New "Signature Experiences" for Canada tourism include Ottawa! Ritz Paris reno
There's one less thing for Ottawa folks to complain about today.
The folks at the Canada Tourism Commission announced this week that they've expanded the "Signature Experiences" program to a fulsome 115 activities to entice visitors from abroad. And, yes, five of them are in Ottawa.
Readers may recall I wrote a column on the front page of the Star this past summer talking about how Ottawa politicians were aghast that the nation's capital wasn't included in the first round of the Signature Experiences program. They were, of course, all abluster about how wonderful their city was and that it was the Paris of Canada or the Miami of Canada or the Rio of Canada, when, in fact, it's more like the Philadelphia of Canada or the Brasilia of Canada.
- Stimulating the Senses! – National Gallery of Canada (see photo at left)
- Aboriginal Voyageur – Aboriginal Experiences
- Exploring Canada’s flavours in a unique culinary destination – Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa
- Lost Ships of the 1000 Islands Cruise – Gananoque Boat Line Ltd.
- The Grand Hall Tour – Canadian Museum of Civilization
A press release describes the Signature Experiences Collection are listing activities that are "authentic, that represent Canada’s nature, people and/or culture and that are immersive and engage a variety of senses. The Collection is used by the CTC to promote travel to Canada from its key foreign markets, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, South Korea, China, the United States, Mexico, Brazil and India. The next round of applications will begin November 15 and end December 15, 2011."
Also on the newly expanded list are the Maid of The Mist boat ride in Niagara Falls (highly recommended if you've never been). Canadian Press reports another of the 67 newcomers is something called "Rails, Trails & Ales," offered by Northern Edge Algonquin. It combines mountain biking in Algonquin Provincial Park with a beer-tasting visit to the Highlander micro-brewery in South River, Ont. There's also "an evening of brews" in a century-old log cabin. Participants can come by train to the South River station.
Also added to the collection is a six-hour sidecar ride along the Columbia Icefields Parkway offered by Jasper Motorcycle Tours. "Be amazed by unobstructed views of towering mountains, powerful waterfalls, raging rivers, hidden lakes, mammoth glaciers and wildlife," the company says on its website.
Other additions include hut-to-hut trekking in the Rockies, fossil prospecting in the Alberta Badlands, a historical and culinary walking tour in Quebec City, New Brunswick's Kings Landing Historical Settlement, the Celtic Colours International Festival in Cape Breton, N.S., and an iceberg tour off Newfoundland."
I got to see a small iceberg in Newfoundland a few years ago when I was visiting Twillingate, one of my favourite trips of all time. Locals said my iceberg was just a runt, but I thought it was pretty cool...
Certainly something you don't see in Brazil or China, so it's probably an excellent choice for the Signature Experiences program.
RITZ PARIS RENO
The famous Ritz Hotel in Paris says it's closing for two full years starting next summer. It will undergo an "unprecedented" renovation.
The five-star property, owned by billionaire tycoon Mohamed Al Fayed from Egypt, earlier this year failed to win one of several coveted "palace" designations awarded by the French government. Le Bristol, a personal fave, got the designation.
Fayed's son, Dodi, dined at the hotel in 1997 before his fatal car crash with Princess Diana. It was a favourite in long ago days of such celebrities as Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel and Charlie Chaplin.
Officials said hotel facilities, including its 160 rooms and suites, would preserve their traditional style while "offering the latest technological innovations".
No costs were revealed, but you can bet this is a multi, multi-million dollar refit if it's slated to take 27 months.