Most expensive cities in Canada for hotels? It’s not the ones you think

If you were to ask me which cities were the most expensive for hotels in Canada in the summer, I’d probably pick the most popular resort destinations followed by the country’s three biggest cities, but I’d only be half right.

Online hotel booking site Cheaphotels.org surveyed prices in 30 Canadian destinations for August 2018 to find out which were the most expensive places to book a centrally-located hotel, rated 3 stars or higher.

Tops on the list was a resort destination, Banff at $336 CAD, followed by Vancouver at $324, but Montreal and Toronto didn’t even crack the top 10.

I would have expected Whistler, B.C. to be in the top 10, but it was other resort destinations like Canmore and Niagara-on-the-Lake that made the cut.

The least expensive destinations among the ones surveyed were Edmonton and Saskatoon where travelers can find rooms for around $100 per night which is a great deal because both cities are fantastic places to visit in the summer.

Here’s the top 30 list:

1. Banff $336
2. Vancouver $324
3. Canmore $316
4. Richmond $236
5. Niagara on the Lake $235
6. Halifax $234
7. Kingston $234
8. Kelowna $221
9. Quebec City $187
10. Victoria $184

If you want to read the full results of the company’s survey, visit:
https://www.cheaphotels.org/press/canada18.html

Canadian government marks the historical significance of the Dionne quintuplets

Canada has more than its fair share of historical events and places, but I’ve always thought that of the Dionne quintuplets was a bit of an oddity.

Born in the small Ontario town of Corbeil on May 28, 1934, the Dionne quintuplets may be the only set of identical quintuplets ever recorded and are the first quintuplets known to have survived their infancy. The odds of naturally occurring quintuplets are estimated to be about one in 55,000,000 births, but the odds of identical quintuplets are considered incalculable.

Their births during the Great Depression captured the world’s attention, and the sisters quickly became an international sensation.

I’m not sure why yesterday was chosen as the date to commemorate their lives, but the MP for Nipissing, Anthony Rota, unveiled a commemorative plaque at the Dionne Quintuplets birth home museum in North Bay which was moved from Corbeil in the 1980s.

The sad part of the story is that quintuplets were put under the control of a board of guardians soon after their birth and the girls spent their first nine years at “Quintland,” a specially-built facility where they were featured as a tourist attraction. Millions of tourists travelled from around the world to see them and witness firsthand the survival of the world’s most famous babies. Eventually, they were returned to their family in 1943. Could you imagine the outrage if that happened today?

In 1997, three of the surviving quintuplets (one has since died) wrote an open letter to the parents of septuplets, warning them about the exploitation they endured:

“Our lives have been ruined by the exploitation we suffered at the hands of the government of Ontario, our place of birth. We were displayed as a curiosity three times a day for millions of tourists. To this day we receive letters from all over the world. To all those who have expressed their support in light of the abuse we have endured, we say thank you. And to those who would seek to exploit the growing fame of these children, we say beware.”

 

 

Canada set to get its first pod hotel

Ever since I heard about pod hotels in Japan, I’ve been fascinated by the concept, but have never gotten around to actually staying in one. I came close earlier this year when I had a quick overnight layover in Mexico City with an early morning flight and tried to book a pod in the MEX airport, but there were none available.

That’s why I was interested by a press release issued by the Pangea Pod Hotel , which will be the first of its kind in Canada. Set to open this month in Whistler, British Columbia, Pangea’s rooms will, at most, cost half the price of a conventional hotel room, and usually far less. The big advantage is that the low price will make the resort more accessible to solo and budget travellers.

The hotel is a labour of love for the husband-and-wife team Russell and Jelena Kling who spent years traversing the globe, garnering first-hand experience about what makes for a comfortable and satisfying stay. The hotel is result of three years of planning and prototype development.

“Pangea combines the affordability of a hostel with the perks of a boutique hotel,” says co-founder Russell. “We wanted to cater to the type of traveller who enjoys the conviviality of shared spaces but prefers their own personal space at the end of the day.”

The hotel will feature 88 independent sleeping pods that will be divided among eight separate “suites”. One suite is dedicated to female-only guests. Bathroom facilities are divided into individual components (more than 60 in total) to offer privacy and limit line-ups. These individual components include washrooms with vanities, showers with changing space, stand-alone vanities, and changing rooms.

03. Pod - Front-entry.jpg

Each wood-lined pod contains artwork and mirrors, as well as a comfortable double memory-foam mattress, individually controlled LED lights, a built-in fan that provides both air circulation and white noise, a lockable cabinet for valuables like iPads and phones, hanging space for clothes, and a storage area for luggage.

Pangea aims to offers superb shared spaces, too. The Living Room, a stylish combo of lounge, bar, café, and espresso bar, boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the bustle of Whistler’s Village Stroll, giving the space the feeling of an outdoor patio. The Rooftop Patio is Whistler’s only true rooftop bar, providing a bird’s eye view of Mountain Square. And The Toy Box, an open-plan secure storage area for skis, snowboards, mountain bikes, and other gear, was custom created to address the needs of equipment-laden outdoor enthusiasts.

08. The Toy Box - Bike (Summer setup).jpg

In some ways, staying in a tiny room, no matter how luxuriously appointed, will force you to get out into those shared spaces and out of the hotel to explore your surroundings.

Pangea is slated to open in time for Crankworx, a world-famous mountain-bike competition and one of Whistler’s biggest summer events, which kicks off on August 10.

Pods are now available for booking at pangeapod.com/bookings.

 

Quebec City’s summer visitors invited to experience a taste of winter

Outside of its ski destinations, tourism in Canada during winter has always been a bit of a hard sell, but Québec City Tourism, in collaboration with Ateliers du Carnaval de Québec, has come up with a unique way to let visitors experience winter right in the middle of summer.

Seeing that the province is in the midst of a record-setting heat wave with temperatures in the high 30s Celsius, the promotion is either a stroke of genius or blessed by fortunate timing.

A 26-by-9-foot container, refrigerated to 4 to 8̊⁰C and decked out in all the trappings of the snow season has been set up near Dufferin Terrace in Quebec City to offer tourists a feel for Québec winters, with ice sculptures, a mini ice hotel, a ski lift, a Québec décor, and videos on popular seasonal activities.

The container will be open noon to 9 p.m. seven days a week until September 3, 2018 next to Dufferin Terrace between the Samuel de Champlain monument and the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Hotel, which is Ground Zero for tourists and locals alike.

As an added bonus, Bonhomme Carnaval, the famed mascot of the city’s winter carnival, will be making surprise visits throughout the summer.

To reduce the ecological footprint of Micro Climat(e) and support carbon neutrality, 1,000 trees have been planted as part of the green program of the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Hotel “Château Boréal”.

The container is easily transportable so expect it to go on tour eventually as the city continues to promote winter tourism.

Tips from the CBSA for facilitating your border crossing into Canada

Know your purchases and keep travel documents handy – Canadian residents should know their personal exemptions and restrictions and make sure that each passenger has the correct travel document. Have your travel documents and receipts in hand when you arrive at the border. It is recommended you travel with a passport as it is the only universally recognized travel document.

Declare all purchases, acquisitions, and/or gifts received when returning to Canada – refer to the I Declare brochure on the CBSA website for more information. If you are bringing gifts, it is recommended they not be wrapped as they may need to examined.

Plan your border crossing – Check border wait times using the CanBorder App and cross at the least busy port of entry in the area. Historically, holidays result in higher than normal volumes; plan your entry during non-peak hours such as early morning. The Monday of holiday long weekends tends to be busiest, plan around it.

Know the contents of your vehicle – Travellers can consult the CBSA’s website for information on firearms and other restricted and prohibited goods. Declare all your goods.

Become a NEXUS member – NEXUS is designed to expedite the border clearance process for low-risk, pre-approved travellers into Canada and the United States. NEXUS members receive expedited border clearance in the land, air, and marine modes, and a NEXUS membership is valid for five years.  Additionally, you may take advantage of NEXUS expedited benefits when going through Canadian Air Transport Security Authority at key airports across Canada.

Use a Primary Inspection Kiosk – If you arrive at one of Canada’s busiest international airports, you can now verify your identity and make an on screen declaration using a primary inspection kiosk. Most travellers arriving in Canada by air, including returning residents and foreign nationals may use the kiosk. Download our eDeclaration mobile app to save even more time when you arrive by air in Canada.

Do not travel with cannabis (marijuana) – Cannabis is not yet legal in Canada. And even when it is, it will remain illegal to take it across the border.

Not sure? Ask the CBSA officer – The single best thing you can do to save time returning to Canada is to simply be open and honest with the CBSA officer. If you are not sure about what to declare, don’t hesitate to ask. The officers are there to help you.

For more information, visit the CBSA website or contact the Border Information Service.

Toronto’s CN Tower gets an upgrade after 42 years

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to the top of the CN Tower in Toronto, but I saw the news that announced on its 42nd birthday that it’s observation deck has undergone a $16 million renovation/

A new Glass Floor has been installed directly above the original which I suppose was starting to show its age. All I know, is that even though I know it’s perfectly safe, when you find yourself standing 346 metres (1,136 feet) above the ground, ,my brain tells me I’m in danger. Don’t even get me started on the EdgeWalk outside on the top of the tower. I don’t have a fear of heights, but I do have a fear of falling, so I’ll take a hard pass.

More interesting, is the observation deck will have new floor-to-ceiling glass “Window Walls” to provide unobstructed panoramic views which will be perfect for children and people with mobility challenges to fully enjoy the views of Toronto.

For those who want to linger, three new bistros are being added to the top of the tower, but I’d imagine most people are there for the views and not the food.

More interesting is a new Viewfinder App for mobile devices that helps users identify the Toronto landmarks below which is helpful if you’re not a local and have no idea what you’re looking at.

I’ve been to the top of the tower during the day time and at night and I’d say that night time is my favourite, but being there at sunset is pretty special so if you’ve only ever been up there once, it’s worth it to visit at a different time of day to get a different experience.

At a height of 553.33 metres (1,815 ft., 5 inches), Canada’s National Tower was once the tallest free-standing structure in the world. It’s long since been surpassed by other buildings, but it’s still an engineering wonder.  For all the details, visit www.cntower.ca. 

 

Artists, islands and orcas: The top travel destinations in Canada for 2018

Canada 150 festivities may be wrapping up, but 2018 still offers plenty of reasons to vacation within our own borders.

“From sea to sea” takes on new meaning now that the highway to Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories opened in November. It’s the first all-season road in Canada that will allow people to drive all the way to the Arctic Ocean. Prior to that, the only way to get to the northern hamlet was by plane or by ice road in the winter.

Tuktoyaktuk residents are excited to see how the highway transforms the community, but, at the same time, fearful of the disruption it might bring. But while local guides are gearing up for an influx of visitors, the town is still remote enough that it won’t ever become as overtouristed as cities such as Barcelona or Venice. spectacularnwt.com

Read the rest of the story on The Globe & Mail’s website.

Earth, wind and water: 10 offbeat experiences in and around Montreal

There’s nothing better than getting outside during a Montreal summer, but if you have already overdosed on festivals and had your fill of celebrating the city’s 375th birthday, we’ve got 10 unique experiences in and around Montreal that will help you get off your couch to try something new.

IN THE AIR

Skydive without a parachute

Unless the engines are on fire, most people would rather not jump out of an airplane, yet there are thousands who strap on parachutes to skydive for fun.

If you’re hesitant to make that jump, the closest thing is to take a leap into the skydiving simulator at SkyVenture, located in Laval’s Centropolis complex.

It’s basically a cylindrical room with a giant fan on the floor that blows air upward with enough force to make you float in the air. Each flight lasts 60 seconds, which is the typical length of a parachutist’s free fall, and children as young as four can do it.

An intro package with two flights costs $68. A four-flight package sells for $93.93, and a 10-flight deal is available for $182.65.

2700 Cosmodôme Ave., 514-524-4000, skyventuremontreal.com

Read the rest of the story on montrealgazette.com.

Walking in the footsteps of Newfoundland’s Viking settlers

After visiting the only known Viking settlement in North America, we learned to appreciate the struggles that the New World’s first immigrants faced a thousand years ago just to find this place and then to survive in its harsh environment.

We hiked out into the low, scrubby landscape at L’Anse aux Meadows, N.L. to visit the remnants of their seaside settlement, but were underwhelmed to see that it was not much more than a small collection of grassy mounds. That disappointment vanished quickly as our Parks Canada guide brought the story of those mounds to life. He explained how the Vikings smelted iron from the bogs to make nails to repair their ships and struggled to survive at that spot for several years until they eventually abandoned it.

Read the rest of the story on Metro.

Video: Canada

Canadians take winter for granted and start complaining about it after a few months of cold, but when we can experience it through the eyes of someone who doesn’t see snow very often we are reminded how special it is to have four distinct seasons that we can enjoy. Here’s a reminder of how beautiful Canada can be in fall and winter as seen by a Colombian visitor.