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Fairmont Waterfront

Vancouver B.C.'s 'Middle Sister'

It's not easy being in the middle. You've got your younger, hipper sister practically across the street (Fairmont Pacific Rim) and your gracious, classy, aging-unbelievably-well older sister a few blocks away (Fairmont Hotel Vancouver). So you pull yourself up by the bootstraps and show them how it's done your way.

Waterfront is known to Vancouver Fairmont-ers as the smart middle sister, probably because everything is done so efficiently and elegantly. Fairmont's corporate mission is to turn 'moments into memories' and they do it in spades at the Waterfront. It's not always the big things, well, it is with them, but it's also the little things. Sincere smiles and conversation, a 'hello' that really makes you feel welcome, a staff that knows how to be friendly and fun, yet professional. They may have a laugh, but whatever you need, and sometimes things you didn't know you needed, happen smoothly around you, making your experience one you want to repeat.

A $12 million remodel in 2014 has everything sparkling. ARC, opened in May 2014, is their main floor restaurant, with a fun curved bar and tables fanned out along the arched floor-to-ceiling windows. Breakfast (a la carte or buffet), lunch or dinner, it's the spot in the hotel where people gather. They offer chalkboard daily picks and a Chef's Bench perfect for communal seating and special events. A private dining room also includes an outdoor terrace for groups of up to 14. Their 'urban artisanal food' is handcrafted, seasonal and despite the high-end beauty of the room, served in a very relaxed setting. What makes ARC really interesting are the lengths they've gone to in terms of being good citizens of the planet. Like many restaurants, they have close relationships with local farmers, purveyors and suppliers. They serve only sustainable Ocean Wise seafood, hormone-free meat, free range eggs, artisan cheeses, etc.

Fairmont as a whole has a Sustainability Partnership platform, part of which is their Bee Sustainable program with more than 20 honeybee apiaries and eight pollinator bee hotels around the world. Waterfront has had bees on site since 2008, hosting five hives and about 500,000 bees every summer. 2014's harvest was just over 600 pounds of honey and it is used in cocktails, chocolate, desserts, salad dressing and their signature Fairmont 'Stinger' Lager made by Whistler Brewing (it's really good, we're just saying). They've now added super-pollinating mason bees which are also connected to their partnership with Hives for Humanity; their new solitary bee habitat will be called the Bee & Bee. Waterfront even has a Bee Butler and Bee Buddies who care for the bees and conduct daily tours of the bees and the 2,400 square foot organic garden on the third floor rooftop. Along with the bees, the garden grows herbs, vegetables, fruit and edible blooms used in the restaurant, and it is a bird sanctuary, home to 10 species of local songbirds.

Beyond all this, the Fairmont Waterfront has a goal of zero waste, meaning 90% waste diversion. Waste is recycled and food composted; used linens, soaps and paper products are donated to shelters. They have a program for cooking oil, batteries, light bulbs and pallets, along with a state-of-the-art garbage compactor to decrease unnecessary pick-ups and reduce emissions. Energy efficiencies include 70% fluorescent light bulbs throughout the hotel, lighting timers and motion sensors in all public washrooms, low-flow shower heads and more. They even sweep the parking lots and sidewalks instead of spraying them with water. They currently sit at about 85% waste diversion.

All 489 guestrooms in the triangular-shaped hotel have been remodeled and enjoy views of Coal Harbour, the mountains and city. Rooms include amazingly comfortable beds, enormous TVs and spa showers, as well as state-of-the-art connectivity multimedia hubs. You can work there, but you really should just chill. Fairmont Gold occupies two floors. This is a hotel within the hotel, including a private elevator to check-in, concierge service, lounge and outdoor terrace. Colors are muted and relaxing: sand, cream, soft blue; the backdrop for wonderful views. The hotel is connected to the cruise ship terminal, shops and food court by an underground walkway. 24,000 square feet of flexible meeting space can also include the outdoor garden terrace.

By fabulous new standards, the Waterfront's fitness center is relatively small, but it does its job in a wonderful way. There are plenty of machines to use in the mirrored work-out room, and a good-sized indoor whirlpool that overlooks the outdoor heated pool. The pool is on the third-floor roof (that roof gets a work out!) and is a most amazing place to do laps or bob up and down. Surrounded by Vancouver's beautiful skyline on one end and with a view to the harbor and mountains on the other, you can't help but let go and feel healed from daily life. Head inside to the eucalyptus steam room and your body enters the noodle state of total relaxation.

The Fairmont Waterfront holds its own with its sister properties; maybe a little sibling rivalry is good for everyone.

Fairmont Waterfront
900 Canada Place Way
Vancouver, B.C.
Canada V6C 3L5

Chef Dana Hauser in rooftop garden

Other Fairmont Vancouver properties:

Fairmont Pacific Rim
1038 Canada Place
Vancouver, B.C. V6C 0B9

Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
900 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6C 2W6

Photos courtesy of Fairmont Waterfront

Connie Adams/May 2015

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