I’m Tootin’ the Rocky Mountaineer’s Horn!

I know a thing or two about a train or two. I grew up not far from the Burlington Northern lines in eastern Washington and watched freight and passenger trains toot their horns and travel the tracks more than a time or two. I’ve also traveled by train via Amtrak – to Salt Lake, Sacramento, Portland and Vancouver, B.C. – and will always be a huge fan of their twice-daily service to Vancouver. This week, however, I was invited by a travel agent pal to be a guest on the Rocky Mountaineer from Seattle to Vancouver. The Mountaineer – as you may or may not know – runs scenic, luxury trips from Vancouver into the Canadian Rockies and to Whistler, B.C. Their Seattle-to-Vancouver trip is an add-on available to guests already booked on other routes.

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The 5-hour trip is nothing short of spectacular. Guests choose between Red-, Silver-, and Gold-Leaf service between the two cities – each level surpassing the next in customer service and quality. With on-board dining options that’d appease the pickiest of foodies, the Rocky Mountaineer has risen the bar for Canadian / Pacific Northwest rail travel. Train attendants work as guides – giving spot-on historic, geological and anecdotal musings along the way.

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Charming cities and towns appear around practically every bend and are pointed out as the train gracefully chugs, winds, slows and stops along its way along the 110-mile trip to the border between fields, farms and Puget Sound. Our guides were charming – with their darling Canadian flags and north-of-the-border accents.

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An hour or so into the trip, guests in our Gold Leaf car descend into the dining area on the lower level to indulge in a gourmet menu prepared in their cozy on-board galley kitchen. My pick was a tender Alberta-raised beef filet – accompanied by spinach salad with season’s-fresh strawberry and apple.

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Back in our cushy dome-car seats, after-dinner drinks were the perfect compliment to the sun gracefully setting off the Canadian shoreline. Once arriving at Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station, attendants skillfully helped guests make their way through customs and to their awaiting hotels.

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My choice for accommodations? The Hotel Blu – a modern new hotel tucked in an easily-overlooked neighborhood between the train station and bustling downtown Vancouver. Check-in was flawless with just the right amount of helpfulness to accommodate my late-night arrival. And once I arrived in my room? I didn’t want to go to sleep! My upgrade to a two-story loft-suite felt more like a swanky New York apartment than a tucked-away hotel. Brilliantly-bright touches and a deep soaking tub brought me from late-night arriver to uber-comfortable in just minutes — and the fluffy pillow top mattress and luxurious high-threadcount sheets brought blissful sleep quickly.

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After enjoying morning Nespresso on my cozy patio, local brunch hot-spot Chamber was an ideal locale just steps away – and a perfect spot for a lazy morning with friends. With restaurants, sports and entertainment so closeby, the Hotel Blu will definitely be on my Vancouver must-stay list!