LuxeGetaways Magazine – Spring 2017 | Named the number one travel destination for 2017 by The New York Times and Lonely Planet, Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. With exciting things happening throughout all its provinces and territories, the country’s sesquicentennial marks the anniversary of the Canadian Confederation, when all of Canada united. Meant to give Canadians the opportunity to get involved in their communities and to celebrate shared values, achievements, the majestic environment, and the country’s place in the world; visitors can also get in on the celebration throughout all of Canada.
One of the biggest draws for tourists this year is that Canada’s 200 national parks and historic sites across the country — including the Banff National Park of Canada (a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Canada’s first National Park) — is offering free admission. Summer will be a busy time to visit the national parks, so this spring is a perfect time to visit. To have more time to discover these natural wonders of Canada, you might also want to look into a heli-hiking adventure where you can stay in a lodge in-between days of exploring mountain ridges and meadows while taking advantage of being transported by helicopter.
For a luxe experience, check out the experts at Canada Mountain Holidays with lodges along the Rocky Mountains that showcase the best of British Columbia and Alberta. Along with heli-hiking through breathtaking and off-the-grid scenery with certified guides to see ancient glaciers, alpine lakes and wildflowers; there are also activities for those who prefer an adrenaline rush such as ziplining through the trees, glacier trekking and navigating sky-high cable bridges.
On the other side of Canada, in Québec, explore the underrated Mauricie region (which has been attracting local Canadians and Europeans for decades). While late spring and summer is a lovely time to visit for the warm weather, autumn is a magical season with the intense red and gold hues of the seasonal foliage. Camping, kayaking, fishing, biking, black bear watching and countless other activities keep tourists visiting throughout the season, and nothing beats a rustic lakefront stay anytime of the year.
For a cozy experience that is great for families and groups, Pourvoirie du Lac Blanc is a lakeside resort in St-Alexis-des-Monts that has 12 spacious cottages, a country inn, a rustic camp, and an aquatic center with pool, spa, and sauna. For a romantic, luxury escape, the Sacacomie Hotel is nestled in the heart of the forest and overlooks the majestic Sacacomie Lake and its 26-mile coastline. With so much to offer, we hope that more people will choose to take advantage of this celebratory year to visit Canada. Keep exploring!
The Canadian federation consists of ten provinces and three territories. Visit their tourism offices to learn more when planning your Canadian getaway:
- Official Site of Destination Canada: www.us-keepexploring.canada.travel
- Alberta: www.travelalberta.com/us
- British Columbia: www.hellobc.com
- Manitoba: www.travelmanitoba.com
- New Brunswick: www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca
- Newfoundland and Labrador: www.newfoundlandlabrador.com
- Northwest Territories: www.spectacularnwt.com
- Nova Scotia: www.novascotia.com
- Nunavut: www.nunavuttourism.com
- Ontario: www.ontariotravel.net
- Prince Edward Island: www.tourismpei.com
- Québec: www.Québecoriginal.com
- Saskatchewan: www.tourismsaskatchewan.com
- Yukon: www.travelyukon.com
- Banff National Park of Canada: www.banffnationalpark.com
- Canada Mountain Holidays: www.canadianmountainholidays.com
- Pourvoirie du Lac Blanc: www.pourvoirielacblanc.com
- Sacacomie Hotel: www.sacacomie.com
Speaking of Québec, while all of the provinces and cities are celebrating the country’s anniversary, Montréal is also celebrating the city’s 375th birthday. With both French and English being spoken here (French is the first language of over half the population), the island city boasts an avant-garde lifestyle that is showcased through its cutting-edge design, dining, and culture. From the top of Mount Royal (the small, 764-foot-tall mountain overlooking the city) to the waterfront area of Old Montréal and its narrow, cobblestone streets; there is always plenty to see and do in Montréal this spring and summer – especially with all of the events and festivals happening each month.
Now through the rest of the year in Old Montréal, travelers can watch Montréal’s past come to life through Cité Mémoire, an immersive multimedia digital experience set amongst the streets and alleyways. A new adventure is waiting each night, starting at dusk, where you can discover 20 nocturnal stories with the help of the project’s app. Renowned for its jazz, the annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal is back for its 31st edition from June 28 to July 8. More than 3,000 musicians from 30 countries will be playing over 1,000 shows at 15 concert halls and 8 outdoor stages. Into dance music? The outdoor dance party Piknic Électronik Montréal takes place in Jean-Drapeau Park every Sunday from May 22 to October 22. Then this July, the city becomes an open-air theatre for the largest street theatre event in North America, Les Arts de la Rue. Sixty of the best troupes on the planet converge to present their skills, magic, and creativity for the 375th celebrations.
Fierté Montréal (the annual LGBT Pride event) returns to be the first edition of Canada Pride. Taking place for ten days this year, August 11-20, the nation-wide celebration of Canada’s LGBT movement will celebrate the diverse culture and history of Montréal and Canada for two full weekends of activities similar to WorldPride and EuroPride.
For a central stay, downtown offers the most hotel options. The five-star Hotel Le Crystal offers 131 spacious suites, several wellness amenities (such as the Amerispa, a Swedish sauna, an indoor saltwater pool, and an outdoor hot tub), and the hotel restaurant, Bistro Laurentien La Coupole, serves innovative dishes with locally sourced Québec produce. If you are a fan of Fairmont hotels, the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth reopens this June after undergoing a $140 million renovation. Fairmont says that this property includes a brand new design that blends contemporary decor with vintage Montréal, while keeping the historic authenticity of the building, a historic heritage monument. They will also bring on new concepts such as an urban market and a multi-purpose venue for pop-up shops and more. While downtown, visit the city’s new observation deck that opened last May, Au Sommet Place Ville Marie, where you can get a 360-degree view from high above it all. Here, just below the observation deck’s two floors is Les Enfants Terribles Brasserie, which serves a modern take on classic Québec cuisine. There is never a shortage of things to do and see here!
- Montréal Tourism: www.tourisme-montreal.org
- Cité Mémoire: www.Montréalenhistoires.com/memory_city
- Festival International de Jazz de Montréal: www.Montréaljazzfest.com/default-en.aspx
- Piknic Électronik Montréal: www.piknicelectronik.com/Montréal
- Jean-Drapeau Park: www.parcjeandrapeau.com/en
- Les Arts de la Rue: www.375mtl.com/en/programming/les-arts-de-la-rue-24
- Fierté Montréal: www.fierteMontréalpride.com
- Hotel Le Crystal: www.hotellecrystal.com
- Bistro Laurentien La Coupole: www.lacoupole.ca
- Fairmont Queen Elizabeth: www.fairmont.com/queen-elizabeth-Montréal
- Au Sommet Place Ville Marie: www.ausommetpvm.com
- Les Enfants Terribles Brasserie: www.ausommetpvm.com/en/restaurant-enfants-terribles/
Hotel Spotlight: Auberge Saint-Antoine
Enjoy a look Inside the Auberge Saint-Antoine at Québec City’s Old Port, which was built on one of the area’s richest archaeological sites. The property is made up of three historical buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as a wharf and battery structure that date back to the end of the 17th century. The result is a truly special hotel experience that caters to guests seeking luxurious 21st century amenities and services, while enjoying the more than 300 years of history that remains alive around every corner.
Learn More: www.saint-antoine.com/en
As one of the most diverse cities in Canada, Toronto is a melting pot of cultures where over 140 languages are spoken, and over half of the residents are from outside of Canada. As the largest city in Canada, there is a dynamic range of things to experience: Yorkville is perfect for wandering and exploring luxury hotels (make sure to check out the city’s luxury landmark hotel, The Hazelton Hotel, theaters, gourmet restaurants, a prestigious shopping district, and picture-perfect Victorian homes; West Queen West is the city’s home for art studios and edgy works; and City Center is the heart of downtown where you find attractions such as The CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and the revitalized Union Station. Enjoy Broadway-style shows at the Mirvish Productions Theatre, and experience the best nightlife in the Toronto Entertainment District (concentrated around King Street West between University Avenue and Spadina Avenue), or the local Gay Village (known locally as “The Village” – surrounding Church and Wellesley streets).
If you are an interior and architecture enthusiast, the 18th annual edition of Doors Open Toronto is scheduled for May 27 – 28. The annual event offers the opportunity to see inside more than 150 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the city. Then the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, the longest-running, open-air juried contemporary art show in Canada, takes places July 14 – 16 in Nathan Phillips Square. Then cool off with a cold beer at the Toronto’s Festival of Beer this July 28 – 30.
For a memorable summer activity, take advantage of the city’s lakeshore of Lake Ontario and do an electric bike tour around the waterfront with Toronto Electric Bike Tours, take a helicopter above downtown Toronto with Toronto Heli Tours, or go on a unique adventure with The Culinary Adventure Company that will have you canoe through the lake and out to the Toronto Islands where you will savor a 5-course gourmet meal at sunset before having a night paddle back to where you started. Stay at the upscale Le Germain Maple Leaf Square for a hotel that is ideally located in the heart of downtown, and walking distance from the waterfront.
- Toronto Tourism: www.seetorontonow.com
- The Hazelton Hotel: www.thehazeltonhotel.com
- Mirvish Productions Theatre: www.mirvish.com
- Doors Open Toronto: www1.toronto.ca/wps
- Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition: www.torontooutdoorart.org
- Toronto’s Festival of Beer: www.beerfestival.ca
- Toronto Electric Bike Tours: www.westinharbourcastletoronto.com
- Toronto Heli Tours: www.helitours.ca
- The Culinary Adventure Company: www.culinaryadventureco.com
- Le Germain Maple Leaf Square: www.legermainhotels.com/en/torontomls
As a classic Pacific Northwest city, Vancouver is a playground for hiking, kayaking, cycling, and other outdoor activities with all of the natural beauty in the city, and the surrounding area. Locals and visitors will agree that the warm months of the spring and summer are ideal to explore the destination. Unlike the east, the summers are not generally muggy or humid; but instead, crisp and clear. Stanley Park is a must for the views; it is a 988-acre (400-hectare) public park that borders the downtown of Vancouver, and is almost completely surrounded by the Vancouver Harbour and English Bay. Enjoy scenic views of the water, mountains, and majestic trees along the famous Seawall. To help capture the magic of Stanley Park, take a guided bike ride with Cycle City Tours for even more details about the biodiversity of the temperate rainforest, the history of the coastal first nations, as well as an abundance of hidden treasures that the park has accumulated over its 125-year history.
Staying in downtown will keep you close to Stanley Park and central Vancouver. For a sense of peace, Coal Harbour is a relaxing part of downtown that is on the water’s edge in the north of the city. The world-class Fairmont Pacific Rim is located here, which features 377 luxurious guest rooms and suites with naturally inspired materials, comfortable furnishings and amazing views of the North Shore Mountains, Stanley Park and the entire neighborhood (Tip: inquire about The Owner’s Suite Collection for an even more amazing experience). When looking for a more active nightlife, head to the West End of downtown. Yaletown is a formerly run-down warehouse district that now has a thriving nightlife scene, and Davie Village is at the heart of the West End. Known for its LGBT community, come here for people watching during the day, and lively clubs, pubs and street life at night. For the best of both worlds, stay at the Opus Vancouver in Yaletown on Davie Street. With a contemporary design and tech-forward amenities, the guest rooms feature vibrant colors, spa-style bathrooms and five lifestyle-inspired décor schemes. Enjoy rustic Northern Italian inspired cuisine (such as handmade pasta and traditional nose-to-tail meat and fish dishes) at the award-winning La Pentola della Quercia inside the hotel.
Known for its seafood and Asian dining, one of Vancouver’s top restaurants to visit is Miku Restaurant, which offers sushi and sustainable seafood dishes in a sophisticated setting – complete with a patio and water views. From its signature Aburi-style sushi (lightly seared and infused with savory sauces), to its tantalizing meats (tenderized by Sumiyaki grilling), and to its desserts (created by a Kyoto-trained pastry chef), enjoy Miku’s innovative menu. Do as the local Vancouverites have done since 2008, have brunch at Café Medina, which is a quaint, bistro-styled restaurant that serves up its signature brand of Mediterranean-inspired cuisine (along with the city’s best Belgian-style waffles).
For an escape outside of Vancouver, book some time at the Sonora Resort, a Relais & Chateaux outdoor retreat in the Discovery Islands. After a 50-minute private helicopter ride from Vancouver, arrive in the secluded resort on Sonora Island, where there is an abundance of wildlife. Sonora welcomes guests from May to October for saltwater and freshwater fishing, relaxation and wilderness viewing with guided grizzly bear tours at nearby Orford River offered in partnership with the Homalco First Nation from August to October. Other Sonora Resort amenities include a tennis court, kayaking, helicopter tours and the Island Currents Spa with five treatment rooms, outdoor hot and cold mineral pools, a fitness facility and a relaxation room. Sonora is also celebrating Canada’s 150th with a special travel package that includes an exclusive Canada 150 menu with new executive chef, Lukas Gurtner. With great shopping, amazing views and endless activities, Vancouver and the surrounding areas are a must-visit this year!
- Vancouver Tourism: www.tourismvancouver.com
- Stanley Park: www.vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/stanley-park.aspx
- Cycle City Tours: www.cyclevancouver.com
- Fairmont Pacific Rim: www.fairmont.com/pacific-rim-vancouver
- Yaletown: www.yaletowninfo.com
- Davie Village: www.davievillage.ca
- Opus Vancouver: www.vancouver.opushotel.com
- La Pentola della Quercia: www.lapentola.ca
- Miku Restaurant: www.mikurestaurant.com
- Café Medina: www.medinacafe.com
- Sonora Resort: www.sonoraresort.com
- Homalco First Nation: www.homalco.com