Vancouver gets ready for the Olympics...Whistler hotel ($$$$)...Deals of the day
They're putting up the first of 6,000 festive banners to welcome folks to the Olympics. Hotels are slapping on fresh coats of paint, while others are getting ready to open.
The 2010 Olympics start five weeks from tomorrow, and there's no end to the preparations and polishing. Funniest thing I spotted was yesterday, when the good people at the Vancouver Organizing Committee sent out a press release suggested drivers "start practising their Games-time travel plans" now.
A bunch of roads will be closed, of course, during the Games. And there will be road restrictions. Officials hope to reduce overall vehicle traffic by 30 per cent during the Olympics.
But to ask people to start practising now? Yeah, right. I can see just see a guy living in Richmond VOLUNTEERING to add 10 minutes to his drive a month before he has to, just so he can practise taking alternate routes.
Admirable thought but remarkably naive, doncha think?
On the hotel front, the Vancouver Sun reports there's a ton of work going on to get ready for the influx of visitors.
The 220-room Coast Coal Harbour Hotel opens at 1180 West Hastings a week from tomorrow, the same opening date as the 105-room Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier near Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver.
The 377-room Fairmont Pacific Rim, located downtown near Canada Place, will open by the end of this month, although the Sun reports it doesn't look that close to being ready.
The Fairmont's fully booked for the Olympics, and the first guests are supposed to arrive early next month.
“Every hotel opening is the same,” general manager Randy Zupanski said. “Things get pushed right to the wire.”
That they do. I remember going to a playoff baseball game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco to watch the Giants play back around, oh, 1973. My friend and I had seats in the outfield and the stadium was being renovated at the time (ruined, actually; seats added to make way for the 49ers). We laughed as we walked into the park and said, "watch, they'll be putting our seats together." Sure enough, we climbed up the stairs and there was a guy with a huge set of tools around his belt, fastening the seats together with huge bolts. We didn't sit down until the second inning. True story.
There ARE still some rooms available for the Olympics. But it'll cost you. The Fairmont Chateau Whistler the other day said it still has rooms for the Olympics, which run Feb. 12-26. But they said most rooms require a 3-night minimum stay and that the best rate was, ahem, $899 per night.
I also spotted an "exclusive invitation" to the Games from Hudson's Bay Co., an offer of $3,622.50 US for a hospitality package that includes downtown Vancouver accomodation, breakfasts and ticket to top sporting events. It's based on double occupancy.
AND NOW, LET'S ALL TAKE PITY ON CALIFORNIA
I get some strange things crossing my desk. One came along this week, stating that cheapflights.ca is advising Canadians to travel to places that have been hit hardest by the recession. It's not without its merit, but I found the list of spots a little strange.
Instead of flying to, say, Burma or Paraguay they talked about Ireland, Iceland, Oregon, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and California. Nothing wrong with selling those locations, but has it really come to this; that Canadians are so wealthy that we can hop on a jet and fly to L.A. for a weekend just to help Governor Arnold and his fellow residents put a shine back on the Golden State? Do you think they'd meet us at the airport?
"Hey, look, Ma; the Canadians are here. Maybe we can move back into our house!"
JIM'S DEALS OF THE DAY
From $38 one way - Worldwide Seat Sale with WestJet. (Last day to book!)
US$99pp - 60% off 4* all-inclusive Gran Melia Cancun + free golf. (Our favourite summer game!)
$297 - Toronto to Puerto Plata, 1 week all-inclusive vacation ($617 w/tax) (Sunshine is calling!)