My staycation at the Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle

I love to travel and I am so fortunate that I get to travel quite a bit for both personal and work reasons, however this month has been a busy one to say the least. With short trip to Toronto and Merritt I was pretty wiped. When the long weekend rolled around I felt like I wanted a vacation but at the same time I felt like being close to home, so a staycation offered the perfect solution.

I decided to book a night stay at the Downtown Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Hotel. Located right in Coal Harbour the hotel is just a short 15 minutes away from my house but with the ocean front views, downtown shopping, and nearby attractions it seemed like I was miles away.

The hotel

When I checked into the hotel the first thing I noticed was the beautiful lobby and the jar filled with cookies at the check in desk (a treat while you wait, I love it). I was also so impressed with the friendly staff who wanted to make sure we had everything we needed.

The room 

We made our way to our room on the 31st floor. I cannot believe the incredible ocean front views that we got to look out onto right from the comfort of my bed. You could see all of downtown Vancouver, the Lions Gate Bridge, the boats in the harbour, and the stunning North Shore Mountains. I have never seen such a beautiful view from a hotel window before.

Speak of the bed, I was so impressed with how comfortable it was. You truly just drowned in the pillows.

 

Dinner at Showcase

While it was hard to leave the beautiful hotel room, we did have reservations at Showcase restaurant. The hotel lobby restaurant has just launched a brand new menu right in time for summer and Chef Jesse Hauchhuasen was giving us a little taste.

We had  a little booth in the back and started off with some delicious refreshing cocktails. The first thing that I noticed was the wide variety of cocktails, wines, beers, and even food. While I thought a restaurant like the Marriott would be pricey, I was impressed with the reasonably priced menu for such a creative selection.

Chef Hauchhuasen came out to explain some of the dishes we were going to eat. What I loved is that he told us a lot of his inspiration comes from his Japanese background and his wife’s Korean heritage. He added that he has traveled to these places a ton to get inspiration for the dishes.

Appetizers

First up were two appetizers, the Albacore Tuna Tataki and the Seared Scallops and Pork Belly. I loved that the food was made with sustainable seafood approved by Ocean Wise. The Tuna Tataki was seasoned with delicious ginger soy vinaigrette and the savoury taste was matched with sweet mango. The Scallops and Pork Belly were seasoned with the most delicious carrot puree. I literally was scooping up the leftover sauce with my fork.

Main course 

Next up, the main course. We were treated to Miso Grilled Sockeye Salmon and Seared Ling Cod. The cod  was possibly the best dish I have ever tasted. The broth was perfectly seasoned with crispy onions and chili oil, while the baby bok choy was the perfect side to compliment the asian inspirations. As for the salmon I loved the sweet soy sauce and the rice crackers added a perfect crunch to the dish.

Dessert

Lastly, dessert. We were treated to the Chocolate Pecan Tart. I couldn’t think of anything better, chocolate and pecan tarts are my favourite sweets and so combining them together was genius. I also loved the added ice cream infused popcorn. It was such a unique and tasty treat.

Overall experience 

After a delicious and filling dinner and a few cocktails, it was back up to the room for bed time. I couldn’t believe the amazing views at night time as well. The whole city lit up as far as the eye could see. It was a beautiful sight and the perfect way to end the day.

The next morning I woke up feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. Just what the doctor ordered. I wasn’t ready to leave the comforts of the room but was thankful for a relaxing and wonderful stay.

If you would like to find out more about what the Marriott Pinnacle has to offer make sure to visit their website.

xo,

Mia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 ways to make travel planning less stressful

Photo by Fezbot2000 on Unsplash

Do you also experience those pre-travel nerves? No matter how much time we've left to
prepare for our holiday or trip abroad, all of us at some point fall victim to the angst that
surrounds the trip. Luckily for you, we’ve come up with 5 helpful tips to make your travel planning less stressful.

1. Write a list

The last thing we want when on holiday or travelling abroad is the realization  that we have
forgotten that all-too-important item we can’t be without. Be it our phone charger, adaptor or
favourite pair of sunglasses – we will no doubt kick ourselves on discovering we haven’t
packed them. For that reason, we swear by writing lists. List each item you want to take with
you and simply tick it off once packed. You can even add items to the list at a later date and
refer back to it so that nothing is forgotten, giving you that added reassurance.

2. Plan ahead 

We all have those special items we want to take on holiday, whether it be an item of clothing,
camera, or book. Prepping these things can often take time and therefore require planning
ahead. This might mean washing clothes in advance so that they are fresh to wear or charging a camera so that the battery will last for the first few days of your trip. Whatever it is, make a note of it on your list so you won’t forget it.

3. Have an itinerary 

For many of us, one of the biggest parts of going away is the anticipation that precedes the
trip. More often than not we have places and activities in mind that we want to see and do,
so making an itinerary is never a bad idea, even if it serves as a reminder of that
recommended restaurant or route to that hidden beach. Whatever it is, making a note of top
tips and planning your days can be a helpful tool and will ensure you make the most of your
time.

4. Travel documents 

Never, ever forget those trusty travel documents. The last thing you want to do is arrive at
your destination ready to hire a car or need an emergency trip to the hospital and not have
your travel insurance or driver’s licence. These small (and often paperless!)
but vital documents are the difference between making or breaking your time away, so always
double-check or even triple-check you’ve got these in a safe place.

5. Be on time 

One of the biggest bug-bears and panic-inducers amongst us travellers is the fear of being
late. Avoid that worry by making sure you plan ahead of schedule at all times. Always give
yourself a 90-minute leeway to get to the airport on time, get your luggage checked in and
have enough time for a toilet break, a snack and time to relax before boarding your flight.
As pre-travel stress is more often than not down to a lack of planning and organization, we
reckon if you can nail these five handy tips, you’ll be enjoying stress-free travel planning
hereafter.

Happy traveling my friends!

xo

This is a contributed post written by Dale White

 

Your full itinerary to the Yukon

A lot of people have asked me, “how was your trip to the Yukon?” I find that question extremely hard to answer because it is almost impossible to put into words how my trip to the Yukon was. “Magical”, “breathtaking”, “supernatural”. Those were a few of the words I could use to try and describe it.

The next question is always, “what was your favourite part?” That question is equally as hard to answer. From the dancing colours of the northern lights to learning all about the First Nations culture, every day, hour, minute, and moment was spectacular.

One thing I can tell you for sure though is that the Yukon stole my heart and in my opinion it should be the number one spot on your bucket list because, as mentioned, it is truly magical. Thinking about planning a trip of your own? Well I wanted to share some of the top things to see, do, and experience to make sure the trip is one you won’t be able to put into words either.

 

Where to stay

Northern Lights Resort and Spa

This is a stunning family run resort just outside of Whitehorse. The resort has four alpine chalets and three aurora glass chalets and we were able to experience both of the accommodations.

The alpine chalets were adorable and a perfect spot for couples to cozy up to one another. They are basically log cabins in the wilderness with a large living room and a fireplace to relax beside while trying to spot the northern lights right outside your north facing window.  What I loved is that the chalets were built from Yukon grown timber and really create a romantic and quaint atmosphere.

The aurora glass chalets had a completely different feel to them. A more modern design with the north facing side of the room offering floor to ceiling glass. This proves the perfect setup to hopefully catch the beautiful  lights dancing across the sky. Even though we didn’t see them this night, we did fall asleep the the view of a million stars shining bright.

 

Mt. Logan Lodge

This is the ultimate family run lodge right on the edge of Kluane National Park in Haines Junction. In fact you can see the incredible mountains right outside your door. I love how creative this family is. On site they have a yurt, and even a bus that used to be a guest room. I also love that you wake up to the smell of fresh coffee and homemade breakfast. In fact, The family cooks all your meals for you.

The other part I loved about this lodge is how passionate the owners are about the area. David and Roxanne are both from big cities, but the moment they stepped foot in Haines Junction, they knew this was where they wanted to be. They wanted to share their love of the spot with their guests.

In the past, the park hasn’t been visited much in the winter so they decided to make it a year round destination by offering guests snowmobiling, ice fishing, and even ice climbing to name a few activities.

What to do

There is honestly so much to see, do, and explore in the Yukon and while I just scratched the surface (and will definitely have to go back sometime soon to discover more) here were a few of my must does:

 

A northern lights adventure

This one is pretty obvious, as I am sure many people travel to the Yukon just to catch a glimpse of this natural wonder. Believe me seeing the lights is worth the trip alone.  I joined Arctic Range Adventure for this bucket list activity. They drive you about 20 minutes outside of Whitehorse to complete darkness. The moment we arrived you could already see the hint of green colouring the night sky. We were able to stay in yurts to keep warm, but I will never forget the rush of emotions when our guide told us to get outside with our cameras. Greens, yellows, and pinks dancing across the sky. It was so beautiful it brought me to tears.

If the northern lights is on your to do list try and book a trip between October and May when the skies are dark enough to see the activity. Also make sure to give yourself time. We were there a whole week and we only saw the lights one night.

A flight over Kluane National Park

The only thing I really knew about Kluane before the trip is that it is home to Mt. Logan, the highest peak in Canada. What I didn’t know is it is actually home to 17 of Canada’s 20 highest peaks. We joined Rocking Star to take a flight above the stunning park. It is also home to beautiful glaciers, rivers, and in the summer time numerous grizzles. Seeing it from the sky with Rocking Star Adventures was breathtaking.

Dogsledding like the pros

The reason that I went to the Yukon in the first place was to experience the Yukon Quest, the world’s toughest dog mushing race from Yukon to Alaska, and so it was natural to give mushing a try for myself. Dog sledding has long been a way of life in the Yukon. I joined the team at Muktuk Adventures to test my skills. The dogs were absolutely beautiful and so sweet. We traveled along the Takhini River, the same route as the pros and took in the stunning wilderness.

A history lesson in Carcross

I had a chance to take a day trip to this small town with Who What Where Tours. Carcross has  a population of only about 300 people and is home to world’s smallest desert.  It is surrounded by beautiful mountains, lakes, and forrest.

We had a chance to visit the Carcross Learning Centre and see some of the amazing  First Nations art and even sit down for a traditional meal. After lunch the cultural learning continued.  We had a chance to meet with Keith Wolfe Smarche, the towns head cover. He showed us his carving shed and some of his amazing work in town. What I loved about meeting Keith was his story. He got into carving because he realized the town had lost all of its vibrant colours during the gold rush and wanted to bring it back for future generations. Hearing his story and seeing his vibrant art was an unforgettable experience.

A visit to Long Ago Peoples Place

One of the things that makes the Yukon so unique is the culture. There are actually 14 different First Nations  and so it was very important for me to really learn about the traditions and heritage. Long Ago People’s Place is located in Champagne and brings you back through time using recreations of traditional Southern Tutchone structures and tools. We had a chance to see how trap lines work and learn about other tools used for different First Nations activities.

Learning about traditions at Shakat Tun Wilderness Camp

Have you ever wondered just how the First Nations people live off of the land in the dead of winter when it is -40c outside? Well we had a chance to find out from James Allen, former chief of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. He taught us how to ice fish, gave us a tour of his family’s traplines, and invited us to his beautiful camp for a traditional lunch. It was the perfect  mix of education and fun and trust me you cannot beat the views along the way.

Learn to make cocktails from the pros

One of my favourite stops of the whole trip was to Well Bread Culinary Centre. Here, we met with Chef Cat and Jennifer Tyldesley from Free Pour Jenny.  We learnt how to make some delicious appetizers and cocktails using local ingredients and home made bitters. We even got a care package to be able to make some of the amazing drinks back in the comfort of our home. The best part is, it is hard to mess up a cocktail especially with these unique bitters so it is a good time guaranteed.

Taste some of the local craft beers 

We had the chance to visit not one but two unique breweries in the Yukon. First was Yukon Brewing where the motto is “beer worth freezing for” and they aren’t joking. The seasonal craft beers truly represent Whitehorse and the history here. Each beer has its own spunky taste.

The next stop was Winterlong Brewery. This brewery only opened about 5 years ago.Marko and Meghan Marjanovic had been homebrewing for 10 years, and finally decided to take the risk and start a brewery. The beers are bold in flavour and really stand out in the crowd of craft beers.

Where to eat

Wayfarer Oyster House

I loved this spot from the moment we walked in the door. The deco was so unique including an oyster chandelier, where if you guess how many oyster make up the piece you win a free shot. They also had some vinyl spinning.  Aside from decorations, the food was amazing. The menu was filled local seafood and sourced meats as well as homemade pasta and smoked fish. It was hard to chose just one plate.

Giorgio’s Cuccina

This is the perfect date night spot. Dim lit with an extensive wine list and authentic Italian food. Start with the baked goat cheese and then fill up on one of their amazing pizzas or pasta plates.

Big Bear Donair

Looking for something quick and delicious? This is the new go to spot and for good reason. The food is creative and tasty. The restaurant prides itself on collecting as much as possible from local business and retailers. And where else can you try a shawarma poutine?

Baked Cafe

I need coffee first thing in the morning to start my day and this was the absolute perfect little coffee shop. I loved how light and cozy this spot is and on all of the walls are little treasures from local jewellery and artists. The coffee and food is also amazing.

As I mentioned I just had a chance to scratch the surface of the beautiful Yukon. There is so much more to do and see in this amazing place and I cannot wait to return to the north and explore even more. I hope you will be able to experience the magic of the Yukon for yourself, because I wasn’t joking when I said I honestly cannot even put into words the beauty of this place.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Photos that will make you want to visit the Yukon

The main reason I wanted to visit the Yukon was for a chance to see the Northern Lights. I have always dreamed of seeing this natural wonder. I truly cried when I saw the lights dancing in front of me. The pictures don’t do it justice but it was beyond magical.

My first glimpse of Kluane National Park came at my dad’s house. He is a professional photographer and has the most magnificent photo above his fireplace. Every time I see it I say I want to go there. Well I went there on an small 4 seater airplane. Seeing Mt. Logan and eight other tallest mountains in Canada from the sky was incredible.

 

What you might not know is the Yukon is home to 14 different First Nations groups. I was lucky enough to visit two of them. When I went to visit the Champagne and Aishihik First Nation I had the chance to meet with one of their former chiefs, James Allen, who taught us all about living off of the land in the dead of winter. We did everything from ice fishing to setting trap lines.

One of my favourite parts of the Yukon was heading up to the small town of Carcoss and learning about the First Nations culture. We had the chance to try an authentic meal and learn from Keith Wolfe Smarch, the towns carver. His designs were beautiful and really added colour and beauty to the town.

 

The main reason that I was in the Yukon was for the Yukon Quest. It is a dog mushing race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks, Alaska. It is considered to be the toughest race of its kind. Mushing is a big part of the history in the Yukon and I had the chase to give it a try and meet some amazing dogs.

Sure, Whitehorse was freezing. In fact, one day it got to around -4o, but there was something beautiful about experiencing this magical place in the winter, even when everything freezes in minutes.

The Yukon was one of the most magical places I have ever been. I had a chance to cross off so many bucket list experiences. From seeing the Northern Lights to flying over Kluane to witnessing the Yukon Quest and to making life long friends.

I cannot wait to return to the Yukon because it truly stole my heart, and I promise it will steal yours too.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo,

Mia

A weekend getaway to Big White Ski Resort

Living in Vancouver, I am so close to the north Vancouver mountains, and just a short 2 hour drive to Whistler. As a ski fanatic, that is a pretty awesome situation if you ask me. While I do love Whistler, Grouse, Seymour, and Cypress I have realized that BC has so much more to offer just a little bit outside of of my neighbourhood. 

I made it a goal of mine this winter to explore more of the beautiful mountains and skiing this province has to offer, and so I decided to make my way over to Big White. 

I fell in love with this quaint little ski town instantly. It has a family friendly vibe, some delicious restaurants, the most ski in/ ski out lodges in all of BC, and of course some beautiful mountains and great skiing. Even if you aren’t a skier like me, this place offers so much that it should definitely be on your winter bucket list. 

About Big White

The snow conditions in the Kelowna area was discovered in the 1960’s and a small ski area opened with a few private chalets. Big White officially came into existence in 1963. The legendary snow ghosts of the mountains was discovered in 1968 and it was also around that time the 1st on mountain accommodation was constructed.  

Since then, the mountain has just continued to grow and attract visitors from around the world. In the 2000’s Happy Valley was constructed adding more than just skiing. The Valley offers everything from a tube park to an Olympic sized skating rink. 

Over the years, Big White has won several awards including best snow in North America and Most Luxurious Ski Resort in the World. 

Where to stay 

With so many ski in/ski out options, it is hard to go wrong. No matter where you stay, the mountain is literally at your doorstep. we stayed at Stonebridge Lodge and it was perfect. It was a very spacious two bedroom suite with a beautiful view overlooking the mountain. We were also spoiled with our own private hot tub for some much needed post ski recovery. 

There was a large kitchen with all the amenities and the comfy living room was complete with a fireplace so you could warm up after a day on the slopes.  

I also really loved that the lodge offered ski lockers and underground parking which is a huge help so you don’t have to lug all of your equipment around. 

What to do

Ski

Obviously this is the biggest draw to come and visit Big White. They have a large variety of runs for all skill levels. My personal favourite was the Black Forest side f the mountain. It has some beautiful paths that took you through the trees and it was truly magical. 

And speaking of snow covered trees, one thing that really makes Big White stand out from other mountains is their famous Snow Ghosts. Basically they are trees that have been coated in ice like snow creating haunting yet beautiful valleys of white ghost trees. 

These beautiful trees are pretty unique to Big White because of the set up of the Okanagan Valley. With the lakes below and the tall mountain peaks, Big White holds in its own moisture and creates its own clouds. When the moisture falls, it falls as icy snow that then coats the trees. Make sure to take the time to snap a photo with the ghosts. 

Ice climbing

Ok, so maybe skiing isn’t your thing. No worries, there are still so many fun activities you have to try when visiting Big White. I had the chance to try ice climbing for the first time, which proved to be a very fun yet challenging sport. 

The Big White Ice Climbing Tower is one of only two ice climbing towers at a ski resort in Canada. It is almost 53 feet tall and is created by attaching four telephone poles and then basically creating a waterfall in-between them. 

It was a little hard to get off the ground since I wasn’t used to ice climbing and unfortunately I didn’t make it all the way to the top, but it was really fun to give it a try. 

Skating

There is something so special about hitting the ice during the winter months. I love feeling the sun in my face as I am swirling around the ice. The ice rink at Big White is pretty special. It is actually the highest elevated skating rink in all of Canada. It is also Olympic sized and has stunning views of the city surrounding it. 

Tubing 

According to the locals, tubing is the most fun activity there is to do in Happy Valley. You really fly down the hills and feel the wind in your face. There are five groomed lanes to race against your friends. 

Fireworks 

One of the things I really loved about my visit to Big White was that every Saturday night (weather dependant) they have a giant firework show in Happy Valley. It was just the perfect way to finish the perfect day. 

Where to eat

I was extremely surprised and impressed with the food options in Big White. For a smaller village, there were so many choices. Everything from fine dining to pub food the selection was endless. 

The Woods 

This was one of my favourite spots. It is located right in the heart of the village. We had the perfect spot right by the fire. The restaurant offers delicious cocktails and a menu filled with locally sourced foods. I loved munching on the smoked gorgonzola and had to try the fisherman’s catch for my main meal. 

Globe Cafe and Tapas Bar 

This was another one of my absolute favourite spots. I loved that this place made me feel right at home. They had healthy meals including homemade soup and gourmet paninis.  I was also able to warm up with a delicious s’mores lattes. 

Clocktower Coffee Co. 

I loved that this coffee shop was located right in the Village Centre Mall and was great for ski in/ski out. I loved the wide selection of hearty breakfast wraps and some delicious, fresh coffee to get you ready for the day on the slopes. 

Gunbarrel Grill 

This restaurant was so unique. I loved the rustic feel as soon as you walked through the door. Our server was so nice and the food was absolutely delicious. Not only did we order some delicious calamari, mac and cheese, and some salmon the meal didn’t break the bank. The best part though had to be dessert. We ended up trying the famous Gunbarrel Coffee. The coffee is quite a show, it is literally made with a double barrel shot gun and flames and it is absolutely delicious. 

I completely fell in love with Big White. From the stunning views on the slopes, to all the fun activities in town, to the delicious food this spot really has it all for an amazing weekend getaway. I cannot wait to get back to Big White. 

Happy traveling my friends, 

 

xo 

Mia