After a year and a half, Vancouver’s Opus Hotel is back in business with a fresh face at the helm

The hotel and its new restaurant are ready for post-pandemic life.

Credit: Kuoni

The hotel and its new restaurant are ready for post-pandemic life

It’s no exaggeration when Sarah Vallely says she grew up in hotels. Her father, Stephen Peters, has worked across the globe for a laundry list of the world’s top hoteliers. That meant stints in Athens, Milan, Rome, Singapore and China, where she was born. Eventually, the family came back to Peters’ home province of B.C., where Vallely went to high school in West Vancouver.  

She quickly realized that university wasn’t for her. “About a month in, I left,” Vallely recalls. “It just wasn’t me. And I remember my mom telling me, I have no doubt that you are capable of doing just as well as anyone who graduates from university. But you have to work hard.”  

Vallely eventually spent nine years working her way up through the Four Seasons chain before joining the Opus Hotel in 2017 as director of sales. Earlier this year, she was named general manager and, on September 1, the Yaletown luxury boutique hotel opened its doors after a year-and-a-half pause. The hotel also debuted a new restaurant during the pandemic—Capo & The Spritz, by the same group behind the Autostrada restaurants.

Opus, which opened in 2002, has long prided itself on being one of the larger luxury boutique hotels in the country. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Vallely has more or less perfected the sales pitch.  

“The vibe and the personality of the hotel, there’s nothing like it in the Vancouver market,” she says. “When you arrive, whether it’s our champagne on arrival, the beautiful hotel car service or the bright, colourful rooms, we feel like the whole experience is just different than what we call a beige hotel—the Fairmonts, the Marriotts. Those places are really good at what they do. But where we really shine is in our individuality.” 

Vallely wants the staff 50 to 75, depending on the season—Opus had a near-100-percent return rate—to showcase their own individuality, too.  

“Also encourage our employees’ personalities to really shine,” the 35-year-old says. “We have standards to ensure the vision of the brand is being executed of course, but we encourage people to add their unique twist to it.” 

That extends all the way up to the manager, where Vallely has taken some notes from her father on how to run things. “My dad was a very hands-on GM,” she says of Peters, who now works in sales for a digital consultant. “He really kind of dove deep into the property and into each department and would never ask someone to do a job he hadn’t done or wasn’t willing to do. I pride myself on taking that with me into my career, so you’ll often see me in odd areas of the hotel, doing crazy things that a typical GM wouldn’t be doing. Because I believe in lending a hand and getting in there with the team.” 

With Opus celebrating its 20th anniversary next year, Vallely is looking to draw on the hotel’s past—if COVID restrictions allow.  

“We used to have these street parties—all of Hamilton Street would be closed,” she says. “Runways, bands, lights, entertainers—everyone looked forward to them every year. We wanted to do one for the reopening, but it wasn’t appropriate, given the current climate. So fingers crossed that we can bring back our infamous street party.”