5-star Hotel Grand Pacific is Victoria's secret

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VICTORIA, British Columbia -- Many of the world's five-star properties are losing their luster by becoming "too big and impersonal," says the recently published Harden's Hotel Guide 2004.

The Hotel Grand Pacific, Victoria's second-largest hotel, is anything but "impersonal," despite a multimillion-dollar reconstruction.

The approach to the hotel area is in the form of a curving drive that reminded me of the coils of a dragon. But in front of the hotel one confronts the human touch that management and an attentive staff try to cultivate: an employee feeding the mallard ducks that live in a small pond there.

Several times a day, a member of the staff comes out and blows his whistle, and the ducks come waddling over to answer the call to dinner. The event brings smiles to the faces of guests and strangers alike.

The 308 guest rooms and suites in the stucco and glass building have views of the Olympic Mountains or Victoria's Inner Harbor across the street.

The 308 guest rooms and suites in the stucco and glass building have views of the Olympic Mountains or Victoria's Inner Harbor across the street. The harbor, with its colorful street entertainers, boutiques, galleries and cafes, is the center of the city's vibrant social life.

It's a 10-minute walk to Market Street, where brightly colored facades mark the pubs, bookstores and antique shops that give Victoria its elan.

To the right of the hotel is the many-turreted Parliament Building, watched over by a statue of a stern-looking Queen Victoria, leaving no doubt for whom the city is named.

But severity is left at the doorstep of the Grand Pacific. Rooms and suites are elegantly appointed and designed to provide a welcoming living space.

The hotel offers three categories of luxury accommodations, each with heated tile floors in the bathroom and heated towel bars. They also have fax machines, Jacuzzis and fireplaces.

• Olympic Luxury Suite. Named for the mountain range in the background, the suite's highlights are the jet tub and a fireplace and canopied, four-poster king bed in the bedroom. Rates range from $370 to $593.

• Premier Luxury Suite. Facing the Parliament Building and the Inner Harbor, these suites are on the sixth floor and are especially suited for private dinner parties because of their reception-size floor space. Fireplace, wet bar, Jacuzzi tub and canopied four-poster bed are highlights. Rates range from $370 to $593.

• Mount Douglas Luxury Suite. In addition to the other luxury suite amenities, these have three balconies and a dining area. Rates range from $593 to $890.

Management provides a personal welcome note and a selection of fine chocolates from Rogers Chocolates, a shop on Government Street. Agents are invited to request additional amenities such as champagne or fruit/cheese plates.

For the ultimate personal touch, the hotel's spa, under director Itsuko Yoroi, incorporates traditional Japanese techniques into deep-tissue massages, body scrubs and hydrotherapy treatments.

Tea, slippers and robes are offered as soon as one steps over the threshold.

Ah, luxury. There's nothing impersonal about it.

For information, call (800) 663-7550 or visit www.hotelgrandpacific.com.

Hotel Grand Pacific promotes winter packages

Grand Romance
Available all year at $260 per person, package includes one night in a deluxe harborview guest room and flowers, chocolates and breakfast in bed for two.

Grand Christmas
Available Dec. 24 to Dec. 27 at $360 per person, package features three nights' accommodations; Christmas Eve dinner; horse-drawn trolley tours; Christmas dinner; breakfast buffets; and Butchart Gardens Christmas tour.

Packages pay 10% on the accommodations portion.

To contact reporter Kaleel Sakakeeny, send e-mail to [email protected] .

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