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Looking for a way to spend an afternoon and evening in the heart of Vancouver, with a gorgeous scenic backdrop to mark a special occasion?

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My husband and I recently visited the Pan Pacific Vancouver, where a relaxing Saturday spa afternoon turned into a sumptuous buffet complete with live opera music. Spa Utopia’s been recently crowned one of Canada’s Top 50 spas, out of over 500 potential candidates.

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Through the glass doors, you’re immediately transformed into a column and exposed brick atmosphere with smaller hallways leading off to massage and treatment rooms.

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The lounge becomes the starting and ending point of a visit here, with hot tea, snacks, water, comfy sofas and soft music for guests to relax and wait for their spa appointments. We’re shown the changing rooms, dry sauna and steam room, and given a robe, slippers, and locker key.

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During your Spa Utopia visit, you’ll also have access to the hotel’s eighth-floor outdoor heated pool and jacuzzi with city views.

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Along with our spa gift cards, we were able to upgrade to a VIP massage suite for free during our couples massage. The room can be booked for weddings and special occasions and its interior mimics the columns and brick of the spa’s main corridor. A large jacuzzi tub is set in the back of the room; a table and chairs for a light meal, a shower and a private bathroom complete the suite.

Our practitioners got underway soothing our tired backs, neck, and shoulders during a classic Swedish massage. The spa also has a number of registered massage therapists onsite (we had a regular masseuse as well as an RMT). The room has soft, low lighting, a fireplace, and gentle music to completely relax and unwind.

Time always passes too quickly when being pampered like this and before long, time’s up and we’re left to slowly come back to this Earth as we get back into our robes. We’re greeted with a glass of complimentary wine as we exit the room and are free to relax some more with sauna, steam, and lounge before getting ready for dinner.

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Up on the lobby level, Café Pacifica hosts a charming Italian bistro with a full buffet and live opera music on Saturday evenings from 6 to 9:30. A long-running favourite with couples and families, the Opera Buffet starts off with antipasto and leads right through to a made-to-order pasta station, mains, and gorgeous desserts.

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Burnaby Lyric Opera has been part of the city’s music scene for over 30 years, currently performing at its permanent home, the Shadboldt Centre for the Arts at Deer Lake Park.

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[Burnaby Lyric Opera accompanied by Pianist David Boothroyd]

Pianist, conductor, and opera fixture David Boothroyd accompanied Tenor Martin Sadd, Baritone Andrey Andreychik, Mezzo-Soprano Lisa-Dawn Markle, and Soprano Arianna Sovernigo as they delighted diners with various Italian arias ranging from Don Giovanni to Rigoletto.

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Along with a beautiful view of the North Shore and Pan Pacific sails, this is a fine chance to enjoy an evening of opera on a more casual level. The range of salads, fruit, Italian cheeses, olives, shrimp, meats, and desserts was more than enough to choose from.

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[Made-to-order pasta: L: Pasta Chef Eric Montana]

Pasta Chef Eric Montana was in back, near the kitchen, tossing different pastas with a range of sauces and ingredients throughout the evening.

A special Valentine’s Day Opera Buffet will be held on February 14 ($65 per person; $60 seniors, plus tax and service charge). Normal buffet prices are $49 per person, seniors $44, kids to age 12, $24.50, 4 and under, free. The price includes coffee and tea.

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Pan Pacific Vancouver is located at 999 Canada Place. Our buffets were compliments of the hotel and our massages were given to us as a holiday gift from family.

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