Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to spend a day experiencing some of the best of the best in Vancouver. A group of us, writers and content creators, cruised around in a fleet of Lexus RX Ls on a Lexus Master Class where we visited select Masters that exemplified the 5 pillars Lexus prides itself on:

  1. Imaginative Technology
  2. Takumi Craftsmanship
  3. Exhilarating Performance
  4. Brave Design
  5. Omotenashi

Imaginative Technology – Master of Modern Tea Time

We seek technology that reaches beyond the comfort of the conventional and the safety of the familiar. Truly imaginative technology solves problems no one has yet identified. – Lexus Canada

We started at Cha Le Tea in Yaletown where I met the others who were also as lucky to have been invited out for the day with Lexus. This was just the beginning of a 12-hour adventure where we ‘kind of’ knew the details but not fully, keeping the element of surprise at the forefront for the day.

The best of Vancouver
We were introduced to Sue Wang, the master of Imaginative Technology, as we sipped our teas that were steeped right before our eyes (in long glass tubes that kind of acted like upside down french presses and were controlled by Ipads), we were introduced to not only the delicate art of steeping tea, but also to the team from Lexus Canada. Jennifer Barron (Director of Lexus Canada) and Glenn Alkema (Product specialist of Lexus Canada) were to be our guides on our excursion around Vancouver for the day. The overarching theme of the day surrounded “Omotenashi,” which is the act of seeking a deeper, more profound understanding of your guest’s personal needs and desires. At the core, Lexus aims to not only anticipate expectations, but to exceed them.
The best of Vancouver
The best of Vancouver
Right off the bat, it was explained that every stop we’d be making along the way was at a unique artisanal shop with distinctive production methods and practices. There was a parallel being drawn between the high level of craftsmanship behind these independently owned (and operated) shops and of the same exceptional detail that goes into each Lexus vehicle. We were students of the Lexus Master Class and we were all ready to learn!  This was to be “The Best of The Best – Vancouver edition.”
We jumped into a Lexus after the fleet of RX Ls parked right on Hamilton St. in Yaletown turned many heads. Every time we got into our cars from there on in, there was a new destination plugged into the GPS for us and we just followed the lead.It felt like we were in an episode of The Amazing Race but with the luxury of zero time-limits or the dreaded road blocks. I want to share my experience with all of you, as the day felt so indulgent… it surely wasn’t meant to be kept all to myself.
The best of Vancouver

Takumi Craftsmanship – Master of Artisanal Bread, Master of Real Cheese, Master of Meats & Master of Spirits

Takumi is an ancient Japanese concept that holds the essence of absolute mastery of an art or craft.

We experienced this at A Bread Affair, Benton Brothers Fine Cheeses, Armando’s Finest Quality Meats, and The Liberty Distillery. These were our first stops on our adventure. All of these shops are located on Granville Island and while I’ve frequented them all before, I had a new found understanding and appreciation for their crafts after visiting with the owners more intimately.

What we learned from each of the artisans is that there are no cutting corners when the goal is to achieve excellence.  If that means croissants taking 3 days to reach perfection or cheeses requiring specific processes to reach the desired creaminess, excellence can never rushed.  That is something we witnessed first-hand during our tour of the Granville Island craftspeople you’ll read about below- and the same principles apply to Lexus craftsmanship.
The best of Vancouver
The best of Vancouver

The chocolate croissants at A Bread Affair take 3 days to make to perfection!

A Bread Affair is BC’s first certified organic bakery. The artisan breads are made in small batches with top quality ingredients, and without preservatives.

The owner, Tanya trained under Keith Giusto – a fourth generation artisan baker who trained the US Olympic Baking Team. He is a renowned artisan baker known for his dedication to bread made through the trinity of the farmer, miller and baker, using the highest quality ancient grains. Tanya spent 7 days a week, usually 10 – 14 hours a day mixing, fermenting, shaping and baking each artisan crafted loaf, essentially perfecting her craft. She spent time understanding the science and art of artisan bread which embodies the saying on the wall above the Granville Island Bakery: “The Alchemy and Artistry of our Bread.”The best of Vancouver

The best of Vancouver

Benton Brothers Fine Cheeses: fresh-off-the-wheel on Granville Island.

When Jonah and Andrew Benton opened their doors, they had a simple goal — to help Vancouverites discover real cheese! Both brothers come from engineering degrees but after much soul searching, they discovered their true passion lies in artisanal high-quality cheese sourced from around the world.

The brothers believe in offering real, fresh-off-the-wheel cheeses with a difference in quality you can truly taste. Over the years, they have become synonymous with the best artisanal and raw milk cheeses Vancouver has to offer.
The best of Vancouver
The best of Vancouver

Meticulously sourced premium meats at Armando’s Finest Quality Meats.

Armando Bacani is the owner of Armando’s Finest Quality Meats, an award winning family butcher shop located at the Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver British Columbia. Since opening in 1987, the shop has been offering a wide variety of meticulously sourced premium quality products.

Armando has since been acknowledged as a master butcher, serving the finest quality meats preferred by discerning home chefs and some of Vancouver’s most notable chefs and restaurateurs, such as David Hawksworth and Harry Kambolis, who swear that Armando is their ‘go-to’.

The best of Vancouver
The best of Vancouver

Premium spirits made from 100% BC organic grain and high quality BC ingredients at Liberty Distillery.

The Liberty Distillery on Granville Island was Vancouver’s first distillery to produce unique, hand-crafted, premium spirits made from 100% BC organic grain and high quality BC ingredients.

Through their belief that distillation is a fascinating mix of art and science all wrapped into one, they’ve been providing opportunities to taste and experience spirits in a whole new way.

Just like the craftspeople behind these 4 popular Vancouver shops, “The Takumi craftspeople at Lexus are the rarified group of master craftsmen who bring a refined human touch to every aspect of design and development, undergoing rigorous challenges and distilling years of training into a single goal: perfectibility.”

Exhilarating Performance- Master of Adrenaline

The real measure of exhilarating performance runs much deeper than a list of impressive performance statistics. It’s about the feeling of anticipation or the rush of adrenaline that you experience when you are embarking upon something exciting.
The best of Vancouver
That’s a perfect way of summing up my feeling throughout the entire day with Lexus Canada. But, when we arrived at Sky Helicopters and were preparing to head up on a private heli tour, the adrenaline definitely kicked into high gear. What an experience indeed!
The best of Vancouver

Ready for takeoff with Sky Helicopters. Jessica / Nathalie / Natalie / Jenn

The best of Vancouver

An exhilarating ride with Sky Helicopters that pushes the limits just like Lexus vehicles.

The best of Vancouver

Offering one-of-a-kind, memorable experiences that take your breath away, SKY Helicopters takes passengers on an aerial tour of picturesque mountain views, cascading waterfalls, alpine lakes and untouched nature. SKY Helicopters redefines helicopter flight and provides an unmatched experience of the West Coast.

Brave Design- Master of Culinary Courage

Our day came to a close when we pulled up to a gorgeous house on Point Grey Rd. in Kitsilano. Outside, the Lexus LC 500, the brand’s flagship luxury sports coupe was parked for us all to drool over like an amuse-bouche before our dinner. We headed inside to a bartender mixing signature drinks, hand massages and the pièce de résistance… a 5-course (DELICIOUS) dinner cooked by Chef Mark Singson, runner-up of the latest season of Top Chef Canada.

Mark has a unique approach to cooking, finding inspiration in his environment, the arts, and the music that surrounds him.

the best of Vancouver

Brave Design is all about the courage to stand out with confidence and is something that Lexus prides itself on, as well as all the craftspeople we had the great pleasure of spending our day with.
I have to admit that driving any vehicle, after our day of driving the Lexus RX series, feels a bit underwhelming.  It was amazing to feel how soft the turns were in the Lexus SUV’s and how quiet the SUV’s are. Sometimes I had to check that I had actually turned the engine on.  Sheer luxury.Lexus knows how to rise above and beyond.  The way their vehicles are manufactured is evidence of this.  A great example is that the craftspeople who are responsible for the stitching in the cars (all hand-stitched!!!) have to successfully complete the Takumi Origami test.  Until you can fold an origami cat, one-handed, in less than 90 seconds WITH YOUR NON-DOMINANT hand, you are not ready to stitch Lexus interiors.  (If anyone tries this at home, PLEASE do let me know ;))how to make an origami cat

Some features of the Lexus RX series that peaked my interest:

  • The cars in this series were the first-ever luxury SUVs
  • The RX Series boasts a total of 13 model and trim combinations, from the all-new three row RX L to various traditional gas or advanced gas-electric hybrid powertrains and the performance-focused F Sport.  We found the car extremely quiet, even while the engine is running, which allowed us to enjoy the incredible sounds system even more
  • A 12.3” interior display (almost as big as my laptop screen!)
  • Seat heaters are present in both the back seats and the front
  • Driving the RX series vehicles is such a treat as they turn so easily and stop so smoothly
  • Automatic high-beam that senses when a car is coming in the opposite direction and automatically shuts off plus an assortment of impressive safety features found in Lexus Safety System Plus
Conformity isn’t an option.
Thank you to Lexus Canada for this experience and for sponsoring this post. 
Photography: The Glass Eye