by Brendan M. Lynch | January 01, 2007


High risers: Some
of Vancouver’s
natural and man-made peaks

Youthful, diverse and progressive, Vancouver ranks as one of North America’s most attractive destinations for groups of all sizes.

Everywhere in this city, the largest in British Columbia, skyscrapers are going up -- symbols of a boomtown on the rise. But throughout Vancouver, the urban scenery competes with stunning natural surroundings such as the North Shore Mountains, the sparkling waters of the Straight of Georgia and beautiful Stanley Park.

A further indicator of the city’s emergence as a truly great world metropolis: Van-couver will host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which means even more development, attention and excitement will come to this hippest of major Canadian destinations.

Convention Center

The Vancouver Convention and Exposition Centre is undergoing a major expansion, slated for a fall 2008 opening. The project -- adding 225,000 square feet of exhibition space, 53 meeting rooms and a new 55,800-square-foot ballroom -- triples the center’s size and extends Vancouver’s overall commitment to sustainable building. The new structure features a so-called “living roof” that will be home to 400,000 indigenous plants, seawater heating and cooling, a fish habitat, and recycling and conservation systems.

Hotel Scene

Several new properties are being constructed in the city, including the 120-room Shangri-La Vancouver, slated to open later this year with three meeting and function rooms with capacity for 16 to 80 people, an exterior terrace linking the meeting rooms, and a 48-seat theater. Other amenities will include a 6,500-square-foot spa, an interior pool, a business center, a restaurant and a bar overlooking the Vancouver Art Gallery Public Art Site.

At the edge of Coal Harbour, directly across from the Vancouver Convention and Exposition Centre, the 415-room Fairmont Pacific Rim is set to open in 2009 with various meeting rooms (specifics were not available as of press time), a ballroom, a spa, a restaurant, a lounge and a multimedia theater.

According to Tourism Vancouver, a new, as-yet-unnamed Kor hotel will open in Vancouver this year.

Local restaurateur Um-berto Menghi plans to open the 40-room Hotel Giardino in fall 2009, featuring a “modern Tuscan mission” design.

Other properties will see major renovations in the near future. Among the highlights: The 644-room Hyatt Regency Hotel will undergo a US$15.7 million renovation, to finish in April 2007; the 357-room Empire Landmark Hotel will complete a renovation of its guest rooms and hallways by spring 2008; and the 255-room Rosedale on Robson Suite Hotel currently is upgrading its rooms, suites, pool, sauna, lobby and meeting rooms (to be finished by press time).

Air transport

Vancouver International Airport is in the midst of a US$875 million project that includes an expansion of the international terminal, a new building with additional check-in counters, and new restaurants and stores.

New air routes have been introduced to Vancouver as well. WestJet has upped service from both Las Vegas and Hawaii. Starting in summer 2007, Qantas will offer seasonal flights to the city from Sydney via San Francisco. United Airlines now flies to Vancouver from Washington Dulles. In addition, Air Canada has begun operating a new route between Vancouver and San Diego.