TRAVEL | A Winter Weekend Getaway at Whistler by Jenn Chan

Whistler Gondola

Ahhhh… a weekend getaway into winter wonderland is exactly what was needed this holiday season! What better way to celebrate Christmas than to be whisked away to Whistler for a weekend, enjoying the slopes, adventures, restaurants, bars, and fireplace? I’m an avid snowboarder, so this was especially nice since the local mountains had a slow start, and I have been itching to shred since November!

The weekend started with a quick easy check in at Legends Creekside, located in the heart of Creekside Village and very convenient located beside the Creekside Gondola, perfect for ski-in, ski-out access. The building also happens to have one of the Whistler Blackcomb Guest Relations offices and Ticket Booth attached to it.

Legends Creekside

Once checked in, I was welcomed to one of the one bedroom suites on the top floor of this 6-floor hotel. The room comes complete with a King bed, a Queen sofa bed, a bathroom, a full kitchen, and features a gas fireplace, and an in suite washer/dryer. There was more than enough space for the 2 of us to wind down, cook some meals, and cozy up by the fire with some Christmas tunes. Being able to dry and warm up our wet snow gear at the end of the day by the fire is definitely an added luxury. There is also a ski/snowboard locker storage area located by the front desk to store your winter gear, conveniently located by Creekside Express Gondola. Legends also includes a fitness centre, pool table in the games room, a theratre, Nintendo Switch games room, and my favourite outdoor pool, complete with 2 hot tubs. There is nothing better than to relax in an outdoor hot tub with a warm beverage as the snow lightly falls onto your heads après-ski!

Legends Creekside One Bedroom Suite
Legends Creekside Kitchen
Legends Creekside Bedroom
Legends Living Room

Legends Living Room

Tourism Whistler set us up with some awesome Whistler merchandise, including Dark Hazelnut Chocolate, Whistler branded Goggle Socs & Some Gypsy Soul bath salts & coffee scrub!

Tourism Whistler set us up with some awesome Whistler merchandise, including Dark Hazelnut Chocolate, Whistler branded Goggle Socs & Some Gypsy Soul bath salts & coffee scrub!

Onto the fun stuff! Waking up the next morning to fresh snowfall outside the windows was just absolutely lovely! It set the tone for the day as we prepare ourselves for the day up on Whistler Blackcomb! CAN-SKI helped us out with some ski rentals, the knowledgeable staff were able to set us up with the best gear for our skill level and snow conditions! The lineups for the gondolas and lifts were surprisingly not bad, considering it was Christmas weekend. The lifties & staff worked efficiently to get all the skiiers and snowboarders up on the chairs. We were whisked up to the top where the Umbrella Bar is, which is also where you can take the Peak to Peak chair between Whistler and Blackcomb. The conditions of the snow was amazing to say the least, the runs were nice and wide and nicely groomed with fresh powder on top. We frequented the Cougar Park, Bobcat Park, Jolly Green Giant, Green Acres, Old Man, and Franz’s runs.

Whistler Chairlift Emerald 6
Whistler Blackcomb
Whistler Blackcomb Slope

The best part about snowboarding on Whistler Blackcomb is the accessibility from the mountains to the village and being able to après-ski properly. How absolutely amazing is it to be able to snowboard down to the restaurant right by the lift after a day on the mountains? That is exactly what we did, we made our way down Village Run right onto the covered patio of Garibaldi Lift Company to enjoy some food and drinks by the fire pit, all while watching people wander the village. It was the perfect way to wind down and warm up the toes!

Garibaldi Lift Co Patio
Whistler Village, Garibaldi Lift Company

 

Whistler Village this time of year is extremely festive. We went meandering through the Village and there were Christmas lights all over the Village Stroll. When we reached Whistler Olympic Plaza, it took my breath away! They had transformed the plaza into a skating rink and sledding area! It was absolutely beautiful to be in the middle of all of that and seeing couples and families enjoy the snow and ice under the warm glow of Christmas lights. There is something about this time of year that brings people together that I love seeing. It just warms my heart.

Whistler Village
Whistler Olympic Plaza

Whistler Olympic Plaza

We couldn’t end our trip without trying some amazing restaurants offered in the village. After checking out many different restaurants and menus online, we decided on Basalt Wine + Salumeria, conveniently located along the Village Stroll beside Crystal Lodge. I’ll try to keep this section short and sweet, but the dinner was amazing! We started off with a Beef Striploin Carpaccio (+ “a bag of chips”), and every bite was incredible. The texture and flavours come together so beautifully, I wish there was more of it, but alas we must move on to the main courses. As adventurous eaters, we decided on the more unique items on the menu. We chose the Cashew Crusted Rock Fish & the New Zealand Venison + Chorizo Ragu Cavatelli with its wine pairings, which paired beautifully with the meal. The rock fish with seaweek pesto and chilean crab stir fried red quinoa was an incredible flavour explosion in my mouth. The flavours & textures worked so well together, it leaves you wanting more, bite after bite. The Venison dish with Cavatelli is the definition of a savoury comfy food. It tastes like a warm hug after a cold day, telling you everything is going to be okay. We were already quite stuffed at this point, but felt we should try their dessert menu along with some boozy hot drinks to end our experience. We ordered their Apple + Butterscotch Crème Brulée, which to my surprise, was very delicious! Not that I was expecting it to be bad, but I’m just not a big dessert person!

Beef Striploin Carpaccio + “a bag of chips”

Beef Striploin Carpaccio + “a bag of chips”

Cashew Crusted Rock Fish & the New Zealand Venison + Chorizo Ragu Cavatelli

Cashew Crusted Rock Fish & the New Zealand Venison + Chorizo Ragu Cavatelli

Cashew Crusted Rock Fish with Daydreamer Riesling 2017

Cashew Crusted Rock Fish with Daydreamer Riesling 2017

New Zealand Venison + Chorizo Ragu Cavatelli with Moraine Estate Pinot Noir 2016

New Zealand Venison + Chorizo Ragu Cavatelli with Moraine Estate Pinot Noir 2016

Apple + Butterscotch Crème Brulée | maple almond tuile, ginger struesel

Apple + Butterscotch Crème Brulée | maple almond tuile, ginger struesel

Basalt Boozy Hot Chocolate | Frangelico, Jameson, whip cream Peanut Buttered Rum | Gosling's Black Rum, brown sugar, spice, peanut butter, steamed milk

Basalt Boozy Hot Chocolate | Frangelico, Jameson, whip cream
Peanut Buttered Rum | Gosling's Black Rum, brown sugar, spice, peanut butter, steamed milk

Our weekend drew to an end, as the fluffy snow fell outside our windows, we really didn’t want to have to pack up and leave. It’s been such a great way to start the Christmas holidays. I hope you’ll be able to make your way up to Whistler sometime this season! There is something for everyone to do, from Skiing & Snowboarding, to strolling in the village, to trying out different restaurants, to relaxing at a spa, to a wild night out in the bars & clubs.

Thank you Tania and the Tourism Whistler team for setting this nice little getaway up, I’ll definitely have to find another excuse to come back up later in the season!

IMG_1205.JPG

PRESS RELEASE | Vancouver International Wine Festival: Feb 23 - Mar 3, 2019 Ticket Information by Jenn Chan

Vancouver International Wine Festival 2019

VanWineFest Tickets On Sale January 9
Trade events on sale January 23

VANCOUVER, BC (December 18, 2018) — The 41st Vancouver International Wine Festival returns for an eight-day celebration of wine and food February 23 to March 3 at the Vancouver Convention Centre and other venues around Metro Vancouver. The 2019 festival features 160 wineries participating in 54 events. This year, the spotlight shines on wines from California, with 53 wineries from the Golden State in attendance.

  • Tickets for all public events go on sale Wednesday, January 9 at 9:30 a.m.

  • Tickets for Trade Days Conference events go on sale Wednesday, January 23 at 9:30 a.m.

Tickets are currently on sale for the four International Festival TastingsBacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction, the Delta Air Lines Tasting Lounge, as well as the Gold Pass and Trade Days Pass.

From educational wine seminars, tastings and parties to lively lunches, winery dinners and the spectacular Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction, VanWineFest offers something to please every palate. Browse public events online, click through the interactive Festival at a Glance PDF, or download the promotional brochure for full festival details. For those in the wine trade, see Trade Days events here.

BOOK A HOTEL, GET A FREE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL TASTING TICKET!
Save, sip, and stay safe! Book a stay at one of StayVancouverHotels.com’s 38 downtown hotels and receive a free International Festival Tasting ticket (an $84 to $109 value) to the session of your choice. Quantities are limited and the offer is only available until February 14, so book early to taste for free. The StayVancouverHotels.com initiative is an important cornerstone of the festival’s Don’t Wine and Drive program.

HOW TO PURCHASE TICKETS
Online
VanWineFest.ca 24/7 (all events will be off-sale on January 8)
Phone: 604-873-3311, toll free 1-877-321-3121 (Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.)
In person: 202-162 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver (Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.)

All ticket prices include wine, food (if a food event), gratuities, taxes and service charge.

HOLIDAY BOX OFFICE HOURS FOR PHONE AND IN-PERSON SALES
December 24: 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
December 27 & 28: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (phone sales only) 
December 31: 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (phone sales only)
December 25, 26, January 1: closed

STAY IN TOUCH
For more information, go to VanWineFest.ca
Twitter: follow @VanWineFest for news on tickets and sold-out events. Join the conversation at #VIWF.
Facebook & Instagram: @VanWineFest

ABOUT VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL WINE FESTIVAL
Canada’s premier wine show will mark its 41st edition of pairing wine, food and the performing arts from February 23 to March 3, 2019. The festival features California Wines and will showcase 160 wineries from 15 countries (including 53 wineries from California) pouring ~1,450 wines at 54 events to a projected 25,000 admissions. The Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction opens the festival on Saturday, February 23 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. The Trade Days Conference runs Wednesday, February 27 to Friday, March 1. The festival has been named the #1 Food, Wine & Hospitality Event in Canada by New York’s BizBash for six years running. The festival is produced by the Vancouver International Wine Festival Society, which has three mandates: provide an informative, educational and entertaining wine experience for public and trade; be a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry and festival partners; and raise funds for the Bard on the Beach Theatre Society. Since inception in 1979, the festival has raised $9.2 million for the performing arts. Major sponsors are Delta Air Lines and the Vancouver Sun; major industry partners are the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, BC Liquor Stores, and the Import Vintners & Spirits Association. The festival is made possible through the gracious support of our participating countries’ consulates and embassies

ABOUT WINE INSTITUTE OF CALIFORNIA
Established in 1934 and based in San Francisco, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of more than 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiates and advocates state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program has more than 175 member wineries exporting to 138 countries. The program’s 15 representative offices conduct activities in 25 countries around the globe. The Wine Institute’s Canadian office coordinates a number of promotional activities every year designed to educate and inform media, trade, stakeholders and consumers about the quality and diversity of products available from the Golden State. For more information on the Wine Institute of California, visit the website at www.discovercaliforniawines.com and www.calwine.ca

ABOUT BARD ON THE BEACH SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
Celebrating its 30th season in 2019, Bard on the Beach is one of Canada's largest not-for-profit, professional Shakespeare festivals. It is presented on the waterfront in Kitsilano’s Vanier Park, adjacent to Vancouver’s downtown core. Bard on the Beach offers Shakespeare plays, related dramas and popular special events in two performance tents every June through September. In 2018, attendance was 108,000 and almost 1.9 million patrons have experienced Bard since its inception. Next year’s festival dates are June 5 to September 21, 2019, and the lineup includes The Taming of the ShrewShakespeare in LoveAll’s Well That Ends Well and Coriolanus. Bard also offers a range of education programs, including Young Shakespeareans workshops for 8-18 year-olds at its Vanier Park site during the summer, and the Riotous Youth program for 19 to 24-year-olds. During the school term, Bard also offers workshops for educators and youth in schools and community centres throughout BC’s Lower Mainland, as well as at its administrative home, the BMO Theatre Centre (162 West 1st Avenue). Full details and education program information are at bardonthebeach.org.

WHAT TO DO | Prince of Whales | Half-Day Whale Watching Adventures by Jenn Chan

Prince of Whales, Salish Sea Dream


If you’ve visited or live in Vancouver chances are good that you have checked out some of the iconic attractions around town: Stanley Park, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Granville Island.  Perhaps you’ve gone for a harbour cruise, too.  I’ve done a harbour cruise and it was lovely but slow, sedate even.  If you want to kick up the excitement factor by a thousand percent I suggest a whale watching trip.  When Jenn suggested we try the half day trip with Prince of Whales Whale Watching I immediately said yes!  I don’t have a bucket list of adventures to tick off but if I did whale watching would be a must do.

Check in time is half an hour before departure time.  The office for Prince of Whales is in the Westin Bayshore Hotel right on the waterfront in downtown Vancouver.  After picking up our boarding cards we congregated outside with about ninety other passengers.  Our splendid boat was the Salish Sea Dream, a purpose built 78 foot catamaran.  It cost 3.5 million dollars and entered service just last year.  Top speed is 35 knots, it has four jets rather than propellers, and it is very stable at all speeds.  Boarding was quick and efficient and we left the dock a few minutes early with everyone aboard.  There is enclosed seating on the main deck, semi-enclosed and open seating on the upper deck.  A snack bar and washrooms are located on the main deck.


One of the benefits of starting the trip from the Westin Bayshore is seeing the sparkling Vancouver skyline from the water as we depart. A safety briefing is conducted as we leave port.  Rounding Stanley Park and passing under the Lions Gate Bridge is worth several photos, and like everyone else aboard we could not resist these photo ops.  Once out of the harbour the speed picks up and it becomes apparent why it was suggested we dress warmly.  Blankets are passed out for the comfort of those who prefer to remain in the open air seating.  Baseball style hats are susceptible to being lost overboard because of the wind so you are forewarned to stow them away before regretting your choice of headwear.


Vancouver Skyline
Windy on Prince of Whales


In less time than it takes me to drive to Ikea the Salish Sea Dream has arrived at a large yellow buoy not far from Bowen Island with half a dozen Steller Sea Lions on it seemingly yearning for their photos to be taken.  The captain announced over the loudspeakers that he would position the boat so the buoy would be on the left side.  Even with everybody rushing to the port side the catamaran was rock steady!  It was thrilling to watch the sea lions.  They are huge!  One of them drew a few laughs as it tried and failed to climb aboard the buoy from the water.


Sea Lions on Buoy
Sea Lions



Our course continued westward towards Nanaimo.  The route taken by the boat varies daily depending on best estimates as to where whales might be located.  A humpback whale had been found yesterday and we were in search of its location today.  After a short while some arms raised, fingers pointing to a spot on the water in the distance.  Nobody shouted “Thar she blows!” but the electric feeling of the sighting excited all aboard.  We approached slowly, trying to anticipate where the whale would surface next.  Humpback whales can stay underwater for up to half an hour but normally surface much more frequently.  When they exhale a large plume of spray from the two blowholes can be spotted from a great distance.  Once we sighted the whale again we moved closer for a better look.  Guidelines stipulate being no closer than 100 meters to a humpback whale.  Had we spotted an orca the closest we could have approached would be 200 meters.  I think we rapturously watched this whale for about half an hour, its movements becoming more familiar to us with time: a few breaths, a deep dive that exposed the tail fluke, a few minutes of waiting for the whale to resurface.  Humpback whales don’t really have a hump on their backs, they just arch their backs into a hump-like shape as they start a dive.  The well informed staff aboard the Salish Sea Dream were eager to share information about this whale and also everything we saw and experienced while aboard.  This particular humpback whale is known as Ghost.  Identification is made by the distinctive markings on the tail fluke.  We didn’t get to see Ghost breach or slap the water with its flippers or tail but it was incredible to see this huge creature of the ocean so close to us.


Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale


Closer to Nanaimo we saw multitudes of Harbour Seals, some of them picturesquely posing by Entrance Island.  The whole area around Gabriola Island is gorgeous from the water.  This trip could be renamed a Seal Watching Expedition as we saw so many Harbour Seals and Stellar Sea Lions.  We even caught sight of a huge eagle resting on some rocks before flying off.  The return crossing of the Strait of Georgia back to Vancouver gave staff an opportunity to show us on a map exactly where we had wildlife sightings.  I would suggest you take the opportunity to chat for a while with the friendly staff.  They have seen and experienced wonderful things and have some great stories to tell.  Kids in particular were very keen to learn all about the whales.  Jenn and I compared our photos from the day and relaxed for a while, rousing ourselves again for the always impressive entrance to Vancouver under the Lions Gate Bridge.  This was a great day on the water.


Seals
Seals
Islands
Lions Gate Bridge
Vancouver Skyline


Prince of Whales Whale Watching season is from late April to the first few days of November.  From early June to the first week of September there are two excursions per day, one at 8:30 a.m. and the other at 2:30 p.m.  The rest of the season there is one trip per day at 12 noon.  A long lens will be great if you are a photographer, binoculars will be handy for those without cameras.  Dress for strong winds, it is rather cool out on the water.  You might want to bring some food and water with you.  On sunny days you will want sunglasses and sunscreen.  The website for Prince of Whales is https://princeofwhales.com/ 

Prince of Whales
Prince of Whales
 

Words: Steve McConnell
Photos: 
Jenn Chan

Kwilt Shoebox Plus by Jenn Chan

Kwilt Shoebox Plus
Kwilt Shoebox Plus

The Kwilt Shoebox Plus has JUST launched, and is a device that creates a private, personal cloud where you can offload photos and videos to clear off space from your smartphones securely. You can easily access your files anytime, and anywhere via the app.

I was lucky enough to be able to test out one of the units, and I’ve got to say, after all the set up and registration, it was a breeze to use and upload files off my iphone to the device. Seeing as I snap lots of photos and videos daily, I’m so thankful to be able to clear off some space instead of having to make the hard decision of what to delete! (we have all been there!) The part I like most is knowing that all my files are secured and only able to be accessed by me.

All you have to do for set up is:

  1. Power up your Shoebox device, and connect to your WIFI connection

  2. Connect your USB Memory Card (it comes with a 64GB drive)

  3. Download the Kwilt mobile app (sign up for an account & log in)

The Kwilt Shoebox Plus is priced at $119. The Kwilt Shoebox Plus is platform agnostic and includes all of the great features of its sister product, the Kwilt Shoebox Mini, plus even faster processing speeds thanks to its Quad-Core CPU, 5 GHz Wireless-AC network and the ability to connect directly to your router through fast Ethernet. Photos are uploaded in seconds, and its additional USB ports allow up to 4 storage devices to be connected simultaneously. With the Plus, consumers can:

 

  • Offload mobile photos and videos seamlessly at faster speeds

  • Enjoy unlimited mobile storage by connecting up to 4 USB storage devices to the Kwilt Shoebox

  • Maintain original, full-resolution photos and videos

  • Access photos and videos from anywhere, on any mobile platform

  • No longer pay monthly storage subscription fees

  • Maintain complete privacy with a personal cloud accessible only by the consumer

More specs & purchase information can be found at https://www.kwiltshoebox.com/. The Kwilt app is available for free on the Android and iTunes app stores.

Kwilt Shoebox Plus App
Kwilt Shoebox Plus App
Kwilt Shoebox Plus App
 

New Fall Drinks at Starbucks starting September 6, 2018 by Jenn Chan

IMG_4973.JPG

 

If you're like 80% of people in Vancouver, you're probably happy to see the Pumpkin Spice Latte back on the menu at Starbucks. #PSLseason It's what most people look forward to come Fall, and despite me wishing summer would stay forever, I have come to terms that fall is upon us. With the return of PSL, Starbucks has come up with another handcrafted drink to add to the Starbucks Fall line up. NEW Cardamom Latte is a new Canadian exclusive beverage with a robust, aromatic taste.  Designated as a ‘food trend to watch for’ this year, cardamom spice is blended harmoniously with Starbucks® signature espresso to create a unique and delicious latte experience that will be available only in Canadian cafes starting Thursday, September 6th.

 

Inspired by the craft of the Starbucks ReserveTM Roastery in Seattle, the Cardamom Latte was adapted specifically for Canadians, as customers gravitate towards elevated taste experiences that reflect our global appetite, in a way that only Starbucks and our skilled baristas can offer. The latte delivers a rich, complex spice through earthy, floral, citrus and vanilla notes to perfectly complement Starbucks signature Espresso Roast.

 

Along with the new Cardamom Latte, they’ve also rolled out some new snacks: Maple Peacan Muffin, Pumpkin Scone, Fox Iced Sugar Cookie and my new personal favourite, the Classic Coffee Cake.

 

Starbucks Cardamom Latte
Starbucks NEW Maple Pecan Muffin
Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha
Starbucks Fox Iced Sugar Cookie
Starbucks NEW Cold Foam Dark Cocoa Nitro
 
 

PRESS RELEASE | Top 10 things to see at IDS Vancouver 2018 by Jenn Chan

The Interior Design Show will return to Vancouver for its 14th year. The week-long design show will kick off on Tuesday, September 18 with a series of offsite events running until Sunday, September 23. IDS is the Pacific platform for all things design and is the premier showcase of new products and furniture, superstar designers and avantgarde concepts from North America and beyond

Here are top 10 things not to be missed this year:
 

IDS Vancouver 2018
IDS Vancouver 2018
IDS Vancouver 2018
IDS Vancouver 2018

 

IDS Vancouver will take place at Vancouver Convention Centre West from September 20-23, 2018

For tickets and information: http://vancouver.interiordesignshow.com/