Three Days In British Columbia’s Eco-Friendly Capital of Cool.
Savvy travelers already knew about Vancouver’s appeal long before the 2010 Winter Olympics. But since the winter games, the city’s cachet has gone truly global. With something for nature lovers and urbanites alike, the city is ideally situated between the mountains and the sea, surrounded by water and natural beauty but also brimming with sophisticated dining and shopping options. Then consider the fact Vancouver sets the standard for urban sustainability, with the smallest carbon footprint of any major city in North America and well on its way to becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020. With so much style, substance and sustainability, Vancouver guarantees a memorable stay, even if you only have a long weekend.
Formerly an industrial warehouse district, Yaletown has been transformed into a trendy ‘hood filled with boutiques, spas, lively bars and restaurants. From the airport, hop on the Canada Line (SkyTrain) toward Waterfront Station, and get off at Yaletown-Roundhouse. The OPUS Hotel is directly across the street from the station.
Lodging: OPUS Hotel
The OPUS Vancouver is one of our favorite hotels in the world. It’s hip, stylish and sexy. The hotel is especially unique in that it offers five different room types and décor themes with virtual lifestyle concierges to match (easily accessed on the complimentary V2 iPads in each room).
Vibrant colors and contemporary furniture make the OPUS both playful and luxurious. Special touches include Herman Miller ergonomic chairs and spa bathrooms with heated floors.
Spa treatment: Miraj Hamman Spa
If you’ve never had a Hamman and Gommage experience at a Turkish spa, now is your chance. At Miraj Hamman Spa, you’ll begin with a private steam, or Hammam, for detoxification. After 15 minutes, an esthetician will begin the Gommage, as she exfoliates you with a black Moroccan soap, leaving your skin super soft. Add on a massage for further bliss and relaxation. Afterwards, lounge like an Arabian princess, on velvet beds and silk cushions in the Sultana Lounge.
Dinner: La Pentola della Quercia
The award-winning La Pentola della Quercia at the OPUS serves authentic Northern Italian dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. Chefs Adam Pegg and Lucais Syme have a talent for artfully creating dishes with simplicity, flair and flavor. Hand-made pasta is rolled and cut to order and the fillings and sauces are rustic, yet elegant. You can’t go wrong with the light and fluffy Soufflé di Parmigiano with zucchini crudo and the Porchetta Tortellini in sage butter that melts in your mouth. Simple perfection comes in the form of the zesty Lemon Cream for dessert, striking just the right balance of sweet and sour. The service at La Pentola is excellent and the food is outstanding. This will make your shortlist of favorite Italian restaurants.
Excursion: Granville Island Public Market
Walk down to the waterfront and hop on an Aquabus to Granville Island. The rainbow-colored boats floating down False Creek provide passenger ferry service all day, year-round, no reservations needed. The Granville Island Public Market is one of the most spectacular fresh food markets around with vibrant displays of fresh produce and all kinds of gastronomic delights. Outside of the food market, you’ll find unique shops, artist studios and galleries to explore.
Lunch: Edible Canada
Edible Canada at the Market features locally grown, seasonal produce and has quickly become a favorite among locals. Designed with sustainability in mind, the space features recycled fir tabletops and an outdoor patio lined with planter boxes of herbs and vegetables. Try their signature burger with crispy bacon, aged white cheddar, caramelized onions, tomato jam and duck fat frites.
Exercise: Bike ride along the Seawall.
A great way to cut down on your own carbon footprint and get some exercise is to see the city by bicycle. Hop on a bike at the OPUS (free for guests) and ride along the waterfront, past Granville Island, around Stanley Park and the sea wall. The invigorating ride takes about 1.5 hours. Note that once you enter the park the popular route heads in a one way, counter-clockwise direction, so you have to make a commitment – there’s no turning back!
Dinner: Blue Water Café and Raw Bar
One great advantage of staying in Yaletown is that you can walk to several restaurants and bars from the OPUS. One of the best in the neighborhood is Blue Water Café and Raw Bar, which has consistently been awarded “Best Seafood Restaurant” in Vancouver. Its reputation for excellence is founded on sourcing wild sustainable seafood and crafting flavorful, innovative dishes with unique presentations. Their vegetarian dishes are outstanding as well.
Drinks/dessert: Society Dining Lounge
Spiked milkshakes and cocktails topped with cotton candy, what’s not to love? Society Dining Lounge is fun, whimsical and a great place to hang-out with friends. Share a Junk Food Platter and try a bit of everything: caramel corn, ice cream sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, donut holes, cotton candy, berry macaroons and chocolate cake.
Exercise: Yoga at Chopra Center
Go ZEN and take an early morning yoga class at the Chopra Yoga Center, based on the teachings of world-renowned spiritual leader Deepak Chopra. Get outfitted for class nearby at Lululemon on Robson Street. Lululemon was founded in Vancouver in 1998 and now sells their athletically hip yoga and running clothes all over the world. After working up an appetite, reach for new heights and head up to Grouse Mountain for lunch at Altitudes Bistro.
Lunch: Altitudes Bistro on Grouse Mountain
As you take a Skyride up Grouse Mountain, the city below will gradually turn into a breathtaking panorama, as you soar above towering Douglas firs on the mile-high ride. Note: in the warmer months you can join the locals and hike the infamous Grouse Grind or “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster,” a popular 1.8 mile trail to the top of Grouse. Every year, more than 110,000 hikers take on the challenge, completing the steep climb in about 1.5 hours (fastest time is just over 26 minutes!). Altitudes Bistro is the premiere restaurant on Grouse Mountain where you can enjoy local Canadian cuisine with a fabulous view. Try the herb-crusted Wild BC Sockeye Salmon with Lyonnaise potatoes in a lemon-cream sauce or the Teriyaki Veggie Bowl with coconut rice, broccoli, sweet peppers, snow peas and cabbage. Afterwards, get warm and toasty by sipping a hot chocolate with Schnapps in front of the fire.
Adventure: Capilano Suspension Bridge’s new Cliffwalk Adventure
On the way down the mountain, stop off for another green adventure and visit the new Cliffwalk Adventure at Capilano Suspension Bridge, where you can walk along several cantilevered and suspended walkways, jutting out from the granite cliff. It’s both thrilling and exhilarating!
Dinner: Bao Bei
Bao Bei is just around the corner from the OPUS and takes a modern approach to Chinese cuisine, with inspiration from Taiwan, Shanghai and Sichuan provinces. Dishes are served tapas-style and include the Shao Bing, a sesame flatbread with cumin lamb sirloin, pickled red onion, cilantro and chilies, and the Mantou, a steamed bun with pork belly, bean sprouts, turnip and sugared peanuts.
Head back to the hotel and have a drink at the OPUS bar, one of Vancouver’s most popular nightspots. Between sips, reflect on the adventures you just had and plot your return to Vancouver, BC’s capital of cool, eco-friendly experiences.