January 26th, 2006
Now that Sting and Donna Karan have tree houses, shouldn’t you be climbing conifers too?
Escape the glare of the paparazzi in a deluxe adult tree house by Vancouver Island’s Free Spirit Spheres.
Constructed as a 10-foot diameter wooden or fibreglass sphere, the sleek tree pods come totally wired for power, music and phone (talk about surround sound.)
The sphere contains windows, a double bed, a settee, closets and counters, with future plans to include plumbing and a sauna.
Once the sphere is roped into the tree top canopy and a suspension bridge is mounted, it becomes your mini-oasis for meditation, script reading, photography, or simple escape.
View pictures and learn more at www.freespiritspheres.com
January 11th, 2006
Create your own Endless Summer on the beach where the surf flick was actually filmed: Tamarindo beach on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
The laid-back surf town (think dreadlocks, white sand, and burrito stands) is small enough that people get around on ATVs and isolated enough that you must travel 1 1/2 hours down to dirt roads to get there.
It's hot, dusty, inexpensive, and has all the steamy, Latin sexiness of a Jennifer Lopez video.
A brand new condo with two bedrooms, pool deck access from the living room and all the amenities you'd expect from a Whistler vacation rental is just $115/night. View condo and inquire at http://www.vancouveryoga.com/costaricacondo.htm.
Breakfast on French pastries, fresh squeezed orange juice and café au lait (US$8 for two) in the pea gravel courtyard of La Laguna del Cocodrilo, where baby crocodiles live in the pond and monkeys swing in the trees above. www.lalagunadelcocodrilo.com
Locals walk five minutes off the touristy main road to find the open air Taco Stop, where burritos and fish tacos for two with beer is less than US$12. 506-653-1370.
The inexpensive fish shack on the beach called Pedro's has its own fishing boats and is a good lunch spot. Ask what's fresh (massive prawns, red snapper, dorado, squid and octopus).
Rent a surfboard (US$3/hour) on the main road or take lessons (US$25/hour) on this beginners surfing beach.
Have a massage therapist come to your condo (US$50/1 hour) from Odry's Beauty Salon 506-836-7785.
Continental Airlines to Liberia airport (www.continentalairlines.com), then take a taxi to Tamarindo (US$65). Or contact Marlon Renata (email@example.com cell 506-836-7785) to arrange for private SUV transportation (US$80).
January 5th, 2006
Where to shop, eat, drink and sleep in Seattle right now:
Red Light Vintage (Capitol Hill Store 312 Broadway Avenue East, 206.329.2200, University District Store, 4560 University Way Northeast, 206-545-4044 www.redlightvintage.com). A solid collection of vintage from Victorian all the way up to the early 80's plus a great selection of 40's dresses in pristine condition with prices that will make you think you've traveled back in time.
The Antique Mall in Fremont (3419 Fremont Place N., 206.548.9140) As far as the eye can see, everything second hand you could possibly imagine, from clothes and shoes to records, jewels, mid-century modern furniture and nick knacks.
Bimbo's Bitchin' Burrito Kitchen (506 E. Pine Street, 206.329.9978). Blacklit bathrooms and an overwhelming amount of hot pink make this more than just your average tex mex stop. The wall by the bar proudly posts that Britney Spears scarfed down two of the jumbo burritos on her last visit.
Chapel Bar (1600 Melrose Avenue, 206.447.4180, www.thechapelbar.com): is located just off Pike and Pine (equivalent to Vancouver's Main street) and, as the name suggests, is a bar housed in an old funeral home. With high ceilings and a viewing area, hipsters will think they've died and gone to heaven.
A favorite among indie rock stars, the Ace Hotel (2423 First Avenue, 206.448.4721, www.acehotel.com) has pristine modern white rooms, free continental breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt and granola, and a great Belltown location for $100 a night.
November 17th, 2005
Don't see enough of your girlfriends?
Catch up on all the gal pal gossip at Poet's Cove Resort and Spa on Pender Island, where the Girlfriend Getaway package runs through April 2006.
Depending on how many of you pack your little tushes into the oceanfront villas, rates start at just $168 per person for two nights, two breakfasts, a cocktail, spa discounts and gifts, and use of the fitness centre, tennis courts and two pools.
And if all the female hormones just get too much? Spirit yourself away to the spa's Steam Cave for a relaxing tête-à-tête with yourself.
For info and reservations, visit www.poetscove.com, or call 888-512-7638.
November 3rd, 2005
Looking for a place for a baby-making weekend?
Zinc is a sexual performance enhancer for men, and oysters are chock full of the stuff.
Make the oyster your world with Long Beach Lodge's "Oyster Bed" package, which includes an oceanfront room, three-course oyster-themed dinner for two, and breakfast.
Challenge him to a game of chess in the oceanfront lounge, where a roaring fire, mile-long views, and clubby chairs set the drama for the evening to come. Winning is even sexier.
And, if you met via a personal ad that said you both like long walks on the beach, why, you'll be in heaven.
Shuck and slurp to your heart's content, (that's the oysters we're talking about) but just please, please don't call the baby Pearl.
The Oyster Bed package is offered for the month of November, $259 per night (two night minimum). Read more at www.longbeachlodgeresort.com
October 20th, 2005
Holiday Inn? Not for this classy lassy.
What's the point of traveling if you can't have an abode much more swank than home?
So dial up that expense account (or increase your personal payroll) and frolic in the world's most design-forward hotels.
Be the first to christen the sheets at the Hotel Urban in Madrid, steal a room at Barcelona's Grand Hotel Central for 184 Euros, or chill at the new Arabic-influenced Hospes Palacio de los Patos in Grenada.
This hotel group's website has them all. Drool through the listings at www.designhotels.com.
September 29th, 2005
It's officially shoulder season at Whistler, and, no that doesn't mean it's time to break out the Flashdance-style sweater to Tommy Africa's. It means the most amazing deals of the year.
Best bargains are at the Thanksgiving weekend Turkey Sale (October 8-10), the biggest ski and snowboard sale in the country, at the base of Blackcomb Mountain.
Once you've off-loaded your old fluorescent pink stretchies, take in the last day of the Whistler Farmer's Market (Sunday, October 9, 11-4 p.m. outside the Fairmont Chateau Whistler) where you can pick up Pemberton-grown Yukon Golds for your Thanksgiving mashed potatoes, golden beets, rainbow chard, and fresh blueberry pies.
Stop at the Blackcomb Liquor Store at the end of the market for BC wines that you can't find in stores, such as the elusive first vintage from Lang, Joie and Kettle Valley.
And if you need a place to cook it all up, consider the "Thanks for Playing" package (through October 31), with various hotels offering a third night free (e.g. Delta Whistler Village Suites, $188 for three nights).
Now you can surely shoulder that.
For more hotel deals and to book the Thanks for Playing package, visit www.tourismwhistler.com
September 15th, 2005
Feeling a little robbed by summer's disappearing act? With the leaves turning shades of red and gold and the fashion finds booming, there's no better time to Grab your beau-du-jour and brush up on your joie-de-vivre.
Here, installment two of our Montreal picks:
Hotel Godin, 10 Sherbrooke St. West, 514-843-6000, www.hotelgodin.com
In Montreal's shopping and nightlife hot spot, Le Godin marries historical architecture and ultra-modern design. Enjoy state-of-the-art in-room movie and Internet services, luxurious linens, helpful staff and complimentary breakfast with piping hot croissants and espresso made-to-order-all at very reasonable prices.
Jean-Talon Market (Jean-Talon Metro), 7070 Henri-Julien Street, 514-277-1588,
Stock-up on hotel picnic treats at Montreal's largest public market such as incredibly affordable charcuterie, local cheeses, chewy baguettes, and farm fresh produce. Just steps away is Little Italy, a Montreal must-see.
Jong Couture, 3972 St. Laurent Blvd., 514-842-1308
Score vintage Lanvin and Hermès scarves under $25 and silky Helmut Lang tanks amongst contemporary couture designed by the designer/stylist duo who own this local favourite.
Arthur Quentin, 3960 St. Denis Street, 514-843-7513,
You'll find the best in French housewares at this Montreal gem, including cheese knives, serving platters and modern "panniers" for your trips to the market.
Boutique UANDI, 3650 St. Laurent Blvd., 514-844-8788,
Covet UANDI's handpicked jewels from Vivienne Westwood, Montreal's own Mackage and hard-to-find pieces from Paris (think this season's capes and trenches).
Da Emma, 777 Rue de la Commune West (end of Old Montreal), 514-392-1568
Stroll down to ultra-romantic Old Montreal to this former women's penitentiary, where the room and Italian food make for an experience like no other. Do sample the al dente porcini fettuccini and roast lamb.
Laika, 4040 St. Laurent Blvd, 514-842-8088
Montreal's finest DJ's spin nightly in this open-air, sexy lounge.
Not to miss is resident DJ Mightykat.
For more information on Montreal, visit www.tourism-montreal.org
September 8th, 2005
The August tourist crowds are gone, Paris beach is swept away, and the Parisians are back from holiday.
With Paris Fashion Week just around the corner (October 2-11), what better time to plan a little getaway to the city of light?
Here, our Paris picks:
Hotel Le General, 5-7 Rue Rampon, 01 47 00 41 57 www.legeneralhotel.com Thought a Paris hotel room under 150 Euros was an urban myth? It's not. This boutique hotel offers a central Marais location, stylish rooms and a fabulous, free breakfast spread of meats, breads and cheeses, which you can whisk back to your room in their hot pink napkins.
Within walking distance of the hotel is the famed inside-out building, Centre Georges Pompidou. Opening October 5, 2005 is "Dada," an Yves Saint Laurent-sponsored exhibit exploring the avant-garde Dadaist movement as it swept through Paris, New York and Berlin in the 1920s. Buy passes online at www.cnac-gp.fr
Colette, 213 Rue St. Honoré, 01 55 35 33 90 www.colette.fr Possibly Paris' most famous modern fashion and art store, on what is definitely its most famous shopping street.
Courrèges, 40 Rue Francois 1er, 01 53 67 30 00 www.courreges.com The French house had its heyday in the 1960s (Courrège is said to have invented the miniskirt,) and is experiencing a resurgence, helped along by vintage lovers like Kate Moss. Adjoining the white store is its Café Blanc, for lunch.
Laguiole, 1 Place Sainte-Opportune, 01 40 28 09 42 www.laguiole.com This iconic French pocketknife is touted as a great example of design, which no young man, woman, or cheese plate should be without.
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, 5 Rue de Montalembert, 01 42 22 56 56 www.robuchon.com Close to the Musée d'Orsay, it's the casual bistro of the famous Paris chef Joel Robuchon. In the sushi-bar style service, comforting, small dishes like roast pigeon and fois gras, lamb with thyme, and sardines in tomato confit are handed over the bar by the chefs. Go very early or very late to avoid the wait.
December 23rd, 2004
Had enough of the in-laws and it's only the 23rd? Perhaps it's time to plan a romantic escape.
Now that West Jet's flying to L.A., snag a deal and prepare for a naughty little weekend in Beverly Hills with your beau. Just slip a suggestive voucher into his stocking, and plan around this no-fail itinerary for romance.
Check into Raffles L'Ermitage where your personalized "in residence" stationaryand business cards await in your massive room.
Open the door (with a real metal key!), grab refreshments from the complimentary mini bar (so civilized!), and head to the rooftop pool.
In the late afternoon, window shop Rodeo Drive, where the streetlights are real chandeliers, then drop by The Cheese Shop of Beverly Hills and stock up for an haute hotel picnic - don't forget the pinot noir.
Back at the hotel, order up complimentary DVDs from the concierge, and they'll arrive with a perfect cone of truffled pomme frites. Whether you get around to the movies is up to you.
Much later, sneakdown to the cozy writers bar for steaks and celeb watching in front ofthe fire. Then order a brandy and nibble complimentary petit fours.
Come morning, grab some wake-up at the lobby coffee station and stroll over to nearby Robertson for the best shopping in L.A. Don't miss Kitson or the legendary Maxfield on Melrose for sexy couture dresses and YSL stilettos (and not so sexy skulls and taxidermy for him).
Wind up at The Ivy for a tiny bite of lunch (it is La La land after all) on the leafy patio,then jaunt back to the hotel in time for your car to the airport.
You'll be home in time for Sunday dinner with the family, and all the better for it.
The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, 419 N. Beverly Dr., 310-278-2855 www.cheesestorebh.com
The Ivy, 113 N. Robertson Blvd., 310-274-8303.
Kitson, 115 S. Robertson Blvd., 310-859-2650, www.shopkitson.com
Maxfield, 8825 Melrose Ave., 310-274-8800
Raffles L'Ermitage, 9291 Burton Wy., 310-278-3344, www.lermitagehotel.com