With the 2006 Alaska season almost under way, cruisers will be
descending upon Vancouver. It’s hard to think of a more pleasant
locale for a pre- or post-cruise visit: Vancouver is clean,
cosmopolitan and full of great coffeehouses. Everything seems
gleaming and new with the possible exception of Historic Gastown,
which is gleaming and old. Clients will likely find great shopping,
friendly people and Canada’s mildest climate. Nestled against the
dramatic Coast Range Mountains, Vancouver is surrounded by water on
three sides and boasts one of the world’s largest urban parks.
Welcome to the Neighborhoods
Vancouver’s most interesting communities are within easy
strolling distance of the port and each other. In the Gastown
District, gas lamps (fake, but still quaint) line charming cobbled
streets, and plaques explain the city’s history and lore.
Nowadays, boutiques, galleries and souvenir stores have taken
over those historic buildings where visitors can stock up on maple
syrup, smoked salmon, fuzzy fleece jackets, native crafts and “Made
in Canada” wares. Other areas include Robson Street, for fine
dining and shopping, and trendy-funky Yaletown, which boasts some
of the city’s best and most innovative restaurants.
Across the bridge on Granville Island, the Public Market is a
fun, colorful setting to grab a bite or wander the galleries and
craft shops located in old tin warehouses. The quickest way to get
there is via bus or cab, but it might be more fun to hop on the
False Creek Ferry, which travels between Granville Island and stops
throughout Vancouver for about $2.50 each way (www.
Travelers will find more scenic strolls at 1,000-acre Stanley
Park, a quasi-wilderness area near downtown. Clients can jog or
bicycle around the six-mile seawall along the park’s perimeter or
hoof it on any of the 120 miles of tree-shaded flat trails. Shops
along Denman and Georgia streets near the park’s entry rent
bicycles and inline skates.
For about $70, Rockwood Adventures offers inspirational,
educational tours of Stanley Park and Vancouver’s even wilder north
shore. The company offers agents $10 commission (www.
Nu (604-646-4668) is the town’s hot new waterfront restaurant,
offering an eclectic menu, mango-pepper liqueur signature cocktail
and a glass-walled bar overlooking yachts in the marina. CinCin
(604-688-7338) in the heart of Robson Street is one of the city’s
best Italian eateries.
The cozy and casual Watermark Restaurant on Kits Beach
(604-738-5487) features an Asian-inspired menu and sunset views. If
there’s just time for a quick cappuccino, coffeehouses are located
on almost every corner or for a cuppa, there’s Infuze
(604-689-3188), a downtown teahouse that brews green-tea frappes,
tea lattes and chai.
Canadian Outback Adventures coordinates customized rafting and
other outdoor adventures and excursions, including all the
necessary gear and transportation from ship or hotel.
The Eagle Safari rafting trip is one of its newest and most
popular outings. The peaceful float down the Squamish River
guarantees glimpses of wildlife seals, gulls, ducks, maybe a bear
or beaver and eagles galore while the well-informed guides talk
about the area’s wildlife, history and culture.
The company also offers other more exhilarating or
family-oriented rafting trips. Many include a barbecue or lunch at
Howe Sound Brewery, a comfortable diner famous for cheddar-ale
soup, fresh-baked breads and handcrafted micro-brewed beers. Prices
range from $60 to $175, per person. Commission is 10 percent
Where to Stay
The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is the city’s oldest and finest
hotel. This sophisticated, elegant landmark has hosted guests
ranging from royals to Robin Williams.
Rooms boast authentic Chippendale and antique mahogany
furnishings. The clubby lounge is a destination in itself,
featuring mellow jazz singers, an eclectic tapas menu and killer
martinis. It’s in the heart of downtown near Robson Street. Room
rates start at $215 per night; commission is 10 percent
The Opus in Yaletown is a hip boutique hotel, popular with
celebrities. Its 97 rooms were designed with distinct
“personalities” to appeal to different types of guests.
One room, for example, has a muted palette and the look of an
urban loft; while another resembles a trendy beach bungalow,
decorated with a funky mix of leopard skin and other unusual
fabrics. A townhouse-style room is easy going and comfortable with
big soft chairs. Rates start at $205; commission is 10 percent
The Fairmont Waterfront the Hotel Vancouver’s younger sister is
sleek and modern and offers mountain and harbor views from every
window. Located steps from the port, it’s also an easy walk to
Stanley Park and Gastown, with mountain and harbor views from every
window. Rates start at $215 per night; commission is 10 percent