How to avoid Jetlag: A Vancouver Stopover with Fairmont’s Castle in the City

As a frequent traveller, and co-host of the podcast Jetlag (you can listen to both seasons HERE), I’m often asked how to best avoid the dreaded repercussions of international travel. As part of an ongoing series on the AU review, I’m going to be sharing my tips and tricks to do just that.

If you’re flying out of North America, to Australia or New Zealand, this article applies to you. Though you can apply the fundamentals to many routes around the world – including a journey from Europe to Australia’s East Coast. And that is taking a stopover (or multiple) in your journey.

Recently I flew from Toronto, Canada to Sydney, taking an overnight stopover in Vancouver, Canada and two nights in Honolulu, Hawaii along the journey.

Turning a day’s travel into a three day or more affair is not going to be a possibility for everyone, but if you have the time, you can not only avoid Jetlag for your return (or visit) to Australia, but – depending on the time of year, and when you book your flights – you can even save money in the process.

While in Vancouver, I stayed at the Fairmont Vancouver – known as “The Castle in the City”. Located in the heart of Downtown Vancouver, across the street from Vancouver Art Gallery and Robson Square, the location has easy to access with transit, including a train from the airport. You can also jump in a 20-30 minute taxi from the airport, depending on traffic.

As one of the world’s most beautiful hotels, it’s honestly worth a visit whether you’re staying there or not. Brimming with history that dates back to 1888, bursting with luxury, and sitting in an idyllic central location makes it a must-see attraction.

When I stayed, it was Christmas time, so a giant Gingerbread version of the hotel was placed in the lobby; and beautiful, festive decorations surrounded the premises.

The King bedroom, meanwhile, contained one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in. The room itself was immaculately contained, with classic lighting and a large flat screen TV to enjoy. It was a perfect place to enjoy the stopover, which was built into the Air Canada ticket from Toronto to Honolulu. I only wish I had more time to explore.

The hotel’s design trades on the fables of old hotel luxury, the aesthetic enjoyed by Kings and Queens – yet with modern updates and attributes. This is particularly true for the bathroom, which featured very modern lighting (especially compared to the rest of the hotel), and beautiful Le Labo amenities.

It didn’t have the best water pressure – it is an old building after all – but was a perfect temperature – with a rain shower with a more portable option. Back in the main room, there were two big walk in closets with robes, a safe, as well as an ironing set, and plenty of drawers and places to sit throughout.

Elsewhere in the hotel you’d find an indoor pool, gym (both open from 6am) and everything you need for a brief or longer stay.

If travelling via Vancouver isn’t an option for you, you may also consider taking this approach in whatever your entry point into the US might be – be it Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles or Dallas Fort Worth. By giving yourself time in the city of arrival, you lessen the likelihood of jetlag at your final destination by gradually acclimatising to the local time zone.

Put simply: the less time zones you cross in a single journey, the easier it will be.

Also, by booking separate tickets – you can often connect to a more affordable airline.

Take Honolulu, where Jetstar fly in and out of, from Sydney and Melbourne (read my review of the Honolulu to Melbourne route HERE). By saving money on that route with Qantas’s budget carrier, you can then access some of the great deals into the continental United States as well as Canada, from their domestic airlines.

My recent one-way journey came to less than A$700 – and just a couple of weeks before Christmas! By saving money there, it opened up opportunities to experience nicer hotels and having better experiences along the way. In Honolulu, this included a stay at the newly upgraded Outrigger Reef Hotel – possibly the best resort I’ve ever stayed in on Waikiki Beach. And you can read more on that HERE. And if you’d like to read more about the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel, check out my colleague’s 2019 four and a half stars feature review HERE.

You can get some more ideas on what to do in 24 hours in Vancouver in this feature from 2016. Some of the prices have naturally changed since then, but the activities remain.

If you’re tighter on time, the Fairmont also have a newer hotel built into Vancouver Airport (YVR). You can read my review on that hotel HERE.

The author stayed as a guest of the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel for one night for this story. All photos by the author.

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.