Vancouver - TRAVEL & LEISURE
February 23rd, 2011
A whirlwind business trip to Toronto can be both work and pleasure. We just proved it.
The Le Germain group is known for their discreet service: one prominent Vancouver businessman we know leaves a packed suitcase with the hotel so he can travel luggage-free. The brand new Le Germain Hotel at Maple Leaf Square is perfect for catching a game with clients or take that early morning meeting in the the spacious breakfast lounge (included with most room rates, guests permitted). WiFi is included, naturally, and large desks make perusing that spreadsheet a less daunting task. And if it's your expenses, your boss won't balk at this one. www.germainmapleleafsquare.com
When you just can't fathom another room service club sandwich or soggy Ceasar salad, head to Ossington where the cosy Delux provides the perfect comfort food for those on the road. House-made lamb sausage with Puy lentils and spinach is both healthy and hearty, but do cave for the plate of warm chocolate chip cookies to share for dessert. www.deluxrestaurant.ca
To starve or to eat instant noodles? Now that's a classic plane dilemma. Remove yourself from its horns by getting a wrap or salad-to-go from Freshii (after fitting in a quick tour of the shops on Bloor). Our spicy lemongrass chicken soup, while not security friendly, took the edge off the frigid temps. www.freshii.com/locations-bloor.php
Escape the fracas of the Pearson airport gates for the Plaza Premium Lounge which charges by the hour, has complimentary bar and snacks, and was nearly empty despite many flight delays. Enjoy the legroom while you have it.
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
The Golden State has been unseasonably warm in the south, so now’s your chance to snag some sun and star-sightings. Herewith, part one of our two-part winter time trip plan:Sup in Santa Monica
After an afternoon arrival at LAX, stop at the Santa Monica Pier and have a quick go-round on the Ferris wheel then watch the sunset over an early dinner at Blue Plate Oysterette. The spot serves up fresh, unfussy seafood. When Christian Bale ate there we imagine he enjoyed the cornmeal crusted calamari too. www.blueplatesantamonica.com
Bed in Beverly Hills
The sexy SLS Hotel is as stylish as quarters come. Award-winning restaurant on the ground floor (The Bazaar by José Andrés), pool tables on every floor and posh pool deck on rooftop, you could be content enough to never leave the building. Staring at all the stunning custom Philippe Starck furnishings is yet another activity to pass the time. From $327, www.kiwicollection.com
Feast in Los Feliz
The weekend before we brunched at Square One, Jake Gyllenhaal did, but if that’s not enough to sell you on the place perhaps brioche French toast topped with bourbon-soaked pecans and vanilla whipped cream will (like Jake, it’s to die for). Its coffee pot brew is some of the best and the sunny outdoor courtyard is the perfect place to read the morning paper (or pretend to read and keep your eye open for you know who). www.squareonedining.com
Empty Your Wallet in Echo Park
Amsterdam modern meets arty L.A. cool at the Mohawk General Store. Carrying Comme des Garcon accessories, Slow and Steady Wins the Race garments, Rachel Comey shoes and vintage homewares, you’ll want to put the whole shop on a flatbed and drive it back to B.C. www.mohawkgeneralstore.net
February 3rd, 2011
With our fair share of weddings (another of VitaminDaily.com's own gets hitched in Hawaii next month), we know what it takes to plan a tony trip down the aisle. Herewith, a few matrimonial tips to make your big day tops in 2011:
Internetspiration: Hitting the web on your lunch break in search of table setting ideas? Add Style Me Pretty to your bookmarks, especially for their “Inspiration to Reality” series, which showcases real weddings from mood board to big day. www.stylemepretty.com
Groom garb: Brown is out and black is expected. Get him and his groomsmen to opt for well-fitted suits in a lighter shade of grey, it’s positively fresh.
Dress Yes: A fit and flare gown (like the Lazaro dress pictured, from Bisou Bridal) is the style du jour. They give the indecisive bride the best of both worlds—sensually sleek on top, princessy sweet on the bottom. Kate Middleton take note.
Cinematic memories: The only person who should have to watch four hours of wedding footage is the talented editor you hire to create a sweeping short film of the special moments and dramatic details. Check out the one Americana Cinema made for Coco Rocha: www.vimeo.com/14245277
Snappy snaps: There’s disposable cameras, but then you have to develop all that film. Instead, have a company like Snapbox bring in a photobooth. Guests get old-school photo strips a la Amélie then and there, you get copies too and a digital CD to keep. www.snapbox.ca
Bake-away: Give guests a whole baker’s dozen by making ready-to-bake cookie mixes in mason jars as your DIY wedding favour.
January 19th, 2011
Goldilocks had a thing for squatting in quaint cottages and stealing porridge in her younger years, but we think the grown-up gal would prefer a slice of the Big Apple. There she can still have it all—big, medium and small. Herewith, our NYC itinerary fit for a former fairytale felon (and you):
Since Goldy’s making her own money now, we suggest she splurge on a spacious suite at The Pierre. The historical address steps from Central Park recently underwent restoration, which includes resplendent redone rooms. With impeccable special service, you’ll feel like one of the big bears (Elizabeth Taylor, Yves Saint-Laurent, Lauren Hutton) who once resided in the hotel. From $472, www.kiwicollection.com/hotel-detail/the-pierre
The Brooklyn equivalent to that charming cabin she once stumbled upon in the woods, Marlow & Sons is a café-cum-restaurant offering up the big girl needs, mainly groceries, spirits and oysters, maybe even an artsy boy to tryst with and retell her story. We tested the chairs, they didn’t break, and the food was just right. www.marlowandsons.com
More than a pot of porridge, a girl needs some strong brew to fuel her tromping through Times Square. The tiny new D’Espresso location at Madison Avenue and 42nd Street is a sight to see and sip. Designed to look like a library tipped on its side, the floor is printed with life-sized visuals of bookshelves, one wall a wooden floor, the other sideways lights. Located close to the New York Public Library, G can stop by afterwards to read Robert Southey’s story on her childhood. www.despresso.com
For a New York dose from the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge, click here.
January 13th, 2011
Polarfleece is big in Vancouver, but it’s never been this big.
Literally—eighteen times human scale, measuring 26.5 metres sleeve to sleeve and made of 3,150 recycled pop bottles, the art-chitectural installation SweaterLodge is fit for King Kong. For the first time since its showing at the 2006 Venice Biennale of Architecture it will be displayed in Canada at the Museum of Vancouver.
And we're keeping an eye out for giant mittens, too.
SweaterLodge Unlatched runs January 13-May 1, 2011, Museum of Vancouver, 1100 Chestnut St., Vancouver, 604-736-4431, www.museumofvancouver.ca
January 6th, 2011
The historic Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica recently got a $30 million facelift, and we gotta tell you, the old girl is looking good.
Perched on a bluff over the beach since 1939, every room has sweeping views of Santa Monica’s famed pier and the Pacific, and windows that open so you can hear the surf and smell the ocean air.
We spent hours lazing about the multi-tiered courtyard with solar-heated pool and hot tub and at the poolside bar, sipping bubbly in an adorable curtained cabana. Then we took the party to our room and lounged in a fluffy Frette robe on the leather and chrome furniture, watching the sun go down.
Later, the hotel’s bustling dining room provided a tasty repast before we retreated to the rooftop bar to savour cocktails by an outdoor fire and take in the 365-degree views.
Which led us to this conclusion: at just half an hour from LAX, Hotel Shangri-La isn’t just the place you’re staying, it’s the place you’re going.
Rooms from $295. Hotel Shangri-La, 1301 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, California, 877-999-1301, www.shangrila-hotel.com
December 16th, 2010
We know, it seems counterintuitive going to LA and checking into a hotel high on gingham and offering a good ole country experience, but the Farmer’s Daughter Hotel in the happening Fairfax district is perfectly out of place.
Located across the street from The Grove and famous Farmers Market, it's a five minute walk from West Third Street, and a cheap cab ride to Hollywood. We fell in love with this boutique property for its details, like rain showerheads, Lather toiletries, free WiFi, denim duvets, and plenty of places- including a brightly painted pool area surrounded with succulents - to sit in the sunshine.
That it’s attached to Tart restaurant, which serves up yummy Southern-style comfort food, is just one more reason life’s better on the farm.
Rooms from $169, Farmer’s Daughter Hotel, 115 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, 800-334-1658, www.farmersdaughterhotel.com
December 8th, 2010
Head to Victoria for festive cheer while the Parliament buildings are decked from copper top to bottom in Christmas lights. Herewith, our weekend picks:
Get your nails done while you sail to Swartz Bay. BC Ferries’ new onboard C-Spa offers manicures, pedicures and massages. They take you to a room away from it all, provide gossip magazines and pamper—you walk off polished. From $20, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. sailings, Thursdays through Mondays, www.c-spa.ca
We didn’t know Abbeymoore Manor was the top-ranked inn in Canada on TripAdvisor before our visit, but now we know why. Among many things it’s their breakfasts fit for a foodie (how’s a piping hot poached egg atop a crab cake drizzled with chipotle hollandaise sound?) and the cozy common room outfitted with jazz radio, port wine for the taking and crackling fire. But it’s the generous hospitality that’s warmest of all. From $129, www.abbeymoore.com
Opt for the Abbeymoore’s Epicurean Escape package and you get two nights, a gourmet basket of goodies and a gift certificate for one of three restaurants. We opted for nearby Paprika Bistro and suggest you do that same. Their dynamic dishes belie the quaint, quiet neighbourhood the bistro resides in. Sourcing local fare like Cowichan Bay duck and Qualicum Beach scallops, Chef Anna Hunt’s plates are perfection. www.paprika-bistro.com
Over the last few years a bevy of hip shops catering to the fashion set have popped up downtown. To that list, add Charlie & Lee. The Wharf Street storefront is brick and beautiful, carrying a who’s cool of labels, like The Reformation, Factory and Something Else. Just don’t chide yourself for gifting yourself a little something. www.charlieandlee.com