by Hunter R. Slaton | January 01, 2008


The city is
enjoying a

In the run-up to this city’s hosting of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Vancouver is in the midst of a building boom, with eye-catching structures rising at a rapid clip. It can’t hurt that this British Columbian city recently topped the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking. Now all the city has to do is hope for snow.

Convention center

The Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre, undergoing a major US$823 million expansion since November 2004, has pushed back its completion date to March 2009. The delay is due to a tricky design, 40 percent of which is over water, as well as a shortage of construction cranes, say officials. During the Winter Games, the facility will serve as the international broadcast headquarters. The center, which has 133,000 square feet of space, will triple in size by the time the project is completed.

Hotel update

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts will open its first North American outpost, the 119-room Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver, in September 2008. The luxury hotel, with rooms averaging 550 square feet, will occupy the first 15 floors of a new 60-story building, the city’s tallest. Plans call for a 6,500-square-foot Chi spa, as well as a bar, a lobby lounge and a restaurant with outdoor seating. The hotel will offer 6,500 square feet of meeting space.

Ritz-Carlton has tossed its luxurious hat into the city’s hotel ring: The 127-room Ritz-Carlton, Vancouver, is scheduled to open by 2011 in the lower third of a new 58-story building. This will mark Ritz-Carlton’s second property in Canada, after a Toronto hotel opens in 2009.

The 77-room Loden Vancouver is opening in February 2008. The new-build 14-story property was designed to bring some of the rugged wilderness that surrounds the town inside the city limits. The hotel’s exterior, a mix of curved glass, stone and copper, is meant to evoke sea waves, while each guest room is bathed in a palette of caramel, coral and chocolate. Loden’s restaurant, helmed by local son Marc-Andre Choquette, will be called Voya and will have a private dining room big enough for 18. The Loden’s 1,600-square-foot penthouse suite will be another option for meetings.

Also on the way is the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel, which had its groundbreaking last June. The 20-story, 220-room property, by Coast Hotels & Resorts, is set to open in the fall of 2009; it will have approximately 10,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Hyatt Regency Vancouver recently wrapped up a six-year, US$41 million overhaul of its 644 guest rooms and all public areas. The hotel has 34,917 square feet of meeting space, including the 13,940-square-foot Regency Ballroom.

The 157-room Inn at False Creek completed US$514,000 in renovations. The property’s guest rooms received new carpet, wallpaper, bedding and furniture. The hotel offers 2,213 square feet of meeting space.

The Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver has embarked upon a US$5.5 million renovation. The first phase, a new restaurant and lobby, is complete; the second, covering the hotel entrance and all 372 guest rooms, will be finished by the end of 2008; the third, revamping all 21,270 square feet of meeting space, will be done in 2009. A spa might be added as well.

Airport news

In June of last year, Vancouver International Airport celebrated the grand opening of its US$205 million, 387,500-square-foot international terminal expansion. The facility now has four new departure gates (which opened in March 2007), cafes, restaurants and 43,000 square feet of retail, plus an aquarium -- home to 850 native water creatures -- and an indoor stream. The expansion represents just one-fifth of an ongoing US$1 billion improvement effort.