Part of my annual travel schedule is a New Year’s trip.  Celebrating in different areas around the world is pretty unique in so many ways, and I really encourage you to give it a try.  This year was slightly different, though, as I had family coming into town.  Challenge accepted! 

A trip between Christmas and New Year’s would have to do.  This was only a three-day trip; fly in Friday afternoon and out first thing Monday morning.  However, short can be VERY sweet, especially in the winter and cold, wet climates like Vancouver.  Best believe I was going to make the most of this trip and spare no expense regarding lodging and meals.

…And Vancouver did not disappoint.  This was one of my favorite weekenders ever, and I’m excited to share it with you. 

Vancouver is one of my favorite places on Earth.  It’s gray and rainy there a lot of the time, but for some reason, even though it’s gray and rainy, I feel like it’s a sunny day.

– Billy Campbell


Logistics and Excursion Planning

Since this is a short trip, being intentional is a must!  You don’t have time to waste and need to define how much you want to see, relax, what tickets need to be bought ahead of time, and what brunch/dinner reservations need to be made ahead of time.  I did this about ten days out…

TB TIP: When selecting a hotel in Vancouver, choose a property close to a water taxi stop. This makes the most enjoyable transport method (on the water, of course) readily accessible.

So now the planning process.  While some view this as a daunting task, trust me, it’s actually fun when you know the ins and outs.  Here’s how I navigate it:

  • Find a Marriott property that suits my desires for this trip (each of these wants must be checked yes):
    • Unique, Vancouver style high-end hotel
    • On-site restaurants for brunch and a good steak dinner
    • On-site elite member lounge
    • On-site spa for the ultimate holiday relaxation
    • High floor rooms for view and less noise
    • Close to the water AND water taxi stop
    • Stay on points is available (it usually is, but once in a great while at specific properties, it’s not)
  • Check the American Airlines website for direct and non-direct flights from LAX/SNA to YVR:
    • The planes from LAX to the Pacific Northwest are usually smaller as it’s a shorter and less popular route for AA, but it’s a direct flight path and was my choice this round.
    • Verify that business or first-class upgrades are available for the flight.  Sometimes first and/or business may be fully booked, so checking ahead of time and adjusting your flight time may help secure an upgrade. 
    • LAX has a lovely Admirals Club Lounge (including Flagship First exclusive lounge access), but YVR does not.  Fortunately, a Priority Pass Lounge (membership is free with an American Express Platinum and higher card, which I highly recommend for travel perks) in Vancouver, so the lounge experience is secured, which is key to my travel experience.
  • Excursions:
    • Produce, and seafood in the Pacific Northwest is REMARKABLE!  A public (covered farmers market type environment) market visit and foodie experience is a must.
    • There are several quaint and quirky things to see in Downtown Vancouver (Gastown Steam Clock, [BG1] for example), so taking a planned out walking tour of sights/parks/museums/sculptures is happening.
    • Find local holiday events.
      • Glow Vancouver at the Plaza of Nations looked like a fun, indoor Winter Wonderland experience
      • Multiple parks surrounding the area still had holiday decor.

Travel Day

Getting up at 3 am to catch the 6 am out of LAX isn’t my favorite thing in the world, in fact, it kind of stings.  But, I’m flying non-stop to Vancouver so that I can get to my hotel (The Douglas, Autograph Collection) early, nap, relax and ease into the rainy vibes.  The airport shuffle at LAX on a weekday never disappoints, especially on a Friday; I swear everyone is either flying home from business trips or off to vaca before the weekend rush. 

You never really can guarantee an Uber at 3:45 am in Orange County, even if you schedule one the night before.  On this particular trip, I couldn’t get a rideshare of any kind to save my life.  So, adding to an already early day was throwing luggage into my SUV and hauling booty to avoid being late and in a rush to my plane.  I didn’t consider that a lot of people were traveling for the holidays, and my regular parking spot (Wally Park VIP with a car wash right before I land) was fully booked. 

In fact, all of the popular ones were.  After several phone calls from the car and lots of Google-mapping, I found a small place close that could accommodate me.  THANK GOD! 

In the shuttle, TSA Precheck at Terminal 4 bound, I could finally exhale!  LAX’s newly remodeled Admiral’s Lounge is excellent and made for a relaxing breakfast and coffee/Bailey’s experience.  And now off to the smaller jet terminal by bus between terminals 4 and 5 at LAX.  I got my first-class upgrade on both flights for this trip, so that was exciting; I get actually get comfy and sleep. 

Arriving so far north this early in the day yielded a great view of the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean.  It was nice to soak in the rays before three days of clouds and rain in Vancouver.  My bag came out on the carousel first, perks of flying in first class, and I was off to my adventure. 

After a 25-minute drive, I arrived at The Douglas and headed up to the lobby.  This property is GORGEOUS!  It’s luxurious, unique, clean, and staffed with super helpful people that seemed to really love their job.  The Elite check-in desk upgraded me to a top floor room with “the best view on site.”  I was directly facing, separated only by a Zen garden, the BC Place, which is a soccer stadium, and one of the most elaborate I was told. 

Let’s put it this way, it was like a giant ambient mood light that cycled through different colors all night.  So yeah, I think it was the best view on-site, and I felt blessed to watch the rain with that as my backdrop. 

Play Time

Since I arrived so early, I had time to ease into the unpacking process, which is always lovely.  After a long nap to the sound of pouring rain, I was off to explore the property, which shared a common elevator system with the JW Marriott next door. 

I found myself in a Manhattan-Esq. Restaurant with a unique bar top and excellent mixologist.  After a little local cocktail experience, I continued walking the property and looked at the restaurant I made dinner reservations for the following evening.  Yes, this was going to work out perfectly.  So far, I was VERY impressed with The Douglas and was excited to get some z’s and kick my day off in the Elite Members Lounge for breakfast. 

Day One

My first full day in Vancouver was off to a great start.  I slept like a baby in that big cozy bed and didn’t want to get out… but 9 am was upon me, and I wanted to catch the breakfast before they shut it down at 10 am.  Like European Marriott properties, the breakfast was a little different from what you would expect in the US, with more meats, cheeses, fruits, pastries, juices versus eggs, pancakes, waffles, and the likes.  I stopped by the spa before heading back to get ready for the day and booked a massage and treatment. 

Another little tip, when you’re using a Marriott credit card to pay for your stay, all of your on-property meals and services like the spa can be charged to the room.  Therefore, you get ten times the number of points per dollar, per purchase, which is a nice perk and even more reason to splurge.

Showered and bundled up, I was ready to brave the elements.  I brought my own umbrella, so I was on the loose with no reserve!  A short walk across the street brought me to the Aqua Bus Plaza of Nations stop.  This method of travel is so much fun!  These little boats hit each stop every 5 minutes, are faster and cheaper than travel by rideshare, and are just kind of a cool change to enhance the nostalgia of your trip. 

I recommend buying a day-pass for $17, so you can ride unlimited throughout the day.  Within 10 minutes, I was emersed in the Granville Island Public Market, and it was unreal.  Think Pike Place Market in Seattle, but bigger! The size of the produce alone is remarkable; it’s much bigger than mass-produced produce you usually find in the store.  AND the variety is unusual, making it fun as you discover and try new fruits and veggies.  The smoked salmon is also a must I recommend!

After some warm food (savory beef pie and sweet blueberry pie) and tea from A La Mode, I ventured around Granville Island into little local shops to pick up a few souvenirs.  Buying a Christmas ornament from each place I travel is a must; I’ve got enough for an entire tree! 

Next was a stop into a waterfront restaurant for a local snack of fresh oysters and a dirty martini to quench my thirst.  Sometimes just sitting and watching the world pass by in a different place can be the best form of entertainment.  Think sea birds, rain, people, puddles, etc.  I could’ve sat there for hours, but it was cold, and I was ready for a nap.  Back to the hotel, please!

To cap the day off with a bang, I had dinner at The Victor, which was a short walk away on-site at the JW Marriott next door.  This place is MAGICAL!  It’s beautifully adorned in high-end furnishings, black and gold touches, and ambient lighting.  A favorite dish of mine when in Canada is foie gras, and it was so good here; the perfect way to ease into this elaborate meal!  Followed up by a beet salad, a fresh fish app from the sushi bar, and the excellent truffle risotto, I was in heaven!… and ready for bed.  This restaurant is a MUST if you’re in Vancouver.

Day Two

Waking up in this bed, after that dinner, with a perfect rainstorm all night for ambient noise, I was in heaven.  After a quick breakfast in the Elite Lounge, I was off to my spa session.  It’s kind of hard even to fathom walking further than to your hotel room after such a relaxing 12 hours… But I got showered and out to explore the Downtown, Yaletown, the numerous parks, and the Waterfront. 

The 20-minute walk flew by with all the fun sights to take in.  The parks are numerous and so well maintained; you can tell Vancouver takes a lot of pride in their community.  Upon arriving downtown, I had to see the Gastown Steam Clock.  Not that it’s so spectacular, but it’s a clock that emits steam and has a crowd of tourists around it.  Definitely worth a watch; US tourists do funny things when striking a pose, ya know?!  Among the several oceanfront views that were picture-worthy, there were a lot of quaint little art boutiques that had some fun home furnishings; yes, I had a few things shipped home. 

I decided to make the trek back with my 6 pm reservation for Glow Vancouver.  It started pouring down rain, so it seemed logical to stop into a quaint little bar.  Oh, what an experience… like most neighborhood bars, this one had a few local regulars that were hilarious to listen to. 

Okay, back to my walk and Glow reservation… The rain was still pouring down, but I cared a little less, thanks to my last stop.  The glow was worth a visit.  I won’t overpromise or present something as more than it is to you; it was a 5 out of 10.  Worth a trip and I recommend it if you’re chasing a last bit of holiday vibes, but don’t get your hopes up for much.  That being said, I was in and out in 30 and headed back across the street to my hotel.

It’s not common I eat at the same restaurant two nights in a row, but I did at The Victor.  It was just soooo good, and the menu was so vast that I could have a completely different experience food-wise with the same epic in-house ambiance.  Plus, it was pouring rain, and I didn’t feel like getting drenched on the way to eat. 

This time, I made it the traditional steakhouse experience; dirty martini, salad, crab cake, red wine, and steak.  I’d like to downplay my excitement, given that it was my second visit, but it was equally impressive in every aspect.  I have to give kudos to the staff, they are amazing!  From front of house taking your coat and umbrella to the chefs and everyone in between… EXCELLENCE!  No doubt I’ll be back one day after a nap and three months of exercise (insert smirk here).

Trip Summary/Recap

Although this was a short trip, it was remarkable.  Given that New Years’ is always busy at resorts, restaurants, airlines, etc., it requires planning months out.  This was short notice and whimsical in every sense, and it worked out perfectly. 

If I had any final thoughts, it would be to visit Vancouver during the holiday season and soak in all that this beautiful slice of the Pacific Northwest has to offer.  A little intentional planning will go a long way, and the rest will fall into place.  Bon voyage!

Tips & Tricks


  • It’s cold and wet, bringing multiple scarfs, gloves, and earmuffs.
  • A small umbrella will come in handy.
  • Dark-colored boots with rubber type soles are a lifesaver; the streets and water taxies are wet, and you don’t want to ruin leather bottom/light-colored shoes.
  • A warm, lightweight down jacket is your best friend in this climate.  Preferably longer than your traditional waist length.
  • Add anything else relevant.


  • In typical downtown fashion, parking can be complicated.  I recommend walking and using the water taxis as much as possible.
  • The people are usually very friendly, so don’t be surprised if they open up a conversation with you.
  • The weather is wet, but you still are in a different area and need to stay hydrated!  I recommend bringing a packet of Liquid IV for each day you’re in town.  After all, the ridiculous amount of good food and drink in Vancouver can dehydrate you quickly and evoke several naps.


  • Bring cash!  It makes business with street vendors and artists so much easier, especially in the Granville Island Public Market.  And yes, they took American dollars.
  • Make sure you have an international plan pre-established on your phone.  Once you land in Canada and come off airplane mode, the charges will start racking up if you don’t have a set plan in place.  Typically, it’s $5 daily, so don’t worry about breaking the bank.