The Burrard – modern edge meets retro style in Vancouver

The Burrard – modern edge meets retro style in Vancouver

The Burrard Motor Inn first opened its doors in 1956 – in the grand era of automobile culture – and revved up its own West Coast take on colourful mid-century cool. Over the next few decades, the hotel expanded its offering for travellers, adding a lush garden courtyard and a wood-panelled cocktail bar, where well-heeled guests sipped sidecars and well-made Manhattans. Six decades later, the Burrard Hotel is cooler than ever. A major renovation a few years back refreshed the lobby, rooms and amenities, adding a contemporary edge to the hotel’s retro style. Mr Hudson speaks to Darren Simpson, General Manager about the unique character of the hotel, the guest experience, and some of his favourite places.

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What does The Burrard brand stand for?

The Burrard is all about contrasts: it’s a former 1956 motor inn but offers modern amenities, it’s downtown but on the edge of two residential neighbourhoods, and it offers a rare combination of great value but lots of character as well.

What makes The Burrard special?

The hotel was fully renovated in 2010, but the design team took pains to retain the retro spirit of the property, which our guests really appreciate. The custom mid-century modern furniture in the rooms, the original neon sign, and the tropical inner courtyard are all very different to what you’ll find in the average mid-price property. And we also encourage our guests to get out and connect with our community, whether that’s by heading to our favourite little cocktail bar, shopping Davie Street, or borrowing one of our free bikes to see the city on two wheels.

Photo: Martin Tessler

Photo: Martin Tessler

“Thanks to technology, guests are more independent than they used to be”

How do you keep up with changing customer expectations?

Being a smaller property means that our management team literally greets most of our guests at some point during their stay, which gives them the opportunity to get first-hand feedback on what they love, what they don’t, and ways we can improve. That’s everything from being able to cast Netflix movies from their phone to the television in their room to adding more bikes to our fleet, and upgrading the teas we offer in the rooms.

What makes a great hotel?

We think it’s feeling welcome – knowing that if you have a question or a problem, the hotel staff will do anything they can to help without making you feel like it’s an effort at all. Once you feel that way, your hotel becomes your base camp for exploring the city, and you can really relax and have a good time. And a good bed – that’s pretty important as well.

The Burrard Vancouver - front entrance_Credit The Burrard_Martin_Tessler

Photo: Martin Tessler

The Burrard Vancouver - courtyard at night_Credit The Burrard_Martin_Tessler

Photo: Martin Tessler

How has hospitality evolved over the last decade?

Thanks to technology, guests are more independent than they used to be. They’ll use maps on their phone to find their way around the city, check Yelp for restaurant recommendations, and watch shows on their iPad instead of relying on in-room movies. But that makes good customer service even more important. Guests really appreciate it when you take the time to help them, offer personal suggestions, and make their visit easier in some way.

How important is design these days as part of the hotel experience?

More than ever, travellers are looking for accommodation that reflects their taste and style. They don’t want a sterile, cookie-cutter hotel; they want something that they can post on Instagram that makes them look good but also feels like they’re treating themselves, even outside of the luxury hotel category.

The Burrard Vancouver - courtyard 2_Credit The Burrard_Martin_Tessler

Photo: Martin Tessler

The Burrard Vancouver - guest room_Credit The Burrard_Martin_Tessler

Photo: Martin Tessler

“Make sure that you plan plenty of time for eating and drinking in our city”

What makes Vancouver such a great destination?

There are very few cities in the world that combine access to the outdoors with dining and culture the way that Vancouver does. It’s a cliché to say that you can ski in the morning and have an amazing seafood lunch on the water the same day, but it’s absolutely true. But more than that, Vancouver’s relaxed vibe fosters a sense of creativity and diversity, and that’s very appealing.

What are some of your favourite places in Vancouver that people need to know about?

The West End neighbourhood is a secret hiding in plain sight. Visitors tend to walk around the outside of it: Burrard, Davie, Denman and Robson streets form the perimeter of a large chunk of the neighbourhood. But head into the middle, and you’ll find green spaces, farmers markets, heritage buildings, and little coffee spots like the Greenhorn Café.

1669 Johnston St, Vancouver | Photo: Tiplada Mekvisan

1669 Johnston St, Vancouver | Photo: Tiplada Mekvisan

Why is The Burrard so popular with the gay community?

The most obvious reason is our location, right off Davie Street, which is really the heart of Vancouver’s gay community. But they also love the retro design touches and cheeky spirit that The Burrard evokes.

Any recommendations for our readers?

Make sure that you plan plenty of time for eating and drinking in our city. You’ll want to make some reservations before you arrive: Elisa is a hot new steakhouse a short walk from the hotel in the Yaletown neighbourhood, Cómo is a taperia in Mount Pleasant that will transport you to Barcelona, Wildebeest in Gastown has an amazing farm-to-table menu that rises above the cliché, and The Acorn is one of the best restaurants in the city – it just happens to be vegetarian.

aletown, Vancouver-credit-stephen-h

Yaletown, Vancouver | Photo: Stephen H

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