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OPUS Vancouver: each room designed to fit a fictional guest

I am spending the night in Pierre’s room. Although I am travelling alone in the big city, it’s not as bad as it sounds. My husband doesn’t even mind.

I am spending the night in Pierre’s room. Although I am travelling alone in the big city, it’s not as bad as it sounds. My husband doesn’t even mind.

The 96 rooms at Vancouver’s Opus Hotel were each designed to fit the character of one of five fictional guests. I am staying in the room that was designed for Pierre, a make-believe food critic from Paris. Judging from the room’s decor, Pierre likes modern furnishings in bright colours and he’s got a penchant for old video games — there’s a kitschy Super Mario Brothers print from a local artist on the wall next to the bathroom.

The Vancouver Opus has been getting a lot of media attention and has hosted the likes of Cher, Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck, Christina Aguilera and Lady Gaga — mostly in the DeDe room, which was designed for a fictional film actress from Los Angeles. While the Pierre room has bright orange walls, the DeDe room is decorated in dramatic taupe with raised velvet wallpaper, faux-fur fabrics and a chrome four poster bed.

The idea of using fictional characters as muses was not to create fantasy rooms, but rather to create rooms with true personality that cater specifically to the types of clients that the Opus attracts.

A lifestyle concierge helps guests select the room that most suits their personality and design tastes. Whether they connect best with the movie star, the food critic, the busy working mom who is also a Toronto fashion executive, the gay New York City doctor or the enlightened rock star from London, there’s a room for almost any taste.

Envisioning the guests who would be using the hotel helped the designer to eschew the traditional feel of a hotel and create trendy spaces that feel more personalized.

“Robert Bailey redefined the boutique experience by creating rooms that are stylish and individualized, so returning guests can be treated to a fresh experience with every stay,” explained Nicholas Gandossi, general manager of Opus.

“The rooms are designed to feel more like a stay in the trendy apartment of a friend than a traditional hotel stay and we’ve taken it a step further by adding extra services and amenities that are a step above what traditional hotels provide.”

The extra amenities Gandossi mentions include complimentary transportation within the downtown core in the hotel’s Jaguar, complimentary bicycles, free Wifi, an iPad in every room and a smartphone in select rooms.

The iPad and the smartphone come pre-loaded with apps to help locate the best restaurants and attractions in the city and guests are encouraged to take them with them as they explore. With unlimited free data access, free incoming calls and low-cost local and long distance calling, it overcomes the obstacle of roaming charges that many travellers face when using their cellphone while travelling. Anyone who calls the hotel looking for a specific guest is patched through to the smartphone, so guests can be reached anywhere they travel in the city — if they want to be.

Even the turndown service at the hotel is unique. Retro candies are used in lieu of chocolates on the pillow. It’s a different treat every night with candies like Pop Rocks and Pez Dispensers being the most popular with hotel guests.

As I relax after an afternoon of exploring the trendy and eclectic Yaletown area of downtown Vancouver, I realize that I’ve discovered the perfect home base for my little city escape. I will probably never be a world-renowned food critic, but it’s fun to live like one.

If you go

• Rates at the Opus Vancouver start at $224 a night during the winter months and include breakfast at the onsite restaurant.

• There are several unique packages available and the hotel is within walking distance to Roger’s Arena, where the Canucks play their home games.

• It’s also located directly across from the Yaletown-Roundhouse Canada Line SkyTrain station, so you can take the train directly from the airport to the hotel eliminating the need for a car rental.

• For information or reservations, visit http://vancouver.opushotel.com.

Exploring Yaletown, Vancouver

Once a heavy industrial area dominated by warehouses and shipyards, Yaletown has been revitalized and transformed into one of Vancouver’s trendiest areas filled with sidewalk cafes, restaurants, bars and intimate boutique hotels inside repurposed heritage buildings.

It’s also home to 27 heritage sites, among them the site of Canada’s first gas station, an Imperial Oil station that opened in 1907.

Go to http://yaletowninfo.com for more information.

Dining is one of the top activities in Yaletown. Here are four great restaurants to check out on your next visit to the district.

Rodney’s Oyster House: With up to 18 varieties of oysters on the menu, Rodney’s faux fishing shack is the place to go to get an oyster fix. You can pick your oysters individually or try steamed mussels, scallops, or clams from the steamer kettles. Happy Hour features a limited seafood menu at lower prices and happens Monday through Saturday between 3 and 6 p.m. Go to http://rohvan.com for more information.

Blue Water Café: For more than 10 years, executive chef Franck Pabst has been creating innovative seafood dishes from sustainably-sourced seafood. He’s known for featuring dishes from lesser-known varieties of local seafood and has helped to make Blue Water Café one of the best seafood restaurants in the city. Go to www.bluewatercafe.net for more information.

Minami: A sister restaurant to Vancouver’s famed Miku sushi restaurant, Minami features a wide variety of Aburi or flame-seared sushi. Traditionally trained sushi chefs combine local ingredients with fresh sustainable seafood to create this unique type of sushi. Dessert is also a must — a professional pastry team has created a variety of unique Japan-Euro inspired desserts that make a great end to the dining experience. Go to http://minamirestaurant.com for more information.

La Pentola: Rustic Northern Italian cuisine served family style is the specialty of chef Lucais Syme in this modern restaurant located inside the Opus Hotel. Simple handmade pastas and traditional meat and fish dishes are on the menu, alongside unique appetizers. The daily lunch set menu specials and the monthly 10-course Famiglia Supper series can be a good value for diners at $30 and $55 respectively. Go to www.lapentola.ca for more information.

Debbie Olsen is a Lacombe-based freelance writer. Follow Debbie’s travels at www.wanderwoman.ca. If you have an interesting travel story you would like to share, please email: DOGO@telusplanet.net or write to: Debbie Olsen, c/o Red Deer Advocate, 2950 Bremner Ave., Red Deer, Alta., T4R 1M9.

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