Travellers are spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation options abroad, but nothing beats the experience of staying in an iconic Fairmont hotel where the timeless elegance of unique architecture blends seamlessly with uber modern facilities and surprise and delight elements you’ll find nowhere else. There’s more than 70 Fairmont Hotels and Resorts to stay at worldwide, and we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing three properties in British Columbia, Canada. Fly direct from Brisbane to Vancouver with Air Canada’s daily Dreamliner services.
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Nestled against the backdrop of Whistler’s iconic Blackcomb Mountain in Upper Village, Fairmont Chateau Whistler appears like a castle in a fairy tale hugged by gardens of colourful tulips, daffodils and spruce and cloaked by snow topped peaks. In Winter, metres of snow transform it again into a playground for serious snow bunnies. The hotel itself, being five-star, is exemplary, with spacious rooms, dreamy beds with puffy white doonas, premium toiletries, Wifi and views to die for. Fairmont Chateau Whistler is a ski-in ski-out resort where a Valet will collect your gear at the door and store while you enjoy a tipple at the bar or warm your tootsies at the fire place. Spring and Summer is surprisingly busy at Whistler as there’s tons of activities to enjoy, from golf and bush walking the lush countryside, to bear watching, zip lining over spruce forest canyons, mountain biking the world’s best trails, or soaking in the delicious Scandinave Spa.
The restaurant and food offerings at Fairmont Chateau Whistler are sublime, with the Wildflower Restaurant offering a delectable seasonal menu. Of note is the Alpine Breakfast Buffet spread with the Chateau’s own rooftop honey and a focus on regional produce. For dinner, the Tomato Gin soup is highly recommended, not only is it constructed and flambéed at your table, the flavours captured in a simple bowl of anything but humble tomato soup will warm the cockles of your heart. Other cafés, bars and shopping options are a short stroll away.
Take the Fairmont Canine Ambassador ‘Alta’ for a walk.
Go bear spotting (from a distance) around the 9th hole of the Whistler Golf course, though the writer wasn’t lucky enough to see one.
Catch the regular free shuttle bus to the other village precincts
Enjoy a botanical gin and tonic cocktail spiced with charred rosemary and sage at Bar Oso, Whistler Village
Fairmont Empress, Victoria Vancouver Island
Commanding breathtaking views of Victoria’s bustling inner harbour that doubles as an international airport for an endless stream of seaplanes, The Empress, built in 1908, is a National Historic site in Canada and one of most stunning properties in the Fairmont family. Following a recent $60 million renovation, The Empress is at her regal best, retaining the grandeur that has attracted Kings and Queens, Hollywood starlets and political heavy weights in its time, but offering modern luxury down to the finest detail. The spacious rooms have upgraded bathrooms, flat screen TVs, charging ports, Wifi, luxury toiletries and comfy king sized beds spread with crisp linen.
High Tea in the Lobby Lounge is an art form at The Empress and is available to guests as well as visitors. The tea selection is exquisitely presented in a timber box with compartments showcasing 21 ethically sourced tea combinations. Your tea is served in bone China that was designed for use by Queen Elizabeth in 1939, along with house-made signature Empress scones, pastries, clotted creams and strawberry preserves with fresh lavender. It is said Sir Winston Churchill himself bypassed Prohibition Laws by requesting his gin be served in a teapot at The Empress.
The main restaurant, Q at the Empress, serves delightfully inventive cuisine showcasing local delicacies that may only be in season for a few weeks a year. Don’t be shy in asking the wait staff to explain items on the menu or you might miss out on tasting things as wonderful as fiddleheads, goeduck, halibut, steelhead and red spot!
Order The Empress 1908 Gin which transforms in colour from indigo to a soft pink with a splash of citrus
Munch through bowls of the famous charcoal-spiced popcorn at the Q Bar. One bowl is not enough. Trust me.
Indulge in the lush Willowstream Spa facilities for a treatment or enjoy the Finnish style sauna, steam inhalation room and mineral pool.
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
Black gold. Shades of green. Impression of Monet’s water lilies. Elk in the woods. These are not new shades of paint, they are stories on a plate served at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s Notch8 Restaurant. Truly imaginative and utterly delicious seasonal food dictated by nature and served as individual works of art will be a lasting memory of Fairmont’s ‘Castle in the City’. If the food doesn’t blow you away, the location, convenience and lux attention to detail surely will. Holding a prime downtown location, Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is minutes away from some of the city’s biggest attractions including Granville Island, Robson Street shopping, Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver Aquarium, Gastown, Canada Place and Science World. Shoppers are spoilt for choice with high-end brands Tiffany, Victoria Secret and Louis Vuitton nearby. Some guests love this hotel so much they have never left. Legend has it that the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is ‘enchanted’ by a friendly ghost, the glamorous Lady in Red.
Pinch the bathroom soaps and lotions. It’s impossible not to when it’s the luxury La Labo Rose 31 products with your name personally printed on the label.
Order the sublime coconut chia pudding with organic yogurt and seasonal berries for breakfast
Relax with a signature cocktail at Notch8 while enjoying live Jazz entertainment. Requests welcome.
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