you assume that I enjoy mayo in a bucket and completely disregard any opinion of mine going forward, I will explain.
I recently stayed at Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver with my mother and nine month old son to celebrate my mother’s birthday. The last time I stayed there was pre-baby, pre-Winter Olympics 2010. I was there for work on one of the X-Men films which was partly shot in Vancouver.
At that time, the hotel, being the second oldest in the Four Seasons portfolio, was screaming for a makeover. It was staid and reminiscent of the tired décor of the old Four Seasons Toronto prior to its glitzy new location that opened last year.
How the hotel looked however, was no indication of how guests were treated. The service was excellent and on par with other Four Seasons properties. They are after all, known in the hotel industry for their personalized, warm and efficient service.
So I knew that this stay at was going to look and feel different. The hotel received a design facelift in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics. A new restaurant, YEW, was added. And on my end, I was now traveling with baby and was interested in the experience as a parent.
Let’s get to it then. Two moms and a baby traveling cross-country from Toronto is exhausting enough. Fortunately, getting to the hotel is not. For details on getting from the airport to the hotel, scroll down.
Location – Downtown Vancouver
The hotel is right downtown, perfectly positioned in the heart of Vancouver’s business, financial and shopping districts. The last part is pretty obvious with the hotel being attached to Pacific Centre, an upscale mall with stores like Holt Renfrew, Canada’s answer to Barney’s in the United States.
Being a gorgeous city with lots of natural beauty to take in, it is worth mentioning that the hotel is a good and doable 20 minute walk to the Canada Place pier, a pleasant, stroller friendly introduction to the gorgeous mountain and sea views of Vancouver.
Vancouver’s world famous Stanley Park is a solid 30-45 minute walk through city streets and much longer if you take the scenic route starting at Canada Place.
Vancouver is naturally such a beautiful and walkable city that this is a great activity to do with children. With a Starbucks and Tim Horton’s (a quintessentially Canadian place to stop for a coffee) everywhere you look and lots of cute places to eat, you could make the Stanley Park jaunt a half day or full day affair.
Design – Contemporary and Interactive
The hotel lobby is an escalator ride up from street level and was bustling with a mix of business travelers, conference attendees and leisure travelers like myself. All throughout, the hotel has been upgraded to a contemporary look with Asian accents.
There are pleasant nods to British Columbia’s natural landscape throughout the hotel. In fact, the hotel takes it a step further and has an Artist-In-Residence program that provides an opportunity for local artists to showcase their work with the stipulation that it reflects Vancouver or British Columbia’s culture. I really liked this aspect of interactive hotel design.
The artist is present during the time his/her work is being featured and also creates pieces while guests converse, enjoy and engage in conversation with the artist. During my stay, the artist Tracy McMenemy‘s birch tree painting, brought a earthy feel to the lobby and was a guest hit.
Rooms – City Views Only
We stayed in a Premier City View room that featured floor to ceiling windows, lots of natural light, a neutral palette, soothing accents and contemporary furnishings.
Some of the hotel’s room types are quite spacious and this is one of them. With a living room area, two TV’s (who’s watching TV with so much to do in Vancouver?) and the ridiculously plush Four Seasons bed tucked away in a cozy nook, the room was comfortable over a multiple day stay.
By the way, Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver has no water views. Only city, mountains and the hotel’s gardens. With 30 storeys though, you are bound to get nice views on the higher floors.
Want to go all out for your stay?
The crown jewel is the Prime Minister’s suite – a two floor extravaganza on the top floor of the hotel featuring a living room, dining area, a master bedroom suite and of course, gorgeous views of the city and mountains.
Bathroom – Standard Luxury Fare
The bathroom is the first place I check when I walk into a hotel room. On the rare occasions I think it might not be up to par, I get my travel companion to check the bathroom for me before I venture in. Fearless. I know.
The bathrooms feature L’Occitane toiletries which I love – totally take-home worthy. The bathroom itself though – not worth hanging out in. They are on the small-ish side and are pretty basic for a luxury hotel.
Amenities – Heated Indoor/Outdoor Pool, Massage Suite
A highlight of the hotel is Vancouver’s only indoor/outdoor pool on the fourth floor that features complimentary fruit flavored water (so yummy that it’s worth mentioning), a family friendly atmosphere and a well equipped gym overlooking the pool.
Activities are offered by the pool as part of the popular spring break and summer program called Kids In The City. For parents of kids 5-12 years old, this program and the PlayZone games room is reason enough to stay at this hotel.
Interestingly, the hotel does not have a full fledged spa. Instead they recently launched the RedCedar massage suite with a selection of three basic massages.
Post pool and massage the hair could use a pick-me-up. The popular Blo hair bar in the lobby is great for getting your hair back to start-of-vacation fabulous. Relaxing pool time and a rubdown always needs to be followed with a good blowout.
Kid Friendly Service – Amenities Above and Beyond
Most luxury hotels provide a baby basic: a crib/playpen. Sometimes, as an additional service, a kettle in the room is offered. So I was curious, especially with the word of mouth on the hotel being kid friendly, if they went above and beyond for the under-1, baby set too.
To start, at check-in, after being asked about BabyV’s age, he received a welcome gift with a local touch – A proud, Canadian maple leaf wearing stuffed moose. The little moose kept the little guy occupied between lobby and room.
Waiting for us when we got to the room was a lovely baby package: a crib, kettle, toiletries for baby and something quite thoughtful: an additional fridge that was large enough to hold baby food/formula and a little colder than the mini bar fridge (I did request a high chair, but apparently they were all spoken for).
And that set the tone with the hotel keeping their little guest in mind: Room service was delivered with baby food, baby snacks and water in a cute drinking cup (albeit a little too advanced for a nine month old and for some moms, the plastic instead of glass would be frowned upon) and the hotel’s laundry service offered complimentary drying of baby’s clothes.
Right, so back to the mayo. BabyV often enjoys his bath time with a bucket filled with water and his toys. I thought it would be worth an ask if the hotel had a bucket. The request was promptly followed by a gentleman from the engineering department coming by to get details on the bucket’s required height (so BabyV could hold on to it and practice standing) and other details.
While I initially felt silly and it seemed like overkill, what they returned with was just perfect – a bucket, originally used for storing mayonnaise (emptied and cleaned of course) at his exact height and with a cutout at the bottom to avoid the tub filling up too quickly. While simply buying a bucket would have been a quick solution, I really appreciated the effort the hotel made and how quickly they delivered on the request. It was definitely a memorable moment of my stay to see BabyV splashing water around with this mayo bath bucket!
For the full, more traditional list of other family services and kid friendly amenities offered by the hotel, click here.
Restaurants – Why YEW, We Have A Vegan Menu!
YEW is Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver’s seafood restaurant that is popular with hotel guests and locals. As a vegetarian, you could understand my surprise when I found out about their vegan menu. For more on YEW, click here.
Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver offers car service to and from the Vancouver airport. If you prefer public transit as a way to get acclimatized to the city quickly, that is an under-30 minute ride on the SkyTrain with stops in downtown Vancouver. We opted for a rental car for the 30 minute drive down Granville Street to the hotel. Click here for more options on getting to the hotel.
Fly See Stay Extras
Shopping – The stroller set should note that the connection between the hotel and mall are a set of stairs with no ramp – not exactly stroller-friendly. On the bright side, the doormen in the lobby were quite helpful with navigating the stroller up and down the stairs.
Room – When travelling with young children consider avoiding the Superior room configuration. It would make for a cramped stay especially if you request the complimentary kid amenities.