Vancouver sparkles during the holidays and throughout winter


Vancouver lights up for the holidays. Tourism Vancouver photo.

As much as I'd love to be in New York City for Christmas again some year, it's not going to happen. Even though my son lives there, traditionally we spend the holidays at home on Whidbey Island. Well, it's not such bad place to hang out, either.

In mid-December I'll be heading up to Vancouver, BC via Amtrak and taking in the sights, sounds and scents of the holidays. Here are some ideas for your next visit.

HOTEL HOLIDAY PACKAGES

The Wedgewood Hotel has completed its room renovations and are offering a Shopping Rate Package that includes accommodation and complimentary valet parking from $168 CAN (approximately $147 USD). Their newest package is the Girls Getaway Package that includes two nights accommodation, welcome gifts, continental buffet breakfast, luxurious spa treatments in the hotel's spa, and either lunch or Royal Afternoon Tea in Bacchus Restaurant.From $439 CAN ($418 US) per person. The hotel is just around the corner from Robson and across the street from the Vancouver Art Gallery. It's also just a block away from the perfect single-tall-skinny latte in Vancouver (they have five locations): Caffe Artigiano. Nearby on Burrard Street is the Famous Players Paramount Vancouver showing first-run films on eight screens.

The Listel Hotel on Robson is offering the Roots of Robson shoppping package. The package includes overnight in a Gallery or Museum Floor room featuring international and First Nations art; a $100 CAD gift certificate at ROOTS (the official outfitter of the US Olympic Team); and valet parking in their gated parkade. Rates begin at $219 CAN (approximately $191 US). Mellow out in the evening at O'Douls, which serves up jazz seven nights a week along with fine food and an extensive wine list.

The hip and happenin' Opus Hotel in Yaletown is offering a stay between now and Dec. 28 for $189 CAD per night (approximately $165 US). The rate includes a guestroom upgrade and complimentary valet parking. Have breaky at the hotel's Elixir, lunch at nearby Thai Urban Bistro, dinner at Blue Water Cafe or Glowbal and jazz at Capones. After a morning of shopping, go to Spruce Body Lab and indulge in one of its packages like the rock et science (Spruce Express Facial and a 60-minute Integrative Swedish Massage LaStone therapy treatment).

The Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver is focusing on family fun and shopping. The Family Getaway package starts at $285 CDN (approximately $248 US) for two rooms, and includes kids' tee-shirts to take home, child-sized bathrobes to use at the hotel (great for after spending time in the hotel's indoor/outdoor pool) and enjoying the nearby "fun stuff" for kids of all ages (see holiday activities below).

The hotel's new Shopping for All Seasons package includes accommodation plus a $100 Holt Renfrew gift card. The upscale Canadian department store is known for its quality fashions, accessories and cosmetics. And there's even a private entrance to the store from the hotel lobby so you can shop like a celebrity (the last time I stayed there I spotted actor Tom Sizemore in the hotel's sleek off-lobby Terrace Bar -- he was sporting a strange Elvis 'do). Rates begin at $205 CDN (approximately $179 US).

NEW YEAR'S EVE PACKAGES

The Pacific Palisades Hotel on Robson is offering a Total Indulgence package including one night's stay, two tickets for the Total Indulgence dinner and party in Zin Restaurant, two chocolate whipped cream body massages (!) and a late check-out (giving you time to get all that whipped cream off...). Packages start at $670 CAD (approximately $590 US).

The Metropolitan Hotel has an Ultimate New Year's Eve package that includes one night's stay plus a Culinary Countdown dinner for two in Diva at the Met. Packages start at $399 CAD (approximately $352 USD).

The Wedgewood Hotel kicks off the New Year with an elegant guestroom or suite, Moet Champagne upon arrival and a four-course New Year's Eve dinner for two in Bacchus Restaurant with live entertainment. Packages start at $635 CAD (approximately $559 USD
).

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