Vancouver on Business

After a 20-year absence I returned to Vancouver on business twice in 2 years.

Pacific Palisades Hotel

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by girlfromals on April 9, 2007

The destination for our 2007 annual conference was Vancouver. All we needed was a hotel. After discussions with our travel coordinator, I chose the Pacific Palisades. I had heard great things about this hotel and was excited to arrive. After a 5 ½ hour plane ride, my boss and I arrived at our hotel at about 11:30pm. We were greeted by Ken who grabbed my suitcases and took me over to the front desk. Upon checking in, I was informed that I would be in the West Tower, the tower opposite the lobby. Ken helped me with my suitcases, laden down by conference materials prepared at the last minute. He showed me into my room and lifted my suitcase up on to the storage bench located in the kitchen.

I was immediately impressed by the size of the hotel room, er... suite. I had a full bedroom with king-sized bed and TV, a big bathroom, a full living room with a desk, Internet access, pull-out couch, and TV, a kitchen with a microwave, fully stocked mini-bar, dishes, kettle, table, and a huge closet (including an iron and ironing board) and storage for all my clothes. The decor was fresh. A friend felt like she was in Florida! There were plenty of windows to brighten up the space during the day and a large balcony on which to check out the action on Robson Street at night.

The only major glitch the entire weekend was the missing breakfast on the first morning. I had put out my room service card the night before but my breakfast did not arrive. A call down to the kitchen revealed that they never received the card. Hmm ... maybe a ghost? Probably not. I ordered breakfast and although I was told it would take up to 25 minutes for it to arrive, it was there in less than 15!

The rooms were cleaned and tidied up more than once a day as evidenced by pillows and robes moving around some time after supper. On the third day of my stay, I received a goldfish to keep me company. My bed was super-comfortable and I had restful nights of sleep thanks to a heavy blind behind the wooden-slatted blind in front of it. Robson Street is a hot spot of activity throughout the day and night and the single-paned windows did little to keep out the noise. Luckily I always travel with earplugs and that solved the noise problem.

The staff were courteous and superb attending to my needs and those of our conference delegates. All the delegates were impressed with their stay at the Pacific Palisades and declared 2007 the best conference yet. I would highly recommend the Pacific Palisades to any traveler and would not hesitate to stay here again.
Pacific Palisades Hotel
1277 Robson Street
Vancouver, British Columbia, V6E1C4
(800) 663-1815

Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by girlfromals on April 9, 2007

A colleague and I had flown to Vancouver for a pre-2010 Olympics meeting. We shared a cab to the Renaissance Harbourside located just a couple of streets off Burrard Inlet in the heart of downtown Vancouver. This was my first time back in the city in 20 years and the hotel made quite the impression.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the doorman who immediately unloaded our luggage onto a cart. When we walked into the lobby of the hotel, we suddenly felt underdressed in our jeans and t-shirts worn for comfort on the long flight! We were greeted by shiny black stone floors and stairs and an impressive lounge with multi-story windows overlooking the Inlet. Upon checking in, I headed up to my room. My room was located at the far end of the hall. As I was walking down the long hall wondering where the heck my room was, I was thinking I probably would not have a view of the Inlet.

When I arrived at my room, I entered a nice sized room with a warm decor - the walls were wallpapered with small green stars. I had a comfortable queen-sized bed, a desk, a sitting chair, and an armoir housing the TV and mini-fridge. And much to my surprise, I did have a view of the mountains, albeit through a small window. The bedroom was clean although on the cramped side. This would be my only complaint about my stay here. Not long after arriving in my room, my bags arrived. What service!

Even though I spent most of my time in meetings, on one evening a few of us enjoyed a drink in the lounge with the impressive view of the mountains. It was a bit cloudy that evening but it was still an amazing view. Since the Renaissance is located close to Burrard Inlet, it is a few blocks' walk up to Robson Street, where most of the shopping and restaurant choices are located. And despite the location and the cost of the rooms, the room service is more reasonable at the Renaissance than at other similar hotels.

The Renaissance provided a relaxing stay even though I was there on business. The staff were courteous and went out of their way to help me during my stay. And frankly, the location cannot be beat!
Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel
1133 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, British Columbia, V6E3T3
(604) 689-9211


Member Rating 5 out of 5 by girlfromals on April 9, 2007

Even before leaving for Vancouver, one of my friends said that we absolutely must go to Capone's. After we finished working the conference we definitely deserved a great meal. So, we headed over to Capone's. The cab ride took us to the funky area of Yaletown full of converted warehouses and small laneways.

We were greeted by two hostesses when we arrived and they asked whether we had a reservation. We did not but that was no problem. We were there shortly after 6pm and 90% of the tables were empty. Capones is a long and narrow restaurant so most of the tables are situated along the brick wall. Our party of five was seated at a table right across from the kitchen. In most places this would be an issue but the high kitchen wall prevented most of the noise from drowning out our conversation. Plus we were able to watch the hubbub of the chefs!

Our server, a friendly and pleasant young man, checked with us a couple of times but we hadn't quite made up our minds. When he came back everyone was ready to order. I had settled on the chicken cannelloni. For $19 Cdn I received 2 cannelloni shells stuffed with cherrywood smoked chicken breast, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese all covered in a basil rosé sauce. I wanted to add a glass of white wine but was not sure which of the wines from the long list to select. Our server suggested one and I took him up on his recommendation. A single glass of wine was $9 Cdn.

Everyone was super hungry by the time our dishes arrived as we had waited just a little too long to go for supper. Our server offered freshly ground black pepper and Parmesan cheese. I added a spoonful of Parmesan to my dish. All it took was a single bite of the cannelloni for me to declare this would be a great meal. My friend's daughter also ordered the chicken cannelloni and we both agreed that this was an excellent choice. There was more than enough pasta and I could not finish the entire dish.

We lingered around for a while discussing the events of the weekend. We turned down the dessert menu. If the pastas are any indication, the desserts would probably have been amazing. At 7:30pm, a lone musician took to the stage at the back of the restaurant beginning the nightly jazz entertainment this restaurant is famous for. Unfortunately, we all had other places to be that evening so we ended up leaving at about 10 minutes to 8. While waiting outside the restaurant a large group checked out the menu posted outside and asked us what we thought of Capone's. We all replied "It's excellent!". They must have taken our advice because they went in straight away.
1141 Hamilton St.
Vancouver, British Columbia, V6B 5P6
(604) 684-7900

Hon's Won Ton House

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by girlfromals on April 11, 2007

In general, Chinese food in Canada is pretty much the same wherever you go. So, when someone suggested that we head up to the Robson Street location of Hon's, I was expecting the usual. What I experienced was good food in an atmosphere that is hard to forget.

Even though we arrived close to 7pm, this place was packed full of customers and we actually had to wait to get a table. When a table became free we were seated at the front of the restaurant right next to the take-out till. We were seated at the end of a very long line of tables joined end-to-end. All of the tables are arranged in these long lines throughout the restaurant. So, if you do not enjoy getting cozy with strangers, this might not be the place for you!

Our group of 5 ordered tea, won-ton soup, and a variety of dishes to share. While waiting for our food we took in the fantastic sight, the open kitchens. The back wall and the wall closest to where we were seated are full of open kitchens separated based on the specialty of that kitchen. You can watch the chefs busy at work preparing meat, noodles, vegetarian selections and soups in their deep kitchens. This definitely makes Hon's a little on the noisy side but it is all part of the experience.

We started off with our soup which contained more noodles and vegetables than I am used to. This was a good start! We were not finished with the soup when the rest of our dishes arrived. We had ordered a variety of beef, pork, and shrimp dishes that were mostly noodle and rice based. I picked a broccoli beef dish to add some extra vegetables. This one quickly became the favourite of most of the group. The food was excellent in quality with the vegetables remaining crisp and the meat dishes actually containing meat. Yes, I have actually been to Chinese food restaurants where the battered items seem to be missing the chicken and the meat dishes seem to be made from the fatty remnants of whatever was left over from the day before.

While the decor is definitely spartan, Hon's definitely provided an excellent meal to share. When we split the bill each of us paid around C$20. We finished the meal with the obligatory fortune cookies. Of course we had to read them out to each other and we all got a good laugh from that. We ended up a little on the stuffed side so it was a good thing that we had a few blocks' walk back to our hotel.

Hon's is open 7 days a week, Sunday to Thursday from 11am to 11pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 11am to midnight. You can print a 10% coupon right from the Hon's website.
Hon's Won Ton House
108-268 Keefer St
Vancouver, British Columbia, V6A 1X5
+1 604 688 0871

Murchie's Tea and Coffee

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by girlfromals on April 10, 2007

I had a few hours to explore Vancouver and was thumbing through the Vancouver tourist guide provided in my hotel room. I came across an ad for Murchie's Tea & Coffee and decided to check it out. I walked the few blocks over to their Vancouver location and immediately got lost in all the tea choices!

Murchie's began operations in 1894 out of New Westminster, British Columbia, delivering tea and coffee in Canada. It definitely caught the eye of the British Royal family as Murchie's developed a number of unique blends for certain royals, including Queen Victoria, after whom these blends are named. Murchie's also developed blends unique to certain hotels, like Victoria's Empress Hotel whom they supplied with their Empress Afternoon Blend from 1972 to 2001.

The Vancouver location of Murchie's has a very calming modern atmosphere, decorated in sage and eggplant. Surprisingly, it is also spacious giving you lots of room to walk around perusing all the choices of tea, coffee, and hot chocolate on sale. I actually had expected a cramped store with tons of high wooden cabinets full of little drawers holding special and rare varieties of loose tea!

I was not bothered by nosy staff and was instead allowed to look at the multitude of choices available and make up my own mind. In reality, there are almost too many choices available but I managed to narrow it down based on ease of travel. Instead of choosing one of the many prepackaged gift selections, I decided to pick up 4 packages of 12 tea bags each in 4 different varieties. At only $3.99 Cdn each, these were a good deal for high quality tea. I toyed with getting a really nice tin of hot chocolate as a thank you present for someone but decided to pick up some tea here and some chocolates elsewhere instead.

When I was ready I headed to the large counter at the back of the store where they keep the loose and rare varieties of tea. I did not have the time to stop at the small restaurant at the back for a sandwich or a cup of tea as I had to catch my flight home. But I did notice that all the tables were full even after the lunch hour rush was over.

One year after picking up my deliciously smelling tea I still have most of it. Sadly, I do not have a proper tea pot so I save it for special occasions. But if I did manage to make my way through it in a hurry, I could always order online for about the same price as the tea is available in the store.

Murchie's is open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 6pm.
Murchie's Tea and Coffee
825 West Pender Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
(604) 669-0783

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