Posts Tagged With: Vancouver

Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Express Surrey BC Canada, 23 – 24 January 2016

 

IMG_1591

Holiday Inn Express Surrey is off the freeway, and a straight drive from Canada to another US-Canadian border checkpoint. It is a three-star hotel, located near Guildford town center. There is nothing much around, but we were attending a lacrosse game in Langley. I booked this hotel because IHG is having an Accelerate 2016 promotion, and I’ll get 10000 points for my first stay in January. At a rate of ~70 USD, I actually break even, so this made sense to me.

Check In/Check Out:

It was quick both ways. I booked a standard King room, and when we checked in, we were upgraded to a King feature room. I was also offered a platinum amenity, and took the points.

Location:

There is not much around, except the Guildford town center. It is convenient for commuting, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it if you are trying to maximize your time in Vancouver.

Holiday Inn Express Surrey BC

Room:

Our given room was on the ground floor, facing the yard. It was quiet. If you get a ground floor room facing the lot, you might potentially be bothered by the headlights of cars pulling into the parking lot.

The King feature room is pretty large. It has a little kitchenette with a mini-fridge and sink, and there’s also a little seating area with a pull-out sofa bed, and coffee table, where we ate our dinner. There is not much room around the King bed area, but the bed is very comfortable.

The bathroom is nothing special, but functional. The sink is actually open to the bedroom, so there is only privacy for the bathtub and the toilet. The space in the enclosed area is rather tight.

Holiday Inn Express Surrey BC

Breakfast:

Holiday Inn Expresses offer complimentary breakfast. We got up a little late and arrived at the buffet at 9.30am, and it closes at 10am. One of the highlights of Holiday Inn Express is their cinnamon rolls, but by this point, they stopped having it.

This Holiday Inn Express breakfast is pretty much alike other Holiday Inn Express breakfast – deconstructed McDonald’s – sausage patties, bacon, pastries, yogurt, etc. It’s not something to write home about, but it’s filling.

Overall:

Service was brisk and friendly, and it was all that I expected of a Holiday Inn Express. I also broke even in terms of the number of points I got for the rate I paid, so can’t complain about a free hotel.

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Categories: Canada, Hotel, IHG, Lodgings | Tags: | Leave a comment

Hotel Review: Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel, 22 January 2016

Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel

Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel is a 3-star hotel near the Vancouver Airport, with complimentary airport shuttle service. During my stay there, it also seemed to be used by airline crew, and tour groups quite extensive. A category 2 SPG hotel, it is decent redemption value in a good location. Consisting of three wings, this large hotel is actually a pretty decent airport hotel.

Check In/Check Out:

Quick. But this really depends on your luck. If you get stuck behind a crew, or a large tour group, you might be out of luck.

I recently got an Amex SPG Business card, which gives me complimentary lounge access. I mentioned it to the front desk, and was giving lounge access without confusion, so that’s good.

Location:

Richmond. The area around it has a lot of shopping and there are many excellent restaurants. If you are trying to get to Vancouver without driving, it is within walking distance of the metro system. If you don’t want to drive into Vancouver, it’s not a bad idea at all.

Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel

Room:

We booked a two queen room. We were given a room (480) in the South Wing, which faces the parking lot, and is far away from the elevator. Getting a room somewhere in the middle might be better. While 480 one of the furthest away from the elevator, it is pretty close to the main street (Westminster Highway), which has some traffic noise. The elevator is rather loud, so you don’t want a room near there as well.

The room is really large, with two queen beds, and a lounge chair by the far end of the room. There is also a nice-sized balcony, but as it faces the parking lot, and didn’t have patio furniture, I had no incentive to hang out there.

The bathroom is on the average side of things.

A small complimentary bottle of water is provided. It is placed beside a larger bottle of water, which is not free (4.50 CAD), so before you grab both, thinking they are free, think again.

I did not try out the coffee machine, but I do like that they stock Starbucks coffee. While I’m not a huge fan of Starbucks, that’s still better than mystery coffee sometimes.

The bed was very comfortable, and there are a lot of power outlets, both by the bedside, and also on the desk. If I have a complaint, it would be the rather oversized lamp on the bedside table, which left little room for much else.

Wifi:

It was complimentary for me, and includes up to five devices for each room. It was decently fast, and worked well throughout the property.

Gym:

The gym is 24 hrs, and pretty large, with a decent offering of machines. They have three different rooms, one for cardio, one for weights, and one for more stretchy/yoga type exercises.

Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel

Sheraton Club Lounge:

It is pretty small in size, with a rather limited offering, but to be fair, it never got crowded. The most number of people I saw was at breakfast, and including myself, was a grand total of six people.

Breakfast is from 6 – 9 am, and hors d’oeuvres is served from 5 – 9 pm. Non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary from the fridge, but alcoholic beverages incur a charge. Breakfast is continental, with a dish of eggs, while they had egg rolls, dumplings and popcorn chicken for evening hors d’oeuvres the evening we were there. I did like that they put out fresh juice for breakfast, and they have a good espresso machine.

Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel

Grounds: 

For an airport hotel, it is actually pretty nice. They have a heated outdoor pool and jacuzzi. In the morning, I actually saw people using it, so I’m assuming that means it’s extremely usable even in winter.

Parking:

They charge for overnight parking, and it’s ~18 CAD. We were too lazy to drive around looking for street parking, so we just sucked it up.

Overall:

I think it’s a pretty nice airport hotel, but your experience can vary greatly, depending on the room you get, and if you arrive/depart at a busy time. We had a great stay, so no complaints!

 

Categories: Canada, Hotel, Lodgings, Starwood | Tags: | 1 Comment

Road trip Canada: Vancouver Day 2, 23 January 2016

Vancouver 0600 – Why am I up so early??? I didn’t want to disturb the sleeping mister, so I headed over to the Sheraton Club Lounge, and proceeded to grade 40+ papers on Nazi Germany. Complimentary latte was nice.

0930 – I made reservations at Kirin the day before for a 10 am sitting. We head out. The mister knows he’ll be dead if we miss the reservation.

0950 – Line builds before Kirin opens. Reservations are a good idea.

1000 – Kirin Richmond is decent, but not as good as the one at Kirin Vancouver. Mister’s first experience at the Cantonese restaurant. He’s the only non-Chinese at the restaurant. And the only person who ordered a Sprite. 😀

1100 – We survey the hotel grounds. Pretty impressive for an airport hotel!

1245 – Time to circle round Yaletown in Vancouver. Finding a parking meter that takes credit cards wasn’t easy (they have some on Hornby Street!)

Vancouver

1300 – Long walk across the bridge to Granville Public Market. Why aren’t there stairs that lead directly to it? I bet I can make a fortune with a repelling business. Or bungee jumping to the market.

Vancouver

1330 – Mister now agrees with me that my decision to park at Yaletown was inspired. There was quite a line of cars trying to drive into Granville Public Market. We also found out that we can take a ferry back to Yaletown (3.50 CAD one way, 5 CAD return. Prices might be higher if you go to further parts of downtown Vancouver) The Aquabus leaves every 15 min or so.

Vancouver

1400 – Magicians, buskers, crazy mishmash of goods, kiddie exits at the Kid’s Market, and lots of glorious fresh produce. Mister finally got a crepe – he was happy. I was slightly annoyed that if you paid in USD, they will charge you as if it was at parity with the CAD, i.e. if something is 7 CAD, and you gave them a 20 USD, you will get back 13 CAD. We did need change for our ferry ride, though.

Vancouver

1445 – We got on the Aquabus. We then headed to a cafe on Granville Street for me to get some work done.

Vancouver

1545 – Time to drive to Langley for the game. I messed up – I paid for our lacrosse tickets with my credit card, and we were supposed to take up the tickets at Will Call. I sock-drawered that credit card after meeting minimum spend, and so, it was not in my wallet. (the dangers of this game – there’s a limit to wallet space for credit cards) We’re going early to rectify the situation.

1650 – Guy at Will Call never asked for my credit card. Whew!

1700 – I nap in the car because it’s just 1 hr before the doors at Langley Events Center open, which doesn’t give us enough time to go anywhere. Also, it’s bobblehead night, and mister really wants one.

1900 – First lacrosse game. Where is the ball????? That’s some mad skills right there. Lacrosse is like street soccer with sticks, and some of the violence of ice hockey thrown in. Pity – nobody got into a fight. The Vancouver Stealth got massacred by Colorado Mammoth.

Vancouver Stealth at Langley Events Center

2045 – Sushi restaurants are all closed. We get some Wendy’s, head to our hotel, and that was it for the night.

Wallet Damage?

Food + drinks: 35 USD

Transport: ~5 USD

Game tickets: 25 USD

Accommodation: 64 USD (but I get 11550 IHG points) I could have actually made another redemption to make this night free, but 64 USD for 11550 IHG points is a good value to me.

Total: 129 USD

 

Categories: Canada, Miles&Points, Road Trip, Sights, Sports | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Roadtrip! Vancouver, 22 January 2016

Nando's Chicken

I have a serious craving for good dim sum (sorry, Seattle, you just don’t do it for me in this department), so I persuaded my +1 that we had to go to Vancouver. I dangled a lacrosse game in front of him, because he’s been heartbroken since the Seattle Stealth uprooted, crossed borders into America’s hat, and became the Langley Vancouver Stealth.

1600 – The Mister is done with work, he picks me up, we head off.

1830 – Mister needs to find a BoA ATM. Last ATM before border? Lyden. Time for a detour. Why are we going into the woods? Why is there a BoA ATM in the woods? Ok, no werewolves – Front Street in Lyden looks pretty cool.

Heavy rain, streaky wipers (it’s Washington State after all). Another detour to O’Reilly for new wipers.

2000 – Ah, near Vancouver! We arrived at Richmond. Why? Sheraton Vancouver Airport is a Category 2 SPG property, and costs just 3000 Starpoints on weekends. A steal, in my opinion!

2020 – We checked out the Sheraton Club Lounge, which I gained access to with my Amex SPG Business card. They have some potstickers, egg rolls, and chicken popcorn. Mister is happy to get some food.

2040 – We planned to get some cheap sushi (thanks, dropping Canadian currency!), but as it turns out, almost all the good ones close at 9pm. On a Friday night.

2050 – Plan B (aka my evil masterplan) – Nando’s. The chicken that I’ve driven across two borders for (they used to not have outlets in Singapore, and I’d drive over to Malaysia for their flame-grilled goodness). It was awesome. I had a quarter chicken with an extra spicy sauce. Mister is not a chicken or spice fan, and munched down his chicken sandwich with herb and lemon.

Wallet Damage?

Dinner: 10 USD

Overnight Parking at Sheraton: 15 USD

Gas: 10 USD (140 miles at 30 mpg, and $2 per gallon)

Room: 3000 Starpoints

Total: 35 USD + 3000 Starpoints

Categories: Canada, Food, Road Trip, USA | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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