Making A Layover As Much Fun As A Stayover At Fairmont Vancouver Airport

By Laura Goldstein

Travelling the globe is exciting until weather or other unforeseen circumstances puts your schedule in a tailspin. But whoever said ‘it’s the journey not the destination’ must have experienced a layover at YVR and  the Fairmont Airport Vancouver! Whether you need to catch up on much-needed sleep, workout in the gym, relax in a spa setting for an hour-long facial or immerse yourself in one of the largest collections of First Nations sculpture in the world, your layover will give new meaning to whiling away the hours between connections.

A Luxurious Oasis Without Leaving the Airport

Imagine experiencing a world of relaxation between flights. Located inside the Vancouver International Airport, a winding ramp cantilevered over the U.S. Departures Level Terminal leads to a luxurious oasis without even leaving the airport. “The Fairmont Vancouver Airport is not your usual airport hotel,” says General Manager, Patrick Gosselin in the newly renovated Gold Floor Lounge on the hotel’s 14th floor. “And not just because its been awarded Best Airport Hotel in North America at the World Airport Awards for the past seven years,” he adds. “Often guests arrive after an exhaustive flight from Asia or Europe and need to sleep before continuing on another flight. If their layover is 4, 6 or 8 hours we have a special Day Use Floor called the “Quiet Zone” between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. that is noise-free. That means it has no bellmen, housekeeping or room service while guests are sleeping.”

The spacious, well appointed rooms boast triple-pane soundproof windows, textured blackout curtains and the most comfortable beds imaginable. And what a pleasure to be able to have a restorative shower or luxuriating bath before your connecting  flight. In fact, the Fairmont Vancouver Airport offers a Wellness On the Road enhancement that can be added at booking to any guestroom: the use of a Saje diffuser, a travel-size essential oil, bath menu  and a selection of Lot35 aromatic, low caffeine  teas. GUEST ALERT:  The room is so comfortable, you may want to ask the front desk to give you a reminder of your impending flight!

Fit On the Fly

Packing heavy running shoes, extra workout clothes or a yoga mat into your already stuffed carry-on is always a challenge. The Fairmont Vancouver Airport makes working- out on a layover a breeze, supplying all the Reebok gear you need from head-to-toe with the purchase of a day pass at the Health Club. Then get pumped in the full-service gym, cool your jets  in the mechanized resistance pool or exercise against a self-adjusted current, then mellow out in the whirlpool or sauna. And for the drop-in layover, the Fairmont Vancouver Airport offers a special Health Club rate.

Fashionista in Record Time

Haven’t done all your shopping and have some time between flights? Guests of the Fairmont can do it all in style with a complimentary BMW Shuttle to nearby McCarthurGlen Designer Brand Outletjust 5 minutes from YVR. Or take the Canada Line Sky Train from the YVR Airport,it’s free and just two stops to Templeton Station across from the shopping centre.

Jet Lag Layover Recovery – Absolutely!

There is nothing better to revive the soul (and body) struggling with sleep deprivation after a long flight and trying to adjust internal time clocks, then a Jet Lag Recovery Massage at Absolute Spa. Located above the Health Club inside the hotel, they offer a variety of 45-minute, 60-minute and 90-minute treatments during your layover that will have you feeling refreshed and raring to go. Targeting  muscles in the body that are specifically affected when flying and result in a sore neck, shoulders and lower back, the treatment also includes a foot massage for tired tootsies.

Combating dryness when flying is always difficult especially on long flights. The Hydrating Oxygen Facial (75 minutes) uses an AHA exfoliating tonic and PURE O2 Oxygen Blast for hyper -hydration and much needed vitamins & minerals. Blue Chamomile Oil helps soothe the skin and protect against further dryness.

If you’re someone who doesn’t walk enough during a flight and experiences leg and ankle swelling, Absolute Spa has a revitalizing Jet Lag Anti-Swelling Leg Massage treatment (45-minutes,) that concentrates on the calves and ankles to increase circulation and with the addition of Aroma Therapy, happens to smell wonderful too.

The Gold Floor Comes In for a Stylish Landing

Following a $1.8 million renovation the Fairmont Vancouver Airport’s Gold level on the top 14th floor boasts 35 rooms and 2 luxurious suites. Designed by Vancouver’s award-winning CHIL Interior Design,they took their decor cues from sophisticated first class travel and embracing the surrounding landscape. Mixing a neutral palette with the earth tones of the North Shore mountains, the natural wood of the B.C. forests and spectacular floor-to-ceiling views of ever-changing blue skies, the result is subtle elegance. An added bonus: a telescope in each room with a plane-spotting guide gets you up close and personal with the hundreds of outdoor activities that make an international airport function.

Relaxing over breakfast in the Gold Floor Lounge, the view is mesmerizing: the YVR Airport appears a microcosm of a large city with planes taxiing and landing and  baggage handlers on the go, bringing to mind the  book, “Gulliver’s Travels” where everything was in miniature. Contemporary lighting pendants mimic the sea of twinkling runway lights viewed at night while sampling appetizers and a glass of wine.

If your flight leaves late that night, have dinner at Globe@YVRand enjoy live entertainment each evening at  the Jetside Bar just off the Lobby of the hotel both with spectacular views of the YVR runway.

Some Gold-Level rooms are available on a layover basis for members of the Fairmont President’s Club.(Please inquire at booking.)

Get Hooked on Fairmont’s Fish Valet

British Columbia boasts some of the best salmon fishing and wildlife experiences in the world and anglers know that YVR’s South Terminal is the hub to fly them there between May through September. So what happens when fishing enthusiasts make a return trip through Vancouver with  their prize catches? Fairmont Vancouver Airport  has  it covered (literally) with Fish Valet Storage available for layovers and overnighters. “We have an enormous 575-cubic-foot freezer set at – 15 degrees Celcius,” enthuses GM Patrick Gosselin. “Recent occupants have included a 900-pound sturgeon and a 180-pound halibut. The most surprising was a moose that took up so many boxes it was unbelievable!” If you are travelling on one of these excursions through the South Terminal, keep your eyes peeled for various hockey celebrities from the Vancouver Canucks and Hockey Hall of Famers who are also fishing enthusiasts. Also, national celebrity and “Man In Motion”, Rick Hansen who lives in Vancouver, hosts an annual Fishing Derby at Langara Island in remote Haida Gwaii to raise money for the Rick Hansen Foundation’s many accessibility projects as well as the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

Explore the  Interactive Art at YVR

When you have several hours of waiting time between flights (especially with kids in tow,) it’s stressful and often frustrating to keep them entertained. But children and adults alike will be captivated by seven themed areas throughout the airport known as “A Sense of Place.” As you walk through Vancouver International Airportlocated on Musqueam territory, you become a different kind of traveller, immersed in the mystical world of Northwest Coast First Nations’ art and culture.

A colossal-size “Hetux” Thunderbird (artist, Connie Watts,) swoops above your head in the “Pacific Passage” while delightful abstract redwood crabs, cormorants and even a seal bask on rocks beside a rippling pond. Towering totem poles and a red cedar killer whale dominate the “Supernatural World” in the Domestic Terminal Building. After checking through security, passengers departing from the International Terminal will be enraptured by the “Spirit of the Sea’s” magical “Story of Fog Woman and Raven” (artist, Dempsey Bob) carved from enormous red and yellow cedar logs. Opposite of which, is a spectacular 114,000-litre aquarium filled with hundreds of species of sea creatures and indigenous plants. “Orca Chief and the Kelp Forest” (artists, Lyle Wilson and John Nutter,) reigns supreme above the aquarium.

“There are over 200 pieces of sculpture by Northwest Coast First Nations artists and 51 glass showcases throughout the airport and don’t forget to look up at all the architecture, suspended glass and lighting too as they all tell a story,” says Rita Beiks, art consultant for YVR. “You know, when I go to speak at international airport conferences, attendees can’t believe this art, one of the largest collections in the world  is actually in an airport setting and not a museum,” she laughs.

You can book a free group  Explorer Tourand in early 2019, YVR will have self-guided art tour maps available for travellers.   

With this much to do on a layover just make sure you don’t miss your connecting flight!