travel

A Little R&R Weekend at Eldorado Resort in Kelowna BC by Jenn Chan

Eldorado Resort, Kelowna, jenn chan photography

Ahhh… the Okanagan… it’s one of my must-do’s every summer, and why not? It’s only a few hours’ drive from the city! I find it to be a beautiful little getaway in Vancouver’s back yard. 4 hours away and you’re whisked into BC’s little “Mexico”. Of all the times I have gone up to Kelowna, I have never stayed at a more beautiful and relaxing resort as the Manteo / Hotel Eldorado.


Our experience started right at the front, no not the lobby, but with the parking valet! He was super helpful in directing us where to park as a guest of the hotel, and then ran off to find us a trolley for our luggage - all with a big smile on his face. The friendly hospitaility continued through the resort, from the front desk, to the restaurant staff, to any employee we walked by!

Manteo Lobby

Manteo Lobby

Eldorado Hotel Suite

Eldorado Hotel Suite

The rooms at both Manteo and Eldorado Hotel were very spacious and well laid-out. Aside from the beautiful rooms with breathtaking views of Okanagan Lake, there are also a lot of amenities that come with your stay, including a clubhouse (pool, slide, hot tub, pool table, sauna, etc), hot tubs, adult outdoor pool, exclusive beach, Eldorado Marina, just to name a few. I felt like we were whisked away into a different country all together. In fact, we did not leave the resort at all for the first 2 days there. It’s the ultimate way to unwind and relax in my opinion. Everything just moves a little slower and I am not complaining one bit about that!

Eldorado Resort clubhouse, Kelowna, jenn chan photography
Eldorado Marina

Eldorado Marina

The Eldorado Marina has Okanagan's largest exclusive fleet of Mastercraft tournament boats and Waverunner rentals. You can rent one of their boats and rip around on Okanagan Lake during your stay, whether it be an hour, a day or for a week! You can also rent a SUP, kayak or bicycle from their Boardwalk shore! We rented a bike and biked from the hotel to Downtown Kelowna - what a fun ride, and a different way to explore the city.

This is the Spirit of the El - one of the owner’s personal 34 foot sedan cruiser. You can rent this beauty out for up to 8 passengers for $2200, comes complete with a Captain & Crew and will be catered. The thing that stood out to me the most is that the money collected will all be donated to the Kelwona General Hospital Foundation (KGH). It’s a way for the owner to give back - which is absolutely amazing!

Spirit of the El

Spirit of the El

We can’t forget about the food offered at both the resorts. We had an incredible dinner the first night there at Smack Dab (Manteo Resort) - it was so difficult to decide on what to order from their menu, but of course I ended up ordering the Lamb Rack. Chef Ryan Byrne did an amazing job! It’s no wonder they won Diner’s Choice 2019!

We then hopped over to the Hotel Eldorado side for the next few days of brunching, lunching and dining at Lakeside Dining - despite seeming like we are dining at the same restaurant for most of our meals, they have different offerings within their establishment - The Boardwalk, Dining Room, Lounge + Whisky Lounge. The Boardwalk is the perfect place for brunch and lunch - you are seated right on the boardwalk overlooking the Marina with the view of Okanagan Lake, while basking in the sun. We did a lot of people AND boat watching from this boardwalk while sipping on a latte. The Dining Room gives a slightly different vibe as the sun sets and the bottles of wine come out for dinner. You get a slightly different menu to choose from, and again, all the offerings are drool-worthy.

Wood fire oven at Smak Dab, Manteo

Wood fire oven at Smak Dab, Manteo

Eldorado Dining Room

Eldorado Dining Room

Eldorado Boardwalk lunch - Plant Life Burger, Steak Frites + Arugula and Shrimp Salad

Eldorado Boardwalk lunch - Plant Life Burger, Steak Frites + Arugula and Shrimp Salad

Eldorado Lakeside Dining Room - Filet Mignon with seared Quebec foie gras

Eldorado Lakeside Dining Room - Filet Mignon with seared Quebec foie gras

On Friday night, we wandered over to the Whisky Room after dinner to experience “Friday at the El”. It was a cross between a lounge, bar, and club. The DJ was playing up some awesome tunes as we chatted with Patrick and Harry about their whisky selections. Along with their wide selection of whisky, they also have many whisky based cocktails, on-site barrel-aged cocktails and of course, flights of whisky. One of my favourites of the night is the Barrel-aged Old Fashion Sour that Harry had come up with - DELICIOUS!

Whisky Room

Whisky Room

Whisky Flight

Whisky Flight

Aged Old Fashion Sour

Aged Old Fashion Sour

Thank you for an absolutely relaxing getaway, it was a much needed weekend to unwind, and eat & drink our way through Kelowna. I can’t wait to be back at Eldorado Resorts next time I’m up in K-town!

Eldorado Resort night view, Kelowna, jenn chan photography

TRAVEL | THINGS TO DO | Sky 100 at ICC by Jenn Chan

Sky100

 

South African Wayde van Niekerk is the current Olympic champion and world record holder at the 400 metre dash with a time of 43.03 seconds. Coming in just under 17 slower, a respectable showing, is the bullet-fast elevator at the Sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck. It covers the 393 metres to the top in 60 seconds flat. Take that Vin Diesel!



Once you exit the elevators into the 360 degree, floor-to-ceiling, glass-walled Sky100 the sheer elevation has been known to buckle some knees! On our visit a handful of tourists seemed more than happy to relax in the tables in the café noticeably avoiding approaching the glass for fear of plummeting to their death. Ya, it's high. Hong Kong is known for many things: delicious food, a bustling financial district, Disneyland, but with 7.3 million people living in an area the size of Vancouver, and its paltry 1.8 million people, there's got to be more of everything: cars, buses, planes, trains and factories. The result is smog. It plagues every major city on Earth and my beloved Hong Kong, sadly, is no exception. So what do you do when you run a multi millionaire business whose aim is to provide a view to its patrons when sometimes there just simply is no visibility? You install state-of-the-art virtual reality app and let people 3D their way around the view! I won't attempt to describe the effects, but, happily, on our visit the skies were clear and the views amazing! After a turn on the new virtual reality experience, hovering outside the windows of the Sky100, and a quick stop off at Café 100 by Ritz Carlton, the only establishment on Earth with the Ritz brand outside of their hotels, for some crêpes and a couple beers and we proceed on our photographer's dream walk. 2-3 laps around and 2-3 hours later with our cameras' memory cards full and our inner ears acclimated to Himalayan heights we descended the elevator. We'll be back I thought to myself. Probably every time we come to HK!

 

Sky100
Sky100
Sky100
Sky100
Sky100
Sky100
Sky100 VR
Sky100 AR
Cafe 100 by Ritz Carlton

Cafe 100 by Ritz Carlton

Monkey Milk Crepe

Monkey Milk Crepe

Sky100
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

TRAVEL | DRINKS | Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar, LKF, Hong Kong by Jenn Chan

Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar

 

When you hear "c'est la vie" spoken in polite company it is usually with an exasperated tone and the words signal a kind of indifference as to the outcomes of the day as though they were completely out of one's control; "that's life". The Cé La Vi club lounge/ restaurant/ sky deck, in the decadent, vibrant niche of Lan Kwai Fong in the Central area of Hong Kong, isn't indifferent at all in their pursuit of creating a fun, plush environment to enjoy some pretty world class mixology!

Two words that instantly capture the attention of any photographer/ socialite; rooftop bar. You invite me to a rooftop bar you can be pretty well assured that I will be attending! The shooting from up top was amazing and the service was excellent! The cocktails were very imaginative and well priced compared to the incredible surroundings. Professionals in suits mingled with tourists in t-shirts and groups of ladies dressed to the nines. A birthday party was set up in the corner of the large 25th floor deck celebrating and cackling with that distinct almost musical flurry of giggles and feminine merriment.

 

Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar
Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar
NEW YORK SOUR

NEW YORK SOUR

PASSION ON 25

PASSION ON 25

NEW YORK SOUR & PASSION ON 25
Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar
Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar Views

Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar Views

Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar Views
Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar Views

 

After spending the better part of the evening enjoying cocktails and bottles of wine lavished upon us by some very gracious fellow patrons out celebrating... something... Jenn and I retired to the streets and went pub hopping with some of our new friends. As soon as the elevator doors open onto LKF, and it's pedestrian only roadways packed with revellers, it hits you. Cé la Vi is the best bar in LKF. And that is saying something! Tell them you read about it on Jenn Chan Photography and they'll take good care of you!

 

Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar Views - NIGHT
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

TRAVEL | THINGS TO DO | English Heritage Stonehenge by Jenn Chan

Stonehenge

 

Admittedly and, sadly, irrecoverably whilst I'm abroad in Europe I am at the mercy of my Global Positioning System (GPS). Satnav, if you're from these parts, but time, necessity and my own not-giving-a-mother-f'ing whaaaaa dictate that I'm not going to Google, or as Jalen Rose would say 'Goggle' "Satnav" to give that silly acronym any credence.

When you're prone in life whether it be: spiritually, financially or merely spatially your surroundings seem to push down on you from all sides trying to squeeze everything you have inside you outside of you. Satnav says you pop up out of this freeway on-ramp and when you're almost there your excitements mounts.

If Stonehenge is a term you recognise then Stonehenge is probably a place you put on your "to-do" list. That list that wanderlusters put, and rank, mostly mentally, the countries they can, will and must see. I'd put Stonehenge and it's pre-historic significance in my top five. It's a millennium old and it was made in that time where they didn't write everything down. Remains dictate Stonehenge started as a burial ground/ religious site and archeologists have found many remains to back up those facts. No one in this random enclave, in this unremarkable British countryside, has left word of their customs or intentions and it is all at once intriguing and remarkable. A puzzle which is insolvable and therefore there remains an appetite for the facts that is unquenchable.

For the first time in my life I saw a sign that warned "queues likely", but there it was. I thought "we have likely taken a wrong, dumb 'slip road' and now we're down a 20-minute-delay rabbit hole as we drive 10-20 miles in one direction and then flip the next roundabout and head back." Happily, this was not the case. The "likely" delay was, and will be when you visit,  due to rubber-necking nincompoops who routinely drive past the 5,000 year old monument. If you're an office drone, à la Steve Carrell in the beloved American edition of The Office, maybe you slow to 5 MPH everyday, every week, on your commute to work and think about these Neolithic tribes traipsing across the countryside. Or maybe everyone sucks. Maybe when you're running late every freeway will have likely delays. If that's your mindset, I'm sorry... I love you, even as a stranger, and people still care.

 

inside the Stonehenge

inside the Stonehenge

Stonehenge Museum
Stonehenge Museum
Stonehenge Museum

 

When you're visiting a UNESCO Heritage Site you know there will be, at least, is going to be a vending machine. The commercial infrastructure is just there and, yes, there were several. AND a gigantic gift shop and delightful café/ bar. I partook, unabashedly, in a late afternoon Stonehenge Brewery lager. Twas good and twas adequately large so that when we boarded the shuttle out to the historic site of Stonehenge from the visitor centre I was still sipping it. A few pictures were snapped, Stonehenge lager in hand, of yours truly, astride the ruins. Whether this was once a religious centre, burial ground, community centre or just where the kids raved I did what I do; left no mark on the soil and only took the mark of the experience with me.

The Jenn Chan Photography blog is a viable, vibrant entity because of Jenn's humility and love of photography and not my narration, positions or hawkish entrepreneurism. The next time you're at the beach pick up a stone that looks about the size of your thigh. That's it. Everyone has a different sized thigh don't judge just grab it depending on your girth. I'd say definitely brace yourself. Get a wide stance and lift with your legs and not your back. Now picture that rock as the equivalent of 14,000 thigh sized, gargantuan pieces of stone laying in slabs 50 KM's away. What compelled these people? How many years did they study the stars before they calculated the exact angles where the sun on the longest day of summer and the shortest day of winter collide into its epicentre ? If you were left stranded for 100 years, be it on a beautiful, lush island or a cold tundra, could you ever make a device to send an email? Where would you start?

Replica Stonehenge Stone

Replica Stonehenge Stone

Stonehenge Heel Stone

Stonehenge Heel Stone

Stonehenge
IMG_6301-Edit.jpg
Stonehenge at Sunset

Stonehenge at Sunset

 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

TRAVEL | THINGS TO DO | Madame Tussauds London by Jenn Chan

Royal Family

 

What an honour it must be to be asked to model for a wax likeness to be showcased at Madame Tussaud's! Athletes, scholars, celebrities, politicians and royalty all mingle in the vibrant surroundings at the famous wax museum. Being my first visit I will admit I pictured a large, neon-lit room with various figures to take selfies with. We entered a large room, with lovey lighting I might add, and there were wax statues of celebrities encircling the perimeter and dotted throughout the centre of a large showroom.

 

Marilyn Monroe
The Beckhams
Johnny Depp
Bates Motel

 

I thoroughly enjoyed checking them out and people watching as selfie after selfie was taken. We might just exit the building now I thought as we, in a sheep like manner, followed a group of people as they meandered up a ramp at the back of the room. The show isn't over folks! Themed room after themed room with 007, King Kong, Star Wars and the British royal family and the pièce de résistance the awesome theme ride park-style taxi ride through the history of London! My first time, but not my last as I'll be sure to pop in at every chance in my travels!

 

Princess Diana
Stormtrooper
Star Wars
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

TRAVEL | Exploring La Paz, Mexico by Jenn Chan

LA PAZ sign at Le Malecon

LA PAZ sign at Le Malecon

 

Do you know that feeling when you're at home on your couch, petting your dog with the tv blathering in the background as you're chest deep in a series of degrading memes aimed at teen pop stars? How often does a notification pop up with an email inviting you to spend a week, all expenses paid, in a tropical paradise? Ya, so that happened to me a few weeks ago... It has happened before, but each time is special. You know like a snowflake or your first time with a fella?

 

Have you ever heard of La Paz? No? I hadn't either. Owing, in part I'd assume, to its seclusion and exclusivity. 2 hours north of Cabo San Lucas on the other worldly Baja California Peninsula you'll find her. If your public school hasn't failed you (geographically speaking) picture Mexico and imagine the large peninsula that dominates its western seaboard and that's Baja California. If you think the Americans didn't want this thing when the American and Spanish beef was popping off? Come on... They have sun all year round, palm trees, golden beaches, fish, gold, camels and elephants; the place is legitimate!

 

La Paz & Marina

La Paz & Marina

One of the first things you'll notice about La Paz is how friendly the locals are and unlike some other Mexican tourist destinations there won't be anyone coming up to you to sell their knick knacks, or their paddy wacks, and the vibe on the street is very mellow. There aren't any commercial chains like Walmart, Mcdonalds so, accordingly, there are fewer slack jaws in Yankees caps who look like candidates for My 600 Life. And shouts out to TLC for their quality reality TV. Please send a cheque. This and the tranquility of the resort really drove home that La Paz is very peaceful and a great place to tune out the world, take in the culture and just really relax.

 

Costabaja Resort Residences

Costabaja Resort Residences

 

Over the next few days our gracious hosts at the La Paz Tourism board whisked us away to explore the more adventurous side of the city. La Paz is known for its beautiful, protected nature preserves and the magnificent, no stupendous, Isla Espíritu Santo! Rightfully designated a UNESCO Heritage Site it comprises 6 islands each more beautiful than the last and each with its own cloak of mysticism and wonder!

 

Isla Espíritu Santo

Isla Espíritu Santo

One of the "windows" in this cave

One of the "windows" in this cave

 

So now picture you're on the bow of a great ship navigating the translucent blue waters beside this chain of islands so spectacular that an organization whose only mission in life is to identify, catalogue and strive to preserve all the wonderful places on this vast Earth has tapped it as one of those. All of a sudden you hear the whine of the engine turn into a whimper and then a whisper as you pull into a bay and are told to start putting on your snorkel gear because you're going to be diving with giant, prehistoric animals who weigh a ton and have gigantic fangs. Did I mention you're in their territory where they're capable of navigating 3D space and moving their humongous bodies at neck breaking speeds? The Sea of Cortez boasts some of the most beautiful water, but was this to be where I died? I look like a fish, maybe? Maybe the snorkel looks like a tail and they could make a mistake and bite my face off, right? Well they didn't and it turned out to be one of the most breathtaking moments I’ve experienced while snorkeling. Maybe in life... Being so close to death and yielding to a giant and trusting he'll leave you in peace is so freeing. We swam alongside their children and babies and it was absolutely mesmerizing to watch them move and play around with each other. Girthier cousins were content to lazily sunbathing and sleep on the nearby rocks. Male Sea Lions are known to be territorial and protective of their young and they stay perched high on the rocks to mark their territory. Snorkelling and exploring Isla Espíritu Santo is a must, and we did that with Baja Adventure Co. Fun fact: sea lions mark their boundaries by blowing bubbles :)

 

Sea Lions Sunbathing

Sea Lions Sunbathing

Sea Lions Sunbathing

 

But wait, that’s not all! We also had the opportunity to snorkel with Whale Sharks, yes Whale Sharks! As we all jumped into the murky waters we almost immediately swam right into one. These mammals are about 6-13 meters long and have relatively poor eyesight. There were a few times when I was right above a gigantic whale shark swimming right under me. I don’t know about you, but my general thoughts of swimming with sharks basically leads to death. However, these whale sharks are absolutely harmless. Their “teeth” are basically little bristles off a tooth brush which they will use to filter out tiny fishes and shrimps from water sucked into their mouths to eat. If they accidentally had an apple in their mouths they would actually choke and die. Snorkelling with whale sharks was definitely one for the books!

 

Whale Shark Feeding

Whale Shark Feeding

Frigate Bird Colony

Frigate Bird Colony

 

I was very amazed and impressed with local efforts to protect biological marine animals, including Sea Lions, Sea Turtles, and Whales, as well as their natural lands and corals. Another region we got to explore was Balandra Beach, another naturally protected area. The government wanted to develop hotels around the area but local residents banned together to stop it. I’m so glad they were able to protect Balandra as it is absolutely beautiful! The sand is so fluffy, and it reminded me of walking in flour.  I can do sand angels all day long there! There is also a short hike up to a lookout where you can gaze down at the beautiful beach with various shade of blue in the waters. You will often see locals and tourists kayak or stand-up paddle board through the Mangrove Lagoon, and onwards to the Heart of Balandra.

 

Balandra

Balandra

Balandra
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Stand Up Paddle Boarding

 

Of course, we cannot forget about the food. We went to a couple of local well known spots around Downtown La Paz. Some of the more unique and authentic dishes I had were: Botanero Campechano (selection of raw seafood, like snails, scallops, oysters, shrimps) from Bismark-cito; Chocolate Clam Chowder from Steinbeck’s; Cactus Quesadilla from La Casita (recipe passed down from Sergio’s grandmother); and of course Tacos from Rancho Viego. Tacos are usually the most popular food in other Mexican cities, however in La Paz it’s Hate (pronounced Ha-Tay) that is the favourite. Hate is essentially a hot dog with bacon and a bunch of different condiments which may include flag sauce, mayo, chili, guacamole, etc. You can often find locals getting into heated arguments about what should be in a Hate and where they can get the best Hate in town.

 

Carne & Asada Tacos at Rancho Viego

Carne & Asada Tacos at Rancho Viego

Catch of the Day at  Steinbecks

Catch of the Day at Steinbecks

 

La Paz is a city you’d want to visit if you want the authentic Mexico experience, where you can engross yourself in their culture, surrender yourself with natural beauty, and experience pure tranquility.

 

La Paz Sunset

La Paz Sunset