The Real Housewives of Vancouver show us how it’s done in the city that was ranked the most expensive in North America by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Whether you long to happily paint the town with your besties or tearfully flounce away from your frenemies, park your size-two tush on that white suede ottoman and get the glorious details below.
An elegant Asian aesthetic pervades the deluxe suites of the Shangri-La hotel, with their rosewood walls and marble bathrooms (rooms start at $475, 1128 West Georgia St., shangri-la.com). Chi The Spa offers blessed sanctuary from any drama. You can also book a private session for your girlfriends in the Shangri-La’s yoga room ($80 to $120 per class). Afternoon tea in its Xi Shi Lounge ($38 each) includes exotic leaf mixtures such as Napoleon, “tea of destiny,” and tiers of treats to set you up for shopping downstairs at Burberry.
Book one of Holt Renfrew’s personal shoppers and you can all enjoy refreshments in a private room. The service is complimentary, but the Dolce & Gabbana satin T-strap sandals with “jewel detail” (coming soon) will set you back $995 (604-681-3121, holtrenfrew.com). Afterward, stop in at Yew Restaurant in the Four Seasons for a Vancouver Cocktail with Plymouth gin, Punt e Mes, Dom Benedictine and orange bitters ($13, 791 W. Georgia St., yewrestaurant.com).
Snack for your hotel room? When Russian émigré Housewife Ioulia Reynolds served caviar at a party this season, she didn’t discuss its provenance, but West Coasters with a conscience buy local. Northern Divine comes from white sturgeon sustainably farmed in Sechelt, B.C.; it’s available at many stores, including Urban Fare ($99 for 100 grams, urbanfare.com).
TripAdvisor 2012 Traveler’s Choice Awards called OPUS Vancouver this country’s trendiest hotel; no wonder it draws stars such as Lady Gaga. Its rooms boast technological perks – iPads and Samsung Galaxy S3 phones that guests can take out with them during their stay. Its Superior Guestrooms feel less like hotel rooms than hip pieds-à-terre – some with assertive wallpaper, a see-through fireplace and low couches for late-night partying (rooms start at $400, 322 Davie St., vancouver.opushotel.com).
If you’d like photos of your getaway assembled into a cool commemorative collage by L.A. artist Alana Rothstein or wish to have her take the pictures herself, that can be arranged by the hotel (collage package room starts at $539). OPUS also offers guests a complimentary BMW 7 Series chauffeur service.
Yaletown is a top destination for beauty buffs, its streets packed with hair studios and nail, brow and eyelash bars. Once you’re gorgeous, have a boo at ultra-chic Basquiat boutique (1189 Hamilton St., basquiat.ca).
Don’t miss shopping for decor items you don’t need, such as Two’s Company porcelain trinket boxes that look like French macarons ($13 at the Cross, 1198 Homer St., thecrossdesign.com).
Next, dive into outstanding seafood at Yaletown’s stylish Blue Water Café + Raw Bar. If you book one of its private rooms, as the Housewives did, you’ll order from a customizable set menu (from $45 a person, 1095 Hamilton St., bluewatercafe.net).
WEST VAN ELAN
Jody Claman is the self-appointed queen of the series’ salty sirens. Though some viewers find the six housewives’ squabbles horrifying, Claman – known for her malapropisms – says they’re meant to be funny and her confrontational TV persona “resignates” with her fans. At her West Vancouver boutique, Glass House Couture, you might run into the owner chatting with her co-star Amanda Hansen, as this reporter did. (Yes, their nemesis, pop singer Mary Zilba, became a topic.)
Look for the Ash studded boot, recently named “the hottest look for spring” by InStyle magazine ($425); the Vancouver-made M.I.A. fashion line, designed by Claman’s daughter Mia; blush-coloured Trilogy marabou and turkey plume stoles ($325) and countless glitzy party dresses. As Claman says randomly about almost anything, combing the racks here is “like Jewish sex!” (1425 Clyde Ave.).
While in the nabe, investigate the “vampire facelift,” as Hansen did on a recent episode. At Ambleside Dermedics, a doctor extracts up to nine millilitres of your own blood and separates out the protein-rich plasma in a centrifuge. It’s then mixed with calcium chloride and injected into the fine lines on your face. The 20-minute procedure, which you may have to get twice, is said to stimulate collagen growth, offering results within six to eight weeks ($1,200, 22-285 17th St. W., Vancouver, amblesidedermedics.com).
Spend the day working your way up the South Granville strip, starting at Zonda Nellis Design (2203 Granville St., zondanellis.com) and mincing south, perhaps trying on a $1,700 Giambatista Valli cocktail dress at Bacci Design, or a $536 white cashmere throw at Black Goat Cashmere.
Out of your budget? MaxMara currently sells a navy cap-sleeved T with navy sequin horizontal stripes for $145.
Refuel at West Restaurant + Bar with a glass of Bruno Paillard Brut Première Cuvée and a Dungeness crab salad with fennel and black pepper emulsion ($52 for both, 2881 Granville St., westrestaurant.com).
Hasta la “vista”: Marvel at the view from the English Bay Cactus Club, scene of one ladies’ lunch starring mild-mannered Zilba, her ally Robin Reichman and mystifying Ronnie Negus, who once claimed on RHOV that she’d been unaware Stanley Park existed.
Calorie-averse diners would choose the butternut squash and prawn ravioli entrée and split the seven pasta squares multiple ways ($25, 1790 Beach Ave., cactusclubcafe.com).
Off the beaten path: Horses often feature on the show, which must please new recruit Reichman, a Texan equestrian. Spend an afternoon watching velvety rumps clear spectacular jumps at one of the international tournaments taking place at Langley, B.C.’s Thunderbird Equestrian Show Park. Prices start at $10 per carload for general seating, with limited $75 VIP seats at some events (72nd Ave. and 248th St., tbird.ca).
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that at Ambleside Dermedics, a dermatologist performs the so-called “vampire facelift.” In fact, it is done by a family practitioner with a dermatology practice. This version has been updated.