Vancouver creates its best first impression when approached by sea. Skyscrapers framed by snow-topped mountains represent the beauty of man’s handiwork in balance with what Mother Nature has created. Finding a hotel with a water view is not a difficult task. Your vacation hideaway could be along the harbor, overlooking English Bay, on Granville Island or fronting a finger of the Fraser River.
Cruise ship passengers probably get the best views of Vancouver. Once their ship has rounded the southern coast of Vancouver Island and made its way through the dozens of small islands in the Salish Sea, it cruises under the Lions Gate Bridge into Vancouver Harbour. The destination is Canada Place, a combination cruise-ship terminal, shopping mall and traveler's information center housed under a sail-like roof. This is the heart of downtown Vancouver and home to name-brand luxury hotels. The closest to the water is the Fairmont Waterfront, which takes advantage of its location with floor-to-ceiling windows in its guest rooms. Signature rooms, found on the corners of each floor, offer two walls of glass and panoramic waterfront views. Another harbor property is the Pan Pacific Vancouver. Guest rooms here also have oversize glass windows overlooking the city and the harbor. An added feature is the eighth floor sundeck and pool area, offering a panoramic view of the harbor, Lions Gate Bridge, coastal mountains and beyond.
English Bay fronts the western end of Vancouver and the expanse of open space known as Stanley Park. Named by Captain George Vancouver, the bay is home to Sunset Beach. Trails lead along the beach to Stanley Park and then continue on throughout the park and around its northern tip. This part of the city is quieter, more laid back and largely residential, with only a few hotels. One is the Sylvia Hotel, built in 1912, located on the shores of English Bay and only two blocks from Stanley Park. Named a historic building in 1975, the Sylvia Hotel offers water views from some of the rooms and from the on-site Sylvia’s Restaurant and Lounge. Another option is the Oceanside Vancouver Hotel, located across the street from English Bay. All rooms are one-bedroom suites with full kitchens and views of the bay, Stanley Park and the city, depending on the unit.
Granville Island is connected to Vancouver’s West End by the Granville Island bridge, which spans a narrow bit of water called False Creek. Pedestrians can take the Old Bridge Walk or the Granville Island Ferry. Since much of the island is pedestrian, only these options are the most practical. This is Vancouver’s unofficial town square and home to the Granville Island Farmer’s Market selling fresh seafood, produce, cheeses and local wines. Other sales outlets include the Kid’s Market, an entire mall selling items just for the young ones and housing a water park and the Adventure Zone play area. Adults may find items to their liking at the Public Market, Railspur Alley or at any number of day vendor booths. In the middle of all this shopping frenzy sits the Granville Island Hotel. Rooms offer water and/or Stanley Park views, and some have balconies. The top-of-the-line room is a penthouse suite with wrap-around balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows fronting False Creek. One-bedroom executive suites are a bit less expensive and still offer panoramic views of False Creek and the Vancouver skyline. The adjacent Dockside Restaurant is surrounded by glass with views of False Creek and the mountains beyond.
Fraser River -- River Rock Casino Resort
Located just over Vancouver’s Oak Street Bridge in neighboring Richmond and fronting an arm of the Frazer River is the River Rock Casino Resort. Walk into the flower-strewn lobby and come face to face with a pair of curved escalators, the first in Canada. The all-suite property offers views of the river, the Salish Sea, mountains, downtown Vancouver and even the Vancouver International Airport runways, depending on the unit. Try your hand at over 900 slot machines or a number of games in the 24-hour casino. Headliners from around the world book into the River Rock Show Theatre and the more intimate Lulu’s Lounge. Choose from an assortment of restaurants, including the Curve Lounge, Tramonto and the International Food Court. Recreational options include an indoor swimming pool, spa, fitness center and long walks along the boardwalk fronting the Fraser River and the 144-foot marina. If you are planning to arrive by boat, call ahead for dock space.
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