Review: Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver

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This past weekend I spent three nights in Vancouver with friends and tried out three different hotels. We spent the first night at the Hyatt Regency, the second night at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, and the third night at the Shangri-La.

Booking the Fairmont Pacific Rim

I booked the Fairmont Pacific Rim through Virtuoso, which comes with the following benefits:

  • Complimentary room upgrade subject to availability
  • Early check-in and late check-out subject to availability
  • $100 spa or food and beverage credit
  • Complimentary full breakfast for two

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Virtuoso welcome letter

The Virtuoso rate is the same as the best available rate. In this case I took it one step further, though. A friend that’s a big Fairmont fan transferred one of his Gold Level upgrade certificates to my Fairmont President’s Club account, so that I could upgrade to the Gold Floor. This requires booking a minimum of a deluxe room, which cost $324CAD.

Given all the benefits I was getting, I figured it was worth it to experience the Gold Floor.

Vancouver is generally an outrageously expensive city, though hotel pricing varies seasonally. It’s such a bargain to stay at the Vancouver Virtuoso/American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts properties in the off season, between the low rates, the benefits you get, and the fact that they often offer a third or fourth night free. It’s not unusual to see rates under $200 at the Fairmont Pacific Rim or Shangri-La between November and February.

I was really curious to see how the Fairmont Pacific Rim compared to the Fairmont Waterfront, which is located a block away. I stayed there a couple of weeks ago and had a nice stay and found it to be a great value. That being said, I didn’t find the hotel to be much nicer than a Marriott or Westin, for example, so was a bit confused as to how Fairmont was trying to position themselves.

Staying at the Fairmont Pacific Rim

We arrived at the Fairmont Pacific Rim at around 2PM, and I was immediatley impressed by the exterior of the hotel. It’s stunning.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver exterior

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver exterior

As soon as we pulled up were approached by the friendly bellmen. They asked if we were checking in, and when they confirmed that we were President’s Club Members they called a front desk associate over to assist us. To be clear, I’m just a base President’s Club Member, and even with that they offer in-room check in. The friendly associate had my key ready to go, and escorted me to my room on the Gold Floor. At no point was I asked for a credit card or anything.

The exterior of the hotel is gorgeous, with the walkway into the hotel separating two small “ponds.” I found it kind of funny that they had a BMW standing in the water on one side.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver entrance

The lobby was stunning. It had high ceilings and featured the check-in desks to the right and lobby bar to the left.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver lobby

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver lobby

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver lobby

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver lobby

The associate walked me to my room and explained a lot of the features of the hotel to me, including the hours of the fitness center, pool, restaurants, etc. She also explained the Gold Floor privileges I would receive.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor hallway

I was assigned room 2008 on the Gold Floor (the Gold Floor runs on levels 20-22 as far as I know), which is located on the same level as the club itself.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver room entrance

I had booked a Deluxe Room which was upgraded to the Gold Floor using an upgrade certificate, and then through Virtuoso received an upgrade to a Harbour View Gold Floor Room.

The room featured an entryway with a closet to the left.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room entrance

The room was spacious and just stunning. It was decorated beautifully, with a super-comfortable king size bed, and then two chairs by the window, one of which had an ottoman.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room

On the opposite side of the room was a flat screen TV along with a desk.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room

Under the TV was the minibar and Nespresso machine.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room minibar

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room Nespresso machine

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room minibar

I was especially impressed by the room’s technology setup. They had a pouch with all sorts of cables, and then the side of the desk had a built in panel with a bunch of outlets.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room technology setup

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room technology setup

The room also had an iPad, which was surprisingly functional. There are lots of hotels with iPads which just have local recommendations and stuff, but you could do everything with the iPad, from ordering room service to requesting your car from valet.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room iPad

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room

The single most stunning aspect of the room, though, was the view. And the fact that it was a gorgeous day in Vancouver didn’t hurt, either.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room

The room’s bathroom was also exceptionally nice for a standard room, with a sink, mirror with built-in TV, soaking tub, walk-in shower, and partitioned off toilet.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room bathroom

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room tub

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room shower

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room toilet

The toiletries were Le Labo Rose 31 branded, which is one of my favorites.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room toiletries

The attention to detail throughout the room was impressive. For example, in the evening after I had placed all my toiletries on the counter, they placed a ziploc bag on the counter on top of a towel — awesome!

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room bag

I also loved the lit up back board in the room at turndown service.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Harbour View Room

I stayed at the Fairmont from Friday through Saturday and my birthday was on Sunday, so the hotel brought me a welcome gift consisting of bottled water, fruit, nuts, chocolate, and cake — very generous, and certainly not necessary.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver welcome amenity

Then I also had access to the Fairmont Gold Floor Lounge, which offers the following benefits:

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Fairmont Gold welcome letter

The lounge itself was modern and spacious, with plenty of seating.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge

There was also a large balcony with beautiful views.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge balcony

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge view

Possibly the most impressive part of the lounge was the service, though. It was always staffed by multiple people, and they couldn’t have been more professional and accommodating. When I first went to check out the lounge they wished me a happy birthday and offered to give me a tour.

The lounge had soft drinks, an honour bar, and snacks available all day.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge all day spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge all day spread

It’s impressive that this lounge actually had food during the day, including salad, popcorn, chips, nuts, etc.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge all day spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge all day spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge all day spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge all day spread

Apparently due to liquor laws in British Columbia lounges can’t serve complimentary alcohol, so they had an honour bar instead. The prices were really high, though, similar to what you’d pay in the bar downstairs.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge honour bar prices

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge honour bar prices

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge honour bar

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge honour bar

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge honour bar

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge honour bar

The evening spread was available from 5PM till 7PM, and fairly impressive. It wasn’t as good as the top hotels in Asia, for example, but by North American standards was top notch.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge evening spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge evening spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge evening spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge evening spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge evening spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge evening spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge evening spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge evening spread

Then from 8PM till 9PM there was a dessert service.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge dessert spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge dessert spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge dessert spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge dessert spread

Breakfast was also served in the lounge from 7AM till 11AM on weekends, though I was with friends and we all had restaurant breakfast through Virtuoso, so I just looked at the buffet.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge breakfast spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge breakfast spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge breakfast spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge breakfast spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge breakfast spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge breakfast spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge breakfast spread

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Gold Floor Lounge breakfast spread

We had breakfast at Oru, the hotel’s restaurant. When booking through Virtuoso you get complimentary full breakfast for two. The buffet was $34 per person including juice and any type of coffee drink (sadly not Irish coffee, though!). We could have ordered off the menu, but went with the buffet instead.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Oru Restaurant breakfast menu

The restaurant was nice, and our server was top notch.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Oru Restaurant

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Oru Restaurant

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Oru Restaurant

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Oru Restaurant

The buffet spread was extensive, and in addition to everything displayed you could have eggs cooked to order.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Oru Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Oru Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Oru Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Oru Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Oru Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Oru Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Oru Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Oru Restaurant breakfast buffet

In terms of the hotel’s other facilities, there’s a large gym that’s open 24 hours located next to the Willow Stream Spa on the fifth floor.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver gym

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver gym

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver gym

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver gym

I did get a massage at the Willow Stream Spa, which was one of the better ones I’ve had. It was pricey, though between the $100 spa credit and 10% discount for being a President’s Club Member, it wasn’t too much in the end (and it’s certainly better than drinking/eating more than I already had!).

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Willow Stream Spa

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver Willow Stream Spa

Then there’s also a nice pool and hot tub just outside the spa.

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver pool

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver hot tub

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver pool

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Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver pool

Service at the Fairmont Pacific Rim

So the hotel was physically absolutely stunning. But a stunning hotel isn’t a great hotel. Similarly I’m sure we’ve all been on dates with people that look nice, but are as friendly/interesting as a root canal.

But the truth is that the service at this hotel was spectacular across the board. Hands down the best service I’ve ever had at a hotel in North America.

Where do we start? The bellmen were amazing. Every time we pulled up they would say “welcome home,” which can easily sound cheesy or insincere, but they did it in such a genuine way.

Another time, as I got into my car in front of the hotel I took two bottles of Diet Coke out of the trunk which I had bought for my friends that I was picking up at the airport. The bellman saw me with the two bottles and said “did you want some cups of ice for that?” I said “really, you can do that?” and his response was “of course, we can do anything.” Every time I got in my car I was offered bottled water to go.

These are all small touches, but they’re so above and beyond what you get at most hotels that I was just blown away. It’s one thing to reactively provide good service, but here it was proactive instead.

The entire Gold Floor staff were so professional. They were constantly proactive in explaining everything that was on offer. When I went in there in the afternoon they asked if I might like a coffee or latte, or if I needed any help with plans.

At breakfast the server asked what our plans were, and she proactively made some suggestions.

At the bar Josh and Jonathan were both awesome — super friendly and clearly loved their jobs.

This is hands down the best service I’ve received at a large hotel in North America. It wasn’t just that most employees I interacted with were friendly, but rather they all were. And not just friendly, but also competent and proactive.

Bottom Line on Fairmont Pacific Rim

Staying at the Fairmont Waterfront left me a bit confused as to how exactly the Fairmont brand was trying to position themselves. It was a nice enough hotel, though I didn’t get what made it different than any other generic hotel brand. Service was good, though not amazing.

The Fairmont Pacific Rim was in a completely different league. The hotel was gorgeous, the employees were all top notch, and the club lounge was something actually worth paying for. I would return in a heartbeat.

I love Vancouver, so in the future would definitely consider staying at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, especially in the off season given the prices. And it has also gotten me interested in getting status with the Fairmont President’s Club Program, which I’ll be writing more about tomorrow.

Have you stayed at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, and if so, what was your experience? Otherwise, have you visited any other Fairmont properties — what did you think?

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Comments

  1. @Lucky, fantastic hotel review – probably one of your best! Sometimes the reviews just write themselves, eh?

    I have the Fairmont visa, and have enjoyed the free night at the Fairmont in Durban, South Africa. Loved it. Am curious to hear your thoughts on the Fairmont President’s Club hotel guest program!

  2. This is one review I read as I am very interested to add to my collection of Fairmont hotel visits. Well, let’s just say a visit to Vancouver is going to enter the planning stages pronto!

    I manage 3 free Fairmont hotels each year (1 with my lifetime Platinum status and two from our Visa cards after spending $12k each year and paying the annual fee).

    Maybe we do this over Thanksgiving in 2015 as we just came back from the Fairmont Kea Lani (and Andaz) in Maui.

    As always, great reviews and pictures. BUT you can guarantee your affiliate links that you would not forget to add the Fairmont credit cards if there were affiliate links. Since the Fairmont Visa cards do not offer affiliate versions…it was just not that big of a concern and you neglected/forgot to do it? Am I correct or just off?

    And this is why I still like your blog but not enough to add it to my world famous “Blogs I Like” list 🙂

  3. Those are some amazing views of Stanley Park in the distance. I hope you’ve had the opportunity to stroll around there on one of your visits.

  4. Stayed here two years ago for 10th anniversary on the tail end of a trip to Whistler. Completely agree with you about the hotel being beautiful (pictures don’t really do it justice) and the service being phenomenal. It is a lot of consistent small touches with a genuine attitude like the people working there really care. As an example, when we checked in (around the standard posted time for check-in) the room wasn’t quite ready so they offered us complimentary drinks at the bar. It was all handled extremely professionally so as not to make me feel like a mooch. At checkout, we called bell (wo)man who helped us down with bags. I asked her directions to the train serving the airport which I thought was only a block or two away, and she insisted on driving us.

  5. The Fairmont Pacific Rim is my family’s favourite weekend-getaway hotel. We venture into the “cig city” a couple times a year and love staying here. You’ve captured the essence of the hotel exceptionally well.

    And thanks for spelling “harbour” and “honour” correctly for those of up north. 😉

  6. Do you realize how many times you used the word “stunning” in this review? Your other favorite word is “excited,” as in “….so I was excited to try the Dragonair hard product.” Perhaps a thesaurus, or a vocabulary enhancement game, for your next transocean flight?

  7. In your Fairmont writeup, could you mention some of the notable properties that are good redemption values?

  8. This is the haunting hotel where Glee star Cory Monteith . Rally freaky me out. I won’t live there, Just imagine his ghost may remain exist.

  9. Great review. Stayed at the hotel for 5 nights last year. You forgot to mention the live music everyday in the lobby lounge, the free BMW bikes for hotel guests to use, the complimentary BMW car and driver to take you anywhere in the downtown area. I spent 5 months in the private residences at the Fairmont Pacific Rim last year and getting ready to do it again starting the first week of May. Love having access to the hotel facilities, gym, spa, driver and as you said, can’t beat the views and the terrific staff. Vancouver is a great walking city and when you come back I will be happy to give you the Stanley Park and city walking tour. For me, it’s perfect for May thru September 30. Otherwise too cold and too much rain for this transplanted Floridian. I’ve also stayed at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver which is a few blocks away and very centrally located but an older, elegant hotel with a much different vibe than the new and modern Pacific Rim. The 3 downtown Fairmont hotels are only blocks apart and another at the airport.

  10. Now that was a “stunning” report! 😉

    With all the extra services and add-ons, one wonders if they actually make a profit on the rate you paid!

    Thanks again for the informative and “stunning” review! 🙂

  11. Glad to hear you had a good stay. I will say, you can get this kind of service at other North American hotels, though it is certainly rare. This review overall reminds me of the better North American Ritz-Carltons (not all of which are so expensive), and of course all Mandarin Orientals meet this standard.

  12. Odd you say that the BC liquor board doesn’t allow free liquor in a lounge as the Maple Leaf Lounge at Yvr has free alcohol.

  13. @ Simon — I don’t know what exactly the law was, I’m sure it’s more specific than I stated. But apparently it did involve their liquor laws.

  14. One of the top hotels in YVR. Totally modern and comfortable vibe. I love the Gold floors since you pretty well don’t even need to eat anywhere else! Also love to watch the float planes and helicopters taking off nearby. Just an awesome hotel, but you need to convince Fairmont to offer their CC in Canada!

  15. BTW besides the Shangri-La you should also try the Rosewood Georgia and the Hermitage – exceptional as well.

  16. Stayed there last year on a certificate. it was a very good experience but not as spectacular as you wrote about. I think your experience was definitely colored by your upgrade to the Lounge level.

    For how much it cost me, though, (zero) it was well worth it.

  17. The Gold Floor is stunning, but really expensive without the certificate. I think you missed out on my favourite Gold Floor benefit: Wake-up call with coffee, tea or fresh juice. Amazing!

  18. The honour bar has a very good selection of wines. And, while it looks expensive, nobody cares if you fill the glass up to the top.

    I would characterize the pacific rim service as “empowered”.

  19. Those honor bar prices are steep! The Hyatt Regency Club Vancouver’s honor bar prices are only $4-$6. Did not know they had to charge because of BC’s liquor laws, but it does explain why the Vancouver Regency Club is the only one I have been in where you had to pay for the adult beverages.

  20. We stayed there in late August 2014, Gold Floor. We loved it, but when we were there the lounge did not have the truffle popcorn and not much between the feeding times. One of the nicest things about the Gold floor is that if you know you are going to miss the afternoon snack, you can ask them to give you samples in your room. One night we missed the dessert and they were able to give us a few desserts in our room. They also drew a bath for our daughter (19) complete with nice salts and some salt water taffy. The one thing missing in the room however were drawers for clothes.

  21. Your first photo there is of the Shaw Tower…not the Fairmont. Both built/owned by Westbank and designed by James Cheng. The FPR has the same owner as the Shangri-La hotels in Vancouver and Toronto, so curious what you think of those in comparison?

    You’re right about free booze, it’s not allowed under Vancouver’s liquor by-laws. YVR isn’t in Vancouver, so that might be why the Maple Leaf Lounge can pull it off. Clearly FPR saw that as an opportunity to rip Gold for guests off, as there’s plenty of amazing restaurants/bars in the immediate area that charge far less.

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