Penthouse Stay at Wedgewood Hotel and Spa

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While searching for accommodations for the second half of our Vancouver trip, I came across the Wedgewood Hotel and Spa – a boutique hotel in the heart of Downtown Vancouver. What immediately caught my eye about the property was the classic charm and décor. The rooms are beautifully furnished with luxurious details including one-of-a-kind antiques and paintings, and a doorman (complete with top hat) even greets you at the door! After a long drive back from Victoria before check in, it was so nice to be met with such a warm welcome – our bags were promptly whisked away to be sent up to our room, and the crackling fireplace in the hotel lobby made us feel right at home.

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We were lucky enough to stay in one of the hotel’s 12th Floor Penthouses, which featured  a king size bed, separate living area with a fireplace, a jetted soaker tub, and my favourite part – a huge garden patio with an amazing view of Robson Square!

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Each of the hotel’s Penthouse Suites is decorated with a unique colour scheme and antique decor. Our suite had a beautiful, warm theme that felt comfortable yet still very luxurious. I loved all of the plush velvet and wood panelled touches! In addition to the soaker tub, the bathroom also featured L’Occitane toiletries, a walk-in shower and heated floors.

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We were treated to in-room breakfast from the hotel’s widely acclaimed French restaurant Bacchus each morning, which was truly a treat. We made a habit of sneaking our plates onto our private balcony to eat – there’s nothing quite like enjoying your eggs and bacon with a view of downtown Vancouver.

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What sets the Wedgewood apart is that it’s part of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux, an association of independent hotels and restaurants across the globe with the highest standards in terms of culture and hospitality. This was by far the most luxurious stay I’ve ever had at any hotel, and it was the careful attention to detail, outstanding service, and extra touches that really made the experience special.

From turn down service each evening with a fresh baked cookie and bottle of water, to the delivery of the morning paper to enjoy with a freshly brewed Nespresso – we truly felt like royalty staying at this property. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply looking to splurge and treat yourself, I highly recommend booking your next trip to Vancouver at the Wedgewood Hotel and Spa.

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48 Hours in Victoria, BC: Where to stay & what to do + Chateau Victoria Hotel Review

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Earlier this month, my boyfriend and I took a weeklong trip to British Columbia. This was our first ever visit to the province, and we were so excited to explore a brand new place (especially one we’d heard such amazing things about!). After some research, we decided to spend a total of six nights in Vancouver and one night in Victoria in the middle of the trip.

Victoria is BC’s capital, located on the southern end of Vancouver Island – meaning we had to take a ferry across from Vancouver to get to the city. We ended up renting a car which we brought with us on the hour and thirty minute long journey (you park it on the lower deck and then are free to explore the boat which includes a restaurant, shops and free wifi). The ride ended up being super scenic, and was definitely a highlight of the trip!

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Once we made it to Victoria we checked into our room at Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites*, a locally owned and operated hotel located conveniently in the heart of downtown Victoria. We stayed in one of the property’s One-Bedroom Suites, which included a king sized bed, living room area and kitchenette.

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My favourite part of the room definitely had to be the cute little walk-out balcony, which had an amazing view of downtown Victoria, including the British Columbia Parliament Buildings which are beautifully lit up and night.

One of the things I noticed while visiting BC is that many of the restaurants do awesome Happy Hour specials (which are harder to come by in Toronto). The hotel is home to a beautiful rooftop restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner called Vista 18 Westcoast Grill & Wine Bar, which has breath-taking views of the city. After a quick rest, we made it just in time for the end of the restaurant’s Happy Hour, which featured 2 for 1 Small Bites as well as affordable beer and wine options.

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We split sliders and shrimp, which were both tasty and a great value.

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The hotel also has a bar located in the lobby – Clive’s Classic Lounge – that serves up delicious cocktails as well as their own yummy menu of apps, charcuterie and more.

After spending some time exploring the harbour and streets of Victoria (which were full of tons of cute locally owned shops!) we decided to call it an early night and returned to our suite for some quality time relaxing on the couch and watching TV. Overall we were very happy with our stay at Chateau Victoria – the staff were friendly and accommodating, the room was spacious and comfortable, and the location couldn’t be beat! Even though we had the car, we ended up doing most of our exploring by foot as everything was within walking distance.

After check out the next morning, we headed to John’s Place for breakfast – a local favourite that’s been around for over 30 years, which I highly recommend! We then headed to the Royal British Columbia Museum to check out the exhibits – another must-see in the city – before hopping on the ferry back to Vancouver.

Victoria ended up being one of my favourite parts of our trip! Vancouver Island is full of natural beauty and is actually a lot bigger than it seemed on a map, so I’d love to return to spend a week dedicated to exploring more cities on the island. Two days in Victoria was enough time for us to feel like we saw enough of the city before leaving, but three days would have been perfect to have the chance to check off a few things we didn’t get around to – tea at the Fairmont Empress, whale watching and Butchart gardens (a perfect excuse to return!).

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*Thank you to Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites for hosting us during our stay.

Travel Diary: Exploring Jamaica with Air Transat

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I’ve recently taken an interest in travelling down south, thanks to the particularly chilly winter we’ve been having in Toronto. Nothing has been appealing more to me lately than the idea of turquoise waves lapping across stretches of soft sand! So when Air Transat reached out to me with an opportunity to take a quick 5-day trip to Jamaica at the end of last month, I jumped at the opportunity. I travelled with a group of seven bloggers/influencers including myself, our awesomely organized Transat representative, Debbie, and our guide to  exploring the beautiful country – Charissa, from the Jamaica Tourist Board. Our home for the trip was the Royal Decameron Cornwall Beach Resort, a modern, Caribbean-style property with a luxurious private beach and stunning ocean views.

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Shout-out to the inspiring ladies I travelled with, (from left to right): Jeanne, Alyssa from Random Acts of Pastel, Anna, Jess, Bella from xoxoBella, and Krystle from Dine & Fash

This trip was actually the first time I’ve ever travelled without the company of family or friends, and I was initially nervous to be visiting a new place with an entirely new group of people. I decided to take the plunge, and it was one of the best decisions I could have ever made! The people I met, sights I explored, and the experiences I had in Jamaica will never be forgotten. I challenged myself to step outside my comfort zone and live a little (for once!), and will always look back on this trip as an amazing milestone in my adventures.

The Location

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We had quite a full itinerary for the trip, which allowed us to see and experience a lot within the relatively short time we had in Jamaica. When visiting anywhere new, I actually prefer to have a packed schedule so that I can see as much as possible of the destination! Here are the highlights of what we got up to:

Rose Hall Great House Haunted Night Tour: a chilling night time tour of a historic Georgian mansion in Montego Bay, retelling the legend of the White Witch of Rose Hall. This was actually my first haunted house experience – and while I survived, I likely wouldn’t return unless it was in the daytime, lol!

Martha Brae River rafting tour: a scenic ride down the Martha Brae River on a handmade bamboo raft.

Hampden Estate rum tour: a great way to spend an afternoon – the beautiful grounds of Hampden Estate were established in the 1750’s, and have remained true to the original distilling process. We were able to see how the rum is made, and sampled some of their award winning labels – Rum Fire and Hampden Estate Gold.

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Visit to the coastal town of Falmouth: We were able to experience Jamaica first hand with a visit to historic Falmouth, once considered the most cosmopolitan city in the western world. I loved seeing the local people, colours and music on the streets! We were also able to stop at a few fruit carts for a taste of fresh coconut.

Tour & farm-to-table lunch at Zimbali Retreats: This organic farm grows over 500 fruit trees and provides a natural escape in a tropical mountain valley.

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Beach time at Negril Seven Mile Beach: Negril is a popular tourist area known for its amazing snorkelling and scuba diving. Our group had soaked up the sun with some much needed beach time, enjoying the beautiful, soft sand and calm waters.

Sunset at Rick’s Café: The famous Rick’s Café is a popular tourist spot offering live music, food and drinks, cliff-diving (!), and an unbelievable view of the sunset. A few of the other girls had a blast plunging into the ocean from the rocks above, while I kicked back and enjoyed the view.

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Visit to Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios: Dunn’s River Falls is one of Jamaica’s most famed attractions and natural wonders. The stunning waterfall can be climbed from the bottom up and looks as pretty as a postcard. Most of the group tackled a series of seven ziplines over the falls, while I (being the chicken that I am) watched from the safety of the ground below.

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Of the experiences we shared, two definitely stood out for me. The Martha Brae River rafting tour was unlike anything I’d ever done, and allowed us to take in the beauty of the land first hand from a thirty-foot long bamboo raft. The Martha Brae is located three miles inland from the town of Falmouth, a serene river surrounded by towering trees and local vegetation. The rafts are guided by experienced Raft Captains, who are also responsible for building their vessels by hand. We were able to learn about the different plants native to the area, and had one of the most serene experiences I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying.

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The other favourite of mine from the trip was our visit to Zimbali Retreats. The drive to this farm was an experience in itself, with winding dirt roads and plenty of potholes! The trek was well worth it however, when we arrived at the private retreat in the tropical mountains. After being given a tour of the farm, where all 500 species of plants are tended to by hand, we were treated to a delicious, farm-to-table culinary experience, made with ingredients grown right at the farm. I had the jerk shrimp, which was bursting with delicious flavour and spice.

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Jamaica offers the most beautiful combination of mountains, lush rainforest, lively cities, and white sand beaches. I’m so grateful that we were able to experience each of these different aspects during our trip, thanks to the awesome itinerary planned out by Charissa and the Jamaica Tourist Board.

The Resort: Royal Decameron Cornwall Beach

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Our stay at the Royal Decameron Cornwall Beach Resort was nothing short of exceptional. The beachfront property is conveniently located only a short, 10-minute drive from Sangster International Airport in the heart of Montego Bay. All 146 rooms of the resort feature a breathtaking ocean view, and include a terrace or balcony. Dining options include an impressive buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as two a la cart restaurant options offering Mediterranean and authentic Jamaican cuisine.

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We were greeted at check in by a musical performance in the lobby of the resort, and served the cutest tropical drink in a pineapple upon arrival. We were each provided with a private room that was equipped with amenities including free Wi-Fi, a fridge and a television, with a sleek and modern Caribbean design. The room I was assigned actually had two double beds instead of a king, which was perfect to help me lay out all my outfits and pack for each day’s adventure. My favourite aspect of the room was definitely the balcony, which provided an unreal view of the sunrise and sunset each day.

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A standout aspect of the resort – and one of the first things I noticed about the people when arriving in Jamaica – was the warmth and hospitality of the staff. The team at the Royal Decameron Cornwall Beach Resort went out of the way to ensure we were taken care of at all times and were more than accommodating when it came to any special requests!

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The Food

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I always need to make a quick mention about the food, wherever I visit! I went to Jamaica with high hopes for the food, and was not disappointed. The buffet at the resort had something for everyone (I especially appreciated the super crispy bacon served at breakfast), and switched up the dishes frequently for dinner. We had an epic breakfast spread one morning at the resort, filled with piles of fresh fruit, stacks of fluffy pancakes, and plates of yummy savoury eats.

 

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We also made a few trips off resort for food, one of my favourites being a visit to local hotspot, Scotchies. Our group dove into an amazing spread of authentic Jamaican dishes: jerk chicken and pork, sausage, wings, festival, roast yam, steamed veg, and rice and peas. We washed it all down with Jamaica’s staple beer: Red Stripe. We also made a point to stop on the way back to the resort for Jamaican patties – I had a beef and cheese patty that really hit the spot!

Before I knew it, our whirlwind trip had come to an end and we were on our way back to the airport for our flight home. Our group flew Option Plus with Air Transat, which provides special privileges in Economy Class including seat selection, extras on board, and priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling. It was such a breeze getting on and off the plane on the way to Jamaica, and on the way back. As part of our experience, we were also able to pre-order on-board meals for our departing and return flights off The Chef’s Menu by Daniel Vézina. I had a Spinach and Basil Omelette for breakfast on the way there, and Sweet Potato Gnocchi on the way home, both of which were very tasty.

I’m so thankful to have participated in this experience, and never in my wildest dreams thought I would have had the opportunity to go on a trip like this! A huge thank you to Air Transat, the Royal Decameron Cornwall Beach Resort, and the Jamaican Tourist Board for showing me all that Jamaica has to offer.

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