For most hotels, a soft launch means a quiet one. It means friends and family, community members—you know, low-profile folks.
For Parq Vancouver, though, a soft launch meant Steven Tyler. Oprah Winfrey. Jay Leno. Reba McEntire.
As a sponsor for the David Foster Foundation’s 30th Annual Miracle Gala & Concert, the brand-new hotel complex—made up of the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver and Autograph Collection’s The Douglas—played host to the event’s visiting talent. A grand entrance, indeed.
“I joked with the owner, I said, when you open a new hotel, you know, you like to have the stamp collectors as your first group in-house,” laughs Marriott International Canada president Don Cleary, seated at The Douglas Lounge D/6 the day before the concert. “Instead we’ve got a pretty high-profile group here. But there’s nothing more exciting for the associates that work here. They know this is a big event and that gets them pumped and excited and I think brings out the best, so we’re ready.”
With the Foster crowd heading out after the Oct. 21, 2017 event, Parq Vancouver is now officially open to the public. That means two luxury hotels to choose from, connected by a slick central lobby and grand staircases that lead up to the second-floor casino. “This project’s been in the works for 10 years,” says Cleary, evidently pleased with the way things have taken shape. “We could have done a 517-room JW hotel. And I’m sure it would have done successfully. But to carve out one of them, which is easy to do here because of the different towers—there’s essentially three towers: the two eastern ones are the JW, and this one is the Autograph Collection tower—gives it a new edge and a new personality.” Indeed, the two hotels have distinctly different feels: the JW portion is chic, sophisticated, lushly luxurious with golds and creams; meanwhile, The Douglas is a little moodier, a little edgier, a little more boutique, with darker marble and a distinct Pacific Northwest flair. Both are high-end and are sure to deliver classic Marriott service, but they are entirely their own entities—aside from the fact that both connect to the Parq, a lush outdoor park and patio located on the roof of the complex.
While Marriott’s JW brand is already well-known in other parts of the world and is starting to make a name for itself in Canada, Cleary says that The Douglas—part of Marriott’s bespoke Autograph Collection—requires a bit more of an introduction. “It takes a lot of education and promoting to help people understand what The Douglas is and what it represents, but I think when people get here it’s a pretty easy story to read,” he says. “And I think people are going to really like it when they get here.” Cleary himself is staying at The Douglas, and boasts about its calming wilderness motif (evident in its name and its stunning, glowing tree-trunk reception desk, for starters). “The whole theme was to bring the strength of the west, the mountains and nature, into the building,” he says. “I think they’ve done a good job of it with the Parq and all the greenery. Everything’s gold LEED Certified here, too.”
All of that isn’t even to mention the enticing food program, created by Las Vegas transplant Elizabeth Blau. There is Honey Salt, the celebrated upscale comfort food restaurant brought over from Vegas; Mrkt East, a Singapore-inspired Asian food hall; B.C. Kitchen, serving elevated bar food with local ingredients; and 1886, a fine dining Cantonese experience. “They’re fantastic,” Cleary says of the culinary offerings. “We’re really excited about that aspect of the overall project. All you have to do is walk around and look in, they’ve been very well received.” And, you might say, vetted by Oprah.