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Checking In: Fairmont YVR

A night at this airport hotel is about so much more than just a good night’s sleep

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Editor’s Note: This is the latest instalment in our Checking In series, which profiles hotels from both staycation and weekend getaway perspectives. Despite global travel turnstiles now fully opened to Vancouverites, many are still choosing to spend a night or two locally, and in the process rediscovering parts of the region they haven’t visited in some time.

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I travel for work. A lot. In the coming month I will be on assignment in San Francisco, Lisbon and Munich. North American trips tend to be two nights, while Europe jaunts are usually three, one of those aboard a transcontinental flight. As such, I spend a lot of time in airplanes, airports and hotels.

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And I enjoy them all. Sure, there are disruptions. A recent assignment to the Faroe Islands was derailed after an 11-hour flight from Vancouver to Montreal caused me to miss my connection through Copenhagen, and a couple of weeks ago I spent an unplanned five hours in the Denver airport, both due to summer thunderstorms. But there is an exciting energy in airports and hotels, a buzz created by families on the move and a burst from businesspeople on the march. They are truly where the world meets, albeit it in passing, and for me I find the experience of walking through an airport or hotel lounge exhilarating. Even with jet lag.

The Fit on the Fly Suite features a Peloton Bike, a workout bench with weights, a lululemon yoga mat, and head-to-toe Fairmont Fit apparel. Photo by Fairmont

So, imagine my delight in a hotel stay in an airport. I’m not talking about a short shuttle hop away or 10-minute train ride, but literally in the terminal. That’s what the Fairmont YVR at the Vancouver Airport offers, with its main lobby less than 100 metres from the U.S. security gate, and just a short five-minute walk to International and Canadian gates.

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With a painfully early flight out the next morning, one well before Vancouver’s public transit system awakens, spending the night prior at the airport Fairmont proved the perfect solution to starting what was going to be a very long day of travel with a good night’s sleep.

As I was to discover, a stay at the Fairmont YVR offers much more than just a place to lay one’s head. There’s the West Coast-chic Globe@YVR dining room and Jetside lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking aircraft taxiing in and out of gates, all framed by the North Shore mountains. Guest rooms overlooking the airport that come with a plane-spotting guide pamphlet to help you identify the jets. And the 24-hour gold lounge providing a quiet and relaxing space, with round-the-clock food and drink service.

But what really got my blood pumping, quite literally, was my room. Dubbed a ‘Fit on the Fly Suite,’ it included a Peloton Bike, a weight-filled bench, a lululemon yoga mat, a balance ball, and to save space in your carry-on, head-to-toe Fairmont Fit apparel. Truth be told my daily workout routine involves a couple of hours hiking with my Duck Tolling Retriever in the North Shore mountains and some weight work, and a weekly one-hour stretch session. But before you could ask ‘how does this thing work?’ I was pedalling away on the Peloton while looking at those very same mountains on the northern horizon line. Twenty or so minutes in I had enough, so it was onto the mat for some stretching, followed by the in-room Nordic-style hydrotherapy experience. That involves a hot shower with a lavender patchouli shower steamer followed by a plunge into a cold bath. Then it’s into a plush Fairmont robe and some mindful breathing exercises.

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After all that, I admit to eyeing that big comfortable bed with a visions of Dreamliner dancing through my head, however dinner called. So, it was down to the Jetside Lounge with a window seat overlooking the U.S. departure gates. Just as a kid can sit for hours enthralled by diggers and cranes working a construction site, I’m in my happy place watching aircraft coming and going as ground crews perform their jetway ballet of loading and unloading, fuelling and replenishing the 65 tonne beasts. As if I wasn’t all already quite Zen thanks to that workout and hydrotherapy experience?

That sense of ease and contentment was further enhanced by the live music being performed by a talented guitarist, a dark and mysterious glass of red wine and a very tasty Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl created by executive chef Harris Sakalis, who arrived earlier this year and has transformed Fairmont YVR’s menu with a focus on sustainable ingredients sourced from local farmers and fishers. It was a toss-up between the poke bowl and the Tuscan sausage & clam pasta, and as I spied a plate of the latter being delivered to a nearby table, I realized I couldn’t have gone wrong either way. Sakalis began his culinary career in his native Greece, and subsequently travelled the world on that talent, including stops at New York’s Michelin-starred Café Boulud, Rosewood Hotels in Abu Dhabi, and Fairmonts in Bermuda and Jasper.  Checking out the menu at Globe@YVR, I made a mental note that it’s worth a Canada Line trip out to the airport for dinner even if you don’t have a flight to catch.

Following dinner, and an I-really-don’t-need-this-to-sleep night cap, it was off to bed. Seven hours later the alarm sounded to begin my day, and 30 minutes after that I was clearly security bound for another long day of travel and new adventures.

And I felt great. Wonder how much a Peloton bike costs?

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