I wrote earlier about our train ride to Vancouver on Amtrak. It was okay, but what really impressed us was the service at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver. We booked this hotel on a Costco rate given that we’d missed out on an earlier 48-hour sale. However, it was still a reasonably good price (about $150 plus taxes) and included breakfast each night thanks to my Diamond status since the Regency Club is closed on weekends. We also got some extra Gold Passport points for that; why they offer both is beyond me, since I’d gladly take the full breakfast any day over the continental buffet in the lounge.
Cab fare to the hotel was dirt cheap. Even though Vancouver looks (and is) a big city, the downtown area is compact. We walked everywhere while in town, and the only reason we took a cab is that it was nearly midnight when we arrived at the train station. I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve used a cab in my whole life, so I probably tipped the guy too much. Personally, I was hoping Megan would let us take public transit. 😛
Upon arrival, things were pretty quiet. A few couples were heading out, presumably to hit up the local nightlife (more on that in a future post). The check-in desk was deserted except for a lone clerk who actually managed to remember us for the duration of our stay and was exceptionally friendly. I had thought to check-in online earlier that day but decided our chances of an upgrade were probably better if we waited until our late arrival, when perhaps most of the standard rooms would have already been filled. I have no idea if that logic is sound, but it turned out that my wish was granted.
We got an upgrade to one of two Presidential Suites! I find this amusing since Canada has no president, but perhaps there is some name confusion. I’ve seen several references to “Signature Suites” at this hotel online, but everyone there referred to it as the Presidential Suite. Ours was #3304 on the top floor, and the other is #3303. While our suite was clad almost entirely in marble, I believe the other has much more wood for a warmer touch. There is also a two-level suite with an entrance on the 32nd floor, but this and a fourth suite all look to be much more business-oriented while ours was better laid out for hosting a large party.
When handing over the keys, she made a comment at one point along the lines of, “And are you Mr. Mackenzie?” (emphasis on the “Mr.”) that made Megan giggle. That’s what it says on the I.D.! Did you think I was riding on someone else’s status? I guess she doesn’t get many 27-year-old grad students checking in to the nicest room in the hotel. Lucky may have far more experience and skill at this blogger thing than I, but at least I can still claim to get a fair share of double-takes when I arrive at a hotel or board an airplane.
The 33rd floor is decorated differently from all the other floors and has white wood paneling instead of the usual wallpaper. There are maybe six or seven rooms on that floor. The suite itself is the size of three standard rooms as you can tell from a few support columns still in place in the living room (also, the two bathrooms and kitchen are in the same locations as the bathroom would be in each individual room). It was definitely more space than we needed, but it was exactly what I would want to feel at home.
There was a foyer with umbrellas and stand; an electric fireplace; a small kitchen with a bar, wine glasses, free minibar (a few beers and sodas), microwave, and a Keurig machine; several chairs and a sofa; a long desk with a desktop computer and printer; two large televisions; and a chess set. Obviously it had to have wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling windows with a northern view of the harbor (this is better than at the Regency Club, which faces west directly into some office buildings). Quite amazing!
Moving into the bedroom, there was the expected king-sized bed, but also a few nice touches like an extra chair and adjustable overhead reading lamps. The most annoying parts of the suite, however, were that the bed wasn’t particularly comfortable (although I don’t mind firm beds, this was definitely not on par with a Heavenly Bed) and that there was some stupid white “shelf” at its foot. I don’t know why this was there. Do I need a place to rest my cocktail as I get ready for bed? There’s not even any decoration on it. All it did was create sharp corners for me to run into after turning out the lights!
The bathroom had an open door to the bedroom, but the large bathtub was separated by a glass wall. There were two sinks with very nice faucets (I like good faucets given how many bad ones I put up with at work that drip, turn off after three seconds, or just generally don’t work well). In the back was a large shower embedded in the ceiling–not the best if you’re a woman trying to avoid getting her hair wet. All the toiletries were very nice Gilchrist & Soames, which Hyatt generally only gives to people staying in suites. I swiped a shave kit and a dental kit for use on a future mileage run. 🙂
However, I truly hated the toilet and considered using the half bathroom in the foyer for the duration of our stay. Remember, most of the suite is covered in marble, especially the bathroom. There was a separate room with a door for the toilet. It was a very large, very white room with just the toilet and a small piece of art. And it had a spotlight. And it echoed. Megan and I both agreed it reminded us of something out of a horror film. While the modern feel of this suite was largely okay, I think given a choice between suites I would have preferred something a little warmer. I know, like Lucky says, #firstworldproblems. I’m still happy to have had the upgrade!
Services and Amenities
The elevators are all centrally managed, so you go up to a keypad, type in the floor you want, and then you are assigned an elevator. We mostly went to the lobby and back, but I did stop at the Regency Club to peer through the closed doors (like I said, the view was not quite as good). The clerk at check-in had been very excited about the pool and hot tub renovation, but I neglected to bring my swim suit, and it looked pretty crowded out there anyway. It was only a narrow space in a city hotel, so there’s not much more I could have expected. Adjacent to the pools was a gym with the standard Hyatt assortment of equipment and towels. It was active but not full.
As a Diamond guest staying on a weekend when the Regency Club was closed, we got a full free breakfast each day, which we could use for the a la cart menu ($10-15) or the buffet ($26). I had the buffet the first day and a steak-and-egg hash the second, while Megan had an omelette the first day and a granola French toast the second. Overall I was not very impressed by the food. It just didn’t taste that great, and the poached eggs–both for the buffet’s eggs benedict and my hash–were the kind made with a mold rather than by hand. I much prefer the latter as these were a bit overcooked and lukewarm. The granola French toast was interesting in texture but a bit bland. But while it wasn’t great, it was certainly adequate and I can’t complain about the price.
What salvaged breakfast were the nice views of the street from the second floor, mini cinnamon sugar doughnut holes with each meal (a nice touch that made up for our failure to stop at the 24-hour Tim Horton’s next door), and our great server the first day. He chatted us up about our plans for the weekend, after turned out to be a musician. After learning we were from Seattle he gave us his card and encouraged us to stop by the next time he was performing at the Triple Door.
While not everything at this hotel was exactly how I may have liked it, it was still a great stay. Staff were friendly, and even without the upgrade I think I would have been satisfied with the price. Food is a tricky thing, and I think that while their heart was in the right place with a few innovative dishes, they needed to focus first on execution. I just felt the flavors were a little bland, or the food was too cold. These are similar to the complaints I had about breakfast at the AVIA Napa. But if this is all I can complain about (and I do love to critique food 😉 ) then the rest of the hotel clearly isn’t that bad. Except for the bathroom. They must redesign that suite.
For a weekend trip to Vancouver, I can’t imagine that anywhere else would be near as good and within the same price range. There are also lots of similar compliments on FlyerTalk, so I am not the only one with praise for this property. I suggest you check it out the next time you’re in town.