A few weeks ago, Barb and K came up with a fabulous idea of going for traditional Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. While I have been to afternoon tea at a couple of other locations before, I had not experienced tea time at a fancy hotel. I was eager to go and quickly marked it on my calendar. As the tea date approached, Barb had other commitments to attend to and was unable to join us. :( K and I decided to go ahead with our tea time anyways. (Sorry Barb!)
Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is served at their 900 West Lounge. K had booked one of the earlier sittings and she was told that the seating is only for 90 minutes. K and I wondered if 90 minutes would be enough to enjoy our high tea. While she was making the reservation she was also asked if we had a coupon. Coupon? What coupon? Obviously we were not in the knowing.
Sunday morning came along and it suddenly occurred to me that I had forgotten to ask K what people normally wear to Afternoon Tea.. Of course, I could have easily searched online for an answer … OR.. checked the hotel website. The latter option didn’t even cross my mind until five minutes ago while searching the hotel website. Instead, I jumped to “Plan C” which was message K and find out what she planned to wear. Preferring to err on the side of caution, I settled on wearing a dress was probably a safe option. Okay, I admit, I felt like dressing up a little more, too — high tea at a hotel sounds like something that requires dressing up.
Being the time-conscious and punctual people that we are, K and I arrived a few minutes early for our reservation. Yet, as we stood there for several minutes (effectively going from early to after our reservation time), there was no one at the entrance to greet us. And, being the time-conscious person that I am, I was starting to get a little annoyed with the lack of greeting and the waiting. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect K was not too pleased as well.
Before you think that we were being unreasonable because perhaps the front desk lady was busy helping someone else, here’s what I observed. K and I entered the lounge and stood by the front reception area, waiting to be acknowledged and seated. While waiting, I looked around the lounge and noted that it looked relatively empty with only three tables seated. It appeared to me that there were more servers wandering around than there were actual tables seated. I’m pretty sure a couple of the servers noticed us but didn’t acknowledge us. Granted that each person has their area of responsibility … but really, how hard is it for someone.. anyone… to walk two steps over and say, “She’ll be with you in just a minute.” This is supposed to be a quality dining room in a premier hotel. I would assume good service should be part of that quality experience. Oh yes, and on the other side of the lounge (entering from their main foyer area), there was a greeter at the other desk. She looked up briefly and directly at us. I’m pretty sure she saw us but perhaps it was not her area so she did not acknowledge us either.
So after being ignored by everyone who did not do that greeter’s job, the reception lady eventually came back and apologized profusely about making us wait. She mentioned something about having to find a high chair for a baby. Understandable that she had to help a baby find a high chair while seating the family… but I still cannot get over the fact that there were so many other staff wandering around but no one else bothered to at least acknowledge us. I do get it that it’s not their job to seat us. Because of that, I applaud those restaurants where staff step in and acknowledge the waiting (abandoned) patrons even if it’s not their job to seat them.
Despite the initial service issue, the rest of the service was decent. Although, we did get asked by every single server who came by our table if we had a coupon. Coupon? There it is again.. What coupon? I think they meant some two-for-one deal that one had to purchase in advance on those coupon websites.
After we were comfortably seated, our server pointed out the various parts of the menu. I selected the Versailles Lavender Earl Grey (black tea).
The pastries arrived at our table soon after our pots of tea arrived. The spread was served in a three-tiered stand: scones on the top-level, desserts in the middle tier and sandwiches on the bottom tier.
On first glance, it did not look like very much food. I suppose that afternoon tea is a lighter meal typically eaten mid-afternoon. However, our reservation was set for an earlier seating and our afternoon tea ended up being my lunch. Between sipping my tea, munching on finger-sized sandwiches, sipping more tea and enjoying the warm scones, I suddenly reached a state of “not-hungry.” I wasn’t feeling stuffed but I was not hungry. K and I both paused our eating for a good half hour before trying the desserts.
Overall, afternoon tea with K was enjoyable. My lavender earl grey tea went well with the assortment of sandwiches and pastries. Of the items served on the three-tiered stand, the scones were my favourite. I should also mention that the servers were fairly attentive during our tea time — constantly refilling our tea pots with hot water and taking away things from our table that we no longer needed. But, of course, the best part of afternoon tea was the enjoyable company and conversations with K.
Barb, we are waiting for you for Round 2…