Great Layover: Vancouver International Airport

US arrivals hall
Courtesy of YVR

Ugh. Layovers. We’ve all had to while away the hours at airports, but regular travelers know that every so often, a layover can be more respite than penance. Such is the case with Vancouver International Airport, a modern marvel with art and architecture to die for.

In addition to high-tech design that includes soaring ceilings, lots of skylights, and sculpture from the region’s indigenous tribes, there’s a leafy, indoor aquarium/park area ideal for destressing, and loads of boutiques and food outlets that are a notch above the standard airport fare.

What makes YVR (the airport code) equally distinctive, however, is the Fairmont Vancouver Airport hotel. Sure, other hotels have airports, but have you ever stayed in them? What you usually get is a musty, generic, not terribly hygenic, overpriced room, and a complete lack of serenity or style. The Fairmont, by contrast, is an oasis not only for guests, but travelers just passing through on layover. Read on for the best ways to spend your layover at YVR (for once, you can hope it’s a long one).

vancouver airport parkCourtesy of YVR

Some people like to get their layover exercise by strolling the airport shops, and YVR doesn’t disappoint. Be sure to pick up some pure maple syrup, maple cream cookies (delish) and smoked salmon in Duty Free or at one of the specialty shops. But if you’re looking for a serious work-out, consider dropping $15 to use the Fairmont’s health club, pool, and jacuzzi.

Afterward, soothe sore or travel-fatigued muscles at the luxe Absolute Spa. In addition to massage, there are the usual pampering facials, body treatments, and mani-pedi’s. Or perhaps you’d prefer to unwind over a drink (Canadian whiskey, anyone?). Hit up the swanky Jetside Bar or GlobeYVR restaurant, which has floor-to-ceiling, sound-proof views of the runway. Jets literally take off from just yards away. And yes, there is great airport food: think creative, seasonal PNW fare, with some ingredients (notably, honey, herbs, and greens) sourced from the Fairmont’s own hives and gardens (most of the chain urban farms on their rooftops; this being an airport, a separate farm is located nearby).

exterior fairmont vancouver airportCourtesy of Fairmont Vancouver Hotel
Should your layover require an overnight, business meeting, or other function, the Fairmont YVR is definitely the place to be. It’s also convenient to downtown, because the clean, speedy Canada Line public transit system connects to the airport. Be sure to take advantage of the transit by visiting the outstanding public market on Granville Island (which will require a short cab ride or walk from the rail system, FYI), or hopping off in buzzing Yaletown, home to Vancouver’s trendiest shopping and dining. Outdoorsy types will want to connect to a bus that will take them to sprawling Stanley Park, with its miles of hiking trails.

The 300+ rooms at the Fairmont YVR all overlook the runways, either for arrivals or departures (again, soundproof glass makes for stunning, yet quiet, visuals). Some rooms are equipped with telescopes; one floor is reserved for hypoallergenic bedding and skin products. Other rooms are pet-friendly. The natural light is plentiful, the bedding plush, the bathrooms cushy (suites come with hand-hewn jade from a British Columbian quarry). With accommodations like this, layovers are…fun.

room at fairmont vancouver airport
Courtesy of Fairmont Vancouver Airport

Vancouver itself is a progressive, outdoorsy city that takes full advantage of its stunning location nestled in the Coast & Mountains region. But even if you never make it past the airport, it’s sure to leave you with a positive impression that leaves you longing to return.

Photo Of The Day: A View Of Mount Baker

James Wheeler, Flickr

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and therefore I have an affinity for any photos that combine mountains and water. No matter where you are in the region, be it Oregon, Washington or British Columbia, you’re bound to find a mountain view from a body of water, and the sight is just as striking every single time. In this photo, Flickr user James Wheeler takes us to the Fraser River in British Columbia, where we get an excellent shot of Mount Baker. As you can see, in this corner of the world it doesn’t always rain.

Do you have a great photo from your travels? Submit it to Photo of the Day by adding it to the Gadling Flickr Pool.

Photo Of The Day: Pitt Meadows Riverfront

photo of the day

This Photo of the Day, titled “Pitt Meadows Riverfront,” comes from Gadling Flickr pool member James Wheeler and was captured using a Nikon D600.

James captions the image, “The sun rising from behind the mountains to light up Pitt Meadows,” which is a city in southwestern British Columbia, Canada. Pitt Meadows is not far from Pitt Lake, the largest fresh water tidal lake in the world. Interestingly, the Pitt River flows backwards at high tide and has created a delta where it joins the lake.

Want to be featured? Upload your best shots to the Gadling Group Pool on Flickr. Several times a week we choose our favorite images from the pool as a Photo of the Day.

Tips for being featured: add a caption describing the image and (better yet) your personal experience when capturing it, details of the photography gear used and any tips you might have for others wanting to emulate your work.

Now, you can also submit photos through Instagram; just mention @GadlingTravel and use the hashtag #gadling when posting your images.

[Photo Credit Gadling Flickr pool member James Wheeler]

Photo Of The Day: Lions Gate Bridge

photo of the day

This Photo of the Day is titled “Lion’s Gate Bridge” and comes from Gadling Flickr pool member James Wheeler who used a Nikon D-600 to capture this image. Lion’s Gate Bridge (AKA the First Narrows Bridge) is a suspension bridge in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

The “Lions Gate” nickname refers to a pair of mountain peaks north of Vancouver called “The Lions.”

James captions the image:

“It was an unseasonably clear winter day here in Vancouver so I headed down to Stanley Park to take some photos. This is Lions Gate Bridge during evening rush hour.”

James also used a Sirui T-2005X Tripod with K-10x Tripod Head, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop and Topaz Adjust to create this image.

Upload your best shots to the Gadling Group Pool on Flickr. Several times a week we choose our favorite images from the pool as a Photo of the Day.

[Photo Credit- Flickr user James Wheeler]

Photo Of The Day: Victoria Pier

victoria pier

This Victoria pier, the Ogden Point Breakwater Pier in James Bay, Victoria, British Columbia, is today’s Photo of the Day. Piers are strange metaphors for travel, as they function both as cul-de-sacs and tethers to the familiar, but there can be no question they are great for centering images. This photo was taken by Flickr user `James Wheeler on Christmas Eve. He observes in his image notes that this pier has been deemed dangerous. As a consequence, it will soon feature handrails.

Upload your favorite images to the Gadling Group Pool on Flickr. We choose our favorites from the pool as Photos of the Day.