It's one of the city’s best spas, so even though only hotel guests are able to access the full pool, you'll still want to check out the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Here, what you'll get is a glorious sunny terrace complete with spacious Jacuzzi, infrared sauna, cabana beds, experience showers and lit-whe-the-sun-goes down firepit. To access the spa facilities, all you need do is book a body treatment. Massages start at $155, but treatments like the Firm and Tone ($175) help refine and firm body contours with slimming and toning massage which helps stimulate lymphatic drainage. Just what you want before you slip out of your robe and into the hot tub. The budget option is to skip the treatment and bag a spa pass for $59.
Roman pillars and waterfalls? Check. Outdoor pool with a killer view of the harbour and mountains? Check and check. Hot tub to laze in and fancy pool loungers and parasols to keep that relaxed vibe going? Er, yes. The Pool at the Pan Pacific Vancouver rocks a decidedly Vegas-in-the-PNW vibe and all you need to do to get in there as a local is book an appointment at Spa Utopia, one of the largest spas in the city, and pool access comes included. Done and done. Book a St Tropez spray tan ($62) and stay cool in the shade while working a tan or book a classic pedicure ($82) and let those toes shine.
To access the sizeable pool and fitness space at the Four Seasons, you can join their Club 4 gym, stay at the hotel, or – and this is my favourite way – get in by booking a treatment at what is probably the city’s most exclusive spa space, the ultra-private RedCedar spa, which has just two luxurious treatments rooms tucked away on the fifth floor, and all treatments booked now allow you to indulge in pool access. The 60-minute body treatments start at $150 and are designed to ‘release chronic patterns of tension, restructure the body and improve posture,’ all of which can only be improved upon by flaking out by the fourth floor indoor/outdoor heated pool with all mod-cons gym, whirlpool and sauna. If you ask nicely, the staff might even bring cocktails from Oceans-inspired Lauren Mote’s inspired drinks program for you to sip as you unwind in your own urban oasis.
One of the city’s hotel jewels right at the cross of downtown and the West End, the Shangri-La has a small but perfectly formed fifth-floor heated outdoor pool with a spacious hot tub, fitness centre and even its own smoothies and light bites bar, Ginger, so you can make a day of it. Not accessible to anyone but hotel guests or spa visitors, the rules here are that anyone who books a treatment at Chi can access the facilities before or after their treatments. You could book in for as little as $55 for a Chi Flow Manicure or splurge on one of the signature facial or body treatments in the wonderfully luxurious individual spa-in-a-spa treatment rooms. My advice? Go early with a friend, laze, splash, soak, gym, gossip then have lunch at Ginger and a late afternoon facial – maybe the Wild Seaweed? ($155)– to repair any UV damage.
Fairmont Hotel YVR
Maybe you’ve got a flight or maybe you haven’t. Maybe you just figure a short ride on the air-conditioned Canada Line, followed by a few hours in even more air-conditioned luxury over at the Fairmont YVR is just what you need to escape the crowds. And you know what? We think that’s an exceptional plan. Best of all, this is a serious bargain, $15.75 ($18.90 with gym access added) buys you access to a hot tub, cosy lounging chairs, dry sauna, a funky three-lane lap pool where you can swim against a current, and a kiddie pool.
There’s an Absolute Spa here too, so if you feel like combining some pamper time with your pool time, access comes included with each treatment booked. Definitely something to remember next time you’re heading on vacay – just arrive a few hours early and pamper yourself pool-side before you go. Like a boss.
Take a dip in one of Vancouver's finest pools
Imagine diving into cool clear water, your body feeling deliciously weightless in its silky caress as you float, your hair streaming behind you like seaweed on a mermaid... Oh yes. It may be flip-flop meltingly HOT out there, but here, amongst the potted palms you are at last serene, content and not the sweaty rage-ball you were only a few minutes ago.
Welcome to the world of the well-maintained hotel pool: a sanctuary open to its guests and yes, the lucky few who know how to gain access to their hallowed marble halls. Sure, you could go and do battle in the inevitable child-soup that our many beautiful public pools become throughout the holidays. But why spend time amongst sobbing/screeching toddlers playing splash, when you could indulge in a spot of grown-up pool time instead?
For the price of a manicure or massage, you can add in a day of pristine pool time at some of the city’s most upmarket spots and turn a hot mess of a day into a cool breeze.
In no particular order, here are our five favourites.
Nikki Bayley is an award-winning travel writer, guide book author and spirits and cocktail journalist whose work appears in National Geographic Traveller, The Globe and Mail and the Difford’s Guide. A cheese fan, hula hooper and all-round word nerd, she writes regularly for BCLiving about food, drink, spas and everything else that makes life worth living.