Monday, February 14, 2011

Pan Pacific Vancouver turns 25: Notable guests include Princess Diana, Sean Connery, Robin Williams and the Dalai Lama

One of Vancouver's luxury waterfront hotels turns 25 this year. The Pan Pacific Vancouver, which rises high above Canada Place, was built to celebrate Expo '86 during Vancouver's centennial year in 1986.

Of its 429 current employees, there were 21 at the end of 2010 who had been with the hotel since its opening in 1986. Another 17 employees will celebrate a quarter century in 2011. Many of them, like duty manager Carolyn Mason, have fond memories of the numerous guests she's dealt with over the years. One of Mason's most thrilling moments was when she escorted Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, up to their room following the ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the opening of Expo '86 in May.

Mason said she was instructed not to look at the royal couple, but she managed to sneak a peek at the princess’ gown. She said the following night, Princess Diana requested special permission to go for a swim in the hotel's 8th floor outdoor pool -- at 3 AM.

Among other notable guests was actor Sean Connery, who attended one of the front desk’s “three minute meetings” between shift changes. Robin Williams, who used the staff elevators to avoid making a fuss in the lobby, made a wrong turn and ended up in the employee lunchroom. The comedian and actor launched into an impromptu routine, much to the delight of the hotel staff dining there.

Rounding out the list of famous guests who have stayed at the Pan Pacific Vancouver include Bill Clinton, the Agha Khan, Boris Yeltsin and the Dalai Lama.

BC Residents Weekend Package:
British Columbians are invited to celebrate Pan Pacific Vancouver's 25th anniversary with this special package. Rates start at $189 for city view rooms and the package includes complimentary self-parking, a late checkout of 2 PM and two-for-one breakfast at the hotel's Cafe Pacifica. Book now for stays through April 30, 2011.

The 23-story Pan Pacific Vancouver overlooks Coal Harbour
Photo by Sue Frause