The most annoying part of our trip in Emirates first class was not the long flight from LAX to Dubai or even the backtracking to Milan. It was flying up to Vancouver the night before since we positively, absolutely had to start our journey by flying from Vancouver to Los Angeles. The cheap fares published last December were only valid for travel originating in Canada.
This is called a “positioning” flight and is needed because missing any flight in an itinerary will usually result in cancellation of the subsequent flights. (It was perfectly fine for us to miss the last flight from Los Angeles to Vancouver because who cares at that point? I just booked a separate ticket to Seattle on Alaska Airlines.)
I’ve grown to hate positioning flights. They’re not so bad when they happen on the same day, but more often they require me to fly the day before and spend the night at an airport hotel before the vacation even begins. Fortunately, Vancouver has a Fairmont attached directly to the terminal, which we booked using Megan’s Ultimate Rewards points. The normal cost is about $200 per night, which reflects Fairmont’s premium brand. A full breakdown of travel expenses for this trip are in my introduction.
We were able to clear Canadian immigration pretty easily, although the officer was confused to learn we had flown from Seattle and were heading back to Los Angeles the next day. After clearing the immigration hall, we followed the signs up to the departures level and found a separate escalator to the hotel directly across from the WestJet counters.
Two employees were at the bottom asking for guests names as they entered. However, it didn’t seem to matter. I thought they were calling ahead so each guest could be personally greeted, but the receptionist gave us the same neutral greeting you’d expect from any front desk until we introduced ourselves. What a missed opportunity!
Our room was on the eighth floor with a view toward the passenger access road. No plane spotting on this trip.
The room itself was somewhat awkwardly laid out. I could see that they were trying to pack in the features with limited real estate. Perhaps eliminating a few would have created a more elegant and comfortable space. For example, the entry way felt narrow, and the bathroom featured only one sink with a small counter while using a ton of space for the bathtub. Who needs to soak in a bathtub at an airport hotel? On the other hand, a separate toilet room is a nice touch and appears standard at the Fairmont properties I’ve visited before.
Toiletries were Rose 31 by Le Labo, also a brand I remember from our recent stay at the Fairmont Orchid on the big island of Hawaii. At least that hotel had two sinks.
The king size bed was comfortable and had a nice comforter. There was absolutely no airport noise, so we slept undisturbed. However, I wasn’t really that impressed with the decor. It seemed dated and hardly anything matched. Consider the small oval desk and the two chairs. What is that second chair even for? With so much furniture there wasn’t a lot of space to move around. I would have preferred a larger desk against the window, moving the chair around so I could look out at the view while working
The hotel did provide plenty of outlets, including USB chargers, on the bedside tables and at the base of the television. There was even a power adaptor provided for frequent travelers. But internet access was not free! The starting price was CAD$15 per night, which seems steep for basic access.
Again, as I’ve experienced at other Fairmont hotels, the free coffee was provided with a K-cup machine and a selection of snacks and cold beverages in the minibar.
We arrived too late for dinner and left too early to enjoy breakfast at the hotel restaurant. However, it does have a great view of the ramp operations. I caught a glimpse of the hotel from our plane as we pushed back from the gate. If plane spotting is your thing, try to make some time to be here during the day and request a room with a runway view.
Overall, I can report we slept well in the limited time we had available. Most importantly, we were able to depart and walk to the WestJet counter in under two minutes, where we checked in for our flight to Los Angeles. We could have slept in another 30 minutes if I had known just how easy it was, and that’s really what matters most when picking an airport hotel before an early morning departure.
This hotel is about as convenient as it gets–even better than the Crowne Plaza at Singapore’s Changi Terminal 3. I’d stay here again if circumstances required it, but it could use a refresh.