The Spa by Ivanka Trump by Jenn Chan

The Spa by Ivanka Trump

The Spa by Ivanka Trump

 

The Spa by Ivanka Trump is a paradise! Full stop. I have been fortunate enough to indulge in a lot of spa experiences. As a child I got no less than 13 million massages. Yes, 13 million. My dear mother, now retired, was a physiotherapist/ gerontologist and was on the sidelines of every soccer game and in the stands of every hockey game. I think I had an abundance of testosterone, even as an 11-12 year old, because I play sports hard. I banged and crashed and ran and slid and didn't really give much regard for my health. As a result I had sprains and contusions and bumps and bruises and owies and booboos. My mom tended to them, but she didn't do so in an opulent room replete with crystal and candies and Jetson-esque jacuzzis. The couples massage room at the Spa is the nicest I have ever been in and I have been to five star resorts from Mexico to Hong Kong and a bunch of places in between.

 

The Spa by Ivanka Trump
The Spa by Ivanka Trump


Aside from the service, which is top notch, the Spa benefits from being almost brand new and from having no expense spared! We were welcomed with champagne cocktails and an Ipad. Tapping around on it we began to craft our own signature essential oil that would form the background of our experience. Calming, invigorating, rejuvenating or any feeling under the sun. I left the device in Jenn's hands as I relaxed and sipped my cocktail and the resulting line heavy scent suited me just fine. We were left in the room to relax in the jacuzzi and enjoy the atmosphere for 20 minutes before our masseurs returned to pleasure us. And a divine experience it was. I can't go into too much detail because I reached nirvana and left the physical realm, but I can confirm you want to visit. You just do.

 

The Spa by Ivanka Trump Couples Room

The Spa by Ivanka Trump Couples Room

The Spa by Ivanka Trump Couples Room
Customizable Essential Oils

Customizable Essential Oils

 

Overall the experience was nothing short of amazing! The service was excellent, the atmosphere world class and the price point was a good value. As an added bonus they sent us home with the leftovers of our custom pine tree and ylang ylang essential oil and every time we open it we're transported back there and if we close our eyes it's like we never left!

 

Blood & Champagne

Blood & Champagne

 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan

Seattle Dining: Brunch at Scout by Jenn Chan

Scout at Thompson Hotel

Scout at Thompson Hotel

If Grizzly Bears in the wild were a patchwork of different plaids I think they would be less terrifying. Don't get me wrong they would probably still maul you and rip you apart Revenant-style, but their warm tones would relax you before your untimely demise. When you enter Scout at the beautiful Thompson Hotel the first thing you see is just such a whimsical Grizzly Bear. It's a first impression that stays with you as you're guided to your table past immense 10 seater booths and gorgeous tables entrapped in elegant, twisted wood bird cages. A lovely space!

Scout at Thompson Hotel
Scout at Thompson Hotel
Scout at Thompson Hotel
Scout at Thompson Hotel
Scout at Thompson Hotel
Scout Brunch Menu

Scout Brunch Menu

 

Kale, spinach, celery, cucumber, parsley, lime and apple juice doesn't sound like a flavour experiment in which my participation would be deemed voluntary. Healeo, a local Seattle company, makes a very nice cold pressed juice it dubs the "Green Drink" which I found refreshing and invigorating. I also ordered a mimosa which is also invigorating, but for more traditional reasons.

Healeo Organic Green Cold Pressed Juice

Healeo Organic Green Cold Pressed Juice

 

I can always tell immediately whether you've made your Hollandaise sauce from scratch or prepackaged. Don't get me wrong I don't mind either, but you can really tell the difference when fresh ingredients are used and care is taken. At Scout they care about their Dungeness Benedict. Like a lot. Forgoing the usual English muffin for a crab cake base with a poached egg on top they nailed this dish. Hints of cilantro, subtle onion and lime zest round out this plate which also boasts some very lovely fried potatoes.

Dungeness Benedict

Dungeness Benedict

Dungeness Benedict

 

$2 beers are always a good idea! I'm not sure how profitable it is, but at $2 it wouldn't break the bank to have 10. Maybe 20? At Scout you can enjoy an ice cold, frothy Miller High Life for a twoonie. That's a $2 coin for my American readers. It's a brunch special with real potential to make an indelible impression!

I ordered a fried chicken sandwich with kettle cooked potato chips. "You can taste that it was made inside... (long pause) the kitchen". Yes, Jenn, you sure can! What I think she was meaning, folks, was that the chips were made in-house. She asked nicely I not include this in the blog, but I felt to get the true sense of our meal it was essential. And funny. Honey dominates this chicken burger, in a very good way, and the bun, also made in-house, was very fresh and tasty. The slaw added a nice crunch to the burger and it disappeared quickly. Jenn ordered an avocado toast, as she is prone to do whenever she see it's on a menu, and it was buttery and rich and the togarashi gave it a nice kick and, with the crunch of the pine nuts, rounded out a lovely experience. Avocados contain good cholesterol, give it a Google, and is a very healthy addition to any diet.

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast

 

The Scout cinnamon bun is more like a cinnamon dog bed. A chihuahua or a Shih tzu would have a comfortable sleep atop this behemoth! It is worth a trip all by itself. Cinnabon has got nothing on Scout! My only experience at Scout is their delicious brunch, admittedly, but I perused the dinner menu and, knowing their propensity to make everything fresh, in-house and with top notch ingredients, I can say without reservation that it would be a good culinary experience regardless of the time of day. Speaking of reservations you might want to make one as the word is out and Scout is in!

Cinnamon Sticky Bun

Cinnamon Sticky Bun

 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Staycation at Trump Vancouver by Jenn Chan

 

Gazing up at the $275 million Holborn Group built, Trump branded, twisted tower of glass and steel it is difficult to fathom the sheer scale of such a large project. Where do you even start to build such a behemoth? Who do you hire? How long will it adorn the majestic Vancouver skyline? Where did all that money go? When you walk in it is immediately apparent where the money has gone; details. Marble, crystal and dark woods everywhere. Custom made furniture, floor to ceiling windows and 180 eclectic pieces of art by local Vancouver artist  Miriam Aroeste commissioned specifically for the tower. This is luxury.

 



Our staycation experience starts long before we enter the doors to our sensational hotel room. It starts with service. Bobby Bissessar is a prime example of someone you want to be customer facing if you run a luxury hotel, a Fortune 500 company or even a hotdog stand. The term people person gets thrown around a lot in this day and age. It equates to someone who genuinely likes people; who is humble, affable and accommodating and Bobby is all these things and more! As the Marketing and Leisure Sales Manager he is our point of contact and we are grateful for his professionalism and friendship.

Open the door to any hotel room in the tower and you will be awed by its modern features and beautiful design, but open the door to an Executive King Suite and prepare to pick your jaw up off the floor! An immense tv sits at the foot of a heavenly soft yet supportive king sized bed with an enormous, white leather headboard. Sizing things up I estimated the headboard alone to be worth upwards of $10,000; details. A well appointed desk sits adjacent and Jenn spends a lot of time there editing these beautiful photos you see above. Just beyond that is the bathroom that wouldn't look out of place in a high end spa. A stately, standalone tub dominates one corner and, to the right, double sinks precede an all glass shower with a luxurious rain head. With a push of a button all the blinds close for privacy. The balcony, one of the iconic oval outcroppings on the tower, is spacious and has a very comfortable patio couch which offers a nice peekaboo view of the Vancouver Yacht Club and beautiful, supernatural Stanley Park. Staying at Trump will make you feel pampered and ready to explore the splendour that is Vancouver!

Enjoying a Nespresso on the Balcony

Enjoying a Nespresso on the Balcony

Fresh Bottled Water & Chocolate Truffles

Fresh Bottled Water & Chocolate Truffles

Trump Champagne & Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Trump Champagne & Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Fitness Centre

Fitness Centre

Fitness Centre
In-room Dining Breakfast in Bed

In-room Dining Breakfast in Bed

Scambled Eggs with Caviar

Scambled Eggs with Caviar

Trump Rainbow Smoothie

Trump Rainbow Smoothie

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

Trump Towers Vancouver
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Notch8 New Spring Lunch Menu at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver by Jenn Chan

Notch8 at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Notch8 at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

 

"Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name and they're always glad you came." I'm blessed to be able to gaze upon the beautiful Fairmont Hotel Vancouver as I lay in my bed. We're neighbours and I'm lucky to get to spend a lot of time at Notch 8! So when Sophia welcomed us by name it felt nice. When Kristina greeted us at our table with a warm "you again?" it felt nice. Dining at Notch 8 feels nice.

 

notch8 at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
Notch8 at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

 

Our lunch started off with a couple of cocktails, but don't judge us it's after noon. The Lavender Corpse Reviver and Lillooet Daisy helped to shake the cobwebs from a Sunday spent touring Vancouver's craft brewery district. The former a gin centric tipple with citrus undertones and the latter a well balanced blueberry and elderflower dominant offering. Delicious!

 

Lillooet Daisy & Lavender Corpse Reviver

Lillooet Daisy & Lavender Corpse Reviver

 

Close on the heels came our starters; the Sunchoke Soup and Roasted San Mariano Tomato Soup as well as Notch's world famous honey wheat bread. Chef Will came out personally to grate fresh truffle on the Sunchoke Soup which Jenn found very "hearty and Earthy". It was loaded with truffle and artichoke and had a very nice broth. The tomato soup is a revelation! Campbell's soup ain't got nothing on this, sorry Andy Warhol. Sweet, fresh and served piping hot. An added bonus happens every time your spoon returns from the depths loaded with Notch's incredible fromage frais!

 

Warm Honey Wheat - honey loaf, fig, walnuts, Fairmont honey butter

Warm Honey Wheat - honey loaf, fig, walnuts, Fairmont honey butter

Roasted San Marzano Tomato Soup - tomato oil, fromage frais

Roasted San Marzano Tomato Soup - tomato oil, fromage frais

Roasted San Marzano Tomato Soup - tomato oil, fromage frais

Roasted San Marzano Tomato Soup - tomato oil, fromage frais

Sunchoke Soup - truffles, artichoke,sunflower butter

Sunchoke Soup - truffles, artichoke,sunflower butter

 

At Kristina's suggestion, executive order really, I partook in the Canada 150 Maple Leaf cocktail. Bourbon, maple syrup, lime and apple. Way to perpetuate Canadian stereotypes Notch... Everyone already knows Canadians love lime. As I was enjoying my first sip out comes out entrées: Prawn and Crab Risotto, Lingcod and Steak Frites. Yes, Jenn, all 110 pounds of her, ordered two entrées. My California cut steak came out the perfect rare, first box checked, and the meat was exceptionally tender and fresh. The fries, thin in the MacDonald's style, were unsalted and crisp; very good. In all the dish is a near perfect 9/10! Jenn claims the risotto was the best of her life: "flavourful, filling and the seafood is super savoury". Well summed up! The Lingcod, also a Jenn Chan selection, was very "flaky and it melts in your mouth". "The combination of garden vegetables that surround the Lingcod adds a certain depth to the dish". The pea and nasturtium velouté formed the perfect base of the dish and it disappeared quickly!

 

Canada 150 Maple Leaf - Bourbon | Maple Syrup | Lime | Apple A toast for our birthday!

Canada 150 Maple Leaf - Bourbon | Maple Syrup | Lime | Apple
A toast for our birthday!

Lingcod - lavender honey ash crusted, green pea & nasturtium veloute, spring vegetables, meadow flowers

Lingcod - lavender honey ash crusted, green pea & nasturtium veloute, spring vegetables, meadow flowers

Prawn & Crab Risotto - BC shrimp, dungeness crab, spring peas & beans, goat cheese, micro shiso

Prawn & Crab Risotto - BC shrimp, dungeness crab, spring peas & beans, goat cheese, micro shiso

Prawn & Crab Risotto - BC shrimp, dungeness crab, spring peas & beans, goat cheese, micro shiso
Steak Frites - California cut striploin, shoestring fries, pepper jus house steak sauce

Steak Frites - California cut striploin, shoestring fries, pepper jus house steak sauce

 

Our most avid readers would hypothesize that now is the time when we move onto some random smattering of mouth watering desserts. Notch won't let you down in this regard either! A quick google of their website shows several selections, many really, that I would fill a child's ball pit with and dive in. Normally we would indulge, but, as previously mentioned, I had occasion to visit no fewer than a half dozen craft brewers during the annual Vancouver Hop Circuit and my bed was beckoning me home. Satisfied we hugged our server goodbye, as people do, and skipped merrily out. We'd be back was out comforting thought and, hopefully, we'll see you there!

 

 

Fairmont Hotel Vancouver Lobby
 
 

Afternoon Tea Series: Bacchus at Wedgewood Hotel by Jenn Chan

Bacchus

 

The Brut from Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars is a wonderful sparkling white with a dry, citrusy finish. We had been sitting no longer than a few minutes when Mr. Kyle Johnstone, the energetic Bacchus manager, brought us a couple of glasses of Blue Mountain's finest. Sitting in opulence, dark wood panelled grandeur, we sip our sparkling wine and watch our fellow patrons laugh and enjoy their meals. To say the atmosphere is upscale, the drink program amazing and the food way above average wouldn't be putting it firmly enough!

 

Blue Mountain Sparkling Wine

Blue Mountain Sparkling Wine

 

We are at Bacchus to preview their afternoon tea ahead of Mother's Day and decided on the Thunderbolt Darjeeling and Lavender Earl Grey. Mr. Johnstone has been covertly trying every afternoon tea around town to get inspiration for Bacchus' offerings and it shows! The presentation is top notch, the food hearty and plentiful and the tea is magnificent! I found the Thunderbolt Darjeeling more fruity than floral and it's packed with caffeine. There's a bit of a dryness, happily, to it that I found very satisfying and I thoroughly recommend it. For a period of about a decade I would not dry my clothes without a lavender scented dryer sheet. Ditto dish soap requiring a lavender hue. Shampoo, air freshener, body lotion... you get the idea. Having bucked the compulsive trend I still find myself partial to the sweet, soothing smell. The Lavender Earl Grey is as good as it sounds; the perfection that is Earl Grey augmented with the delicious, curative lavender. Worth a trip all on its own!

 

Bacchus Afternoon Tea Menu

Bacchus Afternoon Tea Menu

Thunderbolt Darjeeling & Lavender Earl Grey

Thunderbolt Darjeeling & Lavender Earl Grey

 

Three tiers of deliciousness are then placed in front of us.  Egg salad sandwiches, smoked salmon and cream cheese spirals, tandoori chicken sandwiches, shrimp salad sandwiches and cucumber sandwiches make up the bottom tier. I have had some bad experiences with egg salad. Think of the apprehension you have of tequila the next time you partake after it has done you wrong... this is the hesitation with which I took my first bite, but it was the best I have ever had and quickly disappeared. Smoked salmon is incredible, I think that's universally recognized? Cheese is amongst the best things on Earth and when you combine the two, as one should, the result is a perfect 10/10 sandwich; delicious! Tandoori chicken runs a close second to butter chicken in the hierarchy of Indian food according to Scotty and this sandwich doesn't disappoint. The shrimp salad sandwich was excellent and you can tell the shrimp was very fresh and supple. While I am a self proclaimed carnivore I have to admit that I found the cucumber sandwich very delicious. A cool, crisp and refreshing offering!

 

Afternoon Tea Set

Afternoon Tea Set

Tier 1: Cucumber, Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese, Prawn, Egg Salad, Tandoori Chicken

Tier 1: Cucumber, Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese, Prawn, Egg Salad, Tandoori Chicken

Egg Salad Sandwich & Prawn Sandwich

Egg Salad Sandwich & Prawn Sandwich

Cucumber Sandwiches

Cucumber Sandwiches

 

Tier two boasts a lovely English Fruit Cake, Almond Tart, Lemon Chiffon Cake and Fruit Tart. Fruit cake isn't to be feared. This isn't your aunt realizing her fruit bowl is going bad and using up everything in a "fruit cake" and freezing it to give as Christmas gifts 5 months later. This is fresh, fluffy and sweet fruit cake and I would have eaten a pound of it. Almonds are filled with protein. 21 grams of the stuff per 100 grams onto be exact. Ahhhhhhh so this is how vegans don't waste away to skeletons. I love them and this tart made me want to eat a garbage bag full! The chiffon cake was the perfect sweetness of lemon, not too tart and not diabetes inducing and the fruit tart was delicious and packed with vitamins. Who said dessert wasn't healthy?

 

Tier 2: Mini Bakewell Tart, Seasonal Fruit Tartlet, English Fruit Cake, Lemon Chiffon with White Chocolate Ganache

Tier 2: Mini Bakewell Tart, Seasonal Fruit Tartlet, English Fruit Cake, Lemon Chiffon with White Chocolate Ganache

Mini Bakewell Tarts

 

Tier three, the top tier, is where the Atkins diet goes to die. Carbs, with carbs and some sugar. Scones, eclairs and macarons  with a heavenly Devonshire cream and fruit preserves. I have often waxed poetically about Devonshire cream and Bacchus does it as well if not better than most and it really complimented the fresh scones. Eclairs are luxury donuts, long johns packed with surprises. In this instance a rich cream that was so incredibly thick and fresh, delicious! The macarons were expertly done and the flavours, as is sometimes not the case, were well balanced. I mean at some places you'll see 'rose petal, watermelon, pineapple, crab apple, road apple, lemon, chocolate macarons'? Just stop.

 

Tier 3: Chocolate Éclair, Freshly Baked Scone, Devonshire Cream & Fruit Preserves, Macaron

Tier 3: Chocolate Éclair, Freshly Baked Scone, Devonshire Cream & Fruit Preserves, Macaron

Chocolate Eclair

 

The Wedgewood Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel just off Robson and Burrard in the heart of Downtown Vancouver and across the street from the Supreme Court of BC and the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Bacchus Restaurant, as Wedgewood's prestigious lobby bar, is frequented by lawyers, doctors from the nearby hospital, businessmen, professionals and celebrities. It is an excellent place to people watch, eat and drink or just sidle up to bar and watch the game. I would very highly recommend checking it out and maybe make a night of it, book a room upstairs and go wondering the paradise that is Vancouver!

 

 

Bacchus at Wedgewood
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Seattle by Jenn Chan

Fairmont Olympic Hotel

 

Like a scene from a Disney fairytale a smiling valet, in a gleaming uniform, was smiling at my door within moments of pulling into the regal Fairmont Olympic Hotel in beautiful downtown Seattle. "Good afternoon, sir, welcome to the Fairmont Olympic, may I help you with your bags?" "Yes, thank you very much!" And we're off!


The first thing that strikes you as you enter the Fairmont Olympic lobby is the incredible, seemingly 5 mile long, rug that dominates the centre of the opulent lobby. A two story space, resplendent with giant chandeliers and 1920's luxury, that still satisfies modern notions of taste, high end style and comfort. The domed roof gives the space a real sense of vastness and I spent many pit stops between activities enjoying quiet time and taking it all in.

 

Fairmont Olympic Hotel
Fairmont Olympic Hotel



Service. It's the reason a burger at a 5 diamond restaurant costs $50 and at Five Guys, where they make one hell of a good burger, one will set you back $10. That and Grey Poupon, but I digress... The beaming face I was greeted with at the reception desk is the Grey Poupon of the service industry! The booking is in order, credit card info taken, recommendations on activities are given and we're off to the 10th floor and our king executive suite!

 

Fairmont Hallway



I've recently invested in a very expensive California King bed with a NASA-eque, technologically advanced mattress and Fairmont, true to form, boasts comfort that rivals that to which I have become accustomed! Tasteful greys and whites mix with accents of sunshine yellow and the room and its accoutrements are modern, warm and inviting. Everything you would expect in a property dreamed up by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce to bring a world class hotel to Seattle following WWI. The Italian Renaissance structure was completed in 1924 and dubbed "The Olympic" after the Seattle Times held a contest to name it. Its elegant, castle-like design has made it a Seattle landmark and it was designated as such under the National Registry of Historic Places in 1979.

 

King Suite Living Room

King Suite Living Room

Nespresso & Snacks

Nespresso & Snacks

King Suite Bedroom

King Suite Bedroom

King Suite Bedroom

King Suite Bedroom

King Suite Bathroom

King Suite Bathroom

Toiletries

 

The gym is modern and functional, the spa is prestigious yet affordable and the glass domed pool and hot tub is an oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle. If you're visiting Seattle I would highly recommend the Fairmont Olympic for its service, comfort and value!

 

Fitness Centre

Fitness Centre

Fitness Centre
Fitness Centre
Fitness Centre Pool
Fitness Centre
Fitness Centre
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan