Sue Frause is an American writer and photographer. She's had a major crush on Canada ever since she visited British Columbia as a young girl. Even if your heart doesn't pitter patter over all things Canadian, read on. You'll find photos, travel tips, road notes and the latest news and thoughts about our friends north of the 49th parallel. Cool idea, eh?
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
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I have a close friend who worked at the Pan Pacific for a few years. In that time he did see Princess Diana and Charles, quite short. When he worked room service he had a few nice encounters. Billy Joel was actually tinkling away on a piano in one room where he took things up. Bringing up George Burns breakfast his hopes of seeing him were dashed when his assisant opened the door and called out to George in the other room "your breakfast is here" to which he heard only Georges reply.
One time, in the late 1980's I believe he was asked to bring up some glasses of orange juice to their best suite. He did. Came back with 20 dollar tip, alot now let alone then. He told his boss what nice bunch of guys they seemed when his boss asked. Turned out it was the Sultan of Brunei.
Yvonne de Carlo, a local Vancouverite, called the front desk one evening when he was working the desk and asked if she could possibly stay another night since she wasn't feeling well. He said she was so sweet. He has a lot of stories, but what he noticed was that the majority of the famous came across as nice people and not too demanding.
Thanks for sharing these stories ... there's something about hotel lore that I love. Maybe it's because I grew up with "Eloise at the Plaza"! It's also a bonus to hear about celebrities acting in a good way. Refreshing!
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