OH, CANADA! VANCOUVER’S BEAUTIFUL, GAY HEARTBEAT

This article makes me want to go there, regardless of my sexual lifestyle. This is from several months ago, but since the quarantine, I thought it was great to look back at some more pleasurable times… I hope all my blog followers enjoy it!

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photo by joel martens

Article was written by joel martens –

Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and Canada’s coastal mountains, Vancouver, B.C. is the latest location I’ve had the pleasure to explore and enjoy. I spent a long, delightful weekend there perched on nature’s edge, basking in the hospitality the stunning city is known for. To my added delight, I was fortunate enough to visit—via the generosity of the exquisite Fairmont Hotels, specifically the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, Fairmont Pacific Rim and Fairmont Waterfront known as great LGBTQ supporters—during the city’s Pride Festival and Parade.

My weekend was filled at their behest with excursions to the various Pride events and community hotspots. If the kindness and care I received is any indication of Fairmont’s amity towards the LGBTQ community, well, let’s just say the experience of it will stay with me for a long time.

I stayed at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, known locally as “The Castle In The Sky,” a chateau-style landmark with green, copper-clad roof and stony-eyed gargoyles surveying their surroundings. The hotel just completed a $75M renovation and my stunning Fairmont Gold suite offered a contemporary vibe, yet remained nicely tied to the building’s historic sensibility. Calm, cool and serene, very much like the concierge team who made my stay so blissfully easy.

Both made me feel coddled in comfort the entire weekend.  They chose “Love and Luxury For All” as their Pride theme/logo and they were serious. Fairmont Gold includes: Lux concierge services, daily breakfasts, Indulgence in the Castle—a mid-day treat, evening hors d’oeuvres, late night snacks and refreshments throughout the day. Superb.

My first sojourn took me just down the street to Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Willow Stream Spa, to indulge in a much-needed Body Quench treatment. 15,000 square feet of luxury facilities offer over 50 spa experiences ranging from body exfoliations, facials, massages and body treatments… pure heaven.

Blissful as can be, this pampered tourist wandered down to the hotel’s urbane Lobby Lounge for a quench of a different kind: cocktails with my fellow travelers. A sumptuous dinner followed after another short walk to ARC, the restaurant inside their third signature property, the Fairmont Waterfront. I can’t say enough about the stunning food and exceptional hospitality. Well I could, but there isn’t enough space on the page.

I will definitely rave about our last stop at Botanist, their “lab cocktail” bar. Nothing could have prepared us for the bevy of steaming, bubbling, levitating, fantastical concoctions that literally left us in awe. Each was an encounter, carefully created not only for flavor, but as a dazzling visual experience. Needless to say, we all went to bed that night completely relaxed, superbly sated and much like one of their cocktails, floating on cloud nine!

Breakfast at my hotel’s Gold Lounge was gorgeous, as it was every morning: Fresh eggs and meats, fruits, yogurts, pastries galore, juices, espresso and Champagne! After that quick repast, we all met up with Glenn Tkach, our very knowledgeable and very funny, pink-clad host for his “Really Gay History Tour.”

Tkach shared fascinating city stories about “the unsung heroes of Vancouver’s LGBTQ2+ community who forever changed the social fabric of Canada.”  Wear comfy shoes and drink plenty of water during the lengthy, informative walk!

Cocktails and dinner followed at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s signature eatery, Notch8 Restaurant & Bar: beautiful nouvelle cuisine featuring regional fare, inventive new flavor combinations and prized classics. Chef de Cuisine Dennis Peckham graciously came to our table for questions, illuminating us on the restaurant’s food, which was as delicious as it was beautiful… truly a wonder to indulge in.

We were quickly whisked away to Vancouver’s English Bay for the city’s Celebration of Light fireworks display, the longest-running offshore fireworks festival in the world. After competing with 400,000 people for access, you’ll understand when I say, “Get there early!” Even with VIP treatment and special seating, it’s a challenge… But again, so worth the effort. I’ve not been so excited by a fireworks display since I was a little boy!

It had been a while since I’d been on the marching side of a Pride Parade and Vancouver’s— one of the largest LGBTQIA2+ parades in North America—reminded me of how vital they are to establishing LGBTQ identity, connecting us as a community and for being one of the rare moments we are in the majority, not the minority.

Marching was a blast, surrounded by hundreds of Fairmont employees, flanking a bright yellow float emblazoned with Fairmont’s Pride logo “Come Sleep With Us,” sporting local drag queen superstar, Kendall Gender on a bed with a bevy of beauties to accompany her. Honestly, I’ve never felt better about participating in a gay parade!

Make sure to take in “Davie Village” while you’re there, the “gayborhood” on Davie Street between Burrard and Jervis streets. It’s a strong, vital part of queer Vancouver with LGBTQ-friendly bookstores, boutiques and plenty of places to refuel, as well as a diverse nightlife scene! Seriously, I haven’t felt as much “community love” as I did during this trip, gay or otherwise.

So, if you’re looking for a quick getaway to a place where kindness and courtesy rule, you can’t beat Vancouver and the surrounding Canadian landscape. If living in the lap of luxury is to your liking as well, then definitely choose one of Vancouver’s Fairmont Hotels, they do themselves proud and are serious when they say, “Love and Luxury For All!”

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