A pillar in B.C.’s business landscape, The Vancouver Club is creating a community where its members, and the province’s movers and shakers, can call home
Situated among the glass and concrete rainforest at the foot of Burrard on West Hastings is the storied Vancouver Club. And although the history of the club dates back to 1889, life inside the stately heritage building is much more diverse and vibrant than you might expect. Think Celebrity Bartender showdowns and rooftop fencing, Harry Potter theme nights and tickets to see Lady Gaga. It’s a dynamic hub of interactions driven by a membership that’s as varied and cultural as the city itself.
“Whether it’s female, male, young or old, the spirit of the Club is to embrace everybody,” adds director of membership Kelly Thomas. “It’s not the elitism anymore, but the exclusivity that we’re all about.”
It is this type of progression that has allowed the Club to grow and prosper over the years. “A long time ago, the people that were running the Club and the board had to decide on the future of the Club,” says General Manager Phillip Ireland. “They were a conservative group that had to let go. And I think in the history of the Club, that’s the really heroic thing that happened.”
The result is an internationally recognized society that strives to augment the lives of its membership by providing all the best amenities in one place, with impeccable service.
There’s the rooftop garden, the wine cellar, the gym, the barbershop, the restaurant, the business centre, the ballrooms and suites, and a stunning chefs table that allows guests to dine in an intimate space while watching the chef prepare their meal in the Club’s brand new $1.5 million kitchen—and members are free to partake at will. “If you want to come once a week for lunch or dinner, well, so be it,” says James Grass, head of Special Events and VIP Services. “But we [also] have members who work the Club into their lives.”
An average day might begin with a workout at the gym, followed by a shower and complimentary continental breakfast in the restaurant. At noon, maybe it’s a meeting with a client over lunch at The Grill, followed by an afternoon meeting held in one of the many board and presentation rooms. Then perhaps a round or two of billiards with a couple of other clients, and the workday’s almost over.
But all work and no play is no way to live, and The Vancouver Club understands this better than anyone else.
“We do about 250 to 300 events a year that are available for our members to come and enjoy themselves and enjoy the facility and the benefits of their membership,” says Grass. “We try to host events that members are going to attend, use their membership and say, ‘Wow, what a world-class experience. I couldn’t get that anywhere else’.”
From masquerades to wine tastings, father-daughter dinners to Easter brunch, the events are designed to serve and entertain members of all sorts. “We have the opportunity to do pretty creative things,” says Ireland. “We try to look for that middle ground where all the different people you can put together will fixate on one thing that they all enjoy and they all share, and that’s where we try to build the events.” The goal is to allow members to feel like they’re part of something bigger.
It’s during these events that the magic happens. Members from every business sector come together as a community where they may have never otherwise met. “That’s exactly what it’s all about,” says Megan Armstrong, head of membership services and sales “One of the members might be a doctor, the other a lawyer and in their regular lives they wouldn’t see each other. It’s something that I love about the Club.”
And it’s not just the members who are coming together. The Vancouver Club works with local and international companies to build a community of progressive, mutually supportive businesses.
By so doing, the Club is succeeding as a thriving hub within the city that grows and develops symbiotically. “It’s something we’re really trying to work at, because we’re not just this island,” says Armstrong. “We’re part of Vancouver and we want to get more involved.”