Review: Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, Vancouver, Canada
With the year in 2020 coming to an anticipated close, as it some times happens, 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 as a result of the worldwide pandemic, I figured it would be worthwhile earning status the actual way through stays, instead of relying on Marriott Bonvoy extending another year of status on good will, based on your earned 2020 earned status. As a result, for a recent stay-action, it came time to re-discover one of the most popular hotels in the Vancouver’s Marriott hotel chain crown, the Sheraton Wall Center Vancouver.
Review: Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, Vancouver, Canada
“The popular Sheraton Wall Center has been the primary Starwood property in Vancouver since it opened. Now part of the Marriott portfolio, it offers a convenient location, easy road access from the airport, and a great base to situate yourself when visiting Vancouver, Canada “
The Sheraton Vancouver Wall Center is a mixed hotel, luxury apartment complex occupying an entire city block in a prime location in downtown Vancouver. The property was designed by Peter Wall of the Wall Corporation and consists of three separate towers, two of which are occupied and operated by the Sheraton Wall Center. Most notably, the North Tower of the two Sheraton properties is Vancouver’s third tallest tower as a 48-storey skyscraper, of which the Sheraton occupies the first 27 floors. The other floors are residential and part time share by Embarc (the people who brought us Intrawest resort developments and their timeshares). Meanwhile, the South Tower is a shorter thirty six storey tower that is also occupied by the Sheraton.
Planning and Getting There:
As a property in Marriott’s premium segment, the rates here are generally variable based on the season. The weekends in the summer cruise ship months command sky high rates, thanks to Vancouvers port of embarkation on the Alaskan Cruise ship industry. Weekday rates generally attract the business crowd, where as weekend rates in the off season see rates drop to as low as $100 on a discounted rate. This is a mega property with 733 hotel rooms. Despite this, the fully property sells out on a regular basis.
I booked direct via the Marriott Website. The best I could find was a AAA rate with free parking (normally at $53.50) for $107 AAA per night for a Traditional Guest Room – 1 King, City View, North Tower.
On the points side, the property is currently a Marriott Bonvoy Category 6 property, meaning that rooms are available for 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points per night. Given that Marriott Points are worth approximately 0.005 cents per night ($200 USD), and the time and effort it takes to earn 40,000 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 $200 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. Like with the JW Marriott Parq, 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 mobile check in. I checked the reservation through the app and did not notice an upgrade. However, at about 24 hours prior to our stay, I happened to notice that we had been upgraded to a corner room. I rate this as among the better upgrades at this property. The North Tower doesn’t have many suites in its configuration and typically, the South Tower Suites are usually all spoken for. The room had a value of $203 CAD, which was a reasonable upgrade from our regular room rate of about $107 CAD ($157 USD) during our stay.
We self drove over to the property. As described earlier, the property is located immediately in downtown Vancouver and very centrally located to the cruise ship terminal (but not easily walkable with bags), the shopping district and many offices and other complexes. I find this place to be among the best positioned Marriott hotels in Vancouver, since it’s actually close to almost everything, and easily walkable to everything that you could want to do.
While there is a drop off and loading zone for both properties in the south centre of the complex, the parking garage is actually off the adjacent street.
It’s a very short walk to the North Tower from the Drop Off, which may or may not be convenient if you’re travelling with lots of luggage or lots of children.
If you are not arriving by personal car, the property is located approximately 8 blocks from the Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal (5 minute drive or a 17 minute walk), or a nine minute walk from the Vancouver Center Skytrain station that connects a direct Skytrain Subway Line to the Vancouver International Airport.
If its your first time visiting, the first test that needs to be passed is to present yourself to the correct tower for check in. The Sheraton Wall Center operates two check in areas; one in the North Tower, one in the South Tower. If you happen to turn up at the wrong one, you’ll politely be re-directed over to the other tower.
We self parked in an underground and led ourselves up to the North Tower Lobby. The lobby itself featured the usual high ceilings but was a little forgettable in decor. The lobby also housed the Cafe One lobby all day dining restaurant and evening lounge.
There was no wait at the reception this evening. I was greeted and thanked for my Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status.
During check in, I accepted the Marriott Bonvoy Titanium welcome amenity of 1,000 points. I was also offered a late check out of 4 PM without any haggling. This was always much appreciated; just the way it should be as an advertised Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Benefit. I was also asked to register my car’s make and model at the front desk for self parking ($53.50 CAD). I didn’t need a parking pass to display on the dash which was also appreciated. I was also provided a gate card to allow for in and out access privileges for the parking garage.
There was welcome envelope that was also provided that explained the substitute arrangements for the Sheraton Executive Club Lounge being closed.
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 Sheraton Wall Center was offering in room breakfast or service in the hotel restaurant Cafe One off of a select menu. There were also 2 drink vouchers provided per person per night. These could be used for coffee or alcoholic beverages (up to $15 CAD). They also provided a courtesy 500 Marriott Bonvoy Points. I thought that this was pretty reasonable on the hotel’s part to offer this alternative, and I especially like the ability to use the drink coupons at your convenience.
This small goodwill touch made the stay just that little bit more special.
The Room: Corner, Larger Guest room, 1 King, City view, North Tower, Corner room
We led ourselves up to our upgraded room at #1862. The corner rooms in the North Tower are about as good as you can get for a room upgrade at a property that just doesn’t have that many suites. At 460 sq feet / 41 sqm, it’s a larger guest room with windows that front the city views.
Arriving to the eighteenth floor, the colour schemes are brown and blue. There are only 14 rooms per floor in the North Tower set into an oval configuration.
The Living Area:
After we entered the room, we entered a small corridor hall which led directly into the living space.
The room was based on an open concept with floor to ceiling windows covering one side of the curved wall. The floor to ceiling windows allowed for lots of natural light.
The room also featured a desk facing the wall. The desk itself was pretty standard and was equipped with the usual power ports. The desk was well lit thanks to it’s proximity to those large windows.
There were two lounge chairs separated by a table, that were comfortable for sitting on. They could be repositioned so that they were facing the television.
In summary, I enjoyed the room and the living space. The Corner Room provided for just that extra additional space that a regular room didn’t provide.
The room was well featured and reasonably appointed. There was a counter containing two bottled waters and a small fridge, which was empty at the time of our visit. The coffee maker had also been removed, thanks to pandemic policies. We were encouraged to call for coffee using the phone.
The Bed (A King Size bed):
The room featured the standard Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed. The bed was comfortable as most Sheraton beds can be.
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 eighteenth floor, it was a pretty quiet experience as well being well up from the usual road traffic noise. It’s perhaps worth noting that St Paul’s Hospital is immediately across the street from the South Tower, which means the occasional ambulance siren to and from its Emergency Ward. Being a downtown location, its worth saying that 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.
The Bathroom is probably the room’s weakest point. Although it’s fully featured with a stand up shower and single vanity, it is exceptionally small in terms of space and foot print size. Thanks to the configuration of the room, the left over space is allocated to the washroom. It is small enough that it is only practicable that one person can occupy the space at any one time comfortably.
The shower stall featured the usual light Sheraton rain shower and was sized for one. The toiletries were the usual Sheraton Bain.
A Room with a View:
Thanks to being situated on the eighteenth floor, there were great views out towards the city. Our view happened to be on the bright south west facing side of the building.
While it is possible to have water views from the room, it’s worth noting that many of the water views are through several blocks of mid to mid high rise tower buildings.
Hotel Floor Layout:
For those that are interested, the hotel floor layout is pictured. As indicated earlier, there are no suites in the North Tower (aside from the residential apartments). The floor plan is decidedly oval in nature.
Overall, I enjoyed the room thanks to it’s spacious layout. There is room for two to exist in this space, save the bathroom.
Around the Hotel:
Throughout the stay, I explored a little of the hotel. The hotel is spread across two towers.
The Executive Lounge:
There is an executive lounge on this property that’s located in the South Tower on the twenty fifth 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.
I had visited the lounge on a past stay. It’s a compact space that offers a double level seating, in addition to some unique outdoor patio seating (weather permitting) on the twenty fifth floor.
The executive lounge offers the usual snacks and breakfast items. Similar to other North American lounges, the lounges’ alcohol offerings are pay per use and beers / wines are not complimentary.
The lounge was closed on my most recent visit as a result of the health pandemic. Not only was the lounge closed, but the entire South Tower appeared to have been closed as a result of the lower travel demand.
As a guaranteed lounge benefit available through the Marriott Bonvoy program, the hotel offered complimentary in room service breakfast or service in the North Tower Cafe One off a select menu for Marriott Bonvoy Elites.
Unfortunately, with the tower being closed, there was 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 offers a pool and recreation level on the third floor of the property. Unfortunately, this too was also closed during my visit.
The pool is quite dated and being indoors, aside from an atrium feature, does not have a lot of light for it.
The hotel was operating its gym. At the time of our visit, this was by appointment only. It was a pretty compact place which was good for a workout in the event the Vancouver weather was too foul to be outside.
Food and Beverage:
With the hotel being situated near a great number of independent restaurants, you wouldn’t expect the property to offer many restaurants on site. During our visit, we did visit the all day dining, lounge featured restaurant, Cafe One; which is situated in the lobby of the North Tower.
The hotel’s casual all day dining and lounge dining option was Cafe One. This was situated just ajacent to the North Tower lobby in arguably the hotel’s highest traffic location. Cafe One also flowed into the lounge; Bar One.
We ended up enjoying the included Elite Breakfast in the Cafe One Restaurant in a class atrium room that was nicely positioned for morning light.
The Menu was presented for Elites as follows:
For the Elite Breakfast on the first day, I enjoyed the “Canadian Breakfast” consisting of two free range eggs any style with bacon and sausage, breakfast potatoes and toast. Whereas MrsWT73 enjoyed the “Toast and Ham with Cheese and Fresh Fruit” Bagel, Cheese and Fruit Plate.
The next day, I went with the Avocado Toast. It was surprisingly green and tasty. I don’t normally think of avocado toast with old school cottage cheese but it actually worked when it was mixed all together.
The restaurant is also available for reservations on http://www.opentable.com for additional point earning opportunities for those looking to maximize earning opportunities.
Nearby the Hotel:
The hotel is reasonably situated for walking to alternate food and beverage outlets. With almost 50 restaurants within a ten minute walking radius of the hotel, there is almost anything that your heart desires.
Shopping is also located nearby to the hotel on either the commercial Robson Street, or for mall hunters within the CF Pacific Center Mall Complex that is anchored by a Nordstroms and a Holt Renfrew luxury retailer.
Comparing this property to other Vancouver Marriott Hotel Properties.
There are quite a handful of Marriott Properties in downtown Vancouver. I’ve been fortunate enough to stay at a few of them, including the JW Marriott Parq, the Westin Bayshore, and the Westin Grand.
The advantages to the Sheraton Wall Center are its convenient location that is walkable to almost everything in downtown Vancouver. The hotel is also close to many restaurants and the shopping district. While I also tend to enjoy the Westin Grand (all rooms are suites), I find the rates at the Sheraton are often softer than the Westin Grand. Being such a large property, the Sheraton also has its share of tour operators and air crews that stay here. The lobby has a busy personality to it as a result, which sometimes impacts his charms.
My Thoughts on the Sheraton Wall Centre:
The Sheraton Wall Centre has been a permanent staple of the Vancouver hotel scene and was near the top of the chain in the Marriott portfolio. As a Sheraton, while the property isn’t the most aspirational property out there, it is a solid full featured offering for a downtown hotel property. The property is well situated to any attraction within Downtown Vancouver which is one of the hotel’s best features. As a result, I’m inclined to easily recommend this property for anyone looking for a centrally location and comfortable property when staying in downtown Vancouver.