12 JUN 2018: Boldly go where no hotel development has gone before.  Vancouver, with its stunning mountain and sea landscape, is playing host to Marriott International’s latest hotel venture.  Parq Vancouver incorporates two distinct Marriott brand hotels side by side in one location – the JW Marriott Luxury Collection and the Douglas Hotel, an Autograph Collection hotel brand.  

A first in Canada incorporating two hotels, a two level casino, JW spa, 6 restaurants, 2 bar/lounges, 60,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, and 6th floor rooftop park accessible from both hotels. Parq Vancouver stands out in a city full of luxury becoming a new accommodation, entertainment and culinary hub. Does it work?

My home was at The Douglas but it whetted my appetite, and I indulged my spa addiction, and tried my luck at the slot machines in the casino, at the JW Marriott. Connectivity, not of the wireless connection kind, but between the two properties, is seamless. Both properties are managed by Marriott International but the 775,000 square foot Parq Vancouver hotel and entertainment complex is owned by three companies: Paragon Gaming, Dundee Corporation and PBC Group.

THE DOUGLAS DISPLAYS ITS ROOTS

Entering The Douglas Hotel you immediately notice a difference. Nature in an urban setting. A living wall bursting with freshness greets you. Step into the elevator and travel to the 6th floor lobby and the journey into urban nature continues. Paying homage to British Columbia’s forestry industry, the front desk is a 25-foot replica Douglas fir tree encased in glass. The airy wood-paneled lobby area is complemented by an art gallery and an expansive D/6 Bar & Lounge where both locals and guests can sit back and relax with a signature gin cocktail or their favourite beverage.

Casual sophistication is the feeling here. Front desk staff may be in sporty designer jeans and dress shirts. After getting your room key and information they leave the desk and come around the front and go over the hotel and room details and walk you to the elevator. It’s a nice touch and goes towards personalizing the guest experience.

The Douglas features 178 rooms and 10 suites including spacious two-storey lofts on the 16th and 17th floors. Each has its own distinct personality just like the business and leisure guests who make it home.

One suite, known simply as Apartment 108 shows a part whimsical, edgy and gamey side. Bold art adorns the walls and you can play a game of pool or foosball right in your suite. Out the widow are outstanding views of False Creek – not the usual picturesque setting you see from hotels in Vancouver.

A welcome amenity is delivered to my room. Not the typical fruit basket, but something more refreshing – ingredients to make their signature Douglas Lemonade – a glass, stir stick, ice, juice, syrup and champagne, fresh strawberries and lemon. Again - they are personalizing – rather than one mix fits all they allow the guest to mix it to their own personal taste.

HOTEL DISCOVERIES

On the 6th Floor just past the stylish indoor/outdoor D/6 Bar & Lounge there is a bookcase. Knowing the right spot and just like in the movies, a push of the bookcase provides entry into a “Secret Room” – a private lounge oasis. It’s popular with Vancouver Canuck players, entertainment types and other guests.

What really sets the Parq Vancouver complex apart from the norm is the 6th floor Parq – a communal outdoor space populated with 200 fully-grown trees, firepots and a water feature. It’s a go-to space for not only hotel guests but locals as well. Both hotels provide easy access and connectivity to this outdoor nature park.

The hotel embraces Vancouver’s natural beauty even in the casino. When is the last time you have seen floor to ceiling windows letting natural light into a casino? Another novelty – a clock in the casino! Rather than dark and neon the casino is light, airy and bright. There are two floors to the 72,000 square foot casino. For slot lovers, 600 machines will keep you busy dropping coins and bills. There are also 17 table games. Two restaurants and a bar will satisfy your palate and thirst.

I’m not much of a gambler but did try my luck. I gave myself a limit - $20.00. It took less than five minutes to wrap up my casino entertainment. I was happy though – when I cashed out it came to $20.68 – a whopping 68 cents ahead!

There is another floor for the high rollers with exclusive VIP salons, private gaming, lounge dining and VIP hosts. Baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette and other popular casino games are available along with a Cantonese style 1886 Restaurant and Lotus Whiskey and Tea Lounge. Since the casino attracts so many Chinese guests, many staff speak Mandarin and/or Cantonese.

JW MARRIOTT GOES LIGHT & WHITE

While the Douglas Hotel attracts a younger and some may say more individualistic and hip demographic, the JW Marriott puts personalized complete with luxury amenities front and centre.

Marion Harper Treskin, the general manager for both the Douglas and JW Marriott Parq Vancouver, says, “The JW Marriott provides a refined luxury experience that doesn’t feel intrusive and its rooms feel very residential offering outstanding water and city views.” She adds, both hotels offer a “sense of space.”

Bring in the light and keep things white is the JW Marriott theme. The well-appointed modern technology equipped rooms are a ray of sunshine even though Vancouver’s weather may not be all the time. No dark corners – only rooms beaming with natural light.

JW Marriott attracts the seasoned corporate traveller and the hotel offers more than 60,000 square feet of flexible meeting space including the largest ballroom in Vancouver. The connectivity theme continues with indoor access to BC Place next door, home to the CFL’s BC Lions and many concerts and events.

Travel up to the hotel’s 17th floor, and a boutique Spa by JW Vancouver offers six treatment rooms ready to calm, indulge, invigorate and renew you. Following your treatment relax outside at the Aqua Lounge and soak in the whirlpool or lay back enjoying the views from a comfy lounge chair.

Combined, the two hotels total 517 guest rooms and suites (Douglas – 178 rooms/10 suites) and JW Marriott (281 rooms/48 suites). Connecting two distinct hotel brands with different clientele was a risky and bold venture. Strangely though it works, as guests seamlessly venture into both hotels whether to visit the spa, restaurants or bar, meeting space, casino or the outdoor park. Often a neglected part of Vancouver by most visitors with its close proximity to Yaletown and Gastown, the area is now becoming a vibrant entertainment district attracting both locals and guests alike.

Parq Vancouver has seen the light – and uses it effectively!

author

Chris Ryall

An industry insider with strong, outspoken opinions that readers enjoy, whether they agree, or take issue with his point of view.

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