VANCOUVER, BC: The Hyatt Regency revisited

Returning to Vancouver for the President's Day weekend, I couldn't believe it had been nearly two years since we last visited the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver.

A lovely hotel in the heart of downtown, the Hyatt Regency is close to many of the city's most popular attractions. Located on Burrard Street, the waterfront and the trendy Robson Street area are just steps away, and Coal Harbour and Stanley Park just short drives up the road. But the hotel itself and the service guests receive are far more important than even a stellar location.

The Hyatt Regency does not disappoint.

Rooms are well-appointed, and many have city views. The property offers the usual amenities including a business center, fitness room, concierge service, and The Gallery Lounge and the Mosaic Bar & Grille on the second floor. It is adjacent to one of the city's indoor malls, making it very convenient to grab a snack, do some shopping, or buy that item you forgot to pack and simply can't do without.

In the time since our list visit, the hotel has updated its rooms and some other facilitates, including the elevators.

Rooms are now done in a more contemporary theme with clean lines, neutral carpets, and dashes of colour throughout. Rooms have both wired and wireless internet access, new flat-screen TVs, and data ports that allow travelers to connect their laptop to the television.

There are a couple of quirks included in the new arrangement.

Worth noting are the benches at the foot of the bed. They're done in a charcoal fabric which blends in quite well with the dark carpet -- especially at night with the lights out. I whacked my shins on them more than once before I got used to them being them. Learn from my mistake and save your shins!

The countertop in the bath of our room, 1910, was only 31" high compared to our 34-1/2" bathroom counter at home. The height made it feel like the room had been designed for wheelchair access, though it was not an "accessible" room.

Another change that visitors should be aware of: instead of leaving towels on the floor or placing a card on your pillow to indicate that you want towels replaced of sheets changed, the new default position is that the hotel "will change bed lines and towels as necessary or upon request."

Who determines what's necessary?

Guests who prefer their linens and towels replaced daily must call the hotel operator. When I did, she noted my request without a hint of judgment, which is as it should be.

When booking online, Hyatt offers the option of choosing an upgraded room for a modest additional fee on a space-available basis. I've used this option several times in various cities and have never been disappointed. In Vancouver, an extra CAN$10 a night would have garnered us a "superior" room with a great view of the city. And the AAA rate included either a buffet or menu breakfast at the Mosaic Bar and Grille.

Parking arrangements constitute another of the quirks.

Guests park in the adjacent Royal Centre Parkade (parking garage for the uninitiated). The weekday rate is $36 per 24-hour period; weekends are $12. But the catch is that does not include "in and out" privileges. If you're planning to park the car and leave it, the desk clerk said the garage rate would probably be fine. If you plan to be in and out, she recommended taking the hotel rate, which is $28 a night for self-park and $36 for valet and included in and out privileges. If you're going to be doing a fair bit of driving, you'll save yourself some money.

If you're flying in, the SkyTrain's Canada Line runs from YVR to downtown every 6-7 minutes during midday and weekday peak periods. The Hyatt Regency Vancouver is immediately adjacent to the Burrard Street SkyTrain station, which serves the Expo and Millennium Lines, so a change of train will be necessary but it eliminates the need to rent a car or take a cab to get to your hotel.

The Hyatt Regency Vancouver has a AAA Four-Diamond rating and, based on our experience, it is well-deserved. We will definitely return.

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Photo by Carl Dombek
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