Summer on the Coast: A Pacific Northwest Road Trip
By Charlene Rooke
From touchdown at the airport on Sea Island to the tip of the Sea-to-Sky Highway, there are many ways to savour a Fairmont-inspired road trip this summer on Canada’s sunny West Coast. Here are the top stops with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, from Richmond to Whistler, British Columbia — plus an unbeatable CAA/AAA member offer.
After a year like no other, now’s the time to map a safe and sound summer road trip! ALLSAFE safety and hygiene standards are in place at all Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, and this summer CAA members get 15 percent off stays at select properties by reserving in advance and presenting a valid membership card at check-in. Plus, members who join the ALL – Accor Live Limitless loyalty program earn reward points and receive exclusive perks. From an island airport retreat to a sky-high resort, here are our must-stop spots to fuel your itinerary.
Fairmont Vancouver Airport
Home to more than a nature conservation area and lush parks, Sea Island, where Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is located, makes the deep blue Pacific a gorgeous backdrop for many landings. Time your arrival before 4:30 pm to catch Fairmont Vancouver Airport’s Afternoon Tea (from 2 pm weekdays and from 11 am weekends). Treats like truffle egg salad and lobster sandwiches, scones with cream, plus sweets from macarons to lavender meringue cake pops and Lot35 tea make a soft landing for any weary traveller.
Spend a restful, quiet night, then strap a Picnic Cruise Kit on one of the hotel’s e-bikes available for rent or on your own two-wheelers. Or check out North America’s best birdwatching with a Pacific Flyway Adventure Birding Package, which includes a birding backpack (binoculars, maps guides) and a picnic lunch for two.
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
Downtown Vancouver is a short 30-minute drive from the airport, but Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and its Art Deco-inspired Notch8 restaurant take you on a glamorous trip back in time. (Make no mistake, though, the amenities are ultra-modern, including PlugShare electric car parking!)
Fortify yourself with an Afternoon Tea to Go from Notch 8 (including a kid-friendly combo with peanut butter sammies, cream-filled waffle cones and rainbow cookies) before exploring the elegant landmarks of Vancouver — the city’s famous 19th-century Stanley Park is a must-do activity! Or grab a hearty Picnic Package for Two, with spicy fried chicken or tofu sandwiches, crisp slaw and watermelon with mojito dip for dessert.
Cruise past Vancouver’s waterfront landmarks (including the green-roofed Convention Centre and Digital Orca, a statue by artist and author Douglas Coupland that makes the perfect Instagram background) and pull up to Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver. The Bottomless Weekend Brunch in ARC restaurant, where the harbour views are as expansive as the offerings, justify staying. Choose from an Ooey Gooey Skillet of apple-caramel croissants to breakfast tacos, salmon eggs Benedict and beef short rib poutine. The small plates are endless (and a great value at $49 per person). Park the car and take flight with a SKY is the Limit package: an intimate helicopter ride to the high-alpine backcountry, with a picnic lunch for two and an overnight stay.
Fairmont Pacific Rim
Chic modern vibes define the most fashionable Fairmont in Vancouver, Fairmont Pacific Rim. Their summer pop-up, Oakridge at Pac Rim Patio, creates a cool, urban oasis among the shiny waterfront towers. Inspired by the design of the new Oakridge Park development in the city’s southwest, the patio is influenced in equal parts by the rice terraces of Southeast Asia and the coastal temperate rainforests of British Columbia. The grassy patio is defined by distinct, carved hills creating topographic forms and surrounded by fire pit lounge seating, shady umbrella-topped tables — and even a food-truck style kitchen for parkside dining vibes. The food (including spicy tuna hand rolls and Asian-inspired crunchy noodle salad) is light and the live music (Wednesday to Sunday) is bright, making this a perfect overnight pit stop.
Recharge at the resort-style Willow Stream Spa. Perched on the fifth floor and surrounded by soothing views from a dreamy spa terrace, the 8,500-square-foot spa offers nine treatment areas, a nail salon, three lounges, plus a Jacuzzi®, mineral bath, and infrared sauna.
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
No Vancouver vacay is complete without a road trip up the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Whistler—and perhaps a stop halfway at the Sea to Sky Gondola. Take in sweeping ocean, mountain and coastal forest views on the way up, plus find walking trails, viewing platforms and the thrilling Sky Pilot Suspension bridge at the top.
Whistler Village itself is as much a biking, hiking and mountain-village gem in summer as it is during ski season. Check into Fairmont Chateau Whistler and put a Portobello Adventure Pack from Portobello Deli in your trunk. Motor up to Whistler Olympic Park to see where records were set during the 2010 games. When it’s time for a lunch of hearty bean, potato or veggie salads and sandwiches (from vegan to piled-high deli meat), leave room for a West Coast classic dessert: Nanaimo bars. Or join a daily Whistler Experience Guide activity: options include a Valley Trail bike ride, sunrise paddle boarding at Lost Lake, mountain sightseeing, an excursion to nearby organic farming mecca Pemberton or a hike to spots like Rainbow Falls.
No matter where you stop on your Pacific Northwest road trip this summer, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts are there to help make wonderful memories. To learn more about Fairmont’s exclusive offer for CAA Members and receive 15% off your stay, visit fairmont.com/promo/aaa-caa-member-offer.
Charlene Rooke is a Vancouver-based drinks, food and travel journalist. You’ll often find her enjoying a Candy Cap Magic cocktail at Botanist Bar in Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver.