The phrase "Shangri-La" is derived from British author James Hilton's 1933 novel Lost Horizon. Shangri-La has become synonymous with any earthy paradise, any permanent happy land, isolated from the outside world. "Shangri-La" most probably comes from the Tibetan ཞང་,"Shang" – a district of Ü-Tsang, north of Tashilhunpo" + རི, pronounced "ri", "Mountain" = "Shang Mountain" + ལ, Mountain Pass, which suggests that the area is accessed to, or is named by, "Shang Mountain Pass". Shangri-La is often used in similar context to Garden of Eden, to represent a paradise hidden from modern man. (Source: Wikipedia).
Some may say it's ridiculous, some may say it's self-indulgent (not that that's necessarily a bad thing), and some may agree that I deserve this weekend of retreat and rejuvenation, some time to refuel, even if it is just a few blocks from my Downtown Vancouver apartment.
I spent the weekend resting in the super luxurious surroundings at the Shangri La. It's not my first time at the hotel, and it most certainly won't be my last. I first stayed at the 5 star zen oasis when I relocated to Vancouver four months ago and have been meaning to post this for a while. I've been lucky enough to experience many hotels around the globe and have an extensive knowledge of the hotel and hospitality industry, and without a doubt I rate Shangri La Vancouver high in my top five.
It's 3pm on Saturday afternoon when I arrive to the Shangri La via the discreet underground VIP entrance where I'm greeted by the immaculate and courteous staff at the front desk. My luggage is taken from the trunk of the cab and transported up to my room on a dolly while I check in. Within moments, I'm elevating up to my Executive King Balcony Suite on the 8th floor of the hotel, where paradise awaits.
The moment I walk through the door to my room, I feel completely at ease, as if any stress or worries have been lifted away and left at the door. The calming Chinese inspired interior is complemented by the sleek B&B Italia furniture - the Shangri La is luxurious and cozy. One of my pet peeves about hotels is that feeling of actually being in a hotel, that cold conference centre disconnected vibe you often get at a larger hotel. However at the boutique Shangri La, I feel at home. This is nothing like an over-populated Sheraton or Hyatt, this is exceptional personal service at its best, a super-luxe utopia, understated, and extremely peaceful.
Just as I'm unpacking, the doorbell rings and I'm greeted by a delightful member of the Shangri La team welcoming me with a bottle of champagne and a bowl of fresh popcorn accompanied by a personal note from the hotel manager... Nice touch!
A few days prior to check in, I had a truly exceptional dining experience at MARKET by Jean-Georges, a contemporary, sophisticated, and stunning restaurant created by internationally acclaimed three-star Michelin chef Jean-George Vongerichten, and led by Executive Chef Ken Nakano.
We started with some appetizers, the first was an incredible, specially made tuna sashimi, layered with avocado, topped with radish, and bathing in a ginger soy dressing. We also indulged in the Lois Lake steelhead sashimi with crispy rice and a chipotle emulsion. As if that wasn't enough, I also sampled the highly recommended parsnip soup with coconut, lime and mint. For my entree, I decided on the lunch special of the week, a ricotta gnocchi with spring peas, tendrils, and shiitake mushrooms.
Back to my blissful weekend... Shortly after checking in, I freshen up in the stunning marble bathroom (the most beautiful hotel bathroom I've ever seen) before making my way down to the rooftop hot tub for an evening soak.
It's Saturday night and I'm tempted to go out for dinner downtown, but the thought of room service in bed with my laptop and a major Netflix binge sure sounds much better so I call down to the restaurant and order a grilled chicken and avocado sandwich with fries - carb overload and totally worth every calorie.
I sleep like a baby and lie on until around 9am, a lie on for me as I'm usually up working at around 5:30 or 6am every day. I make my way down to Market by Jean-Georges again where I indulge my tastebuds in breakfast. I always judge a hotel by the breakfast, and having experienced the food from this restaurant on many occasions, I know it's not going to disappoint. I order my usual breakfast favourite - the classic eggs Benedict accompanied by lightly salted & seasoned breakfast potatoes and roasted baby tomatoes.
Before checking out, I make my way to the 5th floor to CHI, The Spa for a heavenly experience, one which starts with a cup of honey ginger tea while I fill out a personal health form. I'm booked in for a 60 minute West Coast Wave massage, where my massage therapist Cassandra guides me on a relaxing journey by combining multiple techniques and flowing movements. She uses an almond massage oil mixed with Caudalie's Divine Oil. The treatments at CHI highlight British Columbia's indigenous well-being traditions & the treatment rooms are beyond breathtaking - each room has a private washroom, steam shower, infinity bathtub, and vanity table.
The Shangri La is one of many 5 star hotels in Downtown Vancouver, and since relocating I've stayed here as well as the Fairmont Pacific Rim & the Fairmont Waterfront, however this weekend I was made to extremely special and I'm grateful to have experienced the Shangri La Vancouver yet again. Leaving the hotel and returning to my apartment close by, I feel as though I've been on a week long vacation.