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
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.
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.
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.
My inbox is filled each week with news and notes from around the travel world. Here are some items that landed recently that I thought would be of interest.
Travellers can score a last-minute deal with Trafalgar
Looking for a last minute getaway? Take advantage of Trafalgar’s special last minute deals to Europe and North America. With many departures available, travellers can book their dream summer vacations now. These offers won’t last long, so you’ll need to book fast to save up to $2,602 on European trips and up to $1,278 on North America guided vacations.
“Our last minute deals to Europe and North America are excellent opportunities for travellers to plan that summer vacation with huge savings,” says Wolf Paunic, president of Trafalgar Canada. “With departures dates on guided vacations from May to August, there are lots of options for Canadian travellers.”
Tours include Britain and Ireland Panorama, Italian Glory, Best of Hawaii Moderate and Northern California.
Canadians looking to visit some of the settings of the Bard’s most famous plays can take advantage of some of these European tours this summer:
Fans of Measure for Measure should consider Insight Vacations’ 11-day “Vienna Budapest and Prague” itinerary which visits Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic; from $2,850 with departures throughout spring and summer. For more information, visit insightvacations.com
Those who love Romeo & Juliet or the Two Gentlemen of Verona should look at Uniworld’s 10-day “Gems of Northern Italy” itinerary that travels from Milan to Venice aboard a floating palace; from $4,949 with departures throughout summer. For more information, visit uniworld.com
Hamlet aficionados need to visit Kronborg Castle located in Helsingør, Denmark. They can do that with Contiki’s 13-day “Scandinavia (end Helsinki)” itinerary visits Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland; from $2,585 with departures in August 2016. For more information, visit contiki.com
If Macbeth is your cup of tea, then head to Glamis Castle in Scotland with Trafalgar’s 13-day “Scotland’s Highlands Islands and Cities” itinerary visits the Scottish Highlands including Orkney, Skye and Mull; from $3,906 with departures throughout spring and summer. For more information, visit trafalgar.com
To know more about Shakespeare, visit his home country, with a stop in Stratford-upon-Avon, on Insight Vacations’ 5-day “Gems of Britain” itinerary captures the essence of Britain in only a few days; from $1,695 with departures throughout spring and summer. For more information, visit insightvacations.com
Tour Barcelona’s Jewish Quarter with Context Travel
Context Travel, known for its critically acclaimed walking tours in the world’s cultural capitals, is expanding its Barcelona program to include a Jewish history walk in the Gothic Quarter.
Titled “Jewish Barcelona,” the walk looks at uncovering the history of the Jewish community in the cultural capital of Catalonia.
Visitors on the walk will explore the Gothic Quarter, looking at the the former Jewish neighborhood, known as El Call. Strolling the area, they will connect the difficult history of the Sephardic Jews to Barcelona’s present Jewish community, gaining cultural and religious insights.
The 2.5 hour walk is available Tuesdays and Sundays for groups, priced at 85 euros per person, or privately daily, priced at 375 euros for a party of up to 6 travelers. For specific inquiries regarding scheduling, please consult their website at www.contexttravel.com
Jamaica’s Half Moon Resort wants guests to help sea turtles
Half Moon resort in Jamaica is offering guests for its turtle season (August 1 –November 30) an exciting opportunity to tick off their bucket list this summer and learn how they can play their part in sea turtle conservation.
The Sizzling Summer Offer includes:
7 nights luxury accommodations with up to 7 nights free (a savings of up to 50%!)
Sunset picnic on the beach
Guided night-time turtle walk
Reserve picnic and turtle walk on arrival. (Turtle walk based on turtle nesting & hatching patterns. Turtle sightings not guaranteed).
Book by July 24; stay August 1 – November 30. To book your reservation, contact your travel agent or call 1-876-953-2211, using the promo code TSIZZ. Terms & Conditions apply.
Refugees’ perilous sea voyages featured in new Winnipeg exhibit
A new exhibit at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) in Winnipeg looks at the perilous voyages across the Mediterranean, attempted last year by over a million migrants and refugees who were fleeing war, persecution and instability.
Their journeys began in countries such as Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. One in five was a child. Over 3,600 people lost their lives on these voyages in 2015.
The exhibit, called A Perilous Crossing, is centred on the 2015 story of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders as they carried out search-and-rescue operations aboard ships (including a retrofitted Canadian fishing boat, the Phoenix) to save lives at sea.
This small exhibit includes lifejackets worn by children rescued by Médecins Sans Frontières and Migrant Offshore Aid Station last summer – including an inflatable “toy” vest unsuitable for survival at sea – and a plastic compass that was the only navigation equipment found on an overcrowded inflatable boat with 118 people on board.
The exhibit was developed by the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax, in partnership with the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa, and with the cooperation of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. Newly adapted and re-designed for its showing at the CMHR, it will be on display at the Museum until September 25.
If you’re organizing an out-of-town event or travelling with a team or group, then Room Blocker is the website where you can book a block of rooms for everyone. The site works with more than 100,000 hotels so chances are you’ll find one no matter where you are travelling.