Toronto - TRAVEL & LEISURE
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 2nd, 2013
This laidback California beach community combines boho chic and an artsy vibe. Here’s our must-see, must-do itinerary.
The newly refurbished Heisler Park winds up above the beach offering pretty views and great picnic spots. Fill your beach basket at nearby Whole Foods.
Want to dress like the locals? Ultra-soft T-shirts, drawstring pajama pants, Isabel Marant booties and baskets of gorgeous, Turkish hammam towels abound at Laguna Supply. 210 Beach St., Laguna Beach, CA, 949-497-8850, http://pinterest.com/lagunasupply
The Pacific Edge Hotel has just renovated its five beachfront cabanas, which can be rented daily for up to 10 people each. Massages, bottle service, pedicures, and even photography are on offer. Each one has been designed by a different creative group or store, with one resembling a surf shop with Hoby surfboard pictures, another with a fan made from sailboat sails, and another stocked with kids books and a chalkboard table. Each has a private deck with loungers and direct beach access. Rates vary by season/day. VIP cabana Host, 949-281-5720, www.pacificedgehotel.com
A refined surf-shack that is part of the California chainlet, Umami Burger is the go-to spot to refuel after surf and sand. Check out the plank walls, folding chairs and vintage surf posters, and order the Umami Burger with shiitake mushrooms and a parmesan crisp. Umami Burger, 620 Pacific Highway, 949-342-1210, www.umami.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 19th, 2013
If her Twitter feed is anything to go by, India Hicks is a non-stop globe-trotter. One minute she’s at home in the Bahamas and the next she’s doing langlaufen in Gstaad. Next week, it’s Toronto, where the designer/model/mother is here to give a talk at the Design Exchange on her style, what inspires it and how it has evolved.
The photograph you have selected to promote your talk at the Design Exchange next week is stunning. Who took the picture?
Tom Munro, one of the great fashion photographs of my generation, and a friend since we were 18-years-old. This portrait was my 45th birthday present. Just writing 45 makes me feel old!
You have modeled for years, and sat for many a formal photograph too. Do you have a favourite portrait/photographer?
Bruce Weber photographed me for Ralph Lauren and Banana Republic when I was 20-years-old. There are few who can compare to Bruce and his extraordinary eye and sense of style.
Your own photos are wonderful. We love your instagram feed! What's your preferred filter?
I try to change it up all the time. It entirely depends on the shot and the mood and the time of day. Instragram has allowed us all to become Mario Testino's at the touch of a button!
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Who or what inspires you?
So many things, on a daily basis the nature that surrounds me on the small island I live on, who can compete with mother nature and her designs. But also strong individual women who are telling their own stories, Kelly Wearstler, Brooke Shields, Mindy Grossman, Lavina Firth....
If you could have carte blanche in anyone's home in the world, whose would you like to decorate?
Rebel Wilson.....imagine what a crazy fun project that could be!
March 28th, 2013
With its black sand beaches, lush rainforest and natural hot springs, it’s no wonder we’re crushing on the Caribbean island of St Lucia. We took a trip to the “sleepy south” and found laid back resorts, natural beauty, and plenty of local flavour.
At Anse Chastanet no two rooms are alike but all include local art and a breezy Caribbean vibe. Ask for 14B, which has a tree growing through the rainfall shower (pictured). The hotel has four restaurants - including one that’s exclusively vegetarian - and two beaches with oceanside service. Make the trek over to Anse Mamin, the hotel’s more remote beach, for a Caribbean spice burger tucked between a Jonny Cake, a local bread grilled fresh to order. www.ansechastanet.com
Hotel Chocolat grows 10 per cent of the island’s cocoa. Tour the hotel’s Rabot Estate cocoa groves, pluck a pod, and craft your own dark bar with the Tree to Bar experience. Afterwards, reward yourself with a fresh cacao martini in the hotel bar. http://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/home
Locals swear by the healing power of the sulphur springs, part of your entrance fee the Caribbean’s only “drive-in” volcano. Bring a dark swimsuit, cover yourself in volcanic mud, then dip into the natural (45 degree!) hot springs. http://soufrierefoundation.org
Guests at Jade Mountain benefit from more than just in-suite infinity pools and unobstructed views of the Pitons. At the Kai en Cielis spa the chocolate body wrap is good enough to eat but it’s the hotel’s own handmade chocolates, given at the end of the treatment, that really sweeten the experience. www.jademountain.com
Every Friday the town of Anse La Raye plays host to a fish fry dance party. Choose from snapper, mahi mahi, shrimp, box fish or spiny lobster then watch as your plate is piled high with homemade rice and peas, mac and cheese and coleslaw. (Sorry about the lack of photo, but were were too busy eating!)—Shannon Heth Vergette
March 27th, 2013
It’s that time of year when the romance of snow-kissed streets has lost its appeal, and we start dreaming of trees in full bloom and stepping out in bare skin.
One way to feel the warmth and lushness of kinder climes (without leaving Toronto) is to step into the Conservatory at Allen Gardens.
Within minutes your body warms up and your senses are awakened. Each beautiful glass room is humid, sticky and lush and filled with the heady scent of crocus, tulips and hyacinth. By the time you reach the cactus room, you’ll think you’ve hit Baja.
The burst of cold air as you step outside is welcome relief, a reminder even, that winter’s not all that bad. —Athena Tsavliris
Free, open 7 days a week, www.torontobotanicgarden.ca
March 21st, 2013
A scenic slopeside getaway with plenty to explore beyond the ski hill.
Ski hill Le Massif and nearby town Baie-Saint-Paul are just a 90-minute drive from Quebec City airport and offer plenty to explore beyond the trails. Here are some highlights from our recent visit.
Newly opened Hôtel La Ferme in Baie-Saint-Paul does full justice to its rural roots via accents its sleek, contemporary decor, utilizing Canadian-sourced materials and geothermal energy for a design that looks sky-high for inspiration while keeping the earth in mind. The 145 rooms, from dorm-style to suites, are spread amongst five buildings, each with its own distinctive style. www.lemassif.com/en/ferme/pavillons
In the hotel's main building, chef David Forbes's restaurant Les Labours presents simple yet exquisite fare inspired by the abundant produce of the Charlevoix region. On our visit, we were blown away by a simple lettuce salad with mustard dressing and a wild mushroom spelt risotto; our companion enjoyed the chef's cut of prime beef served with potatoes, caramelized onions and kale. Despite the massive wine list, we recommend a beer from local Microbrasserie Charlevoix; we adored the Dominus Vobiscum blanche, a flavourful and refreshing wheat beer. www.lemassif.com
Baie-Saint-Paul's art galleries offer plenty of picks worth getting out the plastic for; on the more consumable end of the scale, stop in at Maison d'Affinage Maurice Dufour for a sampling of his delectable sheep and cow cheeses, and at nearby Laiterie Charlevoix to round out your picnic basket with picks from around the region, including breads, meats, jams and pâtés.
You don't have to be a skier or snowboarder to get a ride on the gondola up at the hill. Instead – or in addition – sign up for a two-hour rodeling tour (called luge en français). You'll pick up a locally made wooden sled and join a group for some test runs on the bunny hill followed by an exhilarating tour down a 7.5km course that will leave you wanting to do it all over again. www.lemassif.com/en/montagne/luge
Don't leave the hotel without spending some time at Spa du Verger. Access to the outdoor thermal experience is complimentary for hotel guests, but you'll want to splurge on a massage or body treatment and cap it off with the indoor thermal experience, too: a sauna, steam room and indoor snow dispenser to help get the blood flowing. www.lemassif.com/en/ferme/detente
February 28th, 2013
Let your inner ski bunny shine as you jaunt from hill to hill at Vail Resorts Colorado, the largest ski resort in the United States. Not only is it home to some of the best snow in the world, but it is also a great spot to explore mountain-village life.
If you are going to stay anywhere in Vail, you’ll want to be as close to the bottom of the mountain as possible, and you can’t get any closer than The Lodge at Vail. Built in 1962, it has all of the classic alpine-inspired elements of a traditional ski lodge, not to mention incredible views of the mountains and a big fireplace for Après-ski wind down. www.lodgeatvail.rockresorts.com
Looking for a way to see everything in one fell swoop? The stunning Gondola One at Vail was unveiled last year for their 50th anniversary and features heated seats and in-car complimentary WiFi. Plus, you get a bird's eye view of the skiers below. www.vail.com/mountain
If mountainside dining is your flavour, The 10th on Vail Mountain is the one for you. Gondola One will take you straight to the restaurant or, better yet, ski right in. Large and welcoming, this upscale dining room brings fine dining and snow pants to a union never seen before. A warm and hearty meal like the Elk Bolognese with Penne was the perfect kickstart to get us back in our boots. www.vail.com/lodging-and-dining
While the après-ski is essential to any winter vacation, hydration and body care are also essential (translation: spa day!). The Arrabelle Spa at Vail Square will treat you right with their luxe spa accommodations. Arrive early to take advantage of their hydrotherapy pool in the women’s relaxation room. Booking a full body Swedish massage just seems like the right thing to do after a day of hard work on the hills. www.arrabelle.rockresorts.com/spa/index.asp
Every vacation must have a shopping trip tacked on, which is why we fell in love with Perch at Vail Square. Nary a ski jacket to be seen, this girly boutique was stocked with beautiful cocktail dresses, designer baubles and sweet accessories. Truly a one-of-a-kind finds in a village jam-packed with outerwear and Vail t-shirts. http://www.perchvail.com