July 5th, 2012
Turquoise lagoons, adrenaline-pumping activities, cultural landmarks… all served with a side of rum punch and Bob Marley, of course.
Kick back in style at the timelessly elegant yet warm and cozy Jamaica Inn, a favourite of celebs ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Kelly Rowland. With zero distractions (read: WiFi or television), grab a Planter’s Punch and soak in the views of the hotel’s private sandy beach. The toughest decision we had to make? Choosing whether to watch the sunset from our room’s private deck, the beach, the al fresco spa or one of outdoor dining spaces. 1-800-837-4608, www.jamaicainn.com
For a little bit more action, it’s all about the Round Hill Hotel and Villas in Montego Bay. Besides the Nantucket-esque vibe (rooms were refurbished by Ralph Lauren, so pack those nautical stripes!), there’s a slew of on-site activities to choose from, ranging from a coffee and sugar body scrub at the spa (housed in what was a plantation house during the 18th century) to deep sea diving and tennis. Kudos if you manage to ever tear yourself away from the stunning double-edged infinity pool. 1-800-972-2159, http://www.roundhill.com
Ocho Rios, the city where Christopher Columbus is believed to have first set foot in Jamaica, is home to some of the country’s most exciting, not-to-be-missed attractions, including Dunn’s River Falls and Dolphin’s Cove.
Take a trip back to colonial times with a visit to Greenwood, a house built by Richard Barrett (Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cousin) in the 1800s. It is filled with fascinating artifacts from both Europe and Jamaica and the view from the breezy veranda is more than worth the slightly treacherous trip up into the hills.
There are patties aplenty (look for Juici or Tastee, the two most popular shops), but Jamaica is jerk country, so grab an outdoor seat at one of several Scotchies locations and enjoy some authentic jerk chicken, pork or fish The combination of jerk spice and grilling on wood planks produces the deliciously addictive flavor. Add some Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce – a.k.a. one of the world’s hottest peppers! – at your own risk but don’t skip the yummy sides (think fried dough balls, pumpkin rice and a Red Stripe).
Ja man! —Christine Laroche
For snapshots of our trip to Jamaica, visit the Editors’ Diary.
May 24th, 2012
It’s our annual Okanagan hot sheet!
As if it weren’t enough that Church and State has built an architecturally spectacular tasting room (witness the glassed-in barrel room), it is soon to open a patio with an ice bar to keep you (and your glass of Cuvée) cool this summer. www.churchandstatewines.com
At Spirit Ridge, perched in the hills just above Lake Osoyoos, it’s not unusual to see people on their balconies for hours, gazing out at the stunning mountain, lake and vineyard views. Even better with glass of N’Kmip Pinot Noir in hand. Oh, is it only 10 a.m.? www.spiritridge.ca
The new Mica restaurant at Spirit Ridge brought in a stellar team to create “wine country comfort food” using high quality local ingredients: a round of Butcher’s Burgers on the patio sounds good to us. www.spiritridge.ca
The family-owned organic Covert Farms has just launched a new wine label featuring the dramatic McIntire Bluff and the Nighthawk – both features of the bucolic property. With an on-site casual restaurant with patio, organic fruit and veggies, plus kids activities and organic farming camps, it’s the perfect answer to wine tasting with wee ones. www.covertfarms.ca
The remodeled Silvery Sage winery is a popular spot for weddings and it is easy to see why: beautiful landscaping, rose-lined walkways, and weeping willows. We do! www.silversagewinery.com —Sarah Bancroft
For more highlights from our 48 hours in Oliver/Osoyoos Wine Country, visit our Editors' Diary.
May 10th, 2012
If ever there was an odd couple, it might be drinking and hiking. On second thought, reaching that high peak is deserving of a toast.
Good thing Mountain Equipment Co-op had the forethought to sell a wine tote ($25). Fill the soft sided carafe with your favourite vino, mark it with the vintage and varietal and cork it until you reach the top of the mountain or that romantic meadow at the end of the path. Just because you are huffing and puffing doesn’t mean you can’t muster some class : the tote comes with two nesting glasses. —Jaelyn Molyneux
830 10 Ave. S.W., Calgary, 403-269-2420, www.mec.ca
April 5th, 2012
We headed to Modernism Week to bring you the best and the brightest of Palm Springs (just in time for Coachella).
The new Saguaro Palm Springs took a foreclosed Holiday Inn and brought it back to life in full living colour, adding an Iron Chef for good measure. With wide-open mountain views (request 3rd floor facing the pool), daily yoga on the lawn, cruiser bikes, Ping Pong and boules, the place was built for good times. But if you prefer to doze by the pool listening to French pop songs, gazing up at the palm trees and sipping bubbly, we’ll meet you there. Saguaro Palm Springs, 1800 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, CA, 877-808-2439, www.thesaguaropalmsprings.com
At the recently opened Mr Cox vintage couture (named for the owner’s late dapper dad) we spied a gorgeous YSL cape with Gwyneth written all over it, ’70s caftans for the pool, and a gold-and-ecru Pierre Cardin wet bar (pictured) that we really need for the cabana. Mr. Cox, 457 N Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, CA, 760-898-6443, www.mrcoxps.com
The Sunnylands 200-acre estate in nearby Rancho Mirage is a sight to behold, with its golf course, stunning Visitor’s Center (with Rodin’s Eternal Spring sculpture sitting casually in the corner), and of course, the estate itself, built by publishing magnate Walter Annenberg, the founder of Seventeen magazine. Go for lunch and peruse the multi-media exhibits that take you back to the height of the Mad Men era. The Sunnylands, 37977 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage, CA, 760-328-2829, www.sunnylands.org
The new Tinto restaurant, helmed by celebrity chef Jose Garces, is named for red wine (in Spanish) and looks to the Basque region for culinary inspiration. And inspired we were by standout dishes like Suquet ($11), a sublime tomato-saffron soup with mussels, shrimp, escarole and potato (so much so we ordered it three times)! The arugula salad with Serrano ham and perfect spheres of deep fried goat’s cheese was an excellent pre-flight snack. At dinner, be sure to finish with the date ice cream (even if you are dateless). www.jdvhotels.com/dining/riverside/tinto
Palm Springs Modernism Week, February 14-24, 2013, www.modernismweek.com
For more from Modernism Week, please visit our Editors’ Diary.
March 29th, 2012
With the best Spring skiing conditions in years, it was time to hit the slopes. The vacation-planning company Enjoy Whistler has local experts who craft itineraries that can save you time and money, plus experience more of the mountains. We put ourselves in their capable hands:
Off to the Callaghan Valley for an epic day in the Whistler Olympic Park, where the cross-country tracks ($22) are for all levels. But weilding a rifle in the marksmanship portion of the Olympic biathalon course had us shooting sharp ($10/round). www.whistlerolympicpark.com
Our junior suite at the Westin Resort and Spa had an amazing view of the Blackcomb gondola and managed to feel as cozy as a cabin while offering the amenities of a world-class hotel (like its own daycare). It’s home to Whistler’s most lovely lobby, an oasis of fireplaces, couches, and fragrant bouquets of sweet peas. Westin Resort and Spa, 4090 Whistler Way, 604-905-5000, www.westinwhistler.com
Nothing beats heading up Blackcomb in the sun when there are five feet of fresh powder. And when the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival arrives (April 13-22) there will be even more to love.
Kids will love a apres-ski sleigh ride at Nicklaus North golf course complete with hot chocolate, warm blankets, and a pair of horses called Tom and Jerry. www.blackcombsleighrides.com
The set menus at Alta Bistro open up the local larder with a rutabagga soup from Pemberton’s North Arm Farm, and charcuterie made by nearby Nita Lake Lodge. Owned by seasoned locals, it’s the toughest reservation to get in town. Alta Bistro, 4319 Main St., Whistler. BC, 604-932-2582, www.altabistro.com —Sarah Bancroft
To book and view Whistler experiences, visit www.enjoywhistler.com
January 26th, 2012
A recent trip to the “West’s most Western town” uncovered a hot new hotel, sizzling kitchens, and fab food carts.
Does this outdoor fireplace look enticing? And so are the gorgeous pickled red and gold beets (served with whipped ricotta and crostini, $8) as well as the handcrafted classic cocktails at Old Town Whiskey, The Saguaro, 4000 N Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ, 480-308-1068, www.jdvhotels.com/hotels/saguaro
Overlooking a beautiful park, the patio at Distrito lures with the scent of barbeque from the smoker. Serving modern Mexican fare, the whimsical décor (like this wall of Mexican wrestling masks) compliments the fun, interactive tasting dishes. Tortillas are pressed inside the restaurant and delivered to tables still warm in baskets. Fill them with whatever is in the smoker and you will be one happy camper. Distrito, The Saguaro, 4000 N Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ, 480-308-1068, www.jdvhotels.com/hotels/saguaro
A play on “Food and Beverage,” FnB has been a hit with industry folks, serving street food dishes late at night on Sundays. But everyone will appreciate the chef’s hustle as she prepares delicious little dishes like braised leeks in mustard breadcrumbs topped with a fried egg ($14) in the salamander while grilling lamb tenderloin ($32) over charcoal in the middle of the room. It’s like dinner and a show, all in one. FnB, 7133 E. Stetson Dr., Scottsdale, AZ, 480-425-9463, www.fnbrestaurant.com
The new Saguaro Hotel is the place to stay so you can order the Old Town Burger ($12) with beef that’s coarsely ground in-house and tangy house-made Thousand Island, poolside or bedside, your choice. 4000 N Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ, 480-308-1068, www.jdvhotels.com/hotels/saguaro
Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market. Beautiful produce (pink grapefruit for a quarter each) plus a row of food carts around the perimeter make it a great way to start the day. Go early for croissants from the French bakery stall, and coffee from this retro trailer called Shine. Saturday, 8am to 1pm, corner of Brown St. and First Ave, Scottsdale, AZ, www.arizonafarmersmarkets.com —Sarah Bancroft
For more photos from our Scottsdale trip, please visit our Editor’s Diary.
December 22nd, 2011
A quick flight to Kelowna and 45-minutes drive out of town and you’re at Big White Ski Resort, where everything you need for a productive weekend getaway is at your ski-tips.
The Timeless Eternity package ($328) at Beyond Wrapture Day Spa gets you three hours of wine-themed bliss. For example, the Okanagan grape pip scrub exfoliates with the grape bits that don’t make it into wine.
You’d think it was an invention of the Calgary Stampede, but Gunbarrel Coffee at Snowshoe Sam’s is all Big White. A glass rimmed in crystallized sugar is filled with brandy, cacao and coffee. Out comes the shotgun and flaming Grand Marnier is poured down the barrel of a shotgun into the glass. It all happens on a cart that is wheeled to your table.
Step out of the hotel into your skis at any of Big White’s ski-in, ski-out hotels including the White Crystal Inn. When you’re done, relax by your fireplace or enjoy the best of après ski in the surrounding village.
Big White gets 750 cm of snow annually and with 118 runs (most of which are beginner or intermediate) you won’t be at a loss for ski options. To get the quintessential Big White experience, you’ll want to swoosh through the powder weaving through the “snow ghosts” aka snow covered trees.
Play some more
There’s dog sledding, skating and tubing, but climbing the ice climbing tower will get your adrenaline pumping. Built from four telephone poles that are cross-braced and sprayed down each week the massive block of ice has one side is easier than the rest, but any of the four with take you up 60-feet to ring the bell at the top. —Jaelyn Molyneux
September 22nd, 2011
Our latest visit to BC's capital city uncovered the best new places to, eat, drink….and shop.
The neighbourhood of Oak Bay is home to a brand new women’s store Public, stocked with eye catching jewellery by Giles Brother (modeled after the designers’ grandmother’s estate collection), fine cashmere sweaters from England’s John Smedley, and Tibi New York. After, head next door to the new Vis-à-Vis winebar for a charcuterie plate. Public, 201-2250 Oak Bay Ave., Victoria, 250-590-6405, www.publicboutique.ca
(Let’s Hear it) For the Boys
Public’s sister store, Citizen, carries-carefully curated menswear and accessories like Filson bags, handmade shoes, reams of silk ties, Denham jeans and retro bicycles for the dapper man about town. Citizen Clothing, 2541 Estevan Ave., Victoria, 250-590-6716, www.citizenclothing.ca
Renting bikes from Cycle BC will get you to Oak Bay along the oceanfront in no time. Start at Beacon Hill Park, do the seaside route, and return via the Empress Hotel Veranda for a glass of rosé. Cycle BC, 685 Humboldt St. , Victoria, 250-380-2453, www.cyclebc.ca
What’s a getaway without a spa stop? The boutique-size Spa at the Grand does a top-notch pedicure (while you recline on a bed) and the RMT massages were both therapeutic and relaxing. Hotel Grand Pacific, 463 Belleville St., Victoria, 250-386-0450, www.hotelgrandpacific.com
A surprising discovery was the Ocean-Wise Dim Sum at The Pacific with locally-sourced ingredients. Order off the Asian tea menu (we loved The Philosopher Brew) and start with the BC Seafood Congee ($12) which is light and delicious. Cowichan Valley Springrolls ($8) and Qualicum Scallop Dumplings ($8) are a modern spin on locavore fusion—and a great idea, we might add. Hotel Grand Pacific, 463 Belleville St., Victoria, 250-386-0450, www.hotelgrandpacific.com
Open daily with no reservations, the new 200-seat Zambri’s is truly an international-level restaurant in the shiny-new downtown Atrium building. Would saying it was the best meal of our year be too much? I think not. Dish after sublime dish—vegetable-forward and ultra-progressively Italian—was a delightful surprise. House-cured meats pushed appies up (bread dumplings with ground salumi wrapped in spec, do you hear me?) and silky, egg-y pastas roll off the tongue like the romance languages. Zambris, 820 Yates St., Victoria, 250-360-1171, www.zambris.ca
Ulla’s proprietors are a young couple who honed their skills at Vancouver’s Cibo among other fine dining establishments. On the edge of Chinatown, it’s a loft-y space with a formidable cookbook collection (try the Momofuku chicken wings, an ode to New York’s David Chang). A $7 glass of Cava sets the tone for a fun evening and pairs perfectly with the octopus salad ($12). Ulla, 509 Fisgard St., Victoria, 250-590-8795, www.ulla.ca —Sarah Bancroft
Read more about our Victoria trip in our Editors' Diary.
September 15th, 2011
Contrary to what you might assume the Saskatoon Farm is not in Saskatchewan.
Instead this hybrid of an attraction is 10-kilometres south of Calgary at the end of a country road that dead ends at a valley. The berry from whence the farm is named can be found in the tarts, waffles and biscuits in the café or frozen by the box beside the take-and-bake pies in the gift shop. U-pick opportunities for the berries have passed for the season, but farm fresh veggies are pulled from fields overlooking the valley and sold at the market stand. Back inside, two floors of hallways and alcoves are stocked with home décor from hefty wood dining tables to dainty wall lighting.
Eating, shopping and fresh country air, it’s a win-win-win and it’s open year-round. —Jaelyn Molyneux
Highway 2 and 338 Ave. E., De Winton, 403-938-6245, www.saskatoonfarm.com
September 1st, 2011
Less than two hours by air will get you to the Emerald City where an entrepreneurial spirit has created a petri dish of Pacific Northwest-only business for us to enjoy.
Art gallery meets luxury lodging at Hotel Max where more than 350 paintings and photographs from local artists accent the old hotel that has been retrofitted with modern amenities and a rock star attitude.
Ballard Avenue boutique, Ketch carries Pacific Northwest themed tees from Poppy and Moe alongside James Jeans and House of Harlow jewels.
Hop the Bon Vivant wine tour 25 minutes out of town in Woodinville where more than 50 Washington wineries operate out of country estates, hillside homes and garage bays.
Start with crab cakes and end with coconut cream pie at Etta’s. The Pike Place restaurant is one of chef Tom Douglas’ 12 Seattle eateries, all of which are worthy of mealtime.
Caffeinate at Caffé Vita where farm direct beans, hand roasting and a grind-to-order system lead to a cup of Joe comes that comes with tasting notes. —Jaelyn Molyneaux