Vancouver's oldest neighborhood, 125-year-old Gastown, offers an attractive combination of historical charm, modern amenities and a convenient location in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Urban renewal has transformed this once neglected district into one of the city's trendiest neighborhoods, with progressive bars and restaurants and chic boutiques set along cobblestone streets. And, of special note for event planning, Gastown venues are an easy stroll of less than one mile from Vancouver's waterfront Convention Centre district and cruise ship terminal.
Gastown is served by the Vancouver International Airport (VYR), located eight miles south from downtown Vancouver in Richmond, BC. VYR is Canada's 2nd-busiest airport, behind the Toronto Pearson International Airport, serving approximately 17 million passengers and approximately 300,000 take-offs and landings per year.
Event planners with large groups will want to make use of the newly expanded Vancouver Convention Centre, with 466,500 square feet of waterfront meeting, exhibition, ballroom and theater space. Its exhibit halls can accommodate up to 12,000 people, while ballrooms are equipped to handle 2,800 people.
Hotel venues in Gastown are found mainly around the Convention Centre, rather than in Gastown itself. The brand-new 377-room Fairmont Pacific Rim has 15,000 square feet of meeting space. The waterfront 504-room Pan Pacific Vancouver offers 42,000 square feet of event space. Delta Vancouver Suites has 225 rooms and 19,000 square feet of meeting space, while the popular 489-room Fairmont Waterfront has 24,000 square feet of space. Within Gastown itself, the new luxury Keefer Hotel, a boutique option, has just four high-end suites, with a large meeting room of 2,400 square feet.
Off-site event venues in Gastown reflect the area's diverse ethnic makeup and cosmopolitan vibe. The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, an authentic Asian indoor and outdoor garden, can accommodate 120 people in 9,900 square feet of space. Trendy Canvas Lounge can host 60 people in 8,700 square feet of event space. The Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, affiliated with the Simon Fraser University, offers 16,000 square feet of event space and can seat 200 people. Finally, District 319, a stylish private event venue housed in a former Asian movie house, has 4,000 square feet of meeting space and can handle 200 people.
Dining venues in Gastown are set in historical buildings and highlight Vancouver's fresh seafood and local produce. The Rogue Kitchen + Wet Bar, right in the city's 1914 Waterfront Station, can seat 375 people. Steamworks Brewing Company, a local favorite with an onsite microbrewery, seats 350 people. The casually elegant Water St. Cafe in the heart of Gastown can accommodate 90 people. Al Porto Ristaurante offers traditional Italian cuisine with sea views and seats 220 people. Finally, just down the block, the Aqua Riva Restaurant & Bar offers fine waterfront dining with room for 200 people.