June 6th, 2013
With Mexico trending right now from architecture, to cuisine, to hotels, there’s no time like the present to book that beach cabana.
With the most ocean-view suites on the Mexican Riviera, the all-inclusive hotel Grand Velas Riviera Maya is all-inclusive luxury at its most opulent. With its outsized suites bedecked in white marble and pristine and private beach, it’s where South American heads of state meet to discuss politics. As for us, we were happy making decisions such as “French or Asian for dinner?” or “Kayak or paddleboard today?”
Icing-sugar sand with the shadows of palm fronds swaying the breeze is enough entertainment for us at the ample beachfront cabanas. We suggest reading The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles with a glass of cold prosecco. The beach is ideal for running in the early morning, or there is sunrise yoga at the gym. Oh so busy!
Famous for its custom margarita cart that wends its way through the restaurant, Frida, like its artist namesake, is a restaurant that abounds in culture, flavor and Mexican authenticity.
Take the five-minute drive into the charming town of Playa del Carmen for your shopping fix. While strolling along the busy, pedestrian-only main street, spy charming vignettes like this.
A huge highlight of the resort is the spa’s water journey, a 30-minute guided experience through hot and cold pools, massaging water “beds,” steams, saunas and a detoxifying mud masque. You’ll feel so refreshed to won’t even know those tequila flights ever happened.
Even if you’re not getting married there, you’ll lust over the private beach settings and simple white set-ups, thinking “why didn’t we do it that way?” Maybe next time.
June 1st, 2013
We head to Tough City for a family-friendly vacation that brings new meaning to surf and turf.
Pacific Sands Beach Resort has outstanding oceanfront beach houses on Cox Bay with lots of room for the whole family to spread out: You in the massive view jacuzzi tub, the kids enjoying fresh baked goods and granola delivered on the doorstep from Red Can Gourmet www.redcangourmet.com ($9.50), and Dad catching some early morning waves (or is that you?). We played bingo and Twister, built forts and made kelp skipping ropes. Who needs satellite TV? www.pacificsands.com
Beyond surfing (lessons and rentals are offered at the new Surf Shop at Long Beach Lodge), we saw golfing, Frisbee, jogging, and even sand hockey on the beach. Don’t miss the short walk to the private Pettinger Point (pictured) belonging to Pacific Sands Beach Resort to search the tide pools, picnic amongst the wildflowers or watch the sunset. Rooms come with pint-sized rain slickers should the weather turn, and come summer, the Kids Camps are free. www.pacificsands.com
Perfect for early risers (like your little groms), weekend brunch at the Spotted Bear starts at 9 a.m. Chef/owner Vincent Fraissange spends the season working yachts on the Med, then returns to Tofino in the summer to dish up his brand of French inspired comfort food. Try a refreshing grapefruit soda in a mason jar, crispy pork belly and baked beans, or the outsize “Marie Antoinette” banana bread pudding French toast ($15). 101 Fourth St., Tofino, 250-725-2215, www.spottedbearbistro.com
When the door lifts at the Tacofino taco truck precisely at 11 a.m., there’s already a line up (in high summer, the lunch wait can be up to 45 minutes). The gooey grilled Gringa tacos were a huge hit with the kids (ok, and adults) and the icy mint and lime Freshie drinks ($4.50) pair perfectly with the tuna “ta-taco” garnished with seaweed ($6.50). 1184 Pacific Rim Highway, 250-726-8288, www.tacofino.com
Getting there: Make a reservation on www.bcferries.com
For more pictures of this Tofino trip, visit the Editors' Diary.
May 30th, 2013stay
The luxurious Laguna Nigel Ritz Carlton is perched on a hill overlooking the Salt Creek surf break where local high school teams practice every morning. After checking the beach cam at the front desk, have your Beach Butler ferry you down on a cart, set up your chairs and towels, and even build sand castles for your kids (yes you read that correctly). Wetsuits and Ritz Carlton skim boards are available, naturally, while free yoga and pilates, tennis courts, a playground and Kids EcoAdventure Center round out the day. A cucumber and Meyer lemon margarita at the oceanview 180Blu lounge is a great way to cap it off. www.ritzcarlton.com
If you think whale watching is something you do shivering in a neon GoreTex jacket on a wet catamaran, think again. The tours out of Dana Point are more like luxury cruises with a full bar and lots of interesting narrative. Fifty grey whales per day migrate through this area in the spring, but at the very least you will see lots of sea lions and dolphins (we followed a mega-pod of 3,000) and of course, the local species known as stand up paddle boarders. www.danawharf.com
May 23rd, 2013
Smack dab in the middle of Venice and Malibu, two of our favourite LA haunts, lays the Santa Monica oasis The Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows. We felt like a Hollywood starlet of old ensconced in one of its signature bungalow suites complete with a private entrance and a lush, bougainvillea-filled patio. Here’s how we managed to get the best of SoCal without ever leaving the hotel:
A-list favourite Exhale Spa is conveniently situated right next to the bungalows, which means you can roll over in your robe and slippers, Hollywood style. Do try the spa’s signature Flow massage where expert therapists roll and kneed (think detoxifying but pain free) with a mix of carrot and avocado oil that will leave you feeling rested and ready for dinner at Fig. www.exhalespa.com
Being big fans of small plates, local ingredients and relaxed rooms, we were thrilled to walk into Fig, Chef Ray Garcia’s farm-to-table restaurant located poolside. The wait staff is incredibly knowledgeable about the locally sourced wines and menu items and we couldn’t get enough of our mains – the Ocean Trout and the Short-rib Meatloaf. You know it’s a winner when more than half the clientele are stylish locals who are on a first-name basis with their waiters. www.figsantamonica.com
We fell in love with the chic décor of the incredibly popular Bungalow Bar (think your ideal beach house complete with requisite ikat pillows, softly glowing lanterns and lounge seating). We were lured in by the smell of Le Labo’s Santal candle exuding the perfect sexy, beachy scent that about sums up the vibe of the bar. Do try the house specialty— fruity sangria that packs a punch. Tip: get there early and camp-out, as it’s shoulder-to-shoulder come 8 p.m. nightly. www.thebungalowsm.com
See our Santa Monica photo album today on our Editors' Diary.
May 18th, 2013
Planning a family holiday with lots of day trips? Here are three packable items that allow you to be prepared, without the bulk.
Hershel’s new Packables range allows you to travel with a variety of bag options. Featuring a duffle, daypack, or tote that all fit into a small pouch, you can whip them out before a day of sightseeing, or at the airport when you’ve stocked up on wine from the duty free. From $9.99 at Herschel.
If you prefer packing your own meals on holiday, Lunchskins are the perfect companion. The reusable snack bags mean you can travel light, but with the equivalent of 20 tupperwares. They can hold fruit, sandwiches, or treats, and are easy to rinse out in a hotel room. From $8.49 at Rasberry Kids.
The nostalgic Claude Klassic K-Way is a reminder of when we were kids and proudly wore our parka tucked into a little bag around our waist. Featuring a variety of prints and a size range from 12 months to teens, this is an absolute must-have when you are out and about anywhere that might greet you with a downpour (Vancouver, ahem!) $54 at K-Way. http://k-way.ca
—Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
May 16th, 2013
Yes, Zurich's clean, organized and easy to get around – but there's plenty of creativity to go around, too. Try these stops on your next visit to Switzerland's financial capital.
Switzerland ain't cheap, so why pay for bottled water? Make sure to bring a purse-size bottle to refill in one of the city's more than 1,200 stylish fountains featuring the city's very drinkable water. (The exception? Any fountains marked with the sign "kein trinkwasser", which we in fact never spotted.)
To the Swiss, fondue's a winter food, but we say tourists get to break the rules. Head to Le Dézaley to get your fix and sample other local specialities like rösti (potato pancakes), spätli (dumplings) and Vaudois sausage.
Look for souvenirs with class at Schweizer Heimatwerk, which sells its selection of high-quality goods – think jewellery, home decor items and kids' wooden toys – both in the old town and at the airport. Off the beaten path, head to West Zurich's Viadukt shopping centre, a reclaimed area nestled in the arches of a working 19th-century rail viaduct, for more offbeat retailers; around the corner, stop by Frau Gerolds Garten to browse through several cute clothing boutiques.
Thursday evenings, take a 90-minute city tour in a classic tram complete with wine or champagne and snacks on the Apéritif Tram, which makes its way past some of the city's top sights. The rest of the week, head up early to beat the crowds to the Jules Verne bar with its panoramic views of the cityscape.
Pick up a 24- or 72-hour Zürich Card for unlimited access to the city's beyond-amazing transit system – that means trams, trains, buses, boats and even the cable car – plus free access to most museums and discounted city tours. Don't miss a guided walk around the historic and well-preserved Old Town.
May 9th, 2013
Skip the glitz and glam of Rodeo Drive, and hit up some of Los Angeles’ cooler spots.
Located just below the picturesque West Hollywood hills and five minutes from the notorious Chateau Marmont, Andaz Hotel’s rooftop swimming pool and its indie soundtrack will put you in the right mood to feel like a hip Angeleno. 8401 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA, 323-656-1234, www.westhollywood.andaz.hyatt.com
Forget Britney Spears and her bottomless Starbucks, the best coffee in Los Angeles is in Silver Lake. Everyone drinking and working at Intelligentsia look like they belong in some cool band about to make it big. Who knows? Maybe they are. 3922 West Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 323-663-6173, www.intelligentsiacoffee.com
Silver Lakers take their vinyl very seriously. As does Vacation, the neighbourhood’s acclaimed record store. Whether you are looking for original pressings of Smiths albums or the new Kurt Vile record, they’ll likely have it. 3815 W Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 323-666-2111, http://vacationvinyl.com
From Silver Lake, head over to the equally happening Echo Park, and stop by Mohawk Bend to taste one (or two or three) of their 72 local craft beers. This gorgeously retrofitted 100-year-old Vaudeville theatre also features modern pub fare using the finest local ingredients. 2141 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 213-483-2337, http://mohawk.la
Echo Park is home to writer Dave Eggers, who is also one of the directors of 826LA, a non-profit kids’ writing centre. This adorable place is also home to The Time Travel Mart, where you can pick up the 826LA’s publications like From the Couch to the Kitchen, a cookbook written by high school students, as well as sharp-witted knick-knacks. 1714 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 213-413-3388, http://826la.org
Over on Mid Wilshire, you’ll find the painfully hip Pour Vous. From PYTs to older distinguished types (and we hear Robert Pattinson), this speakeasy features Parisian-inspired cocktails that will quickly go to your head, while you watch trapeze burlesque artists perform to moody Lana Del Rey songs. 5574 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 323-871-8699, http://pourvousla.com
May 1st, 2013
If there's one thing that would get us to exercise more, it's a personal assistant finding the best classes for our schedule and putting them in our calendar.
But until our imaginary Great Aunt releases the trust fund (ahem!), we'll have to make do with the next best thing: Lululemon's free new Om Finder for iOS. It helps us browse classes near us by date and time, stalk our favourite teachers and browse the listings at our neighbourhood yoga or Pilates studio. Better yet, we can add selected classes straight our calendar and invite friends to join us, too.
Now, would it be too much to ask it to do our ironing, too? —Kat Tancock
Available on iTunes.
April 25th, 2013
Beach babes, long boards, and bellini bars - it’s all about Huntington Beach, California.
The Shorebreak Hotel’s front desk features a massive wave, there are surf films projected on the walls of the lobby, cruiser bikes and vintage surfboards in the rooms, all done incredibly stylishly. www.jdvhotels.com
Beach volleyball, all year round! And then, of course, there are the surfers (er, we mean the surfing) in and around the famous pier. It’s not called Surf City USA for nothing.
The Huevos Rancheros (pictured, $9) at Zimzala in the Shorebreak Hotel, with excellent coffee and a bellini bar in a breezy room was our idea of brunch heaven. The name of the restaurant means “peace with sand between your toes.”
Order one of the massive longboards from Huntington native Peter Hamborg a firefighter and father of 5 surfing, modelling, lifeguarding boys (why does this sound like a reality TV show in the works)? Cruise The Strand, 10 miles of paved track along the beachfront. www.hamboards.com
Lucky you if you get a sighting of one of the famous surf Woody’s like we did!
April 12th, 2013
Packing is such sweet sorrow – not for the effort, so much, but the scarcity of space and inevitable wrinkles.
So we've been stocking up on versatile vêtements that we know can handle a plane ride and keep us looking put together. Our latest discovery? Montreal-based Fig Clothing, whose collections – spring includes Voyage, Safari and Ocean – are each made of a fabric blend specifically designed for the situation. We've got the classic Peg dress ($85) earmarked for our next journey, to be dressed up or down with the right choice of footwear.
Because the best thing about multi-use garments on a trip, really, is extra space for shoes. —Kat Tancock
Available online and select retailers including Sporting Life, www.sportinglife.ca