||CHANTEL GUERTIN, Contributor
In lieu of birthday gifts, my sister (who lives in Vancouver) and I decided to get together for a girls’ getaway. We decided the best way to keep costs down was for only one of us to travel. Since I hadn’t been to Vancouver in a few years, I headed to her hometown for a long weekend of spa-going and sister-bonding time.
Where to stay:
Check into the Fairmont Pacific Rim. While I love the regal feeling of one of Canada’s oldest hotel chains, the Pacific Rim breaks the Fairmont mold with its James Cheng-designed esthetic. Built for the 2010 Olympics, the hotel is light, airy and modern. Ask for a bay-facing room and get a panoramic view of the water. Remote-controlled drapes, room service and a luxurious bathroom with double sinks will make you want to stay in the room.
What to do:
Unwind on the terrace of the Willow Stream Spa in Vancouver. Photo courtesy of Fairmont Hotels
Book any treatment and spend the day at the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Willow Stream Spa, which features nine treatment areas, including a Japanese Zen tub, nail spa, three lounges (both co-ed and women’s only), outdoor spa terrace and full fitness centre. Start in the outdoor heated pool that’s open year-round, then tuck into the detoxifying eucalyptus steam room.
Signature treatments include the Great Canadian Facial, a 60-minute treatment that bathes your skin in B.C. glacial water, followed by a hydrating mask of Saskatchewan clay and a maple-infused facial massage.
My personal favourite after a long flight and bit of jetlag is the Destination Rejuvenation Massage, a 60-minute treatment that combats jet lag with medium-pressure aromatherapy massage, using essential oils to regulate sleep, hydrate skin, relieve tension headaches and restore energy depleted through travel. Relax and read in the lounge between treatments while sipping on herbal teas or fresh fruit waters or order lunch from the healthy spa menu.
Where to eat:
Start your day with a latte and sour cherry white chocolate scone, house-made energy bar or chocolate zeppole (a chocolate ganache and custard sugar bun) at the hotel’s own Giovane Café+Bakery+Deli.
Indulge with homemade doughnuts, such as the Triple Chocolate Threat, at Cartems Donuterie.
Or, hold out and get over to Cartems Donuterie in Gastown, where the newly opened pop-up shop is popping out homemade doughnuts like The Earl Grey (just like the tea), The Breakfast Donut (organic figs, flax seeds and agave) and The Bee Sting (a honey and cassia flowers cake doughnut topped with parmesan and cracked pepper), all made from locally sourced ingredients.
For a midday snack, stop at one of three JapaDog stands. When a Japanese couple moved to Canada in 2005, they learned Vancouver’s rule of only allowing hotdog stands on the street.
JapaDog offers unique — and unusual — twists on the classic street dog. Photo by Chantel Guertin
To compete, they came up with JapaDog. Now the menu boasts more than 20 dogs with Japanese-inspired toppings like teriyaki sauce, seaweed, yakisoba and tonkatsu sauce.
On weekends, the lineup at the Red Wagon Restaurant is hours long and around the block, but it’s well worth the wait. The East Van diner was featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, but it’s mostly locals at this neighbourhood joint.
It may sound bizarre, but the pulled pork pancakes with Jack Daniels maple syrup is a must. If you prefer a savoury brunch, try the chilaquiles — two eggs, corn tortilla chips, salsa verde, feta, cream, red onions and pulled pork or pork belly on the side.
Top up on gourmet menu selections at Jean-Georges’ Market restaurant where you’ll find an emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Photo courtesy of Market restaurant
For a contemporary “locavore” dining experience (translation: meals made from fresh, locally available goods), make a reservation at Market, a three-star Michelin chef Jean Georges’ restaurant, located inside the Shangri-La hotel.
Sit on the heated outdoor covered terrace for a view of the city while you sip on a glass of B.C. wine. Order the steelhead — a menu staple incorporated into many of the dishes.
Any night of the week, the Lobby Lounge at the Fairmont is one of the best places for a cocktail (I love the High-Kick — watch one of the bartenders make this cocktail).
Grab a seat by the double-sided glass fireplace and listen to a different live band every night or order afternoon tea with champagne for a mid-afternoon break from shopping and sightseeing.
Chantel Guertin is a beauty expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, editor-at-large at TheKit.ca and bestselling author. She has worked at Sweetspot.ca, ELLE Canada and TV Guide, and has contributed to FASHION, Best Health,HGTV.ca, FoodNetwork.com and WNetwork.com. Visit her website at www. chantelguertin.com and follow her on Twitter @chantelguertin.
Date Added: September 15, 2012 | Comments (0)
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