If it wasn’t for the floor to ceiling windows overlooking a tarmac of planes readying for departure, one might mistake Air Canada’s new lounge at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) for a high-class, downtown restaurant.
The new Air Canada Signature Suite opened on Saturday, March 14th, providing intercontinental travellers with an elegant, fine dining experience.
“We wanted to offer guests the experience of visiting a high-class restaurant prior to an international flight, without the hustle and bustle of going into the city,” Mats Winter, Air Canada’s director of airport in-flight products, told PAX.
The airline hosted a media unveiling last Thursday evening, which included champagne, an open bar, and samples from the menu. “The focus here is on a relaxing atmosphere with exceptional dining," he said.
West coast feel
The 4,400 square-foot suite located in Air Canada’s international departure area at YVR, above the International Maple Leaf Lounge, exudes a west coast feel.
“We purposely selected materials that reflected nature and Canada when designing this space,” Montréal-based architect, Heekyung Duquette, told PAX. She and business partner and architect, Eric Majer, designed the suite.
“West coast landscapes are stunning and inspiring, and we wanted to showcase that here,” added Majer. “There’s beautiful lighting and the undulating walls are reminiscent of the BC coastline, for example. Our objective with Air Canada was to present their services as impeccably as possible in a top-tier space and that’s what we’ve tried to accomplish.”
The bar is made of Telupana Blue stone, quarried on Vancouver Island. The carpet is a mix of blues and greys, inspired by the ocean and customized with handmade wool. There’s also a mix of flora and greenery, including wooden chairs and tables that can seat up to 105 premium customers.
The architect duo also designed the Air Canada for its Signature Suite at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, which opened in late 2017.
“We wanted to source the best of Canada for both spaces and instill memories that reflect what this country is all about,” said Duquette.
This included furnishings and art from Canadian artists and smoked glass doors with a pattern of maple leaves — imagery that’s also reflective of Air Canada.
“We’ve won numerous awards for our Signature Suite in Toronto and noticed customers booking longer connections there just to enjoy that dining experience,” said Winter. “It’s been a resounding success, which is why we’re proud and excited to bring it here to Vancouver so that customers flying from the Pacific can also benefit.”
The Signature Suite features à la carte dining at a complimentary, full-service restaurant from a menu created by acclaimed Vancouver Chef David Hawksworth. Along with owning an award-winning restaurant in downtown Vancouver, Hawksworth began a culinary partnership with Air Canada in 2015 and designs signature dishes that are featured exclusively on Air Canada’s flights in International Business Class and the Maple Leaf Lounges.
“The benefit at YVR is that there are flights leaving at about midnight going to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and, of course, many other locations throughout the day. But what that means is travellers can enjoy a full, high-class meal here and then relax or go straight to sleep on their flight.”
Winter said the suite will fluctuate its hours to accommodate Air Canada flights.
The suite also features a cocktail lounge with full-service bar (including local BC wines) and a selection of specialty snacks, a quiet sitting area, and concierge service, which is fully accessible and complimentary to Signature Class customers (excluding upgrades and point redemption programs).
“This is a complete attribute to a business-class ticket for international customers. There are no extra costs for the premium dining or open bar service,” said Winter. “It is simply a wonderful addition to the signature class experience that Air Canada offers its customers.”