Walking into the lobby area of the Shangri-La Vancouver, a wave of calm seemed to surround me. It wasn’t just the bright, light elegant lobby decorated with live orchids that create it. There was something more. The hotel uses an Asian-inspired signature scent to coax its guests into a relaxed state. With notes of vanilla, sandalwood, musk, bergamot, tea and ginger, it adds an exotic element to the property and hints of the focus on relaxation found throughout, from its charming spa to the welcoming vibe of MARKET by Jean-Georges, its signature restaurant.
My stay at Shangri-La marked a special moment in my life. My partner Brian and I were celebrating five, fun-filled, wonderful years together. I wanted to do something meaningful for him to say thank you for being such a light in my life. He had never been to Vancouver before, so we headed there and spent four days enjoying the city – mostly eating and drinking.
The Shangri-La Vancouver was on my bucket list. I had been wanting to stay there ever since it opened. It’s stayed at other Shangri-La properties in Toronto and Yangon in Myanmar and loved them both. The Vancouver property was the first for Shangri-La in Canada. And it didn’t disappoint.
We stayed in an executive king room with a balcony. The feel of the room transported back to our travels in Asia with beautiful artwork, framed fans and a palette featuring rich earth tones. Its plushness was like a warm hug. My boyfriend was immediately dazzled by the large white marble bathroom with a television screen near the vanity.
He’s a shower snob so he had to go check it out right away. Wrapped in a towel, he came into the bedroom and said that it was his favorite hotel bathroom ever. He hasn’t stayed at the same number of hotels that I have, but I had to agree. This one was roomy, well lit (a must for make up application) and the towels were extra large, soft and fluffy.
We were happy to hang out in the room for longer than we normally do at other hotels. It was comfy. He was content to stretch out on the king-sized beds for naps, while I sat on the sofa, watching CNN and working on my laptop.
As a treat, we booked a couple’s massage in the small, intimate spa on the property. The couple’s suite was perfect for us. We could change into robes into the private change room before sitting down to enjoy a soothing foot soak and tea. Before hitting the massage table, we spent about 10 minutes in the eucalyptus-scented steam room – a great way to limber up muscles before the masseuses start working their magic. Post-massage, we dreamily got re-dressed and headed to the spa café for chocolate covered-strawberries and a glass of sparkling wine. We sipped and nibbled while we watched a light rain come down over the city.
That day, we didn’t go far from the hotel. There are plenty of restaurants, shops, galleries and luxury boutiques nearby, but we were content where we were. We had dinner booked at MARKET by Jean-Georges. It is the first restaurant in Canada from three-star Michelin chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Though he’s not actually in the kitchen, homegrown talent Ken Nakano is and does a great job dishing out consistently stellar meals breakfast, lunch and dinner using an farm-to-table approach. Being close to some of the best seafood in the world and a bounty of local farms, he can do this is an authentic way.
It’s nice to see a restaurant in a hotel that caters to both guests and locals. On the night we went, it was clear that there were groups of coworkers having dinner, birthdays being celebrated in the bar and couples starting their night out with cocktails and appetizers. Seats at a banquette gave us a great view of the dining room and the twinkling lights of the cityscape just outside the window. We started our meal with a zippy black pepper octopus, then moved to mains – fresh tagliatelle with braised beef and a gorgeous filet mignon. Thankfully, my partner doesn’t mean me reaching over and sampling off his plate. It’s a natural thing to do with someone you love and when the food is that good.
As normal life moves forward when we arrive back home, our time at Shangri-La still lingers. The memories of feeling spoiled and enjoying every moment together remain fresh and comforting.
Michele stayed as a guest of Shangri-La Vancouver. As always, her thoughts and opinions are her own. Photos courtesy of Michele Sponagle and Shangri-La Vancouver.