The edge of British Columbia’s Okanagan region is a five-hour drive from Seattle, if you’re speeding a little and have a very sturdy bladder. By the time you get into the thick of Canada’s premier wine country, it’s more like seven or eight hours. It’s worth it, if you have that kind of time. But if what you need is a quick hit of unique Canadian wine that you can’t find in Seattle, drive just across the border to Parq Vancouver, where you’ll find the Okanagan’s best—and a bit of the Vegas glam that Seattle generally avoids.
Parq Vancouver isn’t so much Vancouver’s latest urban resort as it is a mecca of modern hedonism. Attached to BC Place Stadium (home of the Vancouver Whitecaps) in the city’s Yaletown district, the new hotel, restaurant and casino complex boasts both a sumptuous JW Marriott hotel and The Douglas hotel, a more youthful spot with a warmer, slightly woodsy ambiance. While the 30,000-square-foot park on the sixth floor between the two hotels (hence the name Parq) feels more like a courtyard than a park, the restaurants—and there are a lot of them—go out of their way to offer the kind of attentive service many high-rolling gamblers must expect.
PARQ PLACE: Sip a glass of wine from the library collection at D/6 Bar & Lounge. Photo courtesy of D/6 Bar & Lounge
Have lunch at Vegas restaurateur Elizabeth Blau’s first outpost of Honey Salt, which seems to vacuum up all of B.C.’s best products and deposit them beautifully on every plate. While you can’t go wrong with a fried chicken sandwich, produce really shines here: Try the Honey Salt Market (CA$19*), essentially a tower of roasted and raw vegetables, or the crab goddess salad ($19), which adds local Dungeness to the traditional green goddess. Either way, you’ll need to order CheckMate Artisanal Winery’s Capture Chardonnay ($95/bottle), rarely seen in Seattle. End with a striped slab of sweetness called the Society chocolate and banana cake ($12), which melds the memory of your favorite banana bread with the magic of a tender, moist chocolate cake and swathes of ganache.
After a bit of gambling or an afternoon at The Glamoury, the property’s spa, dine at The Victor—as in the adage “To the victor belong the spoils.” A bottle of Mission Hill Family Estate’s Oculus Merlot ($265) or the Laughing Stock Vineyards’ Cabernet Sauvignon ($112) are great matches for, say, a cowboy steak ($65) or that monster tomahawk ($160) or a few ounces of A-5 strip loin ($21/ounce), if you were quite victorious. Stay for dessert, too; crème brûlée doughnuts topped with maple candy floss and gold flakes ($11) don’t come your way every day. Or, just wander a little. Because whether it’s sipping on an glass of the elegant Howling Bluff Estate Winery’s Okanagan Pinot Noir ($66) from the bespoke D/6 Bar & Lounge’s “library collection,” tucking into tender Chinese pork buns ($5.50) at Mrkt East, Parq’s take on Singaporean street food stalls, or sipping boba tea while you gamble, one thing stays the same: The people watching at Parq is incredible.
The Douglas nods to the region's ubiqutious tree. Photo courtesy of The Douglas
Parq Vancouver, Vancouver, British Columbia, 39 Smithe St.; 604.683.7277
JW Marriott Parq Vancouver, rooms from $279 low season; $599 high season
The Douglas, rooms from $220 low season; $505 high season
* All prices are Canadian