Right on the waterfront of Canada’s west coast, you’ll find laid-back luxury in a sustainable environment to sample the many pastimes of this ultra hip city.
If the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is glitzy and glamorous and the Fairmont Pacific Rim is trendy and hip, then the Fairmont Waterfront is the cool (slightly hippy-ish) sister. With a strong focus on sustainability and community involvement, this Fairmont property stands out from the rest. It has the laid-back luxury vibe we love, the modern amenities we need (strong wifi and space) and a cocktail scene that is worth visiting more than once.
Fairmont Waterfront is a large hotel situated right on the harbor front and next to the cruise terminals. Since we were going to be boarding a 12 day Alaskan cruise, we wanted to spend a few days relaxing, before we set sail. It may sound snobbish to need a vacation before a vacation, but given our itenerary for the cruise, we were happy to sit around and just enjoy the city. The Fairmont Waterfront was our home for a few days and was a great base to explore, get a little shopping in and just gear up for our cruise.
A Large Hotel with Tons to Offer
We tend to avoid large hotels, but the Fairmont Waterfront was close to the cruise port and all the hot spots of Vancouver, like downtown and Stanley Park, so we gave it a try….and are so glad we did. The hotel was large, but had an intimate friendly feel about it. The concierge recognized us after one pass and the team was consistently friendly and happy to help with directions and recommendations.
The lobby features the standard concierge desk and check-in area but it shares the floor with a bustling bar and restaurant, ARC. We may or may not have spent a good chunk of time there sipping craft cocktails, craft beer and people watching ☺ It’s not just guests enjoying the ARC restaurant, but locals too. It’s probably because the common area of Fairmont Waterfront is idyllically classy, with high-ceilings, massive black pillars, and walls of windows. It’s a perfect hangout spot.
The massive windows highlight the natural lighting, which accents one major quality of Fairmont Waterfront: natural. The hotel is on a remarkable initiative to become a certified, zero-waste facility. Not only do they have their own herb garden, the hotel has four beehives that house 250,000 bees. They offer tours for guests, educating them on the importance of bees and sustainability. Plus, the hotel’s menus are mostly local and organic, which is always appreciated. After staying in Fairmont Waterfront, we could easily understand why Vancouver is likely to be the world’s greenest city by 2020.
Room on the Harbor? Yes Please!
During our stay, we hid away in a Signature Harbor View Corner Room, which was a great size and easy to get comfortable in. But no doubt, the best part were the stretching windows offering 180-degree views of the harbor, North Shore Mountains, Lions Gate Bridge, and Stanley Park. The views from the room were always captivating, begging us to go outside and play! Our room also carried Le Labo amenities — one of my favorites.
Dining at the Fairmont Waterfront
The main restaurant at Fairmont Waterfront is ARC, a waterfront venue offering what they call urban artisan cuisine. ARC is full of energy, tending to guests satisfied by the vibe and unique menu selections. Although there were tons of restaurants in the area (Vancouver is a foodie haven), we found ourselves amongst the ambiance of ARC a few times.
Lunch was a definite highlight at ARC. We would sit outside, sip on cocktails, and munch on incredible meals while scoping the scene. If you want the best experience, you have to try the smoked brisket sandwich and mushroom risotto! ARC is also where you’ll find the daily breakfast buffet, which has tons of options. And ask for the smoked salmon — it’s worth it!
The ARC Bar
We love it when we find a bar that takes cocktails as seriously as we do. The cocktails here get down to business — they are delicious! The cocktails recipes are based on some of the herbs from the hotel’s rooftop garden and apiary. Some of them even include honey from the rooftop beehives!
The Flaming Rosemary Gimlet and Sage Paloma were my favorite, but I’m sure every selection is just as flavorful. If you don’t stop for a drink at the ARC Bar, you’re missing out!
It’s a Bees Life
The sustainability program at the Fairmont Waterfront makes it one of the more unique hotels we’ve stayed in. Green initiatives are cool, and this hotel’s devotion to bees and their “Bee Butler” takes it up a notch. On the third floor terrace, the hotel’s apiary has four beehives and a quarter-million bees buzzing away, producing 125 pounds of fresh honey per year.
So when we were offered to have adate with the bees, I couldn’t skip this kind of opportunity. I zipped up a beekeeper suit and got in on the action. I was able to work with the team and learn all about their fascinating, seemingly chaotic world. I never understood the importance of bees, and how their community worked…but after an hour, I came back a little bit more informed and with a strong appreciation for these striped little beauties.
Fairmont Waterfront works with Hives for Humanity as a part of their Pollinator Corridor Project (I just love the names of their projects), which aims to support local bee populations and resuscitate the dwindling species. Taking the bee tour at the hotel is such a unique amenity — you have to check it out!
The Fairmont Waterfront Hotel is the ideal hub for seeing the best Vancouver has to offer. While there is plenty to do at the hotel, make sure you step out and roam the streets. Check out the notorious Seawall and its many beaches or antique totem poles. Guide yourself on your own food tour, sampling from the many food trucks scattered across the city. If you’re an art buff, head to the Canadian Art Gallery, featuring local artists. Over the course of our stay, we realized that all Vancouver has to offer could entertain us for a lifetime!
Despite the elegance at Fairmont Waterfront, its overall feel is laid-back and casual sophistication. You can walk around the lobby in sandals and shorts and feel comfortable. It’s the kind of destination that anyone could warm up to, from Alaskan cruisers to business travelers. If you want a unique spin on Canada’s harbor front scene, it’s Fairmont Waterfront Hotel.
For more information about the Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver, visit their website: