Vancouver! I’m spending the next few days in Vancouver, British Columbia, thanks to my Starwood Preferred Guest Amex Card “Amex Stars” Partnership. I haven’t been to Vancouver since the Travel Blog Exchange conference there in 2011. And back then, I spent too much time socializing — er, learning at the conference — to really take advantage of all the activities Vancouver has to offer. This time, I’m on a romantic getaway vacation in Vancouver and I’m looking forward to getting to know the “most livable city in the world” better.
Before I get into the various things that I’d like to do in Vancouver, let’s talk about why I’m here: Starting this month, there are new benefits for SGP Amex cardholders that are especially welcome for travelers (since, ya know, Starwood Preferred Guest cardholders get Starpoints redeemable for hotels, airfare, etc in the first place). The new benefits for SPG Amex cardholders are:
- No foreign transaction fees
- Complimentary in-room internet access
- Unlimited complimentary Boingo wifi
- Access to Sheraton Club Lounges (for SPG American Express OPEN cardholders)
The new SPG Amex card is a spiffy royal purple, and my card, the old one, is maroon…suddenly, it looks pretty tired and faded to me. Think I’ll be trading it in very soon. In the meantime, I’m pretty excited to not be nickel-and-dimed by hotel wifi fees and foreign transaction fees while traveling! Being nickel-and-dimed while on vacation is one of the most frequent travel complaints there are (especially if you include airlines charging for carry on luggage and extra checked luggage, don’t even get me started on that one). Now, obviously I’m already a cardholder, but if you aren’t, get this: the SPG American Express card has a current, limited time offer for new card members. If you sign up, you get 30,000 bonus Starpoints after charging $3,000 in purchases in the next three months. Three mortgage payments, filling up your car, groceries, booking holiday travel and possibly college tuition if it applies…three thousand dollars is a lot of money but charging one thousand a month is actually pretty feasible if you charge every thing.
Now, because I admittedly didn’t make the most mature use of my time when last in Vancouver, I did a little crowd-sourcing to deduce what activities my partner and I might try this time around (read: I asked Facebook, and Facebook delivered). 1. I’ve got to go to Tojo’s for sushi, as the sushi chef invented the California roll, and also go to YEW in the Four Seasons hotel for food and drinks (I believe we made a pitstop there during the TBEX conference, in fact). 2. My partner and I are going to rent bikes and ride around the sea walk, and see Stanley Park. 3. We are going to walk around downtown, and go to “Fly Over Canada” in Canada Place which is like Disneyland’s Soarin’ Over California, and my confidante Stacy Small promises it’s “not tacky. Really cool and fun.” 4. We will also ferry over to Granville Island and walk around there, enjoying its market and whale watching, thanks to Naomi’s comment. 5. The current hot spot for dining, apparently, is Il Giardino, so we’ll try to get dinner reservations there. 6. My friends Corinne and Michelle both recommended Stanley Park for seeing First Nations art and totem poles, and the Skyride to Grouse Mountain for zip lining (thanks, Dave, for that one, I love zip lining). 7. My mom and a couple other people recommended stopping by an aquarium, Cathy suggested the docks in Richmond for “the best fish n’ chips in the world.” 8. John gave the best tip of all: VanCityBuzz, a Facebook group page that has updated lists of things to do in and around Vancouver. Very exciting!
Well, look at that list. I’m not in Vancouver for a month or even a full week, so honestly I won’t be able to check out everything my friends and family recommended. I can try, though! It’s been too long since my spouse and I have had a romantic getaway, and we intend to make great use of out time in Vancouver — thanks to the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card’s new benefits.
Disclosure: Starwood Preferred Guest American Express is paying for this romantic getaway vacation.