February 25th, 2010
The idea of monogrammed steamer trunks is so luxe, but not without a personal butler in tow.
Until our life turns into an Agatha Christie novel, we’re sticking to lightweight luggage that we can hoist on and off a belt without chipping a nail.
At the sleek new Rimowa store on Bloor Street there are plenty of jet-setting options. The signature grooved surface (in a range of gorgeous colours) and ultra light weight (the new Salsa Air series starts at 1.2 kg) makes it a favourite among high-flyers like Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon – and us.
With or without Butler Beddoes.
Rimowa, 101 Bloor St. W (and St. Thomas), Toronto, 416-922-2644, www.rimowa.com
February 11th, 2010
Why bother with an ashram in India when a good old map will do?
Find yourself on any one of Ork’s eye-grabbing city maps (from $22). Start with a walk around Central Park followed by a lazy lunch in the Haight. End the day with a top-notch supper in Lincoln Park followed by a late-night dip in Lake Huron.
Other city maps include Portland, Seattle and Boston. Toronto is in the works.
January 21st, 2010
If you think that Zurich is wall-to-wall middle-aged bankers, think again. This lively city is a hotbed of students, artists and cool entrepreneurs.
Chic, cool and comfortable, The Hotel Greulich is a boutique hotel steps from the city centre. There’s no shortage of fabulous eats in Zurich, but your hotel restaurant ranks among the best. If you visit in the summer make a point to have a cocktail in the charming garden. From $180., www.greulich.ch
Forget cuckoo clocks and other kitsch Swiss handicrafts, the retail scene in Zurich is decidedly hip. We found fabulous felt slippers at Hausfink, a gorgeous coral ring at Beatrice Rossi and some sensational specs at Manu Propria.
Coco Chanel, Igor Stravinsky, Plácido Domingo and Yves Saint-Laurent have all eaten at the Kronenhalle. Artwork by Klee, Chagall, Matisse, Miró, and Picasso (yes, original) hangs on the walls. And the food at this local mainstay is terrific. The veal (in a cream and mushroom sauce) with rösti is delicious as is bündnerfleisch – thinly sliced, smoked, dried beef. Tip: Be sure to reserve a table downstairs. www.kronenhalle.com
The Widder’s floor to ceiling shelves house over 250 varieties of whiskey, and 500 varieties of spirits too. The jazz is good and the red leather banquettes are dangerously comfortable. www.widderhotel.ch
January 14th, 2010
With the humble postcard making a comeback after years of being stamped out, we’ve discovered an original way to send one.
A London company, Postcard Teas, will send your postcard affixed to a lovely bag of loose teas.
Simply choose your tea from the wide selection, fill out the virtual postcard, and they will print it out and post your tea anywhere around the world.
It’s such a charming way to say ‘Thank you,’ ‘I miss you’ or ‘Let’s meet for a cuppa’ – and far more personal than a speedy tweet or text could ever be.
January 9th, 2010
Sure spring break used to mean cheap trips to Mexico with the girls, too many tequila poppers and questionable hookups with frat boys from a fly-over state.
For a more civilized spring break, book into The Modage, a charming and spacious townhouse in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood. Made for a family-size entourage, the eclectic and modern space has two bedrooms, a den, two-and-a-half baths (no screaming matches over the shower!) and sleeps six.
The eclectic and colourful decor mixes vintage pieces with modern must-haves (like flat screen TVs and free internet), and little add-ons like baby equipment rentals and ready-to-cook gourmet meals from Indishspensable make traveling with the clan easy breezy.
Break out the tequila!
For rates and Olympic booking inquiries visit www.modagevancouvervacationrentals.com
January 7th, 2010
Snow capped mountains, glorious lakes and fresh alpine air – forget the spa, come to Switzerland and invigorate the mind, body and soul.
Ten things we love about Europe’s undervalued gem.
• The sound of cowbells in the Alps
• Swiss precision
• Sprüngli chocolate boutique, Zurich
• Raclette (Le Fromagerie at the Palace Hotel, Gstaad is the ultimate)
• Filet de perches at the Restaurant du Port in Rolle (1180 Rolle, 021-825-1520)
• Ballooning in Chateau d’oex
• Antiquing in Basel and Vevey
• Watches and jewellery shopping on Geneva's Rue du Rhôn
• The flea market in Geneva’s Plaine de Plainpalais where locals sell their wares
• Mountain sport – skiing, trekking, rafting and kayaking
December 31st, 2009
Sometimes charm trumps square footage. Herewith, our favourite boutique hotels.
With gold-leaf mahogany beds, French tapestries and Louis XV-glam, it’s impossible not to get the lovey doveys at Auberge Pierre du Calvet. Built in 1725, celeb fans include Aidan Quinn and Benjamin Franklin. From $295, www.pierreducalvet.ca
Marianne Wisenthal, Montreal editor
The perfect hotel for party people and culture vultures, Toronto’s Drake Hotel hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. In fact, it’s hipper than ever with ‘What’s in the Box,’ a Boxing Week music festival that celebrates the best of 2009. Five bands, five nights, five bucks. From $189, www.thedrakehotel.ca
Athena Tsavliris, Toronto editor
The 15-room Hotel Deseo in Playa Del Carmen is beachy minimalism at its best. And it’s the little touches that make it magical, like classic Mexican movies projected on the exterior wall and the phrase ‘away from you’ that reflects up from the bottom of the pool. From US$178, www.hoteldeseo.com
Joy Pecknold, Vancouver editor
For understated luxury check into the Hotel Raya on Italy’s Aeolian Islands. Playing briscola and sipping Campari on a whitewashed terrace at sunset is pure bliss. From $450, www.hotelraya.it
Athena Tsavliris, Toronto editor
December 3rd, 2009
Trade winter’s chills for sunny thrills with our luxe (for less bucks) itinerary.
With up to 1,900 square feet, a new private villa at The Hyatt Grand Champions may be bigger than your apartment—only it's got butler service, an outdoor Jaccuzzi, and mountain views. Two bedroom villa from $409, www.grandchampions.hyatt.com
Explore the romantic grounds of La Quinta, a 1920s health ranch turned hotel (note the casita where Frank Capra wrote You Can’t Take It With You). Sit outside at the authentic Mexican Adobe Grill and sip one of their famous organic margaritas. It’s good for you, really. www.laquintaresort.com
Plan to spend the whole day at the Spa at Desert Springs, with its own outdoor saltwater lap pool and loungers overlooking the golf course and mountains. Listen to classical music and order a light lunch from the spa restaurant between trips to the two steam rooms and spa treatments using local dates and cacti. www.spa.desertspringsresort.com
Grab the girls and attend one of the daily $20 golf clinics at the soothing and scenic Westin Mission Hills. The strapping pros have the patience of Job as you hit dead air or divot their green, but it’s amazing how quickly you can improve with their simple pointers. www.westinmissionhillsgolf.com
Looking for more luxe for less bucks? Check out our recent Palm Springs itinerary.
November 26th, 2009
Grab your bikini and your besties, we’re off to Palm Springs for a retro retreat!
The Parker is where Angelina lays her head come film fest, noshing at French brasserie Mister Parker’s and perhaps bowling on the pea gravel boules court near the “adult” lemonade stand. Boasting a stately spa called the Palm Springs Yacht Club (PSYC) in Givenchy’s old haunt, this luxe, sprawling property feels more like the private estate it once was. “Parker Princesses” rate from $99. 4200 East Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, 760-321-4620, www.theparkerpalmsprings.com
Art Style Innovation is a brand new design store opened by the L.A. event design duo behind The Oscars and Grammys. Find stunning creations in every shade of acrylic imaginable (think transparent fluorescent trays and vases) plus custom chairs that turn your house into gala central. 668 North Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, 760-322-3344, www.artstyleinnovation.com
Stock up on Minnetonka Moccasins at amazing prices ($25-$50) but beware the Japanese girls buying 20 pairs at a time. This season’s hot style is the “Tramper.” 182 North Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, 760-320-2339.
Rent a beach cruiser from the new Bike Palm Springs and follow one of their free touring routes or explore the surrounding movie colony neighbourhood where mid-century star-chitecture abounds. Look for Frank Sinatra’s estate (now owned by Vancouver’s Jimmy Pattison). $25/day. 625 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760-832-8912, www.bikepsrentals.com
November 19th, 2009
109 Mile End Road is possibly the most fashionable address in London.
The locale for dozens of glamorous fashion and décor shoots, this 300-year-old townhouse has housed plenty a celebrity from Helen Mirren to Orlando Bloom.
It’s also a gorgeous guesthouse for visiting models, photographers, actors and other creative types.
Homeowner David Carter (an interior designer) has allocated two rooms for guests, both chicly appointed with vintage trunks, mannequins and whimsical furnishings.
Consider it a home away from home (no check-in, no staff etc.) in a great location with your own parking spot and use of a washer/dryer and a kitchen.
Now, if only home were this grand.
40 Winks, from $100-$130 per night. 011 44 020-7790 0259, www.40winks.org