March 13th, 2012
Covered bridges. Rolling hills. Tiny white steeples. Grazing cows. The picturesque two-hour drive to Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont, is almost as enjoyable as the time you’ll spend on the slopes. Almost.
There is no hotel per se at Smuggler’s Notch. Instead: A network of ultra-cozy condominiums, all boasting fully stocked kitchens, access to heated pools and an on- demand shuttle service to take you to the slopes or village. Find rates here.
There are actually three mountains to ski at Smuggs, providing a wide variety of terrain. Beginners are spoiled with Morse Mountain and an awesome ski school program while intermediates and experts will adore Sterling and Madonna Mountains: Think long, winding cruisers (Chilcoot, Rumrummer and Drifters are dreamy) and gorgeous glades. Want an off-slope adventure? Try ziplining, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, tube sliding, ice skating, airboarding… and the list goes on! Boredom? Not an option.
In the evening, grab your honey/bestie/kiddos and take a seat by the fireplace in Hearth & Candle’s dining room for a culinary trip through Vermont. Ingredients are fresh, delicious, and, best of all, local. Must-have dishes include the plate of cheeses from the Green State (from $10), the Wild Boar Gnocci ($28) and the Hearth and Candle Oscar ($36), a scrumptious take on surf and turf. Finish with the cheesecake of the day ($9) – if you’re lucky, it’ll be Red Velvet. —Christine Laroche
Smugglers' Notch Resort, 4323 Vermont Route 108 South, Smugglers' Notch, VT, 1-802-644-8851, www.smuggs.com
February 24th, 2012
Way back when, we’d sew Canadian flag patches onto our Jansport when travelling. Today, we’ve found a chicer way to show some Canuck pride.
When we stumbled upon Co-lab’s nylon totes ($70) at Lolë’s St-Denis St. Atelier, it was love at first sight. They come in bright colours, are ultra-lightweight and are designed right here in Montreal. We’re also in lust with the pricier yet oh-so-posh Quinn style, a.k.a. the ultimate workweek satchel.
The hostel is now a boutique hotel and the return ticket is always booked, but one thing hasn’t changed: When abroad, we love showing some YUL pride. —Christine Laroche
Lolë, 4075 St-Denis St., Montreal, 514-507-3907, www.christopherkon.com
January 13th, 2012
Jay Peak in Vermont is already known for epic powder but thanks to the all-new Pump House Waterpark, it’s also about to be famed for its sweet surf.
The adrenaline junkies who rode black diamond glades all day long will want to keep the rush going by beelining for La Chute, a slide that drops 60 feet per second. (May we suggest a well-secured one-piece?)
More mellowed out intermediates, the blue squares of the bunch, will love to hang ten and do their very best Kassia Meador impression on The Double Barrel Surf Wave.
Green circle gal? It’s all about the Activity (read: lazy) river.
Finally, something with a retractable roof that we can love! —Christine Laroche
Pump House Waterpark, 830 Jay Peak Rd., Jay, Vermont, 802-988-2611, www.jaypeakresort.com
November 17th, 2011
We knew we were in for a romantic weekend when we saw the website for the Windham Hill Inn in West Townsend Vermont, but when we arrived we fell head over heels in love. Here’s why:
The Rooms: Our lovely loft featured a king-sized four poster bed covered with luxurious linens, a gigantic Jacuzzi tub, and a warm fireplace. What it didn’t have? A television. So nobody got distracted by Sunday afternoon football.
The Grounds: Perched hillside with 10 miles of wooded trails, we roamed through lush greenery to find the stunningly secluded waterfall and pool.
The Food: We began the day with a 3-course breakfast complete with fresh muffins, hearty eggs, and healthy oatmeal and ended it with a 6-course tasting menu created by executive chef Graham Gill. Don’t leave without tasting the pumpkin bread pudding…divine!
The Spa: Book a 60- or 90-minute massage or request a butler-drawn bath complete with candles and fragrant essential oils. Or just use the luxurious Molton Brown bath and body products in your room to create a private spa experience.
The Common Areas: Read and relax amid walls of books and games lining cozy fireplace rooms, offering afternoon tea featuring fresh scones, whipped cream, cookies and hot cider. Stop in at the bar before dinner to chat with fellow travellers over a glass of spicy red wine and an array of delicious Vermont cheeses.
The Personalized Service: Innkeeper, Katja, welcomes every guest personally and ensures that every need is met, including booking activities (we went horseback riding at nearby Mountain View Ranch) and surprising guests with special treats, like the bottle of champagne that welcomed the couple celebrating their first anniversary.
Rooms from $255 per night, Windham Hill Inn, 311 Lawrence Drive, West Townshend, VT, 1-800-944-4080, www.windhamhillinn.com
See more photos of Windham Hill Inn on our Editors' Diary.
September 8th, 2011
Not a whole lot has changed about Ogunquit since we last visited when we were just a kid. But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! We spent the last week of summer on the coastal town in Maine, visiting old favourites and finding new ones.
Most hotels in Ogunquit offer simple, beachy motel-esque accommodations, but if it’s a view you want, head to the Beachmere Inn. The oceanfront property offers rolling lawns adjacent to the Marginal Way, as well as a wide array of room types and amenities (including yoga on the lawn!) to fit your every need. Beachmere Inn, 62 Beachmere Place Ogunquit, ME, 1-800-336-3983, www.beachmereinn.com
The Ogunquit Playhouse will be celebrating its 80th birthday next season, but the party has started already with this year’s lineup of shows including Avenue Q and Legally Blonde: The Musical, with guest star Sally Struthers, playing until September 17 (Miss Saigon starts soon after!). Ogunquit Playhouse, 10 Main Street, Ogunquit, ME, 207-646-5511, www.ogunquitplayhouse.org
Roadside lobster rolls and clam shacks abound, but for the ultimate lobster experience head north to Wells to visit the Maine Diner to gorge on the rich seafood chowder and decadent lobster pie featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Maine Diner, 2265 Post Rd., Route One, Wells, ME, 207-646-4441, www.mainediner.com
The cosmopolitan is strong enough to knock you off your feet, which is a good thing because you’ll need to get rid of your inhibitions to thoroughly enjoy the ‘round the piano show tune sing-along that goes down nightly at The Front Porch. The Front Porch, 9 Shore Rd., Ogunquit, ME, 207-646-4005, www.thefrontporch.net
June 24th, 2011
The good news: your toddler has finally started sleeping through the night. The bad news: she’s accustomed to sleeping at home, and you’re about to head out on a family roadtrip.
Don’t fret. The inflatable Toddler Travel Bed by the Shrunks is designed to use her favourite crib sheets and blankets, so she’ll sleep just as soundly as she does at home (at least until the crack of dawn). With security rails so even the most active sleepers will stay put, it inflates with its own electric pump so your lungs don’t have to do all the work.
You just might find you’ll start taking it on all your trips. Even when the destination is grandma’s house. —KD
Shrunks Toddler Travel Bed, $84.99 at Baby’s World, http://babysworld.ca/
February 17th, 2011
When the icy winds of February threaten to put a chill on your love life, it's time to shed some layers and fly to warmer climes.
Our recent jaunt to the all-inclusive Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya in Mexico has us thinking, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..."
1. Our massive open-concept suite made entirely of cool white marble that felt grand, modern, and princess-like.
2. The complimentary bottle of high-end sipping tequila, ice and citrus welcoming us in our room, perfect for sampling on the ocean-view deck.
3. Spacious pool areas and beach cabanas, quiet customers, and porters equipped with mini-Evian facial spritzers.
4. A huge array of healthy juices at breakfast, including our favourite, "vampire juice" with beet and apple.
5. No need to miss your Americano—rooms are equipped with high-end Nespresso machines and a fully-stocked hosted minibar with snacks, should you wish a quiet retreat on your deck, watching the sunset.
6. Fresh mixed seafood ceviche, served poolside, with handmade chips.
7. Ultra-fine white sandy beach that feels like walking in baby powder, and warm, calm water, perfect for swimming or kayaking.
8. Four high-end restaurants serving French, pan-Asian, Italian, Spanish, and traditional Mexican cuisine, plus numerous bars and bistros. Don't miss the huevos rancheros for breakfast at Azul.
9. A hydrotherapy spa like no other. Block off an entire afternoon for the Water Journey with hot and cool water experiences, a reflexology pool, massaging "water beds," a mud masque to refresh your skin, herbal steam, and sauna. Completely transformative.
10. And did we mention the weather?
Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort, 1-866-230-7221, http://rivieramaya.grandvelas.com
February 8th, 2011
Just in time for Valentine's Day, we have a gift to get you hot under the collar.
We've partnered with luxury hotel booking resource Kiwi Collection for a muy caliente getaway: a three-night stay at the uber-chic The Standard Hotel and Spa Miami! To make your vacation even steamier, elegant UK lingerie line Agent Provocateur will give you a $100 gift card and a flirty tulle and French Chantilly lace Fifi Slip (value $450).
To win, tell us about your biggest Valentine's Day debacle in 140 characters or less (yes, we'll be counting). Enter over Twitter (use hashtag #VDAYSOS), on our Facebook wall or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org (subject line: VDAYSOS).
We'll be posting responses on our Editors' Diary (don't worry, we won't publish your full name) so visit us here all week for updates.
So if your hair caught fire during a romantic candlelight dinner or your girls night out ended with a regrettable hook-up, turn your V-Day disaster into three hot nights in Miami.
Sign up for Kiwi Collection’s monthly newsletter to get the latest in travel insight and new luxury hotels here.
The fine print: must be 19 years or older to enter, open only to VitaminDaily.com subscribers (but do forward this along to your friends so they can get in on the fun!), contest closes on Friday, February 11 at 12 p.m. PST and a winner will be announced via Twitter (@vanvitamindaily), Facebook and on our daily dose Monday, February 14. Blackout dates apply to The Standard Hotel and Spa. One (1) entry per person. Airfare not included.
February 4th, 2011
Between your diet and your wardrobe, the little pea in the pod is already running your life.
Enjoy your last days of freedom with the Babymoon Bliss Package at Pacific Sands Beach Resort in Tofino, B.C. Customized for future baby slaves, aka parents, the package includes a spa gift basket (use those locally made bath salts while you can), a box of homemade chocolates, unlimited DVD rentals and popcorn (having time to watch a whole movie will soon feel like a holiday) and of course the spectacular natural setting perfect for romantic walks, whale watching and sunsets.
Only another 18 years until you get this kind of peace and quiet.
Until April 30, 2011, from $254 pp/two nights, 800-565-2322, www.pacificsands.com
January 28th, 2011
Since we can’t beat winter, we’ll beat-back the winter blues by fêting the flurries at the Carnaval de Quebec in Quebec City.
It’s a winter wonderland in la ville blanche from January 28 to February 13, with events every day, including everyone’s favourite, the Night Parades on February 5 and 12. It’s mostly free to play on the Plains of Abraham, but picking up an Effigy pass for $12 will get you into a few extra-exciting activities, including the zipline, giant slide, and ferris wheel. But only pure bravery will get you into the snow bath. www.carnaval.qc.ca/en
Past meets present at the ultra-stylish Auberge St. Antoine, built on and integrated with ancient city ramparts. Prominently displayed museum-worthy relics allow you to learn about the old city while sipping a creative cocktail by the fire in the Café Artefact. Come in from the cold to luxuriate in the well-appointed rooms featuring fluffy duvets and swimming-pool deep bathtubs. From $149/night, 8 St. Antoine St, Quebec City, 1-888-692-2211, www.saint-antoine.com
Warm up and refuel with decadent Italian food in a festive atmosphere at Savini restaurant. We started with a luscious prosciutto paired with summer sweet melon ($15) followed by a satisfyingly decadent risotto with foie gras and mushrooms ($25), with wines paired by the glass by our savvy waiter. After cracking the sweet shell of the creamy crème brulée ($7), we were ready to get back out there and be the snow angels that we are. Savini, 680 Grande Allée East, Quebec City, 418-647-4747, www.savini.ca
Bundle up for the weather by creatively layering new togs from the fabulous Boutique Esther P. We took a brief sojourn from the snowy celebration to shop for stylish separates by Ella Moss, James Perse and Velvet. We may love the Bonhomme, but we don’t want to dress like him. Esther P, 873, St. Jean St., Quebec City, 418-704-7774, www.estherp.com
For behind-the-scenes photos of Carnaval, see today’s Editors' Diary.