Nov252008

Vancouver Westin Grand

Vancouver Westin Grand reviewed

Vancouver is a city I love to be in.  I think Vancouver has the best big city feel of any West Coast location. 

The Westin Grand is another beautiful piece of architecture with a curved line frame of a grand piano rising 31 floors in this all-suites hotel on Robson Street, near the Yaletown District.  The 200-room all-suites nature of the Westin Grand hotel:  61 Superior one-bedroom suites, 104 Deluxe one-bedroom suites (larger) some with balconies,  21 large, open-space studio rooms (usually referred to as junior suites), and 18 Executive Suites on Floors 30 and 31, is an advantage for SPG members without platinum status who desire a larger room.  Platinum elites are likely to receive complimentary upgrades at the much larger Westin Bayshore (500 rooms) or Sheraton Wall Centre (700 rooms) hotels.

Vancouver Westin Grand Hotel exterior facing Robson Street

Vancouver Westin Grand, Robson Street side

Rooms at the Westin Grand are various sizes.  We had a rectangular corner Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite  facing north and west, but looking at the hotel floor map in the room there are a variety of shapes and sizes and our room looked to be seventh in size of the nine rooms on the 25th floor.  It was one of the three rooms facing north, and probably the preferred view if we could have actually seen the mountains around Vancouver on the cloudy days.  Floors 30 and 31 are listed as Executive suites.  Here is the Westin Grand website photo that looks exactly like the room where we stayed.

Vancouver Westin Grand North Side of Hotel

Vancouver Westin Grand, north side seen from Homer Street

We had a great view of the Harbour Centre tower from the Westin Grand and the lighted clock and the top of the Vancouver Fairmont Hotel. The Sheraton Wall Centre room had a more expansive view of the city.  The Westin Grand would have had lovely views of the mountains just a few miles north of downtown, but we hadn’t seen a mountain in three days in Vancouver due to low clouds.  Which hotel room had a better view is subjective.

  Vancouver Westin Grand western view at dusk

Vancouver Westin Grand, west facing view at dusk

Temperatures were actually in the low 60s most of the days in Vancouver.  Thankfully, the rain was very light and we didn’t even use an umbrella or raincoat until the last day of the trip, Remembrance Day – 11/11. Tuesday the weather changed and the rain and wind took over.

Vancouver Westin Grand, north facing view

Vancouver Westin Grand, north facing view from Floor 25

Westin Grand Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite

The room upgrade to a one bedroom suite at the Sheraton Wall Centre made that hotel room about the same size as the Westin Grand room.  Immediately upon entering the room is a bathroom door in front, closet to the left, and kitchenette to the right.  The kitchenettes contained a microwave, dishwasher, sink, toaster, mini-bar, and utensils.  The main sitting room is past the kitchenette. 

vancouver-westin-grand-kitchenette

Vancouver Westin Grand kitchenette

The sitting room featured a couch, small table, cushion chair, desk, and TV cabinet.  The couch was more comfortable than the Sheraton couch, but the Westin Bayshore had the best room furniture of the three Vancouver Starwood hotels.

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Vancouver Westin Grand Deluxe one-bedroom suite sitting room

Frosted glass panel doors separate the sitting room from the bedroom.  Unfortunately, light from the TV can shine light through the glass into the bedroom.

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Vancouver Westin Grand TV cabinet

The suite was a comfortable size with a sitting room, kitchenette, bedroom and double door bathroom. 

Vancouver Westin Grand Deluxe suite sitting room

Vancouver Westin Grand Deluxe Suite sitting room

Westin Grand Bedroom

The bedroom itself was tiny with only enough space for a queen size bed and two night stands.  I thought the small bed odd until I measured the room at 8’x9’ in the main rectangular section. The queen size bed allowed just enough space for a small nightstand to be squeezed between the bed and wall.  Fortunately two doors, one to the bathroom and the other to the sitting room, when open made the small bedroom feel more spacious. 

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Vancouver Westin Grand Deluxe Suite bedroom

One poor design feature of the bedroom was the TV cabinet in a recessed area of the wall which extended 7 inches into the room leaving only a space of 13 inches between the cabinet knobs at shin height and the bed.  A fat person or someone with mobility issues would probably need to walk out the bedroom doors through the living area and around the room to approach the bathroom from the other side.   The cabinet was mostly nonfunctional space. 

vancouver-westin-grand-slim-room

 Westin Grand TV cabinet takes up 1/3 of walking space between wall and bed

A simple solution to free up precious room space in the small room and aid mobility between the wall and bed would be to replace the cabinet with a wall-mounted flat screen TV.  This simple change would alter the space between the bed and cabinet from 13 inches wide to 20 inches between the wall and bed.

The Westin Grand bedroom telephone had a red light blinking when we arrived.  I played around with the phone and could not get a dial tone or stop the flashing red light.   I placed a washcloth over the phone to conceal the flashing light.  Eight hours after being in the room and a few hours after being asleep, the phone decided to wake-up at 2:34 am and sounded a loud busy signal and dial tone.  I had to unplug the phone to stop it.

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Westin Grand Two door bathroom allows bedroom to be closed off from sitting room

Westin Grand Bathroom

The Westin Grand had the most spacious bathroom of the three with a separate shower and tub.  

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Vancouver Westin Grand tub in Deluxe Suite

The Westin Bayshore hotel also had a nice bathroom with a separate shower and tub, however, the glass shower stall was abnormally narrow at the Bayshore.

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Vancouver Westin Grand bathroom

Westin Grand Facilities

The Westin Grand is described as a boutique-style hotel.  I found the lobby to be an uninviting space.  A grand stairway from the street level leads to the second floor reception and Aria Bar and Restaurant.  Aside from the reception desk and the restaurant/bar partitioning the open lobby, the remaining public space was not set up for guest mingling.  The lobby was not a conducive space for socializing outside the Aria area. Both the Sheraton Wall Centre and Westin Bayshore hotels have numerous seating arrangements in public space areas of the hotel and lobbies.

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Vancouver Westin Grand pool

The 3rd Floor held the workout room, sauna, steam rooms, and a heated outdoor pool and adjacent whirlpool tub and a Spa.  The workout room had deluxe equipment, but too many exercisers for me to get good photos.  I liked the feature of a swimsuit water extractor.  I have traveled a number of times with a wet bathing suit and that can create problems in a suitcase.

Vancouver Westin Grand workout room

Vancouver Westin Grand 3rd floor workout room

Westin Grand SPG Platinum Treatment

I received an upgrade on the Superior one-bedroom suite room category I purchased.  I landed a rate of $155CAD that was only around for one day during the three weeks I searched rates for this hotel.  The Westin Grand is typically the highest priced hotel of the three Starwood hotels in downtown Vancouver.

I received 500 platinum amenity points.  There were no other benefits. 

The Westin Grand does not have an SPG lounge, free internet, or any other elite benefits.  Internet was $14.95 per day.  I asked about a laundry machine at the hotel and I was told there is a daily dry cleaning service or a laundromat is a five minute taxi ride.

vancouver-public-library

Vancouver Public Library across Homer street from Westin Grand Hotel

Westin Grand Location

The Vancouver Public Library is across the street from the Westin Grand.

Features of the Westin Grand location include proximity to the Yaletown district of Vancouver.  This area is planned community development in the False Creek waterfront area that featured urban industry up until the 1980s.

Vancouver Yaletown district

Vancouver Yaletown district

The Westin Grand is the closest Starwood hotel to the event venues of GM Stadium and BC Place Stadium in Vancouver.

Independent fast food Japanese, pizza, and burger places are across Robson Street, a block east of the hotel.  A 7-11 store and a Subway sandwich shop are on that block.  There is a food court on Robson Street adjacent to the Public Library. 

Construction of a building was occurring directly across from the Westin Grand south facing rooms and perhaps the north facing room was the hotel’s positive consideration to my guest experience since I don’t know how loud the construction noise may have been on the other side of the hotel with the curved room windows.

vancouver-westin-grand-southeast-side

Vancouver Westin Grand, southeast side

Beer in Canada

“You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline —
it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons,
but at the very least you need a beer.” Frank Zappa

A liquor store is adjacent to the entrance of the Westin Grand hotel on Robson Street.  Vancouver has limited locations for buying bottled beer so this is a great feature of the Westin Grand location.  Finding a pub or lounge serving alcohol is no problem in Vancouver.

The beer and wines are so expensive that paying 30% more to drink in a pub/bar is a good alternative for a tourist on a limited stay. 

I remember beer being expensive in Canada.  I didn’t remember it being as expensive as beer in Australia and New Zealand.  Beer runs $15 to $18CAD for a 6-pack of Canadian microbrew or an import like Kronenbourg 1664 or Stella Artois in a liquor store.  There is very little discount, perhaps $1, if buying a 12-pack. 

I used to ravenously try all the Canadian microbrew varieties when I have visited the northwest coast.  At these prices I felt compelled to stick with the European beers I know.  We had a good deal in the Black Frog pub in Gastown drinking imperial pints of Kronenbourg for $5.25CAD.  The imperial pint is 20 imperial fluid ounces and is equivalent to 568 mL, while the U.S. version of a pint is 16 U.S. fluid ounces and equivalent to 473 mL. (Wikipedia).  Beer only cost about 30% more to drink in a pub compared to purchasing beer in a store, whereas in the USA, a bottle of beer is about $1.00 to $1.25 in the store and $3.00 to $5.00 in a pub or bar. Alcohol cost is 200% to 300% higher in US bars than US stores.  

Bottom line: you might as well drink in the pubs and lounges since alcohol will take a pretty penny out of any budget if drinking in Canada. 

Winter Olympics 2010 – #1 Tip = BYOB.

Bring Your Own Beer/Booze – Alcohol prices in the stores are shocking.  If driving to Canada – take what ever alcohol fixtures you desire and the cost should be less than 50% of Canadian store prices.  Bottle of vodka is $26CAD per 750 ml.  Beer $16CAD per six pack.

 

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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