Check-in: the hotel by the sea

Weigh anchor at this boutique hotel in the North Van shipyard district

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This stay really hit home close to home. For the past 30 years I have lived in North Vancouver and witnessed a massive transformation of mountainside suburbia, especially at the base of Lonsdale Avenue.

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When I first moved to the area, Lonsdale Quay was lined with an abandoned shipyard and a few restaurants including the original Keg restaurant and the Seven Seas, housed in the old No 5 ferry and moored at side of Cates Towing since 1959. Today the shipyard has gentrified, the Keg is long gone, the Seven Seas has been scuttled and Cates Towing has moved on. In their place is the $35 million Shipyards District, an eclectic mix of restaurants, hotels, residential towers, cultural attractions and public amenities, including an outdoor skating rink.

As a local, who after three decades I think I can consider myself, I’m a little nostalgic for what it used to be, with fond memories of Seven Seas’ cozy Portside Bar and its weekly rotation of great musicians. I miss the quirky characters who defined the place and challenged city authorities living in city-owned properties under questionable arrangements. Guys like Richard the Troll, a self-proclaimed “futurist” and often Rhino Party candidate, who makes his home in a campy 1947 International Harvester pickup truck parked in a city parking lot.

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The $35 million Shipyards District has transformed an abandoned industrial site into a vibrant and hip destination for restaurants, culture and even ice skating.  CREDIT: City of North Vancouver
The $35 million Shipyards District has transformed an abandoned industrial site into a vibrant and hip destination for restaurants, culture and even ice skating. CREDIT: City of North Vancouver Photo of the City of North Vancouver

But it was only a matter of time before this prime real estate was developed, and to the great credit of city planners under the visionary eye of former Mayor Daryl Mussato, it was done in a way that improved the quality of life for locals, created a very family-friendly destination, and infused a hip vibe into ‘LoLo’ that even The Troll would grudgingly love if he was still laughing among us.

I spent a lot of time at the Shipyards, enjoying lunches on the terrace, dinners, and the very popular Shipyards Night Market, a Friday night event from spring to fall with food trucks, vendors and vendors. crafts and live music. But as I discovered while doing this Staycation series, spending a night or two somewhere you know changes the way you see it.

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This was certainly the case after our night at the Seaside Hotel, a 71-room boutique hotel operated by Executive Hotels & Resorts. Located in the heart of the Shipyards District, it occupies the top two floors of a four-story building and its corner suites offer stunning views, day or night, of Burrard Inlet’s inner harbor and the water line. Vancouver skyline. Indeed, all rooms have interesting views of the neighborhood thanks to large windows and open floor plans.

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The theme is nautical – appropriate given its name and location – but it’s done very understatedly and elegantly and is most noticeable in Provisions, the ground floor in-house restaurant and the happy hour place for locals. We dined and ate breakfast there, and with a menu reflecting the seaside, including a raw bar and a creative cocktail menu, it was not hard to see why it became a hangout for the locals, the residents. Great atmosphere and service too.

We scored one of these corner suites, and once we checked in, it was very tempting to spend the night there, with a turntable and a curated record collection – including Sinatra, Bruno Mars , Fleetwood Mac – a huge tub against a floor-to-ceiling window and a food menu in the Provisions room. As much as the fluffy white dresses beckoned us, we strolled under the boardwalk lights, checked out the skaters, and poked around the nooks and crannies of the shipyards.

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After our dinner at Provisions – highly recommend the Sashimi – it was back outside for a walk to the end of the pier to see downtown Vancouver at night. As we turned to head back to the hotel, the huge windows in our room reflected the night sky and beckoned us.

We left the blinds open, the city lights flickering like a fireplace, and woke up in the morning to the sun rising through the window. Then it was back outside in glorious sunshine to join early risers and dog walkers for a walk on the Spirit Trail. After a late breakfast – I recommend the sourdough French toast with fresh berries – we spoiled ourselves with massages in the hotel spa – small but convenient – then reluctantly left for our five-minute return by car.

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The stay underscored for me what a great addition the Shipyard District is to my neighborhood and what a perfect place to stay for those on or off the North Shore.

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In the neighborhood

From renting e-bikes for a ride over the Lions Gate Bridge through Stanley Park to a stroll up the West Vancouver Seawall, and having a coffee on a waterfront bench watching the boat traffic and wildlife of the Inner Harbor to check out an art gallery or museum, waking up in the Shipyard’s District offers all sorts of activities. Here is an overview:

To eat:

A wide range of restaurants, bistros, brewpubs, bakeries, pizzerias, cafes and ice cream parlors make it hard to choose where to eat here. In addition to Provisions, dining venues include Nook, Joey’s Shipyards, Pier 7 and Burgoo, while Café Artigiano is the perfect place for a morning coffee and Larry’s Market offers a great selection of high-quality prepared meals at to take with.

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Playing:

The centerpiece of the shipyards is the ice rink, with skate rentals available and push bars for kids and newcomers to blades. Hire a bike – regular or electric – from Reckless bikes and take a ride west along the Spirit Trail along the waterfront past marinas, houseboats and their shipbuilding industry at new dynamic. An integrated bike lane system goes all the way to the Lions Gate Bridge, where you can head to Stanley Park, or continue west to Ambleside in West Vancouver. The same trail has both walking and running sections, and it’s a one-hour round-trip walk to the upcoming North Harbor development, just south of the North Shore Auto Mall.

Purchases:

Unique craft and clothing boutiques characterize the shops dotted around the Dockyards, at Lonsdale Quay and along Lonsdale Avenue.

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Culture:

The newly opened Museum of North Vancouver joins the Polygon Gallery – formerly Presentation House – to provide a cultural hub in the Shipyard’s District. The museum, called MONOVA, chronicles the birth and growth of North Vancouver with interactive exhibits, artifacts and interpretive exhibits, while the Polygon Gallery attracts world-class exhibits and features an ongoing speaker series.

Offers of hotels by the sea:

The hotel is currently offering a number of deals, including packages that include tickets to two North Vancouver attractions – Grouse Mountain and Capilano Suspension Bridge – a Reckless Biking package, MONOVA and Polygon Gallery packages, and a Craft Beer package. Visit hoteldemerdevancouver.com for all the details.

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