We arrived and my son was crying. Hard. His precious toy camera had been left on the beach the day before and we just discovered it had been swept away by the tide. I was torn between trying to teach a lesson in responsibility and wanting to comfort him. Colin the bellman saw the tears and took over with ease. Grateful, I was so distracted with the trauma of the tears as well as the transferring of the luggage that I hardly remembered to apologize to the valet about the broken lego and stale Cheerios strewn about the car. Colin was phenomenal.  He took a loonie (a tip from a previous guest) and gave it to my son. He engaged the 2 boys with a visual magic trick using the coin. He gave them each a coin to keep, which each boy still keeps in a special place. Wow. I wish I could nab Colin away from the hotel to calm the kids all the time!

Our next adventure on the ‘Kids in the City’ program was the kitchen tour. Both of the boys love to set up tea parties and make elaborate dishes for the stuffed animals.

We met Executive Chef Craig Dryhurst, who went over some culinary principles and helped the kids dip organic strawberries in chocolate and adorn them with even better accoutrements – like candied pineapple, white chocolate and berries. My Jr. Chefs were given ‘power cookies’ from chef Ned Bell, an avid cyclist with a keen interest in sustainability. I’m sure he was the force behind the huge urban cultivator in the kitchen that provides fresh microgreens like kale and watercress to patrons of Yew restaurant.

The room made me laugh in a great way. One son is used to my hotel shenanigans, filming and photographing before anyone is allowed to touch a thing. When I ‘released the hounds’ they both made for the soft beds, and jumped, exclaiming ‘This is first class Mom!!’

The Playzone was a favourite of the kids, and not only did we play together as a family, but I gently encouraged the boys to ask the concierge desk for various controllers by themselves. Typically shy, they overcame the emotion and practiced their manners. We played fussball, guitar hero, ping pong, air hockey, wii and genesis. There was a movie area suitable for toddlers to teens, as well as books and a nap nook.

Dinner at Yew is always an experience, but never so much as when your kids don suits and ties. Megan, our server, paid close attention to the needs of the boys, and the food was spectacular. The Moscow Mule (discovered via the iPad menu on the table) has become our signature drink at the Four Seasons Vancouver, and I am still attempting to replicate the salmon crab fishcake served with mango salsa that we devoured to begin. A fruit and bunny-shaped cheese plate delighted the boys. At every stage of the meal, they were treated as special guests. The kids had buttermilk fried chicken, fish and chips (translated into gourmet terms as Cloud 9 gluten-free crispy halibut, kennebec fries, lime caper and scallion dip). My dish was perhaps the most interesting and special. No vegan dish has ever tasted so good. The gemelli pasta was mixed with sambal roasted cashews, chili, herbs, and woodland mushrooms to produce a creamy, earthy treasure of a meal. We finished with a block of neapolitan homemade ice cream, a twist on 1960’s ice cream parlor culture.

Full and happy, we ignored the special critters left in room for story time and headed to the pool area. Part of ‘Kids in the City’, the patio area looked like a high-end carnival. White towels and bottled water sat on lounge chairs with red cushions and traditional red and white-striped popcorn was served to each guest while we watched ‘Despicable Me’ with popcorn in hand. The boys wore their ‘tiny robes’ with the hotel’s signature tree logo, feeling very special.

Lauren runs the childrens’ programs and mentioned that the pool and spa area design are advantageous to parents, who can work out while watching kids in pool. She was running kids activities the next morning, assisting little ones in playing with water balloons, painting Canadian flags on smooth rocks and instructing kids at shuffleboard. We were leaving the area on completion of the crafts, and all of a sudden my son ran back. He had forgotten his rock like he had done with the camera just one day before.

Perhaps precious family bonding time, along with a few magic tricks and learning how to politely ask for contollers or dessert had taught a much better lesson than any scolding I could have done. The city can teach many lessons, especially with the Four Seasons at the helm.

‘Kids in the City’ runs each summer and during the winter holidays at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver.

Disclosure: We were hosted for a night at the hotel in order to complete our story and experience the magic.