The Friday Lunch is a focus on the restaurant’s Lunch menu along with the Interview of a notable Business or Cultural leader who is joining me as my guest at restaurants in and around Vancouver. Each of the places I visit is unique for what is offered along with the type of service and selection of dishes.
For my next Friday Lunch in this series, I was joined by Amber Sessions, Manager Travel and Media Relations at Tourism Vancouver over lunch at The Roof on Alberni Street in downtown Vancouver.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Amber was a tour guide in France, swabbed decks on a super yacht in Italy, worked as a secretary in London, and was a marketing coordinator at Bard on the Beach before she landed her “perfect job” on Tourism Vancouver’s Travel Media Relations Team. Amber has a BA from McGill University and is currently pursuing a Diploma of Public Relations at the University of Victoria.
You can follow Amber Sessions on twitter @AmberSessions or @TVanMedia
Have you always had an interest in travel and working in Tourism?
Yes, I have always had in interest in travel owing to my parents who are from overseas (my mum is Australian and dad English) and love travel themselves. We travelled a lot internationally but also within BC by sailboat. I grew up sailing Desolation Sound the Gulf Islands and as far north as Haida Gwaii. Having officially caught the travel bug, I moved to France for a year-and a-half after university where I had a number of wonderful jobs including guiding American high school students around France working as a communications assistant at a Paris museum, and stewardessing on a yacht in Italy. Studying International Development at university sparked my interest in the power of tourism to promote cultural understanding and economic development.
What have been your favourite vacation spots over the years?
They have all been sailing holidays.
1) Circumnavigating the beautiful island of Elbe in Italy
2) Two weeks sailing the coast of Croatia with my family.
3) A week sailing the Saronic Gulf in Greece with friends.
What do you think are the most appealing features about Vancouver for a visitor?
Firstly, there is no such thing as a “typical visitor”. Mexican tourists are attracted to very different things from Chinese tourists and students seek out very differnent travel experiences to seniors. However, Vancouver’s proximity to the outdoors is universal theme which differentiates Vancouver from other cities around the world. Visitors are usually also very excited by our culinary scene. And of course, we have stunning attractions such as Stanley Park, Granville Island, Capilano suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain.
What challenges does Tourism Vancouver face in promoting the destination?
As a destination marketing organization, Tourism Vancouver is extremely well respected around the world. However, destination marketing is a competitive industry and we do face challenges. These include air access – flights to Vancouver are relatively expensive compared to our competitor destinations. Securing cruise business is an annual concern as cruise lines regularly move their ships between port cities. But our biggest challenge is simply creating the urgency for people to visit Vancouver now. For many people Vancouver is a “someday” destination. It’s our job to move Vancouver to the top of their bucket list.How far ahead to organizations book conferences in Vancouver?
Sometimes very far ahead. In fact, last November we secured Vancouver’s largest convention in history for the year 2025. It is Alcoholics Anonymous and it will bring 48,000 people to the city. The four-day conference is expected to contribute $71 million in direct spending to the city.
What do you look for when promoting the different cultures that make up Vancouver to the media globally?
Vancouver’s multiculturalism is a selling feature particularly when it comes to Vancouver’s food scene. Our chefs come from all over the world, and so do our citizens. The Vancouver public demands an extremely high quality of ethnic food. Visitors are impressed to experience the amazing ingredients unique to the Pacific Northwest and how they are prepared using cooking techniques and flavours drawn from our incredibly diverse community.
Name 10 things a local or a visitor should do in Vancouver that they may have never thought of
1) Inside Stanley Park –few people venture off the seawall but inside the park there are dozens of trails, Beaver Lake, The Aquarium, and incredible history. It’s magic.
2) Vancouver by water – We are surrounded by water and being on the water is, in my opinion, the best way to see the city. There are lots of options including The Aquabus, Harbour Cruises and Events and Sea Vancouver. You can even rent your own speed boat or kayak from Granville Island and be your own captain. , dinner cruise, Sea Vancouver tour, rent your own sea boat and be your own captain.
3) Capilano Suspension Bridge. If you haven’t been, it’s definitely worth it.
4) Same goes for Grouse Mountain.
5) Cypress and Seymour are wonderful for hiking.
6) Vancouver was rated one of the top beach cities in the world.
7) Public sculpture and art, Vancouver Bienale, free outdoor art museums
8) Seawall that is over 20 km from Canada place to Spanish Banks
9) I recently checked out the Vancouver Police Museum for the first time and loved it.
10) Vancouver has had an explosion of amazing walking, cycling and culinary tours of late. Some of my favourites are ToursByLocals, Forbidden Vancouver, Vancouver Photowalks and Vancouver Brewery Tours.
What are your favourite foods?
- Fresh, local, seasonal
- Local wine
What is one of your favourite restaurants in Vancouver?
I love tons of restaurants, but in the summer, the rooftop patio and fireplace at Lift Bar and Grill is one of my favourite spots.
Amber and Richard both shared the Tomato & Burrata Salad with seasonal tomatoes, balsamic, olive oil, sea salt. Amber had the Seafood Trio Skewers with 1/2 atlantic lobster tail, jumbo tiger prawns, scallop; while Richard had the Jerk Chicken Skewers Sam’s secret island recipe, wood smoked. For dessert, Amber had the 20 Layer Chocolate Espresso Cake with whipping cream, brandied cherries; while Richard had the Black+Blue Butter Cake crème chantilly, caramel sauce.
What do you do in your off time?
- Go to Whistler a lot
- Exploring the city
- Checking out neighborhoods
- Discovering new restaurants
Who are your mentors?
Rick Antonson just retired from Tourism Vancouver after over 20 years as our CEO. He is an amazing leader and has been a mentor to everyone he worked with.
In your position at Tourism Vancouver, what do you want to accomplish over the next few years?
We have a new CEO starting in July, I don’t know what our organization will look like over the next few years but it’s very exciting. I am excited to be a part of the ride and continue to get Vancouver in to the international media and position it as an exciting destination to visit. We average about 400 media visits to Vancouver each y
Style: a La Carte
Attire: Smart Casual
Time: Monday – Friday 11:30am – 3:00pm
The Roof at Black + Blue
1032 Alberni Street (3rd Level), Vancouver
For Reservations, please call 604-637-0777
Stay tuned to my next guest Interview along with the next Friday Lunch in and around Vancouver.
By: Richard Wolak