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Vancouver - The Friendliest Hotel & Cheering For Giants with William
© by Mike Keenan

Vancouver Giants Logo

We are located on the Century Plaza Hotel & Spa's Corporate 27th floor, the King Studio offering approximately 400 square feet of living space and exquisite panoramic views of Vancouver, its inlets and mountains. In fact, this morning, we awake to the spectacular view of 13 cargo ships anchored serenely in English Bay . It's a great start to one's day!

Our room includes a kitchenette, individually controlled air conditioning, which takes me some practice to figure out, Spa Binge Organic products which are easier to manage, an iron/ironing board, hair dryer, coffee & tea all of which I need no assistance with. There is complimentary high speed internet and local telephone calls. Pets are welcome, but we do not see any. The Spa is highly regarded, and there is an indoor pool and steam room. Overnight parking is available at $17 plus taxes.

Century Plaza Hotel lobby area, photo by Mike Keenan    Century Plaza Hotel & Spa check-in area, photo by Mike Keenan   Century Plaza Hotel & Spa entrance, photo by Mike Keenan    Century Plaza Hotel & Spa lobby lights, photo by Mike Keenan   Century Plaza Hotel & Spa view, mist over North Van, photo by Mike Keenan    Century Plaza Hotel & Spa view, ships in English Bay, photo by Mike Keenan

Just off the lobby in Beyond Coffee, a conveniently located coffee house, Mathew Lynman, Director of Sales and I chat about the city and this hotel which I have come to think, just might be the friendliest hotel I have ever stayed in. Staff at every level engages one in pleasant conversation that appears natural and neighbourly. The concierge is attentive and helpful, perpetually alert in the lobby to lend a hand or provide an enthusiastic report about Vancouver embarking on a climate record with 14 straight joyful days without rain. Housekeeping personnel smile and genuinely ask if you are enjoying your stay. Mathew helps explain this personal service ethos that he says is due to the hotel being owned by the same family (Cocchia) for the past 40 years.

He brings his Sony DSL camera upon learning that I'm a photographer, and we merrily exchange tips on software. Mathew acknowledges that one of my favourite comedy films, " Best in Show ," was filmed in part at the hotel roughly 15 years ago. He also reminds me that the first " Rambo " movie was filmed in nearby Hope, BC.

The Century Plaza Hotel & Spa commands an excellent downtown location, for example, we are within easy walking distance to Robson Square, but Mathew reminds me that although location may be a key factor, they never forget that it is service that keeps people coming back.

I ask for his top three tourist attractions, and he quickly responds: Grouse Mountain (they offer free bus service) for its stunning visuals often with magical fog layered between the slopes and the city, Stanley Park and the Art Gallery . I'm guessing that his camera has seen lots of action in all of those attractive settings.

Tonight, however, I am treating my 5-year old grandson to a hockey game. The NHL Canucks are my first choice (City signage everywhere proclaims: "We William with goalie pics, photo by Mike Keenan are all Canucks" along with action shots of the players), but I discover that they have been sold out for the past three years, and I don't want to hassle with scalpers who take $125 tickets and like Vancouver real estate, transform them into soaring amounts.

I choose the Vancouver Giants versus the Lethbridge Hurricanes , both in the WHL (Western Hockey League), part of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) along with the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). At season's end, the CHL hosts the Mastercard Memorial Cup . Best tickets tonight (Golds) cost a mere $23.50 along with a $10 fee to park at the Pacific Coliseum (capacity 7,500) where the Canucks formerly played. The Coliseum is part of the Pacific National Exhibition , Vancouver's answer to Toronto's CNE.

There's a good crowd with a pre game ceremony honouring Giant coach Don Hay who recently picked up his 600th win. Under Hay the Giants have been a perennial WHL powerhouse. He has won the Memorial Cup three times as Head Coach. I learn that Gordie Howe , Pat Quinn and Michael Bublé are three of seven Giant co-owners and that Cody Franson , Jonathon Blum , Evander Kane and Milan Lucic , all prominent NHL players, are former Giants.

My grandson, William, is most thrilled by the free goalie picture distributed to fans upon entry, the Giant mascot, a blimp that floats through the air inside the arena often assuming strange angles, the two Zambonis that clean the ice, the jeep vehicle and its gun that shoots t-shirts into the stands, the video clock-timer-scorer that shows wildly dancing/cheering fans captured by roaming cameras, the five unanswered goals in two periods scored by the Giants (each resulting in high-fives between us), the crushing body checks against the boards, and, of course, popcorn during the game as well as pizza pre-game, his pepperoni eaten separately in some bizarre pre-game ritual. It's great evening entertainment, something we must do again.

Action in front of Giants net, photo by Mike Keenan    face-off, photo by Mike Keenan   Giants grad, photo by Mike Keenan    Giants-Lethbridge Action, photo by Mike Keenan   T-shirt shooting vehicle, photo by Mike Keenan    Vancouver Giants,Blimp & Zamboni, photo by Mike Keenan

Late in the evening my spouse and I sit by the fireplace in the hotel's snug Beyond Restaurant and Lounge, and we sip Red Truck ale, a local favourite. It's been a wonderful morning and evening!

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.

Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, CEO of Absolute Spa
SocialShopper.com Daily Deal - Century Plaza Hotel

Photo Credits
Mike Keenan

Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia - www.absolutespa.com Absolute Spa - Century Plaza Hotel Since founding Spa at the Century 12 years ago, Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia and husband Sergio Cocchia have grown the company from a single location into the award winning Absolute Spa Group, Canada's largest and most luxurious spa chain, with 10 locations to date. Having received over 57 awards for spa excellence, including Business of the Year, Lisogar-Cocchia's successful corporation has attracted many celebrity clients including Elle MacPherson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael Buble and Zac Effron.
As chair of The Vancouver Board of Trade in 2011, Lisogar-Cocchia is excited to be the youngest female chair in the organization's 124-year history. Lisogar-Cocchia is also proud to have been appointed the first female trustee in 38 years on the Vancouver Police Foundation.
As a graduate of the University of British Columbia (1986), Lisogar-Cocchia was honoured to be invited to participate in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay on behalf of her alma matter, in acknowledgement for her philanthropic work.

If you go
Century Plaza Hotel & Spa: http://www.century-plaza.com/
Vancouver Giants: http://www.vancouvergiants.com/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vancouver
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Vancouver
Wikivoyage: http://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Vancouver
About.com: http://search.about.com/?q=vancouver
Fiction: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Novels_set_in_Vancouver
Films featuring: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Films_set_in_Vancouver
Places of worship: http://www.yellowpages.ca/search/si/1/Churches...
Trip Advisor: http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Tourism-g154943-Vancouver...
Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/vancouver

Travel Aid
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Maps (Google interactive map): http://maps.google.com/
Maps (Mapquest) U.S. & Canada: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/main.adp
Maps (Mapquest) World: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/main.adp?country=GB
Media Guide (local newspapers with current listings): http://www.abyznews...
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/
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