Travel

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!

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TRAVEL | Fairmont YVR Gold Lounge Launch by Jenn Chan

 

There are times when I’ve flown across an ocean or a continent and had a long layover before my next flight.  The airport hotels I’ve stayed in have been a welcome respite on a long journey.  Some are basic; a shower and a bed for a few hours.  Others are more luxurious.  The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel definitely fits the latter category.  The crème de la crème of the rooms available in the hotel are on the Gold Floor, essentially a hotel within a hotel.  Fairmont has recently renovated and updated all the Gold rooms and the results are impressive.

 

The hotel access is via escalator (or elevator) next to the USA Check In area on Level 3, the departures level.  From the escalator to the main lobby is a walkway with a great view over the concourse.  A horizontal chandelier the length of the walkway signals that you have left the hustle and bustle of the airport behind and you are now entering a zone of elegance.  Elevators from the main hotel lobby take you to the 14th floor, the Gold Floor.  The redesigned Gold Floor reception desk has changed from an enclosed office to a more friendly open desk.  The styling is West Coast inspired.  Aeronautical, streamlined, efficiently luxurious.

 

Fairmont YVR
Fairmont YVR

 

There are 37 Gold Rooms (36 of them on the 14th floor) and the first one we checked out was room 1422.  Talk about a room with a view!  Each and every room has mesmerizing views through the large windows.  A plane spotting guide and an optically excellent spotting scope (Olivon brand) are standard features in every Gold room.  1422 has two queen beds; rooms with a single king bed are also available.  The feeling is residential with furnishings carefully chosen to not impede the view.  Even from the soaker tub there is a clear view out the window if the privacy doors are opened.  The sleek aeronautical design of the headboards is reminiscent of a sleeping pod on a First Class long haul flight.

 

Connected travelers will be happy to see USB charging ports are plentiful and integrated with the regular electrical outlets.  Rooms have nice wall mounted large flat screen televisions, Nespresso machines, and cool wall switches by the beds to control lights and drapes.  I should mention that the sound proofing is excellent.  I did not notice any noise from outside and there were jet airplanes taking off and landing frequently.

 

Fairmont YVR Gold Room
Fairmont YVR Gold Room
Fairmont YVR Gold Room

 

As wonderful as the Gold rooms are there is another option for the discerning traveler.  The Jade Suite, room 1445, is the type of room that one believes movie stars and royalty would stay in.  The bed is king sized, the bathroom opulent with jade, the bespoke wood furnishings (by a Vancouver Island mill worker) fabulous.  The suite is large with a comfortable relaxed seating area and a dining area.  The expansive windows wrap around two sides of the suite.  I’m almost tempted to describe the suite as splendiferous but that doesn’t really convey the level of relaxed elegance I experienced.

 

Fairmont YVR Jade Suite
Fairmont YVR Jade Suite
Fairmont YVR Jade Suite
Fairmont YVR Jade Suite
Fairmont YVR Jade Suite

 

The Fairmont Gold Lounge, located directly behind the reception desk, serves a Deluxe Continental breakfast buffet between 6:30am and 10am.  There is an option to have breakfast delivered to your room should you have an earlier departure.  The Gold Lounge is like a Business Class or First Class airport lounge, only better and more exclusive.  Snacks are available in the afternoon.  Canapés and desserts are available later in the day.  The honor bar is open noon to 9:30.  I quite enjoyed the food I sampled.  I estimated 36 people could comfortably sit in the lounge.  The style is equal to the Gold rooms with bespoke wood furnishings and, of course, amazing views out the floor to ceiling windows.

 

Fairmont YVR Gold Lounge
Fairmont YVR Gold Lounge
Fairmont YVR Gold Lounge
Fairmont YVR Gold Lounge
Fairmont YVR Gold Lounge
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I was very happy to see the redesigned Fairmont Vancouver Airport Gold Floor.  It already had an excellent reputation and my expectations were exceeded.  The hotel is one of the top 10 airport hotels in the world and the Gold Floor is a fantastic choice for First Class and Business travelers.  I would even recommend it for a staycation if you are looking for a luxury hotel stay near home.  Downtown Vancouver is easily accessible by taxi or skytrain.    As Austin Powers’ villain Goldmember said, I love Gold!  You will too if you stay on the Gold Floor of the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel.

 

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel is located in Vancouver International Airport.

https://www.fairmont.com/vancouver-airport-richmond/accommodations/fairmont-gold/

 

YVR Airport
 
 

TRAVEL | THINGS TO DO | Old Docks Tour with Eating London Tours by Jenn Chan

Old Docks Tour Starting Point

Old Docks Tour Starting Point

 

Leigh Savage would be a great name for a pirate! Or, maybe, a porn star (sorry Leigh!), but it is most certainly also an excellent name for a tour guide! Mention his name while booking and you'll get a discount, mention mine while booking and you will only get a puzzled look. The tour started where all great food tours start: at a large, 19th century industrial engine house. No visit along the docks of Rotherhithe and Wapping, I'm told, would be complete without taking in the Thames Tunnel. The world's first tunnel built successfully under a navigable channel connecting these two beautiful boroughs despite the Thames' best efforts. 

A quick jaunt up the street and you come upon the The Mayflower Pub, the oldest pub on the mighty River Thames. It was from here that the first pilgrims to colonize the Americas left England bound for the new world. Just think about that. Now think about bangers and mash and blood pudding all sat on a bed of fresh vegetables and chased down with a bitter, yet smooth pale ale. Aside from the really good pub food, a cheerful decor, ample historical significance and ambience the pub also boasts a huge patio that hangs out over the ancient river. If you peek between the slats you'll see the water lapping the shore and the sound and the sun and tranquility of the space makes this pub a must-see!
 

 

The Mayflower

The Mayflower

Bangers & Mash at The Mayflower

Bangers & Mash at The Mayflower

The Mayflower
The Mayflower

 

After we have descended the Thames Tunnel and examined the impressive, old-fashioned engineering we come up on the other side; Wapping. All along the way our cheerful, knowledgeable guide whips out his folder of history and photos and we take delight in standing on the sidewalk and learning about our surroundings. A tour like this gives you nothing, but time to smell the flowers! The Prospect of Whitby Pub also stakes a claim to the oldest pub on the Thames, but upon reading the fine print is relegated to being on the site of the oldest pub, advantage Mayflower. The Whitby wrestles away the title of my early favourite after a delicious plate of fish and chips is laid in front of me with a nice light lager to compliment it. It was so nice that I went back and got another glass halfway through my meal! The Prospect of Whitby is a place where they used to hang folk. They don't shy away from that fact either as a noose still swings in the wind at the edge of the balcony. Hanging Judge Jeffries was said to have executed some 700 men during his duties under the reign of King James II on this very spot.

 

Brunel's Thames Tunnel

Brunel's Thames Tunnel

Old Docks Tour
Old Docks Tour
The Prospect of Whitby

The Prospect of Whitby

The Prospect of Whitby

The Prospect of Whitby

Fish & Chips with mushy peas at The Prospect of Whitby

Fish & Chips with mushy peas at The Prospect of Whitby

The Prospect of Whitby

 

Joseph Turner was an eccentric man. A lover of women and secretive to the point of almost losing his own identity. Around the docklands of Wapping he was known as "Puggy" Booth. Puggy due to his slight stature and Booth adopting the name of one of his mistresses to further obfuscate his activities. When he inherited a pair of cottages in Wapping he converted one into Turner's Old Star and the pub still stands today after several renovations. Paul and Bernice Drew now run the freehouse and make their famous steak pies themselves from scratch! These are worth a trip all on their own, but the pub also has sports playing on every screen as well as billiards and darts. You could spend some time there!
 

 

Turner's Old Star

Turner's Old Star

Turner's Old Star

Turner's Old Star

Steak Pie at Turner's Old Star

Steak Pie at Turner's Old Star

 

Captain William Kidd was a notorious pirate. There is some debate whether he came about the monicker justly, but he was executed nearby for piracy. A converted warehouse with plenty of space and extraordinary views of the Thames. An alcove table with 180 degree views of the river and a spacious patio are just a few of the highlights. Oh ya, they also have beer, a lot of it! I would definitely recommend it for a calm night out or the starting point of a rager!
 

 

Captain Kidd

Captain Kidd

Chocolate Stout
Old Docks Tour
Old Docks Tour

 

Four hours is a long time to spend with strangers, but with the masterful guidance of Mr. Savage we bonded and by the time we came up the Dickens Pub it was almost too early to say goodbye. Luckily, we were greeted with a giant cheese and fruit platter and some ciders, a truly European dessert! Excited chatter turned into a constant murmur and laughter rose up as the room started to fill around us. Leigh gracefully took his leave and we were left to socialize and eat and drink until our heart's content. I can't remember another tour where the group was left together at the end and the fun just simply continued! I would highly recommend it and don't forget to tell them who sent you!

 

Old Docks Tour
English Cheese and Cider at The Dickens Inn

English Cheese and Cider at The Dickens Inn

 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

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 | HONG KONG | Disney Explorers Lodge by Jenn Chan

Disney Explorers Lodge

 

When does Hong Kong feel like Cancun? Or Bali? Or Phuket? When you walk beside an epic pool, framed by the ocean in a carnival-like, jubilant atmosphere. I, like countless others, have happily been indoctrinated with Disney everything from a young age. Sunday dinner in the formal dining room watching the classics and feeling like you're in centre of the universe. Where else would anyone want to be? The 8 year-old mind cannot fathom it!

Regardless of your age the finishes and the sheer magnitude of the Disney Explorers Lodge will suffice for even the most amenity-crazed traveller. Pools, a spa, a gym, restaurants and a gargantuan lobby that stretches 50-60 feet into the air allowing for, during our visit, one of the larger Christmas trees I've been privy to, greet you as you enter.

 

Disney Explorers Lodge
Disney Explorers Lodge
Disney Explorers Lodge

 

Our room was lovely! Very modern and... wait for it... Disney-themed everything right down to the shampoo and conditioner! Two queen beds dominate the space and views across Discovery Bay and its iconic Plaza draw the eye out and the room immediately feels even bigger and fills with light and vibrancy. Outside our window a seawall offers paved walking and biking paths and cyclists, kayakers and murmuring families peddle, paddle, laugh and skip as they pass. The bathroom is very modern and spa-like and the toilet is housed separate from the sink and vanity to allow for families and couples to share the room without issue. We prepared ourselves a few coffees and watched as a family scrambled around the Disney surfboard feature in the gardens below our window. Caffeinated and bubbling with Mickey Mouse energy we set out.
 

 

Disney Explorers Lodge
Disney Explorers Lodge

 

The Chart Room Café was our first stop for some food and view over the gardens. Being after noon and being that I was on vacation I indulged in an icy cold Heineken and enjoyed a quick bite as children raced around the tables in feverish games of unofficial tag; the excitement builds as you watch them! A quick walk around the gardens to admire the landscape architecture, curse the pool's inactivity due to the season and an even quicker daydream about its potential and it's off to the Park. THE Park! The Happiest Place on Earth! I'm going to Disneyland!

 

Resort Grounds

Resort Grounds

Hathi Jr Garden

Hathi Jr Garden

Oceanic Garden

Oceanic Garden

Hathi Garden
Disney Explorers Lodge Restaurant
Disney Explorers Lodge Restaurant
Disney Explorers Lodge
 
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