Whistler Hotels....West Jet sale takes on Air Canada...Good Show, Toronto
WHISTLER - I was lucky enough to sample two very different hotels in this lovely resort community over the past few days.
Spent a few nights at the Hilton, which is right in the lower village and features enormous rooms with full kitchens, a bar for eating breakfast or lunch (dinner in a pinch), a sofa, fireplace, balcony and large bathroom. Quite a nice setup for a family, for sure, or for anyone who wants a little space.
The next couple nights were at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler for the Go Media conference sponsored by the Canadian Tourism Commission. It doesn't have the iconic design of the Banff Springs or Chateau Frontenac or the Royal York and the rooms aren't particularly large but they're well furnished and have great bathrooms. There's also a great pool setup with a swim spot for the kids and a lap pool for adults (you can hear the music played on the patio when you're underwater in the lap pool courtesy of underwater speakers, although I can't quite imagine why). The gym looks great and there's a well-regarded spa. Most rooms have great mountain views, and the lobby is an exercise is casual, mountain-style luxury. A wonderful spot for a romantic getaway.
The Fairmont also has a great patio with propane heaters galore and a couple of gas fireplaces that radiate a lot of heat on a cool September night, not that we had anything really approaching that in a week where daytime temperatures were in the mid to upper 20's.
TORONTO PUTS ON THE RITZ
Next year's Go Media conference for tourism operators and media will be held in Toronto. Toronto Tourism sponsored the final dinner at this year's event and did a bang-up job.
All the tables in the Fairmont dining hall had Toronto street names, including obvious ones like Yonge and Bloor but also Ottawa, Muskoka, DeGrassi, Kennedy Road, Leslie Street and Black Creek Drive, just so that all the regions were represented.
There was a fine dinner of smoked trout and veal medallions with polenta and other goodies, and they had a string quartet that played along as images of everything from the AGO to the Argos and Caribana flashed up on the screen.
The centrepieces were the piece de resistance, with towers of glass surrounded by swirling white ribbons that were decorated with everything from tiny shopping bags from Holt Renfrew or the Eaton Centre to tiny, plastic dinosaurs to represent the ROM and tiny film canisters with Film Festival banners. Quite clever, I thought.
Prior to the Toronto dinner, there was a wonderful reception at the Squamish-Lil'Wat Cultural Centre in town. I did a travel piece on it in the Star a couple years back, and it's a stunningly designed focal point for aboriginal culture. There were aboriginal dancers last night and they put out a spread that included the tastiest smoked/candied salmon you've ever tried. Huge chunks of the stuff, rich and flavourful and sweet and savoury. A big hit with the crowd.
JIM'S DEAL OF THE DAY
Air wars in Canada appear to be heating up.
Air Canada has a big half-price sale on for a few more hours. Now, not only is WestJet offering airfares for half price, it’s taking 25 per cent off hotel stays too. Valid for bookings made by 11:59 p.m. (Mountain Daylight Time) today (Thursday, Sept. 24) for travel through Jan. 31, 2010, this seat sale applies to WestJet destinations in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Caribbean. For Canadian and U.S. destinations, the lowest sale fares apply to flights on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, plus for all destinations watch out for blackout dates Dec. 18 – Jan. 4. The hotel offer is good at InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites properties booked through the link at www.westjet.com, at least three days ahead of your stay. Your WestJet boarding pass will be required at check-in. See www.westjet.com.
Forgot to say I had a great hike the other day to Nairn Falls. I'd never heard of it, but a sign on the highway near Pemberton seemed to be calling my name and a great waitress at Big Sky golf course in Pemberton told me it definitely needed to be checked out.
You park in a small lot right off Highway 99 and walk about 1.5 km through beautiful forests to a terrific waterfall that shoots through a tiny, narrow chasm of chiseled rock with a force that's hard to imagine. It's not a towering waterfall, but it's extremely impressive in its power. It tumbles into a narrow pool of water, then slides down a sheer face of rock into another narrow chasm before it widens into a simply marvellous alpine river.
Quite worth the price of admission, which is zilch.
SO LONG, JAMIE, I HARDLY KNEW YA
That figures. I finally made it to Jamie Kennedy's wine bar on Church St. for the first time about two weeks ago, and I see today at thestar.com that he's sold the place. Damn; guess it's back to Baby Duck and Fritos out behind the Star building.