Monday, January 14, 2013

First Slow Food, now Slow Shopping! Vancouver's Gastown alive with shopping, dining

O.K. Boot Corral in Gastown. Photo by Sue Frause.
The International Slow Food movement was founded by Carol Petrini in Italy in 1986. And for the past decade, Slow Food has also been making its mark in Canada, with high interest in British Columbia, Ontario and Montreal. Slow Food Canada is the umbrella group, and there are also local chapters such as Slow Food Vancouver and Slow Food Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands in British Columbia.
But Slow Shopping? The Executive Hotel Le Soleil thinks it's a cool idea and is showcasing the art of slow shopping in Gastown to its guests with a special package. It's a play off the Slow Food movement. But instead of being strictly about food, it's focused on local and regional designers, artisan, food and culture. It's about shopping at a more leisurely pace, soaking up the neighborhood scene and experiencing the city like a local. 

Big Lou's Butcher Shop Photo by Sue Frause 

With Executive Hotel Le Soleil in walking distance of Gastown, the 119-suite boutique hotel thinks it's a perfect fit. And while Gastown still has the reputation of being rundown with boarded up storefronts, it's undergone a renaissance in the past few years. Vancouver's oldest neighborhood is now home to local designers, artisans, food producers and restaurants. Today, with more than 180 shops, restos, bars, cafes and clubs, the neighborhood is buzzing with new energy. One of the many entrepreneurs making changes in the neighborhood is Mark Brand and his Save on Meats, which I highlighted in a previous blog post.

Gastown's narrower streets and distinct architecture encourage both window shopping and grazing. Some of my favorite food stops are Big Lou's Butcher Shop, Boneta, Chambar, Cork & Fin, L'Abattoir, Salt Tasting Room, Save on Meats and Two Chefs and a Table. Many of them are part of this year's Dine Out Vancouver Festival (running through Feb. 3, 2013).

For shopping, there's John Fluevog for unique footwear; Angel Vancouver for hand painted clothing; Bruce Eyewear for cool spectacles; C&K World for handbags and wallets; Orling & Wu and Old Faithful for home decor, accessories and gifts; and Vole for menswear.

Executive Hotel Le Soleil's Discover Gastown Package ($169)
  • Accommodation in an Executive Suite
  • Complimentary valet parking
  • Complimentary WiFi
  • Gastown walking map with hotel staff's favorite spots to shop
  • Bottle of wine to enjoy post-shopping in the room
The $169 rate is for two people. Taxes not included.