Review: JW Marriott Parq, Vancouver, Canada
As the end of the year in 2020 came around, I was short a few night credits for renewing next year’s Marriott Bonvoy status. Even though Marriott was offering roll over elite status for the year 2021, I was only a few nights short of qualifying for Titanium status again. Not knowing how Marriott was going to calculate status for 2022, I figured it would be worthwhile earning status the actual way through stays, instead of relying on them extending another year of good will based on your earned 2020 earned status. As a result, for a recent stay-action, it came time to discover the jewel in Vancouver’s Marriott hotel chain crown: the JW Marriott Parq hotel.
Hotel Review: JW Marriott Parq, Vancouver, Canada
“The flagship in Vancouver’s Marriott portfolio of hotel properties, the JW Marriott Parq offers understated luxury and superior personal service”
There are several Marriott Hotels in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. If you’re looking for another Vancouver property, please see our reviews of the JW Marriott Parq, The Sheraton Wall Centre and the Westin BayShore.
Planning and Getting There:
The JW Marriott Parq started as a brand new mid rise sky scraper build in the Concord Pacific Waterfront development complex. The property is shared with The Douglas, an Autograph Collection Hotel, in addition to The Parq casino which is sandwiched in between them. This property is the jewel in Vancouver’s Marriott hotel portfolio, which stretch through several Westin, Sheraton (including the Sheraton Wall Center), Marriott, Delta, Residence Inn and Autograph Collection hotel properties.
As an almost new luxury property, in a brand new building, the rates command luxury prices. Even in the soft off early winter season, rates were commanding a $249 CAD ($195 USD) price ranging up to $849 CAD ($655 USD) for a 1 bedroom Ivy Suite. In the summer, rates were posted around $429 CAD ($355 USD) ranging upwards to $1,249 CAD ($975 USD) for the same Ivy Suites.
Like usual, I booked direct via the Marriott Website. The best I could do was a prepaid rate for $202 CAD ($157 USD) for a Guest Room – 1 King category.
On the points side, the property is currently a Category 7 property, meaning that rooms are available for 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points per night. Given that Marriott Points are worth approximately 0.005 cents per night ($250 USD), and the time and effort it takes to earn 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, I felt that paying cash was the better route. Despite this, you’d actually be slightly ahead redeeming points at this property if the rate was greater than $250 USD; provided you were at peace with parting with that number of Marriott Bonvoy points that could be used at many of the world’s greatest properties. You might get outsized value from this if you were staying in Vancouver over a summer weekend when the rates are sky high thanks to the in and out natures of guests travelling on Alaskan cruises.
About 2 days before our arrival to the property, I got a push notice from the Marriott app inviting a check in. I checked the reservation through the app and noticed we had been upgraded to a one bedroom suite. The suite had a value of $440 CAD ($355 USD), which was a solid upgrade from a regular room rate of about $202 CAD ($157 USD) during our stay.
Arriving to the JW Marriott Parq:
39 Smithe St, Vancouver, BC V6B 0R3
We self drove over to the property. As described earlier, the property is situated in a newer residential low to mid rise tower (built in 2016) that borders on False Creek. It’s sandwiched in between BC Place Stadium (that has all the charm of a sixty thousand person stadium), the elevated concrete viaducts of the Cambie Street Bridge, and the crossroads of the interchanges that lead to and from the area. As one of the last buildings built into this left over space, the hotel has sprouted up in the shadows of a no mans land that used to be a stadium parking lot. This is a bit evident when you stay here, since there are no stores immediately around the hotel since its fronted by the stadium, a bridge and other viaducts. All convenience stores, restaurants and sundries are mostly a 5 minutes walk distance away from the hotel.
There is public art immediately outside the hotel, which appeared to be commissioned by the City of Vancouver.
Checking In to the JW Marriott Parq:
I wandered in through the front doors in a darker lobby. The front doors share a partial foyer space with the Parq Casino, which was fully closed on our visit due to pandemic health regulations. The lobby itself is a somewhat dark and not so aspirational space. It has high ceilings but it is absent of any one central architectural focal point, aside from some columns in the centre of the space. While it was sleek and smart, it was also pretty forgettable in my humble opinion. Proceeding through the first foyer, you ended up in a second circular lobby that housed the front desk reception, in addition to the concierge desk.
After navigating past the outer lobby, I proceeded into the inner lobby. There was no wait at check in and I was attended to quickly. There was no Marriott Bonvoy Elite line marked, but there wasn’t any need for one.
The check in service was highly attentive and much more personable than my recent stays at the Delta, Sheratons and Westin’s. I attribute this to training instead of just luck of the draw of lower occupancy levels.
During check in, I accepted the Marriott Bonvoy Titanium welcome amenity of 1,000 points. I was offered a late check out of 4 PM without any haggling. This was very much appreciated; just the way it should be as an advertised Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Benefit. I was also asked to register my car’s licence plate at the front desk for self parking ($42 CAD). I didn’t need a parking pass to display on the dash which was also appreciated.
Marriott Platinum and higher guests are typically offered access to the Executive Lounge level. Thanks to low occupancy and the health pandemic, the Executive Lounge was temporarily closed. As a goodwill gesture, the JW Marriott Parq was offering in room breakfast credits of $40 CAD per person (to a maximum of $80 CAD) for breakfast ordered between 6:30 AM – 10:30 AM (weekend hours). There was no option to substitute for points in lieu of the breakfast benefit, nor was there an evening appetizer option if breakfast wasn’t your thing. I thought that this was pretty reasonable on the hotel’s part to offer this alternative, considering many hotels aren’t even offering a substitute when their guaranteed benefits aren’t being delivered.
The Room: One Bedroom Suite, King, Water View, High Floor
We led ourselves up to our one bedroom suite at room #1642. The lobby elevator bank was pretty standard and uninspiring, and could have been reminiscent of any modern office block.
Getting off at the sixteenth floor, our room was right at the end of a pink and earth toned hall that looked a bit different than any hotel hallway I had stayed in recent memory. I always get a bit excited when it’s apparent that you’re getting a corner or end room as this was the case here. The room was a considerable walk of about 15 rooms away from the elevator.
The Living Room:
After we entered the room, we entered a small sideway hall and directly into the living space.
The room was quite large but smartly designed. The living area had a firm but curvy low living room couch. The room had floor to ceiling windows on two sides, which allowed for lots of natural light.
My first impressions were that I thought that the feng shui of the suite was a little “off”. I don’t profess to be any kind of an interior design decorator, but the room seemed to be designed in a backwards manner. The firm long elongated couch around the outside of the living room faced inwards towards the walls of the room (and these above uninspiring occasional chairs), instead of towards the windows and the fantastic water view. Relaxing on the couch means facing a wall with no decorations on it; paintings on all walls were surprisingly absent. The couch is not lined up with the television in the living room since it curves inward. In fact, there is no comfortable way to watch TV in the living room, since no couch angles face that way.
The room also featured a desk facing the wall. The desk itself was pretty tiny and not really suitable for working on any major projects. It also faced a wall, much like that office in your first apartment when you didn’t actually have room for a desk in it’s own room.
In summary, I wasn’t in love with the design of the living space. I found the room a little oddly configured for a suite. It’s as if the designer would prefer you to be looking inside and not worried about Vancouver’s rain.
Room design not whitstanding, the room was well featured and well appointed. An armoire in the living space featured an Illy Coffee Maker, along with a mini bar fridge that had been emptied; likely as a result of the pandemic. It was one of the automatic charging varieties, so I wouldn’t expect to store many of your own bottles of wine in here when it’s normally configured and full of stock.
The Bedroom (A King Size bed):
The bedroom was situated on the inside of the room configuration, with no outer views or outside windows. It featured a King Size bed with two bedside tables. As can be expected with any new hotels, there were charging points on each side of the bed.
There was also a flat screen television in the bedroom for those to enjoy television in bed.
In terms of sleep quality, the bed was very comfortable. MrsWT73 gave it high marks for it’s pillows and comfort. Being up on the sixteenth floor, it was a pretty quiet experience as well being well up from the usual road traffic noise. Being a downtown location, the sleep was punctuated by the occasional Ambulance Siren rushing to a crisis, but this wouldn’t be unique to this property. Arguably, any inner city property would have this experience. The windows were insulated as good as can be expected and we didn’t have any noise from neighbouring guests as the hotel was pretty empty.
It was also worth noting that there were no closets or other hanging storage space in the bedroom (or living area for that matter). The closets were relegated to the bathroom. The closets were not wholly configured for suitcase storage- there was a small bench but no overall rack. As a result we ended up laying our suitcases on the floor in the living room.
The Bathroom was reasonably spacious and compartmentalized on the inside. The bathroom featured three separate spaces: a vanity with soaker tub, a shower and a separate water closet.
The bathroom featured the same floor to ceiling windows which was a great feature, or something to be horrified about, dependent on how much privacy you seek. Each window had large floor to ceiling solid blind screens but I preferred to keep them open for the views. The outside glass was also mirrored as well, but we confirmed this only after we double checked.
The vanity was a single vanity configuration. The bathroom featured British Molton Brown toiletries, which added an upscale touch to the stay.
The shower stall featured a rain shower and was large enough for two. The shower also featured bulk dispenser style Molton Brown toiletries which added an luxury touch to the shower experience.
The water closet had some unusual views from it’s floor to ceiling windows. I can’t say that I’ve ever had view like this from the washroom of any hotel I’ve stayed in. Thankfully, the windows were mirrored and also featured floor to ceiling draw blinds.
A Room with a View:
We happened to have a great peek – a – boo view of the Cambie Street bridge which was south west from the suite, and we had a broken view of the sunset for the day. It happened to be one of those rare dry days in the fall, which made the sunset scene all that more pleasant.
Hotel Floor Layout:
For those that are interested, the hotel floor layout is pictured. There appear to be a few suites per floor, situated on the ends and one by the elevator in the middle center bottom.
It was a very nice room but I wasn’t in love with it and the “wow” factor wasn’t there as much as I would have liked it to be. I can’t say why this was, but with the subdued colors, features and amenities, it was refined luxury that was closer to premium Marriott versus an over the top experience that was closer to a luxury St Regis. MrsWT73 echoed the same comments, “I can’t say that I love it here…” summing up her experience.
Around the Hotel:
Throughout the stay, I explored a little of the hotel. Since the hotel is in a skyscraper with 21 floors, you’ll have to be intent on exploring if you want to see everything about this property since everything is set on a different level.
The Executive Lounge:
There is an executive lonuge on this property that’s located on the 6th floor.
The lounge is accessible by reserving a room with Executive Lounge Level access or by holding Marriott Bonvoy Platinum or higher level in their loyalty program.
The lounge was closed on my most recent visit as a result of the health pandemic. As a guaranteed lounge benefit available through the Marriott Bonvoy program, the hotel offered an alternative of a complimentary in room service breakfast through room credits up to $40 CAD per person, or $80 CAD maximum. There was no other option through points as an different credit option. Unfortunately, there is no floor access to the lounge on my visit as the floor was locked off. As a result, I don’t have a photograph for this review.
The hotel has its recreation facilities on the seventeenth floor. The seventeenth floor has the gym, the outdoor recreation deck, and the spa.
The recreation deck was outside and featured a sun deck area. The sun deck area had probably a dozen sun loungers, which is a bit comedic in the wet and rainy winter months of the Pacific Northwest.
There was also a three person hot tub. While it was wet and rainy when I was up here, I did catch a couple enjoying the sunset from here on our arrival date.
Surprisingly, for a full service hotel, there is no swimming pool at this property. Perhaps being a casino hotel development, the building would rather have you gambling than swimming. Either way, I didn’t miss not having a swim pool, but it’s worth mentioning since a swimming pool is usually a standard feature in this full service hotel category.
The hotel also featured a large interior gym. A reservation was requested during our visit and I didn’t get inside.
The hotel spa was also situated on the seventeenth floor. It didn’t appear to be all to aspirational from the lobby.
I might also add, that while The Parq Casino was closed during our stay due to pandemic health restrictions, that the design of the hotel did an excellent job of keeping casino guests away from the hotel portion of the hotel. The property shares a ground floor entrance with the casino, whereas most casino gaming appears to be in between the JW Marriott and The Douglas by Autograph Collection hotels on the third level. The hotel also has locked off elevator floors. Despite this being a casino hotel, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay at this hotel on a family stay. The lack of a pool is something your children will likely miss the most.
Food and Beverage:
Consistent with its casino theme, the property has a number of restaurants. These are all secreted away on the various floors. While we didn’t visit all of them, we did partake in Honey Salt (Casual dining) and In Room Dining.
The hotel’s casual all day dining and lounge dining option was the Honey Salt. This was situated just adjacjdent to the lobby in arguably the hotel’s highest traffic location. The other restaurants were located out of sight on alternate floors that wouldn’t get a lot of food traffic unless you were seeking them out as your destination.
On the day of our arrival, MrsWT73 was feeling a little hungry mid afternoon so we ended up down at Honey Salt for happy hour. On arrival to the restaurant, we were seated in the lounge for some lounge bites.
The happy hour menu offered a few items of food. The Happy Hour Menu had a few light bites, but I didn’t find it all too inspiring in terms of bringing the crowds for happy hour.
The Honey Salt restaurant had a very substantial wine list.
MrsWT73 enjoyed the mezze plate, which cut the edge of the evening’s hunger.
The restaurant is also available for reservations on http://www.opentable.com for additional point earning opportunities for those looking to maximize earning opportunities.
Room Service (In Room Breakfast):
The next morning, in lieu of visiting the Executive Lounge, we opted to use up the in room credits courtesy of our Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status. We ordered breakfast off the room service menu, which was scanned via a QR Code off the night stand.
The menu was reasonable for a hotel, and offered some interesting items. The order takers on the phone were prompt and professional. We were able to order up an off menu egg white omelette and confirm that the organic juice as pulp free for MrsWT73. These were little things but they did describe the attentiveness of the service and the level of training that the staff are given.
We enjoyed a large room service breakfast, which arrived within forty minutes exactly as described. MrsWT73 had a ham and brie cheese egg white omelette with potatoes, and I enjoyed a BC Salmon Omelette with asparagus and roasted potatoes. Since it was included, I also enjoyed an “OK” Smoothie, along with a fresh squeezed pulp free orange juice, two Americano coffees and a breakfast bakery basket.
Unfortunately, thanks to the pandemic, this wasn’t presented on a glamorous room service tray. Rather, it was presented a little unattractively in take away containers with plastic utensils. This didn’t affect the taste of the food, which was pretty good and better than expected.
There weren’t any tables in the room to enjoy this. While we could have re-configured the desk, we didn’t bother and ate breakfast off of the low couches which were very fashionably low. It wasn’t a super practical set up for eating in the hotel room.
Nearby the Hotel:
The hotel is reasonably situated for walking to alternate food and beverage outlets.
A favourite around the corner and about 7-10 minutes walk is Provence at Marinaside. It’s a favourite for breakfast in Vancouver during the summer months. Expect a small queue if dining in the summer on the weekends.
The hotel is ideally placed for stadium events at BC Place. Many of field sporting events for football and soccer are situated at BC Place. In fact, the back of the hotel touches Rogers Arena, which is home to football games. If you’re attending an event at BC Place, the hotel is almost ideally located.
Lastly, the hotel is less than a 5 minute walk of less than one block from the Vancouver Sea Wall at Smithe Mews. The Vancouver Sea Wall is the worlds longest uninterrupted sea wall at 28 continuous kilometres and visitors can walk almost the entire length of the downtown core around Stanley Park from the doors of the hotel. While we didn’t get the opportunity to experience this feature on this trip, it’s a great feature of the hotel in the summer months.
My Thoughts on the JW Marriott Parq :
I am a bit torn about the JW Marriott Parq. It’s Vancouver’s premier Marriott hotel destination and it’s newest Marriott branded hotel along with its next door cousin “The Douglas by Autograph Collection”. The JW Marriott Parq is positioned as a premium destination and brand. The service was excellent, personable and attentive. Will it sell out in the summer thanks to Vancouver’s Cruise Ship Traffic? Absolutely. Despite this, I didn’t find that it was a super luxury resort. The location was a little odd with a neighbourhood that had a transitional personality. It felt closer to a luxurious Marriott than an upper end St Regis and I’m not wholly convinced that is a good thing. We’d probably be more likely to return to our other Vancouver favourite, the Sheraton Wall Centre. In the end, we will definitely return, but it may be as a result of opportunity on a discounted rate, instead of having this property at number one on our Vancouver Marriott Hotel porfolio list.