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Vancouver's La Dolce Vita - City & Hotel Works of Art!
© by Mike Keenan

St. Regis Hotel Exterior, photo by Mike Keenan

I expect to see Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in the lobby. We seem to be in the Vancouver version of Federico Fellini 's " La Dolce Vita ," comfortably ensconced in the Executive Suite with a king size bed, large work desk, a living room with a double sofa bed separated by heavy sliding doors, master environmental controls, two 50" LCD TVs, mini refrigerator and many other lavish amenities. Our full marble washroom features a large soaker tub, double sinks and heated floors.

St. Regis Hotel Heritage Designation, photo by Mike Keenan Vancouver's independent, Canadian-owned and operated St. Regis Hotel boasts a complete renovation that has advanced this heritage building to the highest standard of comfort and finish; it also conforms to real estate rule number one: "Location! Location! Location!" Situated in the centre of downtown, adjacent to efficient SkyTrain service, it provides easy access to both YVR and Vancouver's top tourist draws.

With an all-inclusive room rate, the hotel offers many extras that include complimentary full breakfast, (which we share with a young couple from Aberdeen, Scotland who were skiing at Whistler and wanted to take a break and see the city, choosing the St. Regis because it is centrally located, close to everything.) high-speed internet, free local and worldwide long distance, Fiji bottled water, Steve Nash sports club passes and business centre access. And, we also happily inhabit an art gallery featuring the work of Hilario Gutierrez , Linda Murphy , Simon Addyman, Liz Jardine , and Jodi Mass - Canadian, American and British with a range of heritage from native and Hispanic to Asian and Irish. Their works decorate every floor and each staircase landing.

St. Regis Hotel Art, photo by Mike Keenan   St. Regis Hotel Art, photo by Mike Keenan   US St. Regis Hotel Art, photo by Mike Keenan    St. Regis Hotel Art, photo by Mike Keenan    St. Regis Hotel Art, photo by Mike Keenan   St. Regis Hotel Art, photo by Mike Keenan   St. Regis Hotel Art, photo by Mike Keenan    St. Regis Hotel Art, photo by Mike Keenan

The St. Regis enjoys a storied past. With the start of the Second World War in 1939, the shipbuilding and lumber industry took off and the hotel assumed the role of Vancouver's "Sportsman's" hotel, hosting such NHL stars as Stanley Cup winner and New York Ranger coach, Muzz Patrick along with Maurice "The Rocket" Richard . Coley Hall , the owner, decided that he needed a hockey team, so for the 1943-1944 PCHL season, the Vancouver St. Regis took the ice. The "St. Regis Hotels" was Cyclone Taylor 's last team. He played on the first sports team in history to wear numbers on their jerseys, and led Vancouver when it last won a Stanley Cup in 1915.

Inspired by the ubiquitous hotel art, we decide to take in the Emily Carr exhibit, " Deep Forest ," at the nearby Vancouver Art Gallery located at Robson Square. Senior Curator, Ian M. Thom, is proud of the richest collection of Emily Carr works in the world, particularly her forest paintings from the 1930s, canvases and works in a medium she began using during that period, oil on paper. Her mystical images depict the coastal forest landscape, and she reminds me of another favourite, Brantford's Lawren Harris of the famed Canadian Group of Seven .

Emily Carr Art Exhibit, VAG, photo by Mike Keenan   Emily Carr Art Exhibit, VAG, photo by Mike Keenan   Emily Carr Art Exhibit, VAG, photo by Mike Keenan    Emily Carr Art Exhibit, VAG, photo by Mike Keenan   Emily Carr Art Exhibit, VAG, photo by Mike Keenan    VAG, photo by Mike Keenan    Zunoqua of the Cat Village, photo by Mike Keenan

Her 1934 journal reads, "They (the trees) are profoundly solemn yet upliftingly joyous. You can find everything in them that you look for, showing how absolutely full of truth, how full of reality the juice and essence of life are in them. They teem with life, growth, expansion..."

Carr was born in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1871, the year British Columbia joined Canada. She attended the San Francisco Art Institute for two years (1890-1892) before returning to Victoria. In 1899, she travelled to London where she studied at the Westminster School of Art. One of our favourite places to visit, we thoroughly enjoyed the Carr exhibit as well as the other works in the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Back at the hotel, we stop by the St. Regis Bar and Grill next door and we note that for a century-old icon, the hotel is remarkably up-to-date with electric vehicle charging stations in its underground parking that would accommodate VIP Tesla owners such as Morgan Freeman , Demi Moore , Cameron Diaz , Don Cheadle , Stephen Spielberg , Will Smith , James Cameron and many other notables from nearby Hollywood.

Yes, La Dolce Vita indeed!

Vancouver, photo by Wikimedia Commons
Vancouver at Night

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review, Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Geographic Traveler, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine.

St. Regis Hotel Vancouver
St. Regis Hotel Vancouver

Photo Credits
Mike Keenan

Emily Carr    - Wikipedia
Emily Carr (December 13, 1871 - March 2, 1945) was a Canadian artist and writer heavily inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. One of the first painters in Canada to adopt a modernist and post-impressionist painting style, Carr did not receive widespread recognition for her work until later in her life. As she matured, the subject matter of her painting shifted from aboriginal themes to landscapes, and in particular, forest scenes. As a writer, Carr was one of the earliest chroniclers of life in British Columbia. The Canadian Encyclopedia describes her as a "Canadian icon".
I glory in our wonderful west and I hope to leave behind me some of the relics of its first primitive greatness. These things should be to us Canadians what the ancient Briton's relics are to the English. Only a few more years and they will be gone forever into silent nothingness and I would gather my collection together before they are forever past.
It was at the exhibition on West Coast aboriginal art at the National Gallery in 1927 that Carr first met members of the Group of Seven, at that time Canada's most recognized modern painters. Lawren Harris of the Group became a particularly important support: "You are one of us," he told Carr, welcoming her into the ranks of Canada's leading modernists. The encounter ended the artistic isolation of Carr's previous 15 years leading to one of the most prolific periods,and the creation of many of her most recognizable works.

If you go
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