One of the best resorts to take in Vancouver’s spectacular marina, harbor, mountain, and gleaming glass high-rise views is the Westin Bayshore Hotel. Located just minutes to Stanley Park, it’s also a short walk to the cruise ship terminal, and near hundreds of dining opportunities. This hotel has been a Vancouver favorite since it was built in 1961.
This 10-story tall hotel offers 465 rooms and suites, plus a spa, restaurants, state-of-the-art gym, large meeting rooms and a special event area. During the summer, Coal Harbor has multiple cruise ships and seaplanes taking off throughout the day.
This is a popular hotel for pre-cruise and post-cruise passengers, plus families seeking a quieter location with a large round heated swimming pool.
Howard Hughes lived at the hotel for almost six months when it was called the Bayshore Inn. Supposedly no one ever saw him, because he never left his room.
During the afternoon the pool is a popular spot to relax, swim and listen to live music performing on the outdoor dining patio at H Kitchen and Tasting. A staff member pedaling an ice cream cart offers complimentary ice cream to guests. Inside near the spa, another staff member hands out custom donuts or bags of popcorn.
Near the pool is an apiary or bee yard where boxes of beehives filled with honey bees are kept. The hotel kitchens and bars incorporate honey and honeycomb in their drinks and food items. Their wildlife-friendly habitat earned the Westin Bayshore Hotel a Canadian Wildlife Federation certification. It’s the first hotel to receive this recognition for its beautiful gardens and support for a variety of wildlife.
DINE AT THE WESTIN BAYSHORE
The H Tasting Lounge (HTL) offers elegant Pacific Northwest comfort food overlooking a park and waterfront. It’s a popular al fresco dining terrace during the summer months. When the temperature cools down the terrace offers fire features and heaters, plus diners can sit in warm translucent dining domes.
The beverage selection includes Vancouver craft beer, British Columbia wine on tap, and cocktails crafted with locally-distilled spirits.
Menu items include a coastal Northwest raw seafood tower, lobster rolls and fish tacos. They make a meaty HTL Smash Burger and delicious Bao Buns Char Sui. Be sure to order one of the most extravagant dessert displays you have ever seen incorporating slices of cake, macarons and cotton candy.
Those looking for an afternoon aromatic tea experience will enjoy sweet and savory bites presented on a golden Ferris wheel.
RIDE A BIKE
The hotel offers complimentary bicycles to pedal throughout the city on designated bike paths. The city developed the Greenest City 2020 Action plan and is quickly establishing itself as a world-class cycling destination. These bike paths are a popular way to take in the sights of the city and waterfront.
If the hotel’s bikes are all out, there is a bike rental shop on almost every block. Cycle City Tours on Burrard and Hornby Street rent bikes by the hour or all day. They also offer group tours or you can take their bicycles out for a spin on your own.
EXPLORE STANLEY PARK
Stanley Park has a six mile easy, flat and paved seawall bike path for locals and visitors to explore some historic and colorful sights along the 1,000 acre park. Be sure to stop and view the First Nations Totem Poles in Brockton Point. Continue on to the Lions Gate Bridge where every cruise ship, freighter and boat cruises underneath to reach the open sea. Opened in 1938, the term ‘Lions Gate’ refers to a pair of mountain peaks north of Vancouver, and also a pair of concrete lions, designed by sculptor Charles Marega that were placed on either side of the bridge in 1939.
SIGHTS IN STANLEY PARK
Continue on to notice a statue of a ‘Girl in a Wetsuit’ on a rock in the channel. This was a gift by sculptor Elek Imredy to the Vancouver Park Board in 1972. The girl represents Vancouver’s dependence on the sea.
A colorful wood dragon head is a replica of the SS Empress of Japan Figurehead. The ocean liner SS Empress of Japan crossed the Pacific Ocean over 400 times. The original figurehead is in the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
Another fascinating sight is Siwash Rock that is separated by water from the seawall and has a tree growing on top. It is said that this dates back 32 million years. Squamish legend says that a man was rewarded for his unselfishness by being transformed into rock.
HOP-ON A FERRY
Another way to see the waterfront is on one of the False Creek Ferries. Purchase a Hop-On and Hop-Off ticket to ride to 9 different stops all day long. Visit Granville Bridge and Island to see how in the early 1900s, this was an industrial area filled with factories and sawmills. Today it’s been transformed into the Granville Island Public Market offering an array of fresh produce, and international fast food dining options. This is now one of the most popular cultural districts with theatres, artisan workshops and craft shops.
The ferry boat will also transport passengers to exciting Yaletown, the BC Place Stadium and Rogers Arena, plus the former 2010 Olympic Athletes Village, and Science World. Views while cruising on the water include Sunset Beach, the North Shore mountains, the West End skyline, Vanier Park, and Heritage Harbor.
DRINK + DINE
While on Granville Island, be sure to dine at the sit down Alimentaria Mexicana Cantina for excellent and authentic South-of-the-Border culinary fare. Order a classic margarita, Paloma, agave flight or zero-proof cocktail before digging into Executive Chef Ernesto Gomez’ guacamole and crunchy chips. Some favorite menu items include a grilled and slightly charred red cabbage salad and crispy cauliflower tacos.
There is a small boutique inside of the restaurant showcasing and selling artisans’ items from small villages and farms in Mexico.
Afterward walk around Granville Island to learn that it is actually a peninsula and not an island.
Examples of how Granville Island’s old industrial roots are being transformed into beauty are the six colorful spray-painted concrete ‘GIANTS’ silos at the working Ocean Concrete manufacturer. Identical twin street artists – Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo, known as OSGEMEOS, started painting graffiti in 1987. Their ‘GIANTS’ appears here on Granville Island, as well as on streets and in galleries across the world.
Vancouver has a thriving indoor and outdoor art scene. The Vancouver Biennale is a non-profit charitable organization that displays engaging public art while transforming urban landscape. This Open Art Museum provides public art accessible to all.
While exploring Yaletown, be sure to see the two-ton, 18-foot red ‘Proud Youth’ sculpture by Chinese sculptor Chen Wenling. He was inspired by a book called ‘The Smiling, Proud Wanderer’ by Xiao Ao Jiang Hu.
Not only does the bright red color signify a Chinese tradition, but also a testament to the artist’s fiery attitude towards life. ‘The naked and free figure fully reveals his honesty and fearlessness,’ states the Vancouver Biennal festival website.
Be sure to visit English Bay to see the eye-catching art installed at Morton Park. There are 14 statues titled ‘A-maze-ing Laughter’ designed by artist Yue Minjun. These whimsical patinated bronze sculptures represent the artist ‘in a state of hysterical laughter.’ They were donated to the City of Vancouver by Chip and Shannon Wilson through the Wilson5 Foundation on August 11, 2012, to inspire laughter and playfulness to all who see this art.
Other art can be viewed at the Vancouver Art Gallery in the heart of the city. Founded in 1931, this is recognized as one of North America’s most respected and innovative visual arts institutions featuring regional artists.
Discover other Destination Vancouver spots to Eat, Stay and Bike to when visiting Vancouver B.C.
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