An eye-catching sandstone fireplace
the bar from the dining area.
Wowing foodies and barflies, the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver
opened its stunning new restaurant, Yew, on Dec. 11, kicking off
the first phase of a total property makeover. The tab for the new
eatery was $4.3 million, which included a renovation of the
Work now starts on the lower-level lobby. Some $1 million will
be spent on new artwork, a new ceiling with hanging lanterns and
driveway improvements. Then starting in September, the hotel’s 372
guestrooms and suites will undergo a significant renovation, one
floor at a time.
“All the soft goods are coming out. Basically, we’re emptying
the rooms and filling them up with everything completely new,” said
Samantha Geer, director of public relations for the Four Seasons
Hotel Vancouver. “Carpets, bedding, furniture everything will be
The cost is expected to be $20 million, though Geer said the
final bill could be more than that. Expect some pizzazz. Certainly,
the new Yew is creating a buzz (though more conservative clients
might be less impressed).
Gone are the previous two outdated restaurants. In their place
is one large gorgeous room with lofty 40-foot ceilings, a giant
pyramid skylight and an immense sandstone fireplace dividing the
bar from the dining area. In the center of the restaurant, there’s
a private glass-walled dining room lined with racks of wine
The San Francisco-based Engstrom Design Group which designed the
restaurants at sister Four Seasons properties in Las Vegas and
Wailea, Maui were contracted to create the new look. Bold designer
touches are everywhere, including the hanging bird’s nest lights
above booth tables, a communal table for 20 sculpted from a slab of
hand-hewn Western maple, and the dramatic bar set against the
backdrop of a massive wall of live foliage.
The whole effect is urban, contemporary and vibrant, and doesn’t
look like your typical hotel restaurant. According to general
manager Guy Rigby, the atmosphere is “smoking hot.”
Over 150 wines are
available by the glass.
Not to be forgotten, the menu and food has been totally overhauled
too. Before taking over Yew’s kitchen, executive chef Rafael
Gonzales was executive sous at The Pierre in New York and a sous at
Jean Georges, one of New York’s top restaurants.
“The food we have chosen to include is sophisticated and
dramatic,” said Gonzales.
Certainly the urban West Coast fare was masterful the night we
visited. My appetizer of braised veal cheeks tossed with torchiette
pasta, sweet cipollini onions and walnuts, was rich and bursting
with flavor. Entree highlights included succulent, plump
caramelized scallops, served with delicate maitake mushrooms and
roasted cauliflower, and a delicious slow-braised lamb accompanied
by shaved zucchini and a potato-and-onion terrine. For dessert, the
whipped morello cherry cheesecake was a lovely and light
Wine lovers will be quite pleased to know that over 150 wines
are available by the glass (so long as you order a minimum of two
The completed enhancements to the second-floor lobby area, which
leads into Yew, include a new terrazzo floor, new couches and
chairs for mingling and a new front desk.
“Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver has been a part of the community
for over 31 years and this renovation is significant,” said Rigby.
“This isn’t just a renovation; we are adding a whole new flavor to
Also on the radar and among the hotel’s list of upgrades is the
addition of a spa, said Geer. The lack of a spa facility and the
lower lobby’s dated appearance were among the reasons the Four
Seasons was downgraded from a AAA five-diamond rating to a
four-diamond rating in 2003, after nabbing the top award for 27
years. While the improvements to the lobby should be completed by
June, other reasons related to the building’s physical limitations
such as the lack of separate showers and bathtubs will not be
changed, said Geer.
Mind you, regaining that extra diamond rating isn’t the Four
Seasons’ goal, she added.
“The most important thing for us is providing the highest
quality through both service and product,” said Geer. “Four Seasons
Hotels and Resorts is dedicated to perfecting the travel experience
through continuous innovation and the highest standards of
hospitality. At our Vancouver property, we look forward to
exceeding guest expectations for many more years in future.”