Saturday, July 30, 2011

Luxurious Layover at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel

     Imagine taking a bubble bath while sipping champagne and nibbling on chocolate-covered strawberries within half an hour after getting your luggage from your flight to Vancouver, while your fellow passengers are fighting it out in a taxi stuck in traffic. Sounds like a dream? Well, it is possible - and here's how.

Chocolate-covered strawberries, compliments of Fairmont YVR

      The Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is Canada's second busiest airport, having 16.8 million passengers go through their gates in 2010. It serves as Canada's gateway to the Far East, and with multiple connections to places including China, Japan and Hawaii, there is a good chance that Canadian passengers traveling to these exotic destinations will transit through here.

     The airport does have multiple well-lit seating areas for whiling away the hours waiting to catch a connecting flight. However, if you are in the mood for a more luxurious and private place to layover, there is a AAA four-diamond rated hotel located within the airport, a short walk away from the domestic terminal, and directly above the US ticket counters in the international terminal - the Fairmont Vancouver Airport.

Escalator to the Fairmont Vancouver Airport lobby

     We stayed there recently after having arrived a few days early for a cruise to Alaska on Holland America Line's Zuiderdam. It was easy to get to the hotel upon arrival - you can load up all your luggage on the airport's free carts and without going outside, wheel them all over to the hotel entrance, at the far end of the US/international terminal. The hotel lobby is located one floor up, and there is a bell desk with hotel staff ready to help you transport your luggage. (Unfortunately, you cannot bring the airport cart into the hotel, so the luggage needs to be transferred here).

     This hotel has a pool, gym and spa, so once you have checked in to your room, you can work-out in your hotel-loaned Adidas workout gear (free for Fairmont President's Club Premier and Platinum members) or get a massage to help you relax after the madness of the airport. Alternatively, get a drink and enjoy the view of the runways at the Jetside Bar.

Jetside Bar

     The Fairmont Vancouver Airport also has a side product that it produces and sells - their own branded honey. I tried in vain to see the million bees that produce this so-called "liquid gold", but unfortunately they are kept behind a secure area on airport premises at the McDonald Beach Park. I had to content myself with a taste from a jar purchased at the front desk. It was ..... sweet!

     My favorite thing(s) about this hotel, though, sweet honey aside, are the rooms. Every room, even the lowest category (Fairmont) is large and has a view of the runways where you can watch jets arriving or taking off. Deluxe category rooms and above also have a telescope to allow closer inspection of these behemoths in the sky. Also, every bathroom has a large soaking tub, and a separate tiled shower. The sliding doors on the "window" between the bathtub and bedroom allows you to be as private or all-inclusive as you like. (Careful, though - there isn't any lock on these shutters, nor on the sliding doors leading to the bathroom, so your privacy could easily be disturbed by a curious kid or roommate!)

Fairmont Room

Inviting bathtub with direct view to the TV

     Arriving at this luxury hotel room after suffering through an interminable flight jammed like sardines in the back of the plane was like finding an oasis in the desert. We stayed the night, transferring to Canada Place the next day, but you can enjoy all this luxury even if you only have a few hours between flights. Day-use rooms are available at $99 for four hours between 8am and 8pm, with each additional hour at $20 each, up to a maximum of eight hours. It sure beats trying to sleep on those banks of padded metal airport chairs while hoards of travelers swarm around you!

For more information on Vancouver, try one of these travel guides:
Frommer's Vancouver and Victoria 2011Lonely Planet Vancouver (City Travel Guide)Fodor's Vancouver & Victoria, 2nd Edition: with Whistler, Vancouver Island & the Okanagan Valley (Full-Color Gold Guides)The Rough Guide to Vancouver (Rough Guides)

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