The gal has written about outstanding airport hotels before, but Fairmont Vancouver Airport is not only a luxury lodging at its airport but is literally right in, or above, the terminal. And it has so many other features that make it unique. What a brilliant idea to have a clear plane-spotters’ guide in all bedrooms. End suite 1445, on the top floor, even comes with binoculars on a tripod stand: this airport works, by the way, from 5 a.m. through to 2 a.m, virtually a 24/7 operation (breakfast is available from 3 a.m. and the gym, with good Technogym equipment which offers sudoku, is open round the clock). This does, by the way, happen to be Fairmont’s North & Central American Region ‘Hotel of the year’, based on profitability, RevPAR – revenue per available room – index, guest satisfaction ratings, LQA and colleague engagement scores.
The lobby, on the fourth floor of the building, flows seamlessly into a big lounge bar with a central counter crammed full of bottles. Many merely sit around this counter, having a beer or a glass of wine and a snack. Everyone, throughout the entire fourth-floor public area, can here the live guitarist who plays from early evening on. Average stay at this 400-room hotel, not surprisingly, is under 24 hours but there are many repeats and savvy guests book one of the rooms that have access to the 14h floor club lounge. Yes, I know I keep raving about Fairmont club lounges but, honestly, they really have upped their game, with better furnishings, books and other intellectual stimuli, and lovely staff. GM Patrick Gosselin and his team understand that exhausted travellers need tender loving care for their minds, as well as their bodies. I was pleasantly surprised what a highly professional Aromatherapy Associates facial Anna, in the spa, managed to fit me in at extremely short notice.
Later, I checked on cocktail hour, which in Fairmont always means you pay, honour bar style, for alcohol. Prices here are clearly marked, with white wines C$16 by the glass – you pour, so some will undoubtedly try to get the meniscus up to the brim – and C$17 for such glasses of red as 5 Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Merlot, and Painted Rock Red Iron 2014 Okanagan Valley BC (you can also order 750ml bottles of Moët or Veuve Clicquot). Food is free, and here consists of more than enough to make a jolly good meal, which undoubtedly some of those around me were doing: super artisanal breads went with cold cuts, seafood, cheese and more and, something that I snacked on, baby vegetables of the ilk of cleaned miniature beetroot and turnip. Dinner for me was in the restaurant, overlooking the busy tarmac.
I listened to the guitarist, thoroughly enjoyed my Meyer Pinot Noir 2015 from Okanagan Valley, and, my last night in Canada, a BC ribeye, with asparagus. Chef Jason Saruya came out to see if it was cooked to perfection – it was (his Chinese wife would have his own dinner waiting, back home). In the morning, after a good workout in what was at that hour a private gym, I equally exclaimed over the club lounge’s breakfast, with outstanding muffins, and real Greek yoghurt, and make your own coffee, in china or paper. And then, my goodness, I was personally escorted to check-in, where we found a hotel Guest Relations manager waiting, to make sure I was really leaving. Those awards are, as the regional boss Peter Finamore says, a pretty amazing achievement for an airport hotel! NOW TOUR AN AIRPORT HOTEL SUITE, BELOW