Destination Discovery: Vancouver
Imagine verdant green expanses that disappear into looming mountain and water landscapes, outdoor adventures that coincide with cosmopolitan urbanity, and cuisine that stems from both land and sea. In the amazingly fabulous port city of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada, this is an everyday occurrence (we’re packing our bags already!). Also part of daily life here is a healthy environment—with beautiful spas and a friendly attitude toward wellness all around.
They don’t call Vancouver “one of the world’s most liveable cities” for nothing.
Where to Stay
In terms of places to sleep in cosmopolitan Vancouver, Shangri-La Hotel seems like a no-brainer—the downtown urban property occupies 15 floors within the city’s tallest skyscraper (a total of 61 stories); it features the MARKET by Jean-Georges restaurant (yes, the Jean-Georges Vongerichten); and its Chi, The Spa, boasts treatment suites with private fireplaces, baths, showers, relaxation lounges, and changing areas.
Where to Spa
Another downtown hotspot is Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Pacific Rim—overlooking views of the Coal Harbour waterfront, the North Shore Mountains, and Stanley Park, the spa lures guests with regional-inspired rituals (the Coastal Mountain Body Wrap, Pacific Rim Body Buffer, etc.), along with Kerstin Florian and Aromatherapy Associates treatments; select services also use Willow Stream Reviving Spa products. Accompanying treatments are lounges with fireplaces, couple’s suites with Japanese Zen tubs, and an outdoor deck with Jacuzzis, an infrared sauna, and meditation pods. Every last detail—from the candlelight to the wood, marble, and slate touches to the blue and gray hues—reflect Vancouver’s coastlines and mountain backdrop.
Where to Snack
From izakayas to the freshest seafood, natch, Vancouver doesn’t discriminate when it comes to eating and drinking—its dining opportunities comprise a fusion of culinary excitement that aim to create a sensory overload (we caffeine lovers include the city’s inordinate amount of coffee shops in this category as well). We suggest heading to one of the many farmers’ markets that celebrate the city’s affinity for good food, fresh produce, and offerings that easily go from the farm to the table; the Granville Island Farmers Market, one of the oldest, is a fine choice. Foodies may also want to schedule a visit during the restaurant week-like Vancouver’s Dine Out™ festival.
What to See
Vancouver offers plenty to do, but we think its main draw is the historic Stanley Park. The city’s largest urban park at more than 1,000 acres, it’s filled with beaches, lakes, well-maintained trails, an aquarium, waterpark, restaurants, monuments, memorials, and sports venues.
Where to Sweat
When the natural surroundings—a culmination of rainforest, water, parkland, and mountains—and the mild climate are this superb, you need to take advantage: Head to the city’s Seawall, a 5.5-mile paved path lining Stanley Park that’s prone to attracting cyclists, walkers, joggers, fishermen, and skaters and soak in the scene while burning calories. Additionally, Kitsilano Beach (among the 10-plus miles of beaches found throughout the city) offers activities in and out of the water, from windsurfing and swimming to tennis and basketball. Skiers can head to the North Shore Mountains, approximately a 30-minute drive away by car; Whistler is also within close distance.