It was 1994, I had been studying in Ottawa on a scholarship for more than 3 years. My stay in Canada was coming to an end and I saved up money so that my wife and I could enjoy one big Canadian travel adventure before we had to leave. My brother and his wife also was keen to visit Canada while we were there. So it was agreed that we would meet in Vancouver and drive through the Canadian Rockies to Banff and then on to Calgary.
While I was definitely excited about this and sharing the car rental helped a lot to stretch my limited resources, choosing accommodation became a problem. My brother and his wife were accustomed to a better quality or level of accommodation whereas I was more concerned about the costs.
As the date neared, I desperately scoured the Internet for information on the best deals for accommodation. In Vancouver, I narrowed it down to two places. The first was Sylvia Hotel. It seemed too good to be true. From the pictures, it looked like it had a lot of character and the price was incredibly reasonable. I could not believe the price and I suspected a con job. Back then, the web pages were not as interactive as today’s travel pages and more importantly it did not have comments from previous customers. If we had that, I am sure we would have gone for it.
Instead, I delayed making a decision and lost the rooms. I eventually chose a place called Shatto Inn which was a bargain and near Stanley Park but it was not Sylvia Inn. When we finally arrived in Vancouver and saw Sylvia Hotel for ourselves, we could find nothing wrong with the place. It would become, in our family lore, the great hotel that got away.
A funny side-story was that I spoke to my brother on the telephone and told him to make his way to Shatto Inn when he arrived as our flight would arrive some 6 hours later. He thought he heard “Chateau Inn” which conjured up some thoughts of a rather opulent establishment and was therefore a little taken aback when the taxi took him to Shatto Inn – a three star rather than five star establishment.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, A Majority of Two, posted about the Sylvia Hotel and talked about the hotel in detail, even about a cat called Mister Got to Go. Please follow the link to read more about it. At that time, I mentioned that there was a song by Cheryl Wheeler about the Hotel and the cat is even mentioned.
Here is the only version I could find which is a cover version by a German fan who actually got to stay at the hotel. She heard the song first and was determined to see the hotel whereas, the squirrel never got to stay at the hotel but got to hear the song. Be warned that it is a soppy, sad, emotional type song and that it gets more interesting after the cat appears. Enjoy.