Winter Getaway at Whistler Blackcomb

20170131_123029(0)

For years now, I had been dreaming of riding in Whistler but I was never able to get the time off or travel to the area during the ski season. So I made sure that this year would be different and made it a point to include Whistler Blackcomb in my #wintergetaway destinations.

20170131_125435

If you haven’t been to Whistler yet, then you have been missing out! Since the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Whistler Blackcomb has become North America’s most popular ski resort. And there are many reasons why it has become the top winter riding destination.

20170131_125027

The first being the incredible skiing and riding you can do at the mountain. With over 200 trails, 37 chairlifts, 5 parks and over 8,171 acres of skiable terrain, even on their busiest days, you have so many options to choose from that it never feels crowded. What’s amazing is that no matter your level or riding preferences, there’s something for everyone. The resort is renown for its freeskiing and powder-filled bowls as well as gladed trees and also dedicated family-friendly zones. The views while riding are absolutely breathtaking. The infinite chain of mountain around you make you feel at one with nature.

20170131_111319

Also, it’s slope-side pedestrian village offers some of the best accommodations, top restaurants, hip shopping and fun activities one could want either pre or post-ski or for those who would rather just spend the day walking around.

20170203_131456

With reference to accommodations, I had the pleasure of staying at the Aava Whistler, a hotel located right in the Whistler Village thanks to the hotels.com mobile app. Whether you’re going on a budget or looking for luxurious après-ski digs, the app has it all.

20170131_130451(0)

The energy at the mountain and in the village is electrifying. Everyone that comes to Whistler Blackcomb know they are about to have one of their best ski experience of their lives. It is understandable that this resort has become world-class over the years. With it being less than two hours away from Vancouver, it is definitely worth the visit!

For more information on Whistler Blackcomb, go here. To find accommodations in the area, go to Hotels.com or download their mobile app. Photos shot with the Samsung Galaxy S7, 360 video shot with the Samsung Gear 360.

Winter Getaway at Sun Peaks

20170113_191200

Did you know that Sun Peaks was Canada’s second largest ski area? This beautiful resort located just under an hour away from Kamloops, British Columbia offers some of the most beautiful skiable terrain in the country.

20170113_191348

Whether you fancy wide open slopes or a steep thrilling ride, fresh powder or beautiful glades to ride through, with its 4,270 acres of skiable terrain, Sun Peaks has something for everyone!

20170113_141115

In addition to the pristine riding you can do at the resort, they have a cute European-style ski-through village where you can find shops, cafes, restaurants as well as quality accommodations. I was once again able to book my stay via Hotels.com‘s mobile app, making it a quick and painless reservation process. Having my hotel be right at the bottom of the mountain, made it super convenient.

20170112_155816

In addition to riding, Sun Peaks also offers a variety of winter activities you can do while in the area. Their latest and greatest activity is ice fishing, run by a super knowledgeable and friendly young guide called Campbell from Elevated Fishing Adventures. This 3-hour excursion will bring you to Heffley Lake, where you will be able to fish for some wild local species. Not only do you learn a lot about the area, the local fauna and flore but also get to stay warm while you chat and fish thanks to a portable hut and some complimentary hot chocolate.

20170113_155243

I took the Samsung Gear 360 camera and Galaxy S7 phone with me again in order to document my adventures at Sun Peaks. I hope you will enjoy my recap below.

20170113_082029

For more information on Sun Peaks, go here. To find accommodations in the area, go to Hotels.com or download their mobile app. Photos shot with the Samsung Galaxy S7, 360 video shot with the Samsung Gear 360.

Winter Getaway at Big White

20170110_100950

One of my favorite things about winter is being able to head to the mountain and go riding. Since this is my first winter in British Columbia, I thought what better way to get to know the area than to book a winter getaway to visit some of the best ski resorts in the area! My first destination: Big White!

So I booked my travels via the Hotels.com mobile app (you can too! check out how here!), took with me Samsung‘s latest gear – the Galaxy S7 phone plus the Gear 360 camera and hit the mountain. 

20170110_112523

Located just 45 minutes from downtown Kelowna, Big White is a stunning resort that spans 7,355 acres and its summit reaches 2,319m in altitude. Big White is also western Canada’s largest night skiing area with 38 acres of night skiing trails. There are 15 lifts on the mountain and 118 designated trails. The longest run spans 7.2 km.  They also have a state of the art boarder/skier-cross course, the TELUS Park as well as 25 km of nordic and wilderness trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing.

20170110_100442

Big White also offers all the amenities and services you can imagine needing when going on a winter getaway to the mountain. The resort has 3 hotels, 25 condo/town home complexes, over 200 vacation home and luxury cabin rentals as well as a youth hostel. There are also plenty of shops and restaurants, their latest addition, the Clocktower Coffee Co serves up delicious baked goods for breakfast and hearty sandwiches at lunch.

20170110_125920(0)

You can also find a ski and board school, a daycare service for the little ones as well as a multitude of other activities for the entire family such as ice climbing, a tube park, snowmobile tours, ice skating, snowshoeing, dog sledding and the list goes on. Oh yea and did I mention, free wifi throughout the resort?

20170110_120126

Since we were only in the area for 2 days, we wanted to maximize our time on the slopes so we stuck with snowboarding. Though a bit cold, the bluebird skies and fresh powder made for pristine riding conditions. Our super convenient electronic lift passes made it easy for us to access all of the lifts and shred through the fresh snow. The snow-covered evergreen trees and stunning views of the Okanagan Valley made for the most beautiful backdrop. A great plus was also the fact that the resort wasn’t overcrowded, which allowed for a relaxing snowboarding session.

20170111_151831

I highly recommend making the trek to Big White, for some epic riding! If you’re staying in Kelowna, check out the Manteo Resort, which is right on the waterfront of the Okanagan Lake.

20170111_151033

For more information on Big White, go here. To find accommodations in the area, go to Hotels.com or download their mobile app. Photos shot with the Samsung Galaxy S7, 360 video shot with the Samsung Gear 360.

Book your Winter Getaway with the Hotels.com App

img_3267

This winter, book your skiing and snowboarding getaway in minutes with the Hotels.com app.

img_20161215_190926

The mobile app, which is available for Android and Apple smartphones allows you to book your dream après-ski hotel fast and securely, using in-depth sort and filter options. With the app, you can book not only in advance but also last minute while having access to some exclusive “Deals for tonight“, so you can prolong the fun on the slopes. You also have the option to securely store your payment details for even faster bookings in the future.

img_20161215_190821

img_20161215_190757

With this being the first winter I am spending in British Columbia, I wanted to explore some of the province’s best winter resorts and some of the area’s top skiing and snowboarding destinations. Using the Hotels.com app allowed me to find a great range of hotels in the different areas I wanted to explore. On my list of must-visit destinations for this winter: Big White in Kelowna, Sun Peaks in Kamloops and Whistler Blackcomb. I found some exciting lodging options with all the amenities I wanted (hot tub, free wifi, free parking, etc.!) in order to relax after a long day at the mountain.

img_20161215_190810

One of the reasons why I picked the Hotels.com mobile app for my bookings is because of their great loyalty program, which allows you to obtain 1 free night after 10 nights booked. They also offer “Secret Prices” that allow you to save up to 50 per cent on your stay. Their rewards program offers adherents a greater selection of competitive hotel deals as well as thousands of specially negotiated rates and subscriber-only offers on hotels located in some of the most popular areas around the world.

img_20161215_190732

With two-thirds of Canadians admitting their mobile phone is their favourite travel accessory and nearly 30 per cent of Canadians choosing to book their hotel stays via a mobile device (according to the Hotels.com Mobile Tracker), it’s no doubt the Hotels.com mobile app will be the ideal companion for your upcoming winter getaway.

See you all on the slopes this winter!

This post was written in collaboration with Hotels.com but all opinions are my own.

Ski Big 3

FullSizeRender (85)

The ski season may be winding down for most of us but there is still plenty of snow to ride on in the Canadian Rockies. Plus spring is my absolute favorite time of year to hit the mountain!

Last month, I had the opportunity to travel to Calgary for a special snowboard getaway. This was my first time riding in the Canadian Rockies. Though I grew up skiing every weekend, I mostly skied in Eastern Canada, going to mountains across Quebec and also in Vermont, New Hampshire and New York.

I was thrilled to find out that some of the biggest and best mountains for skiing and snowboarding are located just an hour or so away from the Calgary airport. Calgary being a short flight from Toronto (approximately 3.5hrs), made it for an ideal weekend getaway!

Ski Big 3, is the association of Mt Norquay, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village, three top-quality ski resorts located in the Banff and Lake Louise area. What is so amazing about these three fantastic resorts is that they are all located less than 45 mins away from each other. Additionally, they offer complimentary shuttle service to those wanting to ski the tri-area.

FullSizeRender (90)

The drive from Calgary to Banff and Lake Louise was stunning. It really made me appreciate the beautiful natural landscape that we so often forget when living in the city. Plus, living in Toronto, you never see such majestic mountains.

FullSizeRender (82)

FullSizeRender (79)

FullSizeRender (80)

FullSizeRender (81)

FullSizeRender (87)

FullSizeRender (88)I spent most of my weekend exploring the runs at the beautiful Lake Louise Ski Resort. I can honestly say that it was some of the best riding days of my entire life. Why you ask? The conditions were absolute perfection! It was around 0 degrees celsius out, there was a layer of fresh powder on the mountain and the sun was out for most of the weekend. Additionally, the atmosphere at the ski resort was great. Everyone was friendly, laid-back and super helpful. You never have to wait too long in line for a chairlift (unlike Ontario!), the runs are also incredibly well groomed and large enough to allow everyone to ski without interfering with one another. You get a real sense of freedom you get when you ride the Rockies. The mountain and nature views combined with the fresh air and chill vibe, it’s truly magical!

FullSizeRender (84)

FullSizeRender (86)

FullSizeRender (83)

I think another highlight of my riding weekend was having the opportunity to eat lunch outdoors at the super cute wooden WhiskyJack Lodge. I never experienced that growing up, skiing in the freezing cold, eating outside was never a possibility. I loved being able to relax and watch other riders enjoy the mountain before going back out myself.

FullSizeRender (89)

I debated for a long time whether to bring my skis or my snowboard and decided to bring my snowboard with me. I had so much fun trying new tricks and perfecting my riding technique on these pristine slopes.

As I write this in Toronto, where the snow is now gone but the weather is still freezing, I can’t help but want to go back and explore more of the Ski Big 3 area!

For more information on Ski Big 3 lift tickets, spring passes, lodging and vacation packages, visit their website: http://www.skibig3.com/.

France, je t’aime! pt 1

This blog post was long overdue! I can’t believe that Offner and I have been back from Friday for almost two months now. It seems like just yesterday I was getting ready for this three week long adventure.

My trip was a little different this year. Since we had more time, we decided to explore more places than we had last December. On the itinerary: Paris, Bretagne, Lyon, Les 2 Alpes & St-Etienne. Here’s a little resume of our amazing adventure as well as tips for any of you going to France soon!

photo 1 (52)

Getting there

Because we were able to book our flights almost four months in advance we were able to find a super cheap deal with Orbitz for multi-destination trip with Air France. I really enjoy using Orbitz as a search engine when booking flights as they always have good selection for Europe, you can easily compare prices with other airlines and they’re booking is hassle-free, no hidden fee bullshit! We flew from Toronto -> Paris direct and on the way home we did Lyon -> Paris -> Montreal (It’s impossible to get a direct flight from Lyon to Toronto/Montreal). I was really excited to fly with Air France again since I hadn’t flown with them since I was a kid. I know the airline has made great strides in improving the quality of their service in the last couple of years, especially since that unfortunate crash in 2009. I was able to organize everything before my flight easily on their website. I was able to chose our seats, my vegetarian meal as well as get our boarding passes all sorted out before even arriving at the airport. The in-flight service was top notch! I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of my vegetarian meal as well as Offner’s fish selection. I appreciated the fact they gave us quality wine and champagne as well a balanced meal. Air France also had a great selection of movies and entertainment options available that made the 7hr overnight flight a lot more bearable. Leg room was decent, the only negative comment I’d have was that the seats were really hard, they could have been a little more cushiony.

Traveling while in France

We opted for different modes of transportation to get to the different areas we were traveling to. We took the TGV from Paris to get to Rennes, where we spent two days with my family. I highly recommend using this mode of transportation for quick, painless travels across the country. I had booked the tickets online in November and they were 29 Euros per person for the one-way. They also have complimentary wifi on the train and at the train station while you wait. Instead of taking us 4hrs to get to Rennes by car, it choped the travel time in half.

photo 2 (47)

One thing you need to remember is that if you’re renting a car, most places will be closed on Sundays, so since we were arriving on a Sunday in Rennes, we had to find a car at the airport. It was a 20 Euro cab ride from the train station to the airport in Rennes and the car rental place only opened at 1:30pm (more like 1:45pm France time :p) and was open for 4hrs. That said, we had tried to get a car through a website where individuals rent their personal vehicles (a cheaper option and worth looking into!) but unfortunately that fell through.

photo 3 (36)

We then flew from Rennes to Lyon. It was a 1hr flight. Though Rennes doesn’t have a very big airport, they have a few flights every day going to different areas in France and even to other countries in Europe. We took Air France’s regional jet HOP!, not only was the flight cheaper than the TGV but it also reduced our traveling time from 8hrs to 1hr. It was really a no-brainer for us.

While we were in Lyon and Paris, we also used the subway system a lot. It is super efficient and cheap. Also, you can use Uber taxi in Paris if you’re looking to get somewhere rather quickly but be prepared to dish out quite a lot of cash for cabs in Paris!

Where to stay

Offner and I are really lucky because we get to stay with family and friends while we’re in France. That said, we didn’t want to spend the entire three weeks crashing on people’s couches so we opted for our favorite type lodging: Airbnb. We spent one night in a Campanile, which is a big chain of environmentally friendly hotels that you can find across France. They’re a cheap alternative if you’re on a budget and hotels are more your thing. Though we could have stayed in a handful of different hotels, we opted to stay at cute little lofts/apartments in the neighbourhoods that we really liked. In Paris, we opted for Le Marais and in Lyon, La Croix Rousse. Both are safe and beautiful areas with lot’s to do and amazing food to eat!

photo 4 (19)

Some must-see spots from my trip

Paris

Le pont des amoureux

photo 4 (20)

Le Marais

photo 2 (50)

La Place des Vosges

photo 1 (54)

Le Louvre

photo 3 (38)

L’Île St-Louis

photo 2 (49)

Notre-Dame de Paris, the Eiffel Tower (duh!), les Champs Élysées, Place, Sainte-Catherine, etc.

photo 1 (55)

photo 5 (12)

Lyon

Vieux Lyon

photo 5 (13)

Place Bellecour

photo 3 (39)

L’Opéra de Lyon

photo 4 (21)

Place des Terreaux, presqu’île de Lyon, Croix Rousse, Confluences, etc.

photo (65)

La Bretagne – I may have a little bias towards this region of France because it’s where my mom’s family is from but it’s a beautiful small region that has much to offer. If you’re going to make the trek up there, I recommend you visit the following places: Dinard, Dinan and St-Malo. All three historic towns with beautiful scenery. While you’re there, you gotta eat “galette de sarrasin” the best salty crêpes on the planet as well as a bowl of traditional cider and my favorite dessert: le flan Breton! Also, if you like butter, you’re in for a treat! They put butter on EVERYTHING! Make sure you bring an umbrella with you, as it tends to drizzle (they call it “crachat breton”) quite a bit there.

photo 1 (56)

photo 2 (51)

photo 3 (40)

 

photo 4 (22)

 

photo 5 (14)

Les 2 Alpes – everything about this ski village and station is amazing! Unlike most Intrawest or big ski stations, Les 2 Alpes has kept the old school small village feel. It’s not too loud and too touristy. Though there are people that ski there from all over Europe, the people it attracts are a little older or families. That said, there are really cool bars in the small town, local wine and cheese producers, markets, a small cinema, amazing restaurants and all the ski equipment your heart desires! The daily lift ticket is 42 Euros and includes insurance in case you get hurt or something happens, which is incredibly cheap for such a huge resort as compared to lift tickets here.  Recommendation: Stay an extra day to go hiking in the mountains beside the village, it’s breathtaking. Also, you can ski at Les 2 Alpes almost all-year-round. In the summer, you can ski on top of the glacier and then go golfing or swimming in the nearby lake. Sounds dreamy!

photo 1 (57)

photo 2 (52)

photo 3 (41)

photo 4 (23)

photo 5 (15)

Stay tuned for Pt 2 of my France travel blog featuring some of my favorite places to eat and shop in France. Coming soon!!

 

 

BEACHCOMBER #DailyOutfit

Biko Jewellery just launched her brand new collection yesterday called BEACHCOMBER! It’s super dreamy and is making me so excited for summer! Check out her little promo video below! In celebration, I’m wearing some of my Biko favs!

photo 1 (19)

photo 2 (20)

Photos by @Offner

H&M striped long sleeve shirt 

Anine Bing Skinny Jeans Double Zipper Black (get them here)

Je voudrais être une princesse boots

Biko Third Eye Necklace (get it here)

Biko Jewellery Solo Grid Ring (get it here)

Verameat vampire crown ring (get it here)

 

Stowe

Last month I had the opportunity to return to one of my favorite little towns in the north eastern United States: Stowe, Vermont.

As a kid, I loved going to Stowe because it was where the Von Trapps (oh yes, from the classic movie The Sound Of Music) had ended up when they immigrated to the United States. Also, it was magical because we used to stay at the Sun & Ski Motor Inn (now renamed the Sun & Ski Suites) and they had a beautiful reading room with a fireplace, a bunch of teddy bears and board games that my sister and I would always spend our nights playing. We’d go probably go to Stowe once a season because it was just two hours away from where I grew up!

What’s amazing about this quaint little area is that it’s beautiful all year round. Being in Stowe is all about being outdoors, enjoying nature, the mountains, the lake and relaxing. I was therefore really excited to be back for another visit.

Stowe is easy to get to! From Toronto, you can take a 1hr direct flight with Porter Airlines to Burlington. Once you get to Burlington, you can either drive 30mins or get a shuttle from one of the resorts to pick you up. If you’re coming from Montreal, it’s also only a 2h30 drive.

photo 2 (25)

photo 1 (29)

photo 2 (27)

Here are some of my favorite things about Stowe:

Mount Mansfield: The highest mountain in Vermont (4,393 ft or 1,339 m) located at 10 minutes by car from the Stowe Village. It’s not only a beautiful mountain by amazing ski resort. It’s decked out with the latest lift and ticketing technology, has several rad snowparks, great skiing conditions and an amazing view from the top!

photo 5 (5)

photo 3 (17)

photo 4 (8)

Black Cap Coffee: Located in the Stowe Village, this coffee shop is relatively new in town and it seems to be where everyone now comes to get their coffees. What I loved about this place is not only did it serve great drinks (they have super creative versions of of hot apple cider, Snickers Bar lattes, etc.) but they’re also a place where people can make crafts and by crafts I mean jewellery and pottery. They also serve some in-house snacks and sell a few local products at the front. Everyone there is also super friendly and laid back!

photo 2 (26)

Depot Street Malt Shop: A Stowe classic. It’s been around ever since I can remember. Though my mom never really let us eat junk food at home, she was definitely  fan of this 50s Elvis-inspired diner. I would always have their sandwiches with pickles and chips or some of their amazing sundaes or milkshakes. They play lot’s of Elvis music and the decor is super cute and authentic.

Recreational Path: It’s an internationally renown 5.5 mile paved greenway where people walk, jog, bike, cross-country ski, snowshoe, etc. all year. It runs along little rivers and has spots where you can even go for a swim. It’s the perfect spot to pinic, relax, bounce rocks, take photos and even take naps. Everyone on the path always says hello and always seems to be in a good mood. I’ve taken the path countless times and always find it so beautiful!

Free shuttle service! That’s right, there’s a few shuttle that goes around the Stowe village, to all the hotels, bed & breakfasts, to the main streets and also all the way to the mountain

Cold Hollow Cider Mill: A classic as you’re driving into Stowe from Waterbury. It’s where you’ll find a ton of local products: jams, mustards, spices, hot sauces, all the maple syrup products and of course apple products. What’s amazing about this shop is that you can taste everything they’re selling and you can also see at the back where they make their fresh apple cider. They also have the best apple cider donuts! They are to die for!

TopNotch Resort: They just spent the past couple of months completely renovating this beautiful hotel and resort. They’ve got amazing tennis courts, beautiful outdoor pools, jacuzzis, new fire pits and brand new state of the art and relaxing spa, two new restaurants, new condo units, etc. I had never stayed at the resort before but was really surprised with not only all the great facilities but also their proximity to the mountain, the good food and overall relaxing atmosphere. If you’re to book a night there, you must use their spa facilities, they’re fantastic!

photo 3 (18)

photo 1 (30)

photo 5 (6)

Other good lodging options are:

Golden Eagle Resort if you’re looking for something a little less fancy or the Sun & Ski Suites

Stowe Mountain Lodge is the most beautiful mountain resort I’ve seen in a while. The lobby is so beautifully decorated. They’ve got an amazing outdoor pool and spa open all-year-round, are right by the mountain and have great restaurants! I really hope to be able to stay there at some point longer than just a few hours!

photo 4 (7)

Von Trapp Family Lodge for the super duper traditional Stowe experience. They’ve got great wine tasting activities, sports and the Von Trapps still make all the baked goods apparently!

Other things you can do while in Stowe: visit the Ben & Jerry‘s ice cream factory, rent rollerblades from AJ’s ski & sports (I used to do that every summer as a kid!), go swimming at The Water Hole, check out a show or film at the new Spruce Peak Performing Arts Centre, go canoeing at the reservoir lake, etc.

Also, if you’re driving to and from Stowe, it’s always a good idea to stop in Burlington on your way there or back home. It’s a beautiful typical New England town located right on the Lake Champlain. As a kid we’d take a ferry over to New York from Burlington. It’s got great restaurants and bars, a lovely waterfront bike path and some cool museums.

So happy to have gone back to Stowe! Can’t wait for my next visit!

photo 1 (31)

 

Holiday Adventure

Today is the day I leave for my month long adventure with @offner! So grateful to be traveling with him again! Excited to be visiting three different countries during this upcoming trip. We’ll be spending the first two and a half weeks in France, followed by a few days back in Canada then off to the US for some snowboarding!

I will be taking a little blogging break during my trip but will post as many updates as a can while on the road. I will also have a full recap with some of my favorite hot spots when I get back, so stay tuned!

Wishing you all a wonderful start to your holidays!!

xo

IMG_1038