VANCOUVER, BC: Westin Bayshore - Lovely!

I've been staying at the Westin Bayshore since 1983 and can honestly say I've never been disappointed. My most recent stay was no exception.

The staff members are uniformly great, making guests feel at home and at ease immediately. The doorman watched my car while I checked in without forcing me to park and then retrieve it within just a few minutes' time. Although I arrived quite a bit before noon, the desk clerk found me a room on the 7th floor that was ready for occupancy and got me right in. The concierge was happy to answer all my questions and provide me with a map of the local area so I could find my way.

My guest room (724) was very Asian-modern and included high-end amenities like a flat-screen TV, robes in the room (without having to be requested), and an increasingly-rare commodity these days: a minibar. It also had the famous Westin Heavenly Bed but, interestingly, no Heavenly Shower...or tub. The bathroom had only a shower, but with a "drench" shower head, similar to those at the Savoy Hotel in London. Very pleasant; just a bit of a surprise when one is expecting a Heavenly Shower.

The Bayshore has a self-service business centre (yes, spelled "re"; you're in Canada, after all), an indoor pool and spa, a fitness centre they're in the process of refurbishing, and an onsite restaurant and bar.

With the hotel located on Coal Harbour, many (if not all) of the rooms have great views, either of Burrard Inlet, Stanley Park, or the mountains. It's a few blocks from the popular shopping area along Robson Street, but it's not a bad walk unless the weather is horrible. And the area immediately around the hotel is fairly built up, offering a selection of cafes, restaurants, and a bit of shopping as well as nice places to walk.

There are a few drawbacks of which one should be aware. The Westin Bayshore has an attached conference center; therefore, things can get a little crazy if there's an activity or two underway.

Also, as an older facility, the walls are a bit thinner than many newer hotels and I could easily hear the two women next door when they returned to their room after what I have to conclude was an evening of partying. It's not that they were especially loud; they just weren't church-mice. When I mentioned that to the clerk upon check-out, he was most conciliatory and urged me to call the front desk next time and allow them to intervene. Once again, the excellent customer service I've come to expect from Westin.

Next time I'm in Vancouver, I'll definitely go back.

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