Durable Goods

Fairmont Empress; the Gold Lounge Experience

Last weekend I had to go to our provincial capital for a few days of business. Because I was going to be working in and around the Legislature, I decided to stay in the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Now, in the nature of disclosure, I have to say that I stayed in the Fairmont Empress back in November when I was in Victoria on a separate business trip. Many of the guests received a letter at check-out inviting us, when we returned to Victoria to try the Fairmont Gold level of accommodations. On this trip I took advantage of their offer for a free upgrade.

The best part of the Gold Experience? You know how the lobby of a hotel can be lined up with people checking in and checking out and all that confusion? Not for the Fairmont Gold.

I pulled in, handed my car keys to the valet and two other guys grabbed my cases and loaded them on a dolly and told me to go inside the hotel, grab an elevator to the second floor and head to the Fairmont Gold check in desk. I did so.

Upon my arrival to the check-in desk, all I had to do was say my name and good things began to happen. “Thank you for visiting us again Mr Robinsmith, we are very pleased to have you stay with us.”

Dillon Carfoot, the Assistant Manager took me on a little tour of the facilities beginning with the Fairmont Gold Lounge.

Fairmont Gold Lounge
Fairmont Gold Lounge

This is a lounge for the people who stay in the Fairmont Gold. It was a lovely respite from the work that I was involved in during my stay in the capital.

Every morning there is an expanded Continental Breakfast in the Fairmont Gold Lounge. Croissants, bagels, waffles, fresh fruit, yogurt and one hot egg dish each day.

Of course there was always the coffee, tea, espresso, and a variety of juices. An absolutely lovely way to start the day.

Fairmont Gold Lounge Desserts
Fairmont Gold Lounge Desserts

After the breakfast service is done each day there are small desserts available. These are the cutest little cakes and pastries that were truly delicious.

Three little pieces on each plate were the perfect mid afternoon snack.

Of course there is also a bar available to the patrons of the Fairmont Gold Lounge.

Fairmont Gold Bar
Fairmont Gold Bar

If you want a drink, you pour yourself a drink. There is a slip of paper there to make a note on so that you can be billed for what you consume. The bar is based on the honour system; you self-report what you drink.

From 4 to 7 pm each day there are also hot hors d’oeuvres available. I very much appreciated these after a day of grinding meetings.

There were plates with a selection of sushi rolls, smoked salmon, baked salmon and fresh prawns. Other plates had a selection of fine cheeses and cold cut meats. One day the hot plate had beef on skewers with a tamarind dipping sauce. Each day there were also bowls of fresh fruit including strawberries, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon.

The afternoon snacks were greatly appreciated. They took the edge off the afternoon and gave me the strength to continue with my meetings until dinner time.

However, the very best thing about the Fairmont Gold? When I called for my 6am wake-up call they asked if I wanted tea, coffee or juice brought up to my room for my wake-up call! And when they did the wake-up call a real person did the call. A real person with a kind voice that welcomed me to a new day. Fabulous stuff.

One other great thing about the Fairmont Gold is that everyone remembers your name. When I arrived at the Fairmont Gold Lounge they would greet me by name, “Good afternoon Mr Robinsmith.” Or good morning or good evening. And they ALWAYS sounded sincere with their greetings. A very nice touch.

Overall, the Fairmont Gold was a spectacular experience. I loved it. Tomorrow I will post more information and pictures of the room that I stayed in. Let me just give you a teaser; it was above and beyond all expectations.

Disclaimer; this review is based on my personal opinion. I did not receive any form of compensation from the Fairmont Empress or anybody else for writing this review.

Durable Goods

The Fairmont Empress, Victoria, BC

Last Wednesday I left Metro Vancouver and headed over to Vancouver Island to chase down a couple of the BC Liberal leadership front-runners on behalf of The Left Coast. While in Victoria I was put up in the “iconic” Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Walking into a hotel lobby like the Empress is like walking back in time; back in time to a more elegant and genteel time and place. A world in which style is all important. The Empress has grand feeling hallways with high arched doorways and intricately carved moldings. The carpet is heavily patterned and would look dated in any other building other than the Empress. Here, in the Empress it is beautiful.

The rooms have been nicely updated although the furniture maintains your feeling of being in a classic property. Large padded armchairs were a welcome respite after my day of traipsing around looking for politicians to corner and nab quotes from. Although the desk is also a heritage-style piece it worked perfectly as a work-station for me.

My complaint about the Empress is that like many other quality properties, they do not offer wireless internet in all rooms. They are currently working at adding wireless capability so that wireless access is available in all rooms (at charge). There is a network cable available on the desk in each room (with a cord long enough that you can sit in bed and surf the internet if you choose). The cost for internet access is close to $16 for 24 hours.

My other complaint about the Empress is that the washrooms in the rooms are terrible. Yes, they have marble tiling and granite vanity tops but if I was twenty pounds heavier than I am today I would have had a very difficult time positioning myself on the toilet next to the ancient looking yellow bathtub. And to reach the toilet paper if you are seated on the toilet is an act best left to professional contortionists.

However, the feeling of grandeur as you sit in your room or sit in the Empress lobby (where there is free internet for those people who belong to the Fairmont loyalty program) is wonderful. You can lay back in bed and look up at the ultra-tall walls and the ceiling so high above you and dream of your life as a multi-millionaire.

I have to admit that I am a sucker for heritage properties and will often overlook many of the faults that are inherent or unavoidable in these “iconic” properties. The Empress Hotel is so magnificent that when I travel to our capital city I always request the Empress. I will continue to do so.