(This article was originally published on 12/24/08) Photos courtesy of The Wedgewood
Some say that the best city in the world is Vancouver. It's beautiful, clean, green and hip. It gets nice and cold, but rarely snows. You can go from boating to golfing to snow skiing within hours. It has unbelievable scenery and trendy arts, clothing and music scenes. It's also the starting point for thousands of cruises each year. Vancouver is worth a vacation of its own but throw in the winter Olympic Games 2010 and you've got a Destination! With world-class restaurants and cultural activities, as well as the natural beauty of British Columbia, there is plenty for a luxury travel fan to do on vacation here.
You can find all you want to know about the city and its charms elsewhere; this is about where you should stay. An intimate, romantic, boutique hotel in the heart of Robson Square – the Wedgewood.
The Wedgewood Hotel offers elegant accommodations in the heart of downtown Vancouver, BC. From the rich, ornate interiors to modern recreational facilities, from fine dining to upscale guest services, the hotel exudes a sophistication and level of convenience suitable for the most discerning travelers.
Joanna Tsaparas-Piche , the director of sales, marketing and public relations, greeted us in the award-winning Bacchus Restaurant and Bar.
The owner of the hotel, Eleni Skalbania, owned two other hotels with partners before buying the existing property and gutting it completely several years ago. Skalbania took the hotel down to the cement walls and crews worked 24 hours a day for six months to finish the renovation. Tsaparas-Piche and Skalbania, who also happen to be sisters, took turns staying at the property during the reconstructions. “One of us was always here. She'd go home to sleep and I'd be here; then we would reverse that. We wanted it to be exactly right. The focus is now the corporate market with an exacting level of guest services,” Tsaparas-Piche said.
“We strive for understated elegance. Our challenge is offering 5 diamond service in a small hotel. We have 2.2 staff members for every guest,” she added.
The Wedgewood is a member of Relais & Chateaux, an association recognized internationally as the definitive list of the world's finest hotels and restaurants. It is the only Vancouver hotel to carry this award.
The hotel has 83 rooms and suites, including four penthouses. These are usually filled with celebrities, with Vancouver's filmmaking business drawing many movie stars to the Wedgewood. Goldie Hawn, Sting, Cybill Shepherd and George Michael all love the privacy and elegance offered at the Wedgewood. Politicians, world leaders and international business tycoons have all spent the night here, too.
Skalbania personally selected the antiques and furnishings throughout the hotel, designing the entire property herself and without the use of contractors or decorators.
The hotel's award-winning Bacchus Restaurant and Bar serves excellent food during breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a wide variety of choices. Especially popular among visitors are the bar's daily cocktail hour, Sunday brunch, and Traditional High Tea, served from 2-4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. The day we enjoyed the lovely tea, there was a bridesmaid table next to us. We all toasted the bride with our Champagne, accented perfectly with floating strawberries. Tarts, éclairs, and delicious sandwiches were wonderful. The Bacchus has been recognized year after year as the best bar/lounge in the city. The decor is dark antique and flower-filled elegance, with soft lighting. Live music is offered nightly with dancing Thursday to Saturday.
Executive Chef Lee Parsons, formerly of Claridge's in London, has been at the helm for four years. In close communication with local farmers and fishmongers, Parsons features only the freshest of local food, going personally to the markets each morning. He doesn't believe in freezers, Tsaparas-Piche said, and only has one to keep the hotel's handmade ice cream frozen. Parsons is a celebrated and award-winning chef who prepares exquisite meals whether for one or a catered event for hundreds.
Our dinner was a delight. Dungeness crab cakes were served with a light mango sauce, scallops were served with braised vegetables. The lobster bisque was served in two parts. First a shallow bowl with a generous portion of lobster was placed before us; then a delicious lobster broth was poured on top. Canadian Alberta beef was stacked with mushrooms and accompanied by a round potato gratinee. The salad was heavenly – filled with red grapes, julienned Anjou pears and bleu cheese. The dining service is flawless with every guest made to feel like royalty. Diners sit in an elevated section of the room with a full view of the lively lounge. Private dining rooms, where Rod Stewart was recently hosted, are available as well.
The hotel's Spa and Fitness Center offers a full spa treatment menu, fitness equipment, and a marble steam room. We didn't have time to partake of what I know would have been a marvelous experience. Next time!
The hotel's library, just off the restaurant, is a cozy retreat for before or after a meal. Room decor is elegant, and features window treatments, artwork, flowers, fine linens, and custom-designed furniture. One gracious touch is the nightly turndown service accompanied by chocolates or cookies and bottled water. Guests will immediately realize why the Wedgewood is listed by Travel + Leisure Magazine as one of the 500 Greatest Hotels and No. 1 in Vancouver along with the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List as one of the “World’s Best Places To Stay.”
The list of room amenities includes complimentary high speed and wireless Internet access, flat screen TVs, cordless phones, Egyptian cotton bathrobes and Turkish towels. Plus there's a balcony off every room.
Once you have stayed at the Wedgewood, you won't be happy anywhere else. Pierce Brosnan checked in for three months last summer while filming a movie. I completely understand!
The Wedgewood Hotel and Spa offers rooms from approximately $275, according to season. For complete information, visit