THE WINTER SUN SPECIAL
T o r o n t o
I s s u e
saba, your island adventure awaits. unspoiled, undeveloped, undeniably beautiful.
for more information visit sabatourism.com
Pure Purejoy. joy. With With everything everything taken taken care care of, of, youyou areare freefree to connect to connect withwith your your bestbest selfself andand revel revel in those in those special special moments. moments. Whether Whether it isitthe is the wonder wonder of seeing of seeing an an iconicon for for the the firstfitime, rst time, having having the the timetime to truly to truly connect connect withwith your your loved loved ones ones or the or the surprise surprise from from learning learning the the richness richness of local of local cultures, cultures, we we areare your your champions champions of happy of happy so you so you cancan justjust be.be.
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ISSUE 4 • ESCAPISM • 9
E D I TO R I A L
EDITOR AT LARGE
Suresh Doss ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Jessica Huras STAFF WRITER
Katie Bridges COPY EDITORS
Andrea Yu, David Ort EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
Taylor Newlands CONTRIBUTORS
Pay Chen, Sam Haddad, Mark Mann, Massimo De Francesca
Matthew Hasteley SENIOR DESIGNER
April Tran STUDIO PHOTOGRAPHY
Kailee Mandel COVER PHOTOGRAPHY
Orbon Alija PHOTOGRAPHERS
Paul Nicklen, Melissa Renwick, Tarique Eastman, Jean François Bergeron
CEO AND PUBLISHER
OTHING REBOOTS BODY and mind after a busy year more than a quick getaway. It’s something I look forward to as we get to the last pages of the calendar. Launching Escapism Toronto has made this one of my most memorable years, but also one of the busiest. The team has put together a budget travel guide that’s sure to inspire your next vacation, short or long, near or far. It can be a weekend excursion through Motor City, or a sunkissed few days in Central America (pg. 37). Take an extended staycation in between the holidays to a nearby city you’ve yet to visit, or go for a week in the tropics and temporarily erase any memory of the frigid winters in Toronto. That’s where travel writer Pay Chen heads to give us a closer look at how hurricanes have affected our favourite Caribbean beach destinations and how they’re rebuilding (pg. 43). Then we head to Tofino with writer Sam Haddad (pg. 49) as she dives into chilly waters to embark on a winter surfing journey. Prefer to cut through powder instead? Mark Mann takes us on a ski odyssey as he spends a few days crossing the Charlevoix crater in Eastern Quebec (pg. 83). And if you’re the kind of traveller that prefers après ski activities to time on the slopes, we’ve put together a list of ideas in our latest Selector (pg. 94). If short trips don’t quite cut it for you, hop across the ocean with Jessica Huras who maps out Istanbul essentials (pg. 57) and navigates the bustling markets of Marrakech (pg. 90). The holidays can be a time for self-reflection and some much needed R&R. In our first winter issue we’re steeping this notion with sun and snow. I hope these pages inspire you to squeeze in a bit of travel. I know I will. See you in 2019.◆
David Horvatin Nick Valsamis Spencer Reynolds MARKETING COORDINATOR
Emily Buck LEAD DEVELOPER
AJ Cerqueti CHAIRMAN
Tim Slee PRINTING
Made possible with the support of Ontario Media Development Corporation. omdc.on.ca
Suresh Doss, Editor at Large
◁ Get your weekly dose of Escapism, direct to your inbox. just visit: escapism.to/newsletter
© Twenty Two Media 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. All information contained in this magazine is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Twenty Two Media cannot accept responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Twenty Two Media a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine. All material is sent at your own risk and although every care is taken, neither Twenty Two Media nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be held liable resulting for loss or damage. Twenty Two Media endeavours to respect the intellectual property of the owners of copyrighted material reproduced herein. If you identify yourself as the copyright holder of material we have wrongly attributed, please contact the office.
15 ◆ In the Frame
C OV E R S TO RY
22 ◆ Just Landed 24 ◆ The Escapist 28 ◆ Room Service 30 ◆ Short Stay Nassau, Bahamas 32 ◆ Long Stay Los Angeles, California
Sea, Surf and Snow
Whether you’re itching for a faraway escape or a staycation in your neck of the woods, we’ve rounded up our top wallet-friendly destinations for winter travel.
Sam Haddad slips on an extrathick wetsuit and dives into Tofino, B.C.’s chilly winter waters on a cold water surfing adventure, encountering stormwatchers and incredible wildlife in between.
Back-to-back hurricanes caused significant damage to the Caribbean in September 2017 but island nations like Anguilla are back and better than ever.
Centuries of fascinating history, culture, architecture and food unravel in Istanbul, a city that straddles two continents. Jessica Huras highlights what not to miss.
75 ◆ The Checklist 83 ◆ The Intrepid Series: Charlevoix
Over a grueling five-day backcountry ski trip through rural Quebec, Mark Mann tests his limits, physically and emotionally. 92 ◆ Like a Local 94 ◆ The Selector 98 ◆ Rear View
Flavour Begins Here
WHAT DOES NIAGARA TASTE LIKE? At Niagara Parks, a 133 year old agency of the province of Ontario, we are committed to preserving and presenting the wonders of Niagara for the enjoyment of the world. From our inspiring natural wonders – the falls themselves - and engaging heritage sites, to our breathtaking and reflective horticultural spaces, presenting experiences that invoke and excite your senses is what we do. All senses. Across the past number of years our Niagara Parks Culinary team has explored how to truly present the tastes of Ontario and Niagara to the world. The answer was easy, look local. Working with the Culinary Tourism Alliance under their Feast On certification program, our services and all of our five full-service restaurants, from the epic Elements on the Falls to the serene Queenston Heights Restaurant, feature a mandated minimum 25% food and beverage sourced from local Ontario growers, producers, and providers. In fact, we actually feature up to 60% on the food side, and nearly 100% on beverage. And we don’t stop there, even the talented cooks and chefs in our kitchens are locally sourced, as we operate one of Canada’s largest culinary apprenticeship training programs in association with Niagara College. From amazing Ontario orchards, to the delicious dairies, from VQA wines, to Ontario’s fast growing craft beer and spirits scene, Niagara Parks is committed to supporting the many growers, producers and craftspeople that make up Ontario’s unique taste of place. And with five full-service restaurants and a slate of spectacular events to choose from, you’ll know your meal will be just as unique as the land where it’s grown.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT NIAGARA PARKS CULINARY, AND OUR WINTER POP UP DINNER AT THE EDGE OF THE FALLS, VISIT NIAGARAPARKS.COM/CULINARY
Room Service 30 32
In the Frame
Costa Rica, New York, British Columbia
Los Angeles, California
IN THE FRAME • DEPARTURES • 15
BELOW: Paul Nicklen
IN THE FRAME
In Born to Ice, Paul Nicklen shares his love of the arctic through enchanting images of icy landscapes and the creatures who inhabit them. [
In the Frame by escapism is presented in association with:
captures the melting ice-water that pours over the edge of the Nordaustlandet ice cap in Svalbard, Norway.
Photo © 2018 Paul Nicklen. All rights reserved. sealegacy.org
ICE ICE BABY BORN TO ICE BY PAUL NICKLEN Ocean conservationist, TED Talks speaker and award-winning photographer Paul Nicklen shares his deep love for the arctic in Born to Ice. Published by teNeues, this captivating photography book features images of breathtaking scenery and close-ups with wildlife, mixed in with Nicklenâ€™s captivating
storytelling and a powerful call to action. Having grown up on Baffin Island in a small Inuit settlement, Nicklen has a deep connection to these polar regions that can be felt in every photo. $165, amazon.ca
IN THE FRAME • DEPARTURES • 17
ABOVE: In the Ross
Sea in Antarctica, an emperor penguin releases bubbles from its feathers to speed up to the surface.
Photo © 2018 Paul Nicklen. All rights reserved. sealegacy.org
migrating through Nunavut, these narwhals gather in the cracks between the ice to surface and feed on polar cod.
IN THE FRAME • DEPARTURES • 19
Photo © 2018 Paul Nicklen. All rights reserved. sealegacy.org
20 • DEPARTURES • IN THE FRAME
ABOVE: Paul Nicklen
was inside a tiny cabin waiting out a blizzard when a curious polar bear approached his window.
NIKON A world leader in photo and video technology, Nikon inspires people around the world to tell their visual stories. From DSLRs to flashes, lenses and camera
accessories, Nikon’s precision equipment helps amateurs and professionals alike capture the moments that matter to them. The new Z7 mirrorless digital camera is a testament to Nikon’s renowned excellence in optics and intuitive design, redefining what you thought possible from such a compact camera. Reinvented
to expand your creativity, the Z7 features a revolutionary mount that’s compatible with a new range of cutting-edge NIKKOR Z lenses. en.nikon.ca Nikon encourages photographers to share incredible images, but is not associated with the photographers or images presented in this segment.
Photo © 2018 Paul Nicklen. All rights reserved. sealegacy.org
In the Frame by escapism is presented in association with:
A CLEAN GETAWAY
JUST LANDED An airport unveiling in Istanbul and the NoMad name lands in Las Vegas. Here’s what’s on our travel radar.
Planning corporate getaways is getting easier with the launch of Retreatify, a new Toronto startup. Retreatify simplifies the process of organizing a business retreat, offering countryside rental homes within 200 kilometres of the GTA and optional extras like transportation and catering. The platform takes the fuss out of planning retreats for businesses and also gives vacation homeowners a new way to safely rent their properties during slow periods, like weekdays.
CHILL OUT A new travel package from tour operator Inuit Adventures will give travellers the chance to discover Northern Quebec’s Nunavik region. The four-day tours, which launch in March, take travellers to the remote Inuit community of Puvirnituq on the east coast of the Hudson Bay. Participants will help local fishermen bring in their catches, listen to throat singing performances and spend a night in a traditional Inuit tent or igloo.
FLYING WITH WEED RULES(!) NEW ARRIVALS Istanbul’s massive new airport was inaugurated on October 29, to coincide with the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic. Although the airport’s first flight has taken off, it isn’t set to become fully functional until the end of 2018. The sprawling new airport features architecture inspired by Istanbul’s history and culture, including a control tower designed in the shape of a tulip, Turkey’s national flower. The airport is poised to become the world’s biggest and will feature six runways and three terminals, as well as residences, hotels and a shopping mall when complete.
Istanbul airport is expected to serve over 200 million passengers a year once its three terminals are complete
Now that marijuana has been legalized in Canada, the floodgates have opened for questions about every scenario that could possibly involve the provocative plant. Travelling tokers should know that weed cannot be taken across the Canadian border – in either direction. Even when travelling to or from a country where weed is legal, you can’t take your cannabis with you. On domestic flights, Canadians can bring up to 30 grams of the happy herb in a carry-on or checked bag. But make sure you know the laws in the province you’re landing in – each jurisdiction has its own reefer regulations.
JUST LANDED • DEPARTURES • 23
NOMAD’S LAND The team behind NoMad New York, NoMad Los Angeles, the NoMad Bar and the three-Michelinstar Eleven Madison Park have recently brought the NoMad name to Las Vegas. Opened this fall, the NoMad hotel, restaurant, casino and bar are the latest additions to mega-resort Park MGM. Designed by French architect Jacques Garcia, each of the hotel’s 293 rooms feature custom furniture, hardwood floors and original artwork. In the former home of the Monte Carlo, the NoMad Casino offers an elegant atmosphere and all the glamour of an old-world European casino under the original Tiffany stained-glass ceiling.
Jacques Garcia has also designed the interiors of the Tour Montparnasse and Le Méridien hotels
Tiffany: In his efforts to improve the quality of decorative glass, Louis Comfort Tiffany pioneered the modern stained glass industry
CULTURAL CURES November 1 marked the launch of a new pilot project that will allow physicians to prescribe visits to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts as an addition to conventional medical treatment. A partnership between the Montreal-based Médecins francophones du Canada and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the project will allow doctors in the association to issue up to 50 prescriptions covering admission to the museum for a family of four. The program is touted as the first of its kind in the world and aims to help people with a range of physical and mental health issues.
PHYSICIANS IN MONTREAL CAN PRESCRIBE VISITS TO MUSEUMS ALONGSIDE CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT
Museum by Benoit Daoust
24 • DEPARTURES • THE ESCAPIST
BUDGET BUDDIES These apps can make your group travel budgeting a breeze.
During the busiest time for travel, Jessica Huras reminds us how to navigate the airport and your plane journey with fellow travellers in mind.
SPLITWISE As you travel with your group, keep track of your shared expenses with Splitwise. This app logs a running tab of how much is owed then prompts your pals when it’s time to pay up.
it’s possible that the long, loud conversation with your friend sitting across the aisle can just wait until you both arrive at your destination. In the interest of transparency, I should admit something: I’m regularly guilty of one particular airport faux pas: gate hovering. Most of the time, I end up assigned to one of the last boarding groups (as I write this, I’m currently waiting at the airport in boarding group 7. I didn’t realize it was possible to sink so low in airplane hierarchy), but I’ll pop out of my chair and start dancing around the gate as soon as group 1 is called. Sure, I have my excuses (my carry-on usually consists of my laptop and camera gear and ain’t nobody going to force me to check that when the overhead bin space fills up), but I also know I’m inconsiderately contributing to crowding the boarding gate area. So let’s make a pact, fellow holiday travellers: You stop hogging all the overhead bin space by bringing ridiculously oversized carry-on bags onto the plane and I’ll stop worrying about if there’s going to be enough space for my bag and just wait patiently until my group is called. Deal? ◆
TRAIL WALLET Set out your daily budget before you travel and keep track of your expenses as you go. Trail Wallet will inform you if you’re under or over your goal so you’ll know if that extra group activity will break the bank before you do it.
Airport by Skyler Smith; Splitwise by Tanvi Kumthekar
HERE’S NO BETTER time of year to reflect on airport etiquette than the holiday season. Whether it’s to reunite with family or indulge in a winter getaway, the number of people travelling through airports around the world doubles (full disclosure: I have zero stats on holiday season travel; I can only say from having travelled regularly in December that airports get insanely busy). While I could easily devote an entire (very long, very ranting) magazine to airport etiquette, most of my key tips and grievances boil down to consideration of those around you: Think about how you can make line-ups move more quickly by having your documents ready during security screenings; and for the love of God, don’t cut in line (yes, we all noticed and we all hate you). By all means, treat yourself to some airport fast food but don’t bring your greasy takeaway bag on the plane so everyone has to smell your French fries in the recirculating air for three-plus hours. Consider keeping your bulky winter coat in the seat with you (I know, it’s a tough life) instead of jamming it into overhead bin space that’s clearly meant for other passengers’ luggage. And
TRAVEFY Organizational travel app Travefy takes your group through every step of planning a trip. Search for and book hotels, plan activities, collect payments and chat as you build your itinerary all together.
Recharge your chill
Get away from it all and recharge in Jamaica. To book your Jamaican vacation, go to westjetvacations.com or call your travel agent.
26 • DEPARTURES • TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
High above the peninsula at the southwestern end of Trinidad, this aerial shot shows just a fragment of the massive coconut plantation in the coastal area of Cedros. Farther south than most Trinidadians care to travel, Eastman wanted to showcase the beauty of a region that people were missing out on.
Travel photographer Tarique Eastman (@tariqueeastman) captures the unseen side of Trinidad and Tobago.
DOWN D’ISLANDS After attaining a B.Sc. and a job in I.T., Eastman jumped ship to pursue photography full time, so it’s no surprise that he enjoys taking risks for his photos. Hanging off the side of a fishing boat, Eastman had to steady his camera three inches above the waves to capture the unique angle of this shot.
THE NORTH DECK
Full-time photographer, content creator and YouTuber, Tarique Eastman aims to photograph his home country, Trinidad and Tobago, as if he were exploring it for the first time. He tries to let go of his own opinions in order to look at places he’s visited hundreds of times and see them through a new lens (pun intended). In the northern hills of Trinidad, Eastman captured this photo of the North Deck, a popular event venue nestled amongst the trees.
Recharge your OMG
Feeling drained these days? Recharge in Jamaica. To book your Jamaican vacation, go to westjetvacations.com or call your travel agent.
Decorated with wooden furniture and pale beachy colours, rooms here are simple and elegant. Dreamy king-size beds have 400-thread-count organic cotton linens and mini-bars are filled with a rotating selection of local snacks and drinks. Although the emphasis here is on disconnection, rooms don’t scrimp on techie features, offering free Wi-Fi, iHome radios and flat screen TVs. Most rooms feature covered decks – some of which have outdoor hot tubs – for taking in the natural surroundings in comfort.
Get back to nature at a stylish Costa Rican eco-lodge, a cozy B&B in Upstate New York and B.C.’s Nita Lake Lodge.
BEACH AND EATS The resort’s stand-out feature is its access to not one but two pretty beaches. Two lagoon-style swimming pools offer additional lounging locales – the upper pool has dramatic views of Playa Espadilla and the lower pool is steps away from Playitas Beach. A pair of restaurants, El Mirador and Playitas Restaurant and Bar, stay true to the resort’s ecofriendly leanings with menus focused on locallysourced, organic food and drink. An à la carte breakfast is included in the room rate. The low-key spa has some ocean view treatment rooms and room rates also include two activities – a tortilla-making class and a behind-the-scenes tour of the resort’s green initiatives.
ARENAS DEL MAR BEACHFRONT & RAINFOREST RESORT, COSTA RICA Arenas del Mar combines the back-to-nature experience of a rustic eco-lodge with the swish amenities of a luxury hotel. Get up close and personal with Costa Rica’s flora and fauna without roughing it, enjoying a vibe that’s accordingly upscale yet relaxed. The main entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park, one of Costa Rica’s most popular national parks, is a 15-minute drive from Arenas del Mar. The resort takes up about a quarter of its 11-acre property, with the rest of the land serving as a private nature reserve. Developers worked to minimize the resort’s impact on its natural surroundings so monkeys, iguanas, sloths and other animals move freely around for prime wildlife viewing on the property. Rooms from $400. arenasdelmar.com
quarters of the Arenas del Mar property operates as a private nature reserve for prime wildlife-spotting opportunities
ROOM SERVICE • DEPARTURES • 29
RIVER SPRING LODGE, NEW YORK This cozy B&B’s location between Buffalo and Rochester makes it the perfect pit stop. Niagara Falls is just an hour away, but if that waterfall seems too passé, there are plenty more where those came from. Letchworth State Park, often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East, is a winding gorge just 50 minutes away. Recently voted Best State Park in America, Letchworth has three waterfalls, hiking trails and white water rafting. Whether you stay overnight and camp or take a day trip from River Spring, Letchworth warrants a full 24 hours of exploring. Rooms from $200. riverspringlodge.com
WINE, DINE AND A GOOD TIME Chef David Hamer and his wife Carolyn opened the River Spring Lodge over two years ago and have been providing guests with a one-two punch of delicious farm-to-table dining and the kind of hospitality and service that feels like a warm hug ever since. The biggest feature here is chef Dave’s “refined American cuisine.” Reserve 24 hours in advance as much of the bread, pastries and desserts are freshly made by him. Don’t miss the applewood-smoked duckling breast with black cherry maple chutney and the impossibly tender sous vide beef short ribs.
NITA LAKE LODGE, BRITISH COLUMBIA Nita Lake is a breathtaking little lake with tiny gravel beaches and serene mountain views, located a few kilometers south of Whistler Village. If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway without the bustle of a big ski town, this is the place to be. Nita Lake is quiet yet it doesn’t compromise access since the town of Whistler is just a five-minute drive away. Nita Lake Lodge has been one of the area’s most coveted resorts for a decade running. Whether you’re an adventurous skier or prefer everything “après”, the lodge combines upscale mountain comfort with scenic views for those that want a little R&R, and a number of outdoor activities for the restless thrillseekers. Rooms from $159. nitalakelodge.com
THE GREAT OUTDOORS If you’re considering Whistler for a getaway, then chances are good that you want to spend as much time as possible exploring the outdoors. There are a number of active experiences available through the lodge like fat bike (mountain bikes with snow-friendly tires) and snowshoe rentals. The hotel is walking distance to the Creekside gondola with complimentary slopeside ski lockers available for guests. Free daily shuttles run to and from Whistler Village. ◆
ABOVE: River Spring
Lodge was opened by chef David Hamer and his wife Carolyn two years ago, offering farm-totable cuisine with warm hospitality
NITA LAKE IS QUIET YET WHISTLER VILLAGE IS A FIVE-MINUTE DRIVE AWAY
Amid winter’s nippiest weather, Jessica Huras hops on a plane and heads just three hours away to find tropical respite in the Bahamas.
BY AIR: WestJet
flies directly from Pearson International Airport to Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau six times a week. Flight time is just over three hours. GETTING IN:
Baha Mar is a 15-minute drive from the airport. Taxi service is reliable but alternatively, you can book a private transfer in advance.
When you’re trudging through slush-covered streets and shivering through wooly layers on a winter day in Toronto, the warmth of the Bahamas feels a world away. But the Bahamian capital of Nassau is actually only a three-hour direct flight from Toronto, which means you can easily squeeze a dose of sun into a long weekend trip. Let’s get our geography straight first: Nassau is located on New Providence Island, but you’ll hear most people using Nassau to refer to the island as a whole. Nassau is also closely associated with Paradise Island, a small island north of New Providence which is known for its massive Atlantis resort, and is linked to bustling downtown Nassau by a pair of bridges.
The newest and most upscale of the three hotels found in the Baha Mar resort complex, Rosewood is a worthwhile splurge. Spanning 1,000 acres on Cable Beach, the property features an elegant British colonial aesthetic complemented by local touches, including a huge collection of Bahamian art. Rooms decorated in beachy blue and taupe have teak flooring and marble bathrooms with soaking tubs. There are two pools and multiple stylish bars and restaurants, including a garden-view lounge where a posh afternoon tea is served. Guests also have access to the surrounding Baha Mar complex, which includes a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and the biggest casino in the Caribbean.
Rosewood Baha Mar’s property encompasses 3,000 feet of sandy coastline with exclusive access to the beach
NASSAU, BAHAMAS • DEPARTURES • 31
NASSAU NOSH From local seafood to killer pizza, these restaurants are worth leaving the beach for.
FISH FRY AT ARAWAK CAY Dine on conch fritters, sweet plantains and other Bahamian classics at the rainbow-hued cluster of stands collectively known as the Fish Fry. Wash everything down with sky juice – a potent mix of gin, condensed milk and coconut water.
SAVE TIME TO SEE MODERN BAHAMIAN AND CARIBBEAN ART AT THE NATIONAL ART GALLERY OF THE BAHAMAS COASTING FOR CULTURE
Fish fry by Jessica Huras; Mahogany by Dede Brown Photography
With all the beaches and booze, it’s easy to overlook Nassau’s rich culture but it’s worth spending at least an afternoon digging into the city’s history and arts. Check out the pink-and-white 19th-century buildings framing Parliament Square. Admire the views from the top of Fort Fincastle and the dramatic Queen’s Staircase leading up to it, which was built from limestone by slaves in the late 18th century. Save time to see the impressive collection of modern Bahamian and Caribbean art housed at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas.
LUKKA KAIRI This hip restaurant overlooking Nassau Harbour offers a mix of classic and contemporary takes on Bahamian cuisine, served family-style and made using ingredients sourced on the island. Expect regular live performances by Bahamian bands.
SEA YOU AT THE BEACH
It wouldn’t be a trip to the Bahamas without some beach time. Thanks to its proximity to downtown Nassau and the cruise ship terminals, Junkanoo Beach is one of the island’s liveliest. Although the sands here are somewhat rocky, there are tons of bars to keep beachgoers satisfied, including Fat Tuesday, which is known for its boozy frozen daiquiris. Moving west along the coast, you’ll find Cable Beach, a beautiful five-kilometre stretch of white sands lined with resorts, hotels and water-sports operators. For peace and quiet, head to Love Beach, a pretty patch of white sands located west of Nassau with excellent snorkelling off the coast. ◆
Junkanoo: Named after the revered slave hero John Canoe, Junkanoo is the largest festival in the Bahamas with street parades and parties celebrating African culture over the holiday season.
MAHOGANY HOUSE Set in the Island House hotel, Mahogany House’s simple, refined fare includes superb seafood dishes, wood-fired pizzas and charcuterie plates that pair nicely with the well-curated wine list.
Suresh Doss dives into L.A.’s sprawling streets to discover the city’s glam history, diverse food and walkable districts.
Los Angeles is famous for its traffic and it can be a frustrating experience getting around. So stick to the coastline of Santa Monica, one of the most walkable areas of L.A. It’s also incredibly photogenic with equal parts Art Deco and Colonial Revival-style architecture. Santa Monica is famously known for mixing laidback beach town vibes with shopping and cultural attractions such as art galleries and museums.
VENICE BEACH AND ABBOT KINNEY
Things start to get a little funkier the next beach over. Venice Beach’s boardwalk is one of the most colourful parts of the city, lined with street musicians and shops. After, head over to Abbot Kinney to eat at some of the most celebrated restaurants in town – try pastas at Felix, Japanese snacks at MTN and artisanal bread at Gjusta. Save room for ice cream at Salt & Straw.
BIRD AND LIME SCOOTER RENTALS
L.A. is large and sprawling but everyone from your cab driver to your concierge will tell you about dockless scooter-share companies like Bird and Lime that have recently launched here. Walk around the block and you’ll spot electric scooters everywhere. They can be unlocked in real time using mobile apps and you pay by the minute. When you’re done, lower the kickstand, lock the bike and walk away.
REST THE RITZ-CARLTON, MARINA DEL REY
While there is no shortage of luxury in Los Angeles, the Ritz-Carlton near Venice Beach wins our hearts for the cozy feel of its lobby and close proximity to the Abbot Kinney strip’s excellent shopping and eating. The hotel cradles one of the largest recreational marinas in the world, so expect epic views of the water from the outdoor saltwater pool and sunsets from the club lounge (free with suites).
MAMA SHELTER LOS ANGELES
Located in the heart of a neighbourhood known for its rock n’ roll roots, gangsters and the roaring 20s, this boutique 70-room hotel evokes the ever-evolving aesthetic of West Hollywood. From the rooftop bar you get nearly 360-degree views of the sunny city, and the Hollywood sign and the Walk of Fame aren’t far.
THE CHARLIE HOTEL
Hidden gems may be hard to find in West Hollywood but this property captures that home-away-fromhome feel. Once owned by Charlie Chaplin as a retreat for his famous friends, the English cottage-like buildings now serve as unique suites named for the stars that once stayed in them; the Marilyn’s dining room overlooks a quaint garden while the Clark’s two bedrooms each have their own patio.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA • DEPARTURES • 33
DO FARMERS MARKETS
Palm trees by Chones; Hollywood by ViewApart; Market by Tero Vesalainen
There’s a reason why so many chefs are moving to Los Angeles. There’s no place like California when it comes to produce. A trip to L.A. requires a visit to one of many farmers markets throughout the city. The Wednesday market in Santa Monica gets top billing for having one of the city’s most varied selections. This is where the local chefs shop and where you can taste your way through hyper-seasonal fruits like pluots and kiwis. Or head to the Original Farmers Market on Fairfax Avenue for food stalls and shopping. There’s also the Venice Beach Farmers Market which is tamer compared to the others but still presents all the essentials from seasonal produce to a variety of artisanal food vendors.
Los Angeles is famously known as the city that celebrates after-hours entertainment. While West Hollywood demands a separate trip to fully appreciate its diverse pockets and wilder side, you can get a taste of it if you stick to the main artery. Start by the Sunset Strip where you’ll find some of the best southeast Asian restaurants. Try Night + Market for traditional and nouveau takes on Thai cuisine or head to E.P. & L.P. for rooftop drinks and snacks. When you’re ready for some hedonism, visit one of the Sunset Strip’s legendary live music venues.
Hollywood, also known as “WeHo,” encompasses the Sunset Strip, Santa Monica Boulevard and the Design District
Not long ago, tourists avoided Downtown L.A. in favour of the oceanside. What was once considered a seedy and unsafe part of the city has quickly become a stomping ground for chefs and bartenders that are planting new roots. Downtown is probably the most exciting part of L.A. to eat and drink through right now, where you’ll find a range of bars that will transport you back in time to the birthplace of film noir and detective fiction. Start in Little Tokyo with Indian gastropub fare and sushi then work your way to the Toy District for cocktails. ◆
Film noir: This style of filmmaking was popularized in the 1940s and 50s. It’s characterized by high-contrast lighting, strong female characters and crime drama plotlines.
WHAT WAS ONCE CONSIDERED A SEEDY PART OF THE CITY IS NOW A STOMPING GROUND FOR CHEFS AND BARTENDERS
DONâ€™T DRINK & DRIVE WWW.ABOUTALCOHOL.COM
Cheap Winter Getaways
Tofino, British Columbia
Discover Discover Flora, Fauna and
Flip-Flops. You walk slower here. Linger at every picturesque scene a little longer. And with each wonder-filled step, you canâ€™t help but get more and more lost to the rhythms of tropical living. visit DiscoverDominica.com
CHEAP WINTER GETAWAY • EXPERIENCES • 37
BUDGET BREAKS Want to stretch your dollars, krona, pesos and shekels even further? We’ve rounded up destinations from near and far that’ll go easy on your wallet.
Height of Victoria Falls
Volcanoes in Iceland
Drive to Detroit
ABOVE: For lastminute flight-bookers, deals to Las Vegas are common, so you can hit the Strip for less
ITH THE BIG chill truly setting in, we’re starting to feel restless. Cue countless evenings spent Googling flights to anywhere warm. But it’s not just sunnier climes we’re pining for – wintry European city breaks and closer-to-home road trips are equally great ways to blow away the cobwebs. From cheap flight destinations to unexpected gems within driving distance, we’ve got you covered. If you’re booking ahead, check out our big ticket trips that will save you cash once you’re on the ground. Or go for an allinclusive that takes care of everything if you don’t have time to plan an adventure. Here’s where to travel on a shoestring this winter. >
ABOVE: The non-profit Neon Boneyard in Las Vegas displays signs from the 1930s to today; there are over 150 signs in the collection to explore
FLY Airline stopover programs and last-minute deals make these destinations affordable.
> LAS VEGAS, NEVADA If you’re flying out of Toronto, you can easily spot last-minute flight deals to Las Vegas during peak holiday season. Sin City has recently been turning heads for its booming dining scene and fast-evolving cocktail culture. Stay on the strip for convenient access to all the major casinos and new restaurants from notable chefs like David Chang and Giada De Laurentiis. For a deeper dive into Vegas culture, stay downtown where new bars are thriving in an unparalleled late-night scene.
While many travellers will be making a sun run this winter, Reykjavik makes for an unforgettable trip, and some flights go for as little as $300 return. Thanks to all the geothermal activity in the region, there are plenty of hot springs where you can take a dip. Or, if you prefer to warm up with your clothes on, check out one of the many cozy cafes in Reykjavik, like Kaffi Vínyl. Try your luck spotting the Northern Lights – the best place to catch them Iceland is located on within the city limits an active tectonic is at Seltjarnarnes. zone with about Pro tip: when you fly 130 volcanoes and with Icelandair, you 600 hot springs. Geothermal water can add a stopover heats around 90 per on a journey across cent of homes in the Atlantic, free of the country. charge.
You can easily snag round-trip flights to the United Kingdom’s most underappreciated
capital for around $400 round trip in December. The Irish are known for their extraordinary friendliness and the country’s capital is no exception. Pop into any Dublin pub and it’s not uncommon for a local to strike up a conversation and offer to buy you a drink. Discovering Dublin is less about checking off bucket list sites and more about wandering down cobblestone streets and admiring pretty Georgian squares and townhouses — though the 12th-century Christ Church Cathedral and the Long Room in Trinity College’s Old Library are worth special stops.
It’s possible to find flights to Lisbon for less than $600 round trip through the winter months, but the TAP Air Portugal stopover program offers an even better way to get bang-for-your-buck on a trip to the Portuguese capital. The program allows travellers to spend up to five nights in Lisbon (or Porto) en route to more than 65
CHEAP WINTER GETAWAYS • EXPERIENCES • 39
destinations across Europe and Africa with the airline. The program also includes other perks like lower rates on certain hotels and a free bottle of wine at a selection of local restaurants, making your exploration of Lisbon’s dramatic miradouros (viewpoints), cobbled alleyways and historic castles and cathedrals all the sweeter.
DRIVE There’s plenty to explore in our own neck of the woods. Here are a few destinations that you’ll only need four wheels to reach.
Just outside the quaint town of Collingwood, Blue Mountain offers 364 acres of skiable terrain, from gentle beginner slopes to moguled mountainous runs. With an average of 123 days open during the winter ski season and an assortment of different passes available online, it’s easy to get a lot of bang for your buck. The hills are only a two-hour drive from Toronto, making for a perfect weekend (or week-long) getaway. While staying right at the base of the mountain is convenient, it can also be pricey during high season. Opt to stay in Collingwood, a 15-minute drive from the mountain for more budget-friendly accommodations.
Vegas by Claire Jones; Lisbon by Vita Marija
Around two hours away by car, Stratford is an accessible destination for a quick winter weekend trip. Stratford’s famous theatre festival, which runs from April to October each year, closes its curtains for the winter but that doesn’t mean this charming town also shuts down for the season. Experience some of the city’s best up-and-coming culinary talent with Stratford Chefs School’s Dinner Series, which sees chefs-in-training host creative set dinners for the public. Fuel up with some liquid warmth courtesy of Junction 56, a craft distillery where you can enjoy tastings of locally-made gin, vodka, moonshine and liqueurs.
RIGHT: TAP Air Portugal’s stopover program allows travellers to spend five nights in Lisbon enroute to select destinations in Europe and Africa
DOWNTOWN DETROIT IS HOME TO ALL OF THE BIG FOUR SPORTS TEAMS NIAGARA FALLS, ONTARIO
In some ways, Niagara Falls is more appealing in the off-season when the tourist hordes relax their grip on the city. The Falls take on a particularly magical appearance in the winter, with some sections freezing into glittering natural ice sculptures. Admire the wintery views without braving the subzero temps outside by booking a room at the Tower Hotel, where many rooms have wall-to-wall windows overlooking the Falls. Visit in January to catch the annual Niagara Falls Icewine Festival, which sees over 15 wineries offering samples of VQA wines at the Scotiabank Convention Centre. Or take a day trip into Niagara-on-the-Lake for more vino – most wineries are open during weekends through the winter.
Often overlooked but brimming with possibilities, Detroit is only a four hour trip down the 401. The Motor City is home to all the big sporting teams, with the Detroit Lions, Tigers, Pistons and Red Wings stadiums located downtown. Make a pitstop at both Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island; two side-by-side hot dog joints with a famed rivalry. Pick a favourite and pledge your allegiance like a true Detroiter. Hit up the Henry Ford Museum – it’s not just for car-lovers. Don’t miss the limousine John F. Kennedy was riding in when he was assassinated, or the bus Rosa Parks refused to give her seat up on. The city’s new QLine Streetcar launched last year, making it easier to ditch the car and explore the city. >
LEFT: Tel Aviv’s hedonistic party scene starts on the beach and moves to the White City’s rooftop bars and speakeasy-style lounges well into the evening
the city centre is wonderfully walkable and bike rental companies are aplenty for exploring the city’s squares or cruising along the beachfront facade. Tel Aviv is praised around the world for its cuisine so leave some time to visit Carmel Market and the Old North district. If clubbing and cocktails are your thing, the city’s Sderot Rothschild or Dizengoff Square, dressed with bars and clubs of all shapes and sizes, will keep you moving well into the dawn.
It’ll take more than spare change (and a little courage) to get you to India – but once you arrive, prepare to eat, sleep and see some of the most awe-inspiring wonders of the world for astonishingly little. Explore the Red Fort, a 17th-century sandstone fortress, then zip across town in a tuk-tuk to haggle at colourful spice markets. Use Delhi as a starting point for exploring the Golden Triangle (Agra, home to the Taj Mahal and Jaipur in Rajasthan are other popular destinations); after all, a trip to India isn’t complete without a train ride. Now is the best time to visit, when the humidity is bearable but the days are still sunny.
ON THE GROUND Book flights ahead for these affordable international destinations and they’ll go easy on your wallet once you land.
> PANAMA CITY, PANAMA Panama City is one of Latin America’s smallest capitals, but thanks to a long history as a key port and canal city, it’s also one of the region’s most sophisticated destinations. Panama is attracting a growing number of travellers, but it still flies under the radar compared to neighbours like Costa Rica, which translates into lower costs for visitors. The romantic old city centre, Casco Viejo, is a UNESCO World Heritage
Site, while neighbourhoods like Bella Vista showcase the city’s cosmopolitan dining and nightlife scene. Better still, verdant rainforests and the famous Panama Canal are a short drive outside the city. Altos de Campana National Park is less than a two hour drive away, where you can go swimming in a canyon river.
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL Israel’s coastal city has long had a reputation for its hedonistic party scene that starts on the beach and moves into the city at night. For daytime revelry,
The Panama Canal was the most expensive project ever undertaken by the U.S. at $375 million. Between 12,000 and 15,000 ships cross the canal every year.
China’s capital is an exciting, cultureshock-inducing adventure that’s home to seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, more than 60,000 restaurants, cutting-edge modern architecture and a fascinating arts scene. Beijing might be one of the more expensive cities in China, but prices are still low compared to what we’re used to paying at home, particularly if you stick to local restaurants and transportation modes. Plus, the cold winter months are the city’s off-season for tourism, which means there are even more great bargains to be had ( just be sure to pack warm clothes, as evening temperatures often drop below freezing). Combat the winter weather with a visit to the Longmai Hot Spring Village in Xiaotangshan or warm up from the inside with a bubbling bowl of hot pot.
CHEAP WINTER GETAWAYS • EXPERIENCES • 41
ALL-IN No time to plan? These all-inclusive vacation packages cover all the details for less than you might think.
CLUB MED PACKAGES
Bottomless drinks and endless buffets don’t just exist in the Caribbean – all-inclusive resorts can be found all over. In addition to the ever-popular island destinations, Club Med offers a number of all-in vacation packages across the French, Italian and Swiss Alps. The highest mountains in Europe, the Alps provide some of the best skiing conditions in the world, along with cozy chalets, stunning panoramic views and charming villages. At first glance, prices may seem a little steep for a budget option, but with your flight, ski passes, meals, open bar and entertainment all included, it’s more affordable than you think.
Travelling on a dime doesn’t mean organizing everything yourself. Intrepid Travel has a number of tours which include transport, accommodation and some
YOU’LL FIND CRUISE PACKAGES IN THE CARIBBEAN ARE AT A LOWER PRICE POINT meals. They’re a great way to pack lots in if you’re short on time, or an easy way to meet new people if you’re travelling solo. Travel from Victoria Falls to Kruger National Park in South Africa over nine days. Or explore Peru’s Victoria Falls in ancient civilization Africa is the largest on a trek to Machu curtain of falling Picchu. Watch out water on the planet. for their last minute It’s one-and-a-half times wider (5,000 deals, which see feet) and twice as Intrepid slash the high (354 feet) as price of some of their Niagara Falls. adventures.
Cruise packages range in everything from location to duration, so you can choose the options that fit within your budget. Caribbean cruises often come at a lower price point, allowing you to visit multiple islands for a single price. Except for flights, all the basics are covered – meals are included and drink packages can usually be
purchased in advance. Carnival Cruise Line offers a number of low-cost cruises with a variety of restaurants, bars, activities and amenities included.
Going on a wellness retreat can be a great budget-friendly reprieve from the trips that follow chaotic itineraries and surprise you with unexpected expenses. Retreats often have a focus on yoga, meditation or fitness and offer a schedule of therapeutic activities to leave you feeling relaxed and recharged. Accommodations and healthy meals are usually included in the pricing. Just under three hours away from Toronto, retreats at Grail Springs include plant-based meals, yoga, meditation and sauna access. ◆
BELOW: While Beijing is one of the more expensive cities in China, food and transportation is a steal compared to rates in Toronto
Tel Aviv by Adam Jang; Beijing by Hanson Lu
Your Perfect Escape
CARIBBEAN RECOVERY • EXPERIENCES • 43
Words by PAY CHEN James Connolly
REBORN IDENTITY Following hurricanes Irma and Maria, Pay Chen finds out how countries like Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands are tapping tourists for help with the recovery.
285 km/H Irma’s top wind speed
Visitors to the Caribbean in 2017
Maria’s all-time rank
BELOW: Travellers are flocking back to properties in the Caribbean that have been rebuilt since the hurricanes in 2017
’M SITTING AT a picnic table nestled in the white beaches of Sandy Island, a popular day-trip destination for sunbathers seeking a casual barbecue and Caribbean cocktails just two kilometres off the coast of Anguilla. With my stomach rumbling, I peruse a crisp piece of cardstock, toes digging into the warm sand. It says, “Interim Lunch Menu 2018”. The menu proposes five options, among them, Crazy for Crayfish and Rasta Plate (for vegetarians). “Decisions, decisions,” I sigh. >
CARIBBEAN RECOVERY • EXPERIENCES • 45
THE TEMPORARY DISAPPEARANCE OF SANDY ISLAND WAS JUST ONE OF MANY CARIBBEAN CASUALTIES FROM THE 2017 HURRICANES
> Quickly, I whittle the five options down to three: Will it be grilled lobster “Sandy Island Style”, crayfish or “Rack ‘Em Up Ribs”? Our patient waiter listens to my internalturned-external debate between the crayfish and ribs. “We can make you a plate of half and half,” he offers. I am overjoyed, and Crayfish, also known raise my rum punch as mudbugs or yabbies, are cousins in a toast to this of the lobster. There good fortune, only to are 200 species of realize my ice cubes crayfish in North America and they have melted into the can live for up to 30 sweet elixir. But that’s years in the wild. okay because I’m on island time. Sandy Island time, Anguilla, to be more specific. Swallowed by water during back-to-back hurricanes, Irma and Maria, in September 2017, the temporary disappearance of Sandy Island was one of many casualties from the Category 5 hurricanes. Anguilla is just 35 square miles. Irma damaged 90 per cent of the electrical infrastructure and washed away entire properties with powerful winds and waves 20 feet high. Little was left for the next hurricane, Maria, to devour. Now, seven months later, I’m sipping away at my picnic table on Sandy Island, which is so small I can wave to my beachcombing friends on the other side, or better yet, call them from my giant conch shell-phone. (I will never stop holding a shell to my ear and making that joke.) The island reopened to visitors just a week before my visit in April. Dotted with newly planted palm trees only a foot or so high and surrounded by the most unbelievable, sparkling, #nofilter-needed turquoise water, the reopening of this island seemed to be the exclamation point at the end of a declaration locals kept repeating: Anguilla is open for business.
LEFT: St. Martin/St. Maarten suffered significant damage following back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes – Irma and Maria
For many tropical islands that rely heavily on the tourist dollars of sun, beach and fun, the hurricanes were a massive setback for the winter travel season in 2017 and early 2018. Now, a full year after Irma and Maria, many scars remain but residents in all parts of the Caribbean are welcoming back travellers with the eagerness of a family you skipped out on last Christmas. One misconception is that the hurricanes impacted all parts of the Caribbean, but the truth is that many were unaffected or sustained minimal damage. “If you look at the width and height of the Caribbean Sea, it’s huge,” says Nancy Drolet, business development representative at the Caribbean Tourism Organization. >
ROAD TO RECOVERY TOURISM DOLLARS ARE INTEGRAL TO THE GROWTH OF CARIBBEAN REGIONS. HERE ARE A FEW MORE ISLANDS IN THE AREA THAT ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS: St. Barths Covering just 8 square miles, this French island suffered significant damage from the 2017 hurricanes. About half of its resorts reopened by the year’s end while luxury resorts like the Christopher Hotel and Le Toiny reopened in October 2018. St. Kitts & Nevis While in the path of the storms, these islands sustained minimal damage. Turks & Caicos Irma and Maria caused significant damage to the country, especially on the islands of South Caicos, Grand Turk and Salt Cay, but Turks & Caicos has since fully recovered from the storms and is back in operation.
> “Geographically, it’s an enormous area so something could happen in one corner and it doesn’t affect the rest. The Caribbean Sea, from Cancun to, say, Martinique, is roughly the same distance as from Calgary to Toronto.” The islands that did sustain the most damage (Anguilla, Dominica, Barbuda, St. Martin/St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, the Cayo Coco area of Cuba and St. Barts) are working feverishly to rebuild and improve upon what they had before. To get to Anguilla, I fly into the Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Martin and take a 35-minute chartered speedboat to get to our final destination. A hub for many travellers connecting to other islands, the airport was heavily damaged during the
hurricanes and a temporary tented facility has been operating in its place. The number of flights and thus visitors were drastically reduced in the months that followed the hurricanes. Though progress has been slow, major airlines have been adding regular flights back to their schedules as the island rebuilds. The number of flights in and out of St. Martin is now close to 70 per cent of what existed before Irma, making it easier to visit and explore the islands around it. Things don’t always go back to the way they were, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The island of Dominica has discovered a new type of traveller in the past twelve months. Hurricane Irma passed through Dominica like a whisper compared to the destruction followed by Maria. Four months
THINGS DON’T ALWAYS GO BACK TO THE WAY THEY WERE, AND THAT’S NOT NECESSARILY A BAD THING
ABOVE: Travellers are back enjoying sun and sand at properties like Oil Nut Bay in the British Virgin Islands
after the hurricane, 90 per cent of the island was still without power but the process to repair the damage picked up speed at the beginning of 2018. Part of the progress is due to tourists who aren’t afraid to roll up the sleeves of their tanned arms, put on a pair of work boots and lend some muscle. Known as the Nature Island – perfect for travellers who love hiking, diving or being active – Dominica has experienced a noticeable spike in volunteering. It’s one of the fastest-growing travel trends today. “Voluntourism is unique in its approach of not only giving tourists a fun vacation but also allowing them to make an impact in the lives of others,” says Jerry Grymek, VP of Client Services for LMA Communications Inc. which represents Dominica in Canada. Dominica even offers travel packages geared towards tourists who want to
CARIBBEAN RECOVERY • EXPERIENCES • 47
combine a sunny vacation with a good deed, authentic experience and a side of getting to know the locals – all in one memorable trip. Feel like volunteering for just a day or two? There’s a package to clear and restore part of the Waitukubuli National Trail where tourists can choose the number of days they want to work while learning about the flora and fauna from forestry staff. A trip offered by the recently rebuilt Fort Young Hotel takes travellers on an almost 13-kilometre hike clearing debris along the way. The reward at the end? A pat on the back and a refreshing dip in clear water and views of the Giraudel Botanic Gardens. Certified divers can also explore the waters and marine life surrounding Dominica while helping to clear popular dive sites for future visitors. Nofrills voluntourism packages in the village of Mero get you working with locals who need help repairing their homes or farms. Volunteers stay in the village and enjoy traditional meals as part of their trip. Off the famously luxurious British Virgin Islands (BVI) – home to the likes of Richard Branson and the Aga Kahn – you’d see very little impact from Irma and Maria if you were to explore it while scuba diving. But the scene changes dramatically once you resurface. BVI, which is composed of over 60 islands, sustained heavy damage from both hurricanes. Anegada was one of the
first of the islands of the BVI to welcome back visitors when they benefited from the boating business of nearby islands that weren’t as quick to rebuild. Often overlooked for shorter itineraries because it’s further from the other islands, Anegada has become a new favourite for many BVI regulars. Keith Dawson, marketing manager at the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board, The Waitukubuli recalls an excursion to National Trail is the longest hiking trail conch shell mounds in Dominica. It’s where you find a comprised of 14 tremendous mountain segments across waterways, forests of conch “rivalling small village roads the highest point in and timber bridges. Anegada”. The variety of marine life here also attracts visitors: turtles and flamingos in the wild are easily viewed from Flamingo Lookout Tower or off the coast of the island’s east end. Rebuilding to their five-star standard is taking time, but many of BVI’s luxury properties, including Sunset House on Long Bay in Tortola and Oil Nut Bay, have already reopened and travellers are returning to sip their favourite rum cocktails at the popular beachfront Soggy Dollar Bar. A year later, the view from the water’s surface is starting to look as untouched as the view below. Back on Anguilla, the 100-plus photos
of its postcard-perfect Meads Bay on my iPhone remind me of how in awe I am of Anguilla’s coastline. Eating local crayfish (again), alongside friends cooling off with a cold rum punch (again), inside the Straw Hat Restaurant at the popular Frangipani Beach Resort, we see no evidence of the destruction just a few months earlier. The pools that had to be emptied after being filled with sand during the storms are now perfectly clear and just crisp enough to cool me down after a strenuous day of sitting on the beach while taking photos of the water. The first luxury hotel to reopen on the island after the hurricanes, the Frangipani was rebuilt in portions with more durable materials (concrete instead of wood for example), something that has been repeated all over the Caribbean as operators aim to rebuild better and stronger. Evidence of Irma and Maria remain on many Caribbean islands, but you may not notice because lush new trees have been planted, hotels and restaurants have reopened, and a tiny, beachy island that just resurfaced is grilling up plates of crayfish and ribs for visitors celebrating its return. ◆
BELOW: Anegada Beach Club was one of the many luxury properties in the British Virgin Islands to reopen soon after the storm
Oil Nut Bay; CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa
Surf. Explore. Rejuvenate. Tofino awaits.
Connecting Vancouver and Tofino with daily non-stop flights. pacificcoastal.com/yourtofino
TOFINO, BRITISH COLUMBIA • EXPERIENCES • 49
Words by SAM HADDAD Melissa Renwick
SEA, SURF AND SNOW Undeterred by single-digit temperatures and seasonal megastorms, Sam Haddad joins the hardy surfers of Tofino.
Number of megastorms in Tofino per year
Average water temperature in December
Thickness of a cold-weather surfing wetsuit
BELOW: Tofino is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island; with 35 kilometres of beaches and an exposed coast, the region’s terrain suits both beginner and seasoned surfers
F I’D BEEN asked to imagine my perfect surf holiday, it certainly wouldn’t be this. It’s not the waves that are the problem, for they are beautifully-shaped; of a kind you might see pictured in a glossy coffee table book. They are also pleasingly small, so I can show off my limited board-riding skills without freaking out about whether a big set is going to come in and wallop me. It’s not the crowds either, as the beach seems endless and there is no one here but us. Nor is it the setting, which is sundrenched and majestic. No, the part I’m having trouble getting my head around is that the water temperature is hovering around eight degrees, the air is cold enough >
> to see my breath and there is a thick layer of frost on the boardwalk down to the beach. It’s December and I’m on Long Beach near Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Not far from here there are snowcapped peaks with people skiing down them; the thought of surfing today seems very wrong. Dream surf trips should involve board shorts, bikinis and palm trees. But
there are no palm trees here. Instead, we have red cedars, Douglas fir and Sitka spruce. On top of our swimwear we have thick-hooded wetsuits, and even thicker boots and gloves. All that’s missing is a chain of icebergs slowly drifting by. Our instructor, Andy Herridge from Wick’d Surf Camps, is amused at all the fuss. “You’ll be surprised at how warm
WHEN WE FINALLY GET OUT, WE CAN NO LONGER MOVE OUR ARMS ABOVE SHOULDER HEIGHT WITHOUT SOBBING
these wetsuits actually are,” he tells us. “Technology has come a long way. It’s made surfing here a lot more accessible.” Hardy surfers in the know have of course been flocking to Tofino since the late 1960s when word got out about the region’s awesome waves, wild nature and edge of civilization-attitude. The rare coastal temperate rainforest runs right up to the sand, and from there it’s only ocean until you reach Japan. Hippies in camper vans poured in from across Canada and were joined by conscientious objectors to the Vietnam War driving up from the U.S. Before then, logging had been the main industry. But these new locals, alongside the original Indigenous people who have lived
TOFINO, BRITISH COLUMBIA • EXPERIENCES • 51
LEFT: Surfers have flocked to Tofino since the 1960s; the area was previously a logging town and surfers have protested to protect the environment
on the west coast of Vancouver Island for over 10,000 years, increasingly clashed with the lumberjacks over the environment. At the Clayoquot Protests in the early 1990s, 900 people were arrested for trying to protect the forest from logging, the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. A protest concert was even shown on MTV, resulting in national news coverage and further increasing the profile of the area. This ushered in a new era of tourism with an appreciation of nature, the wilderness and surfing at its centre. So that’s how our group of beginner and intermediate surfers find ourselves running into the frigid Pacific Ocean a few weeks before Christmas to surf the breakers and
clean green waves beyond. But when I dive down I realize Herridge was right about the wetsuits. I suffer no brain freeze nor even a body shiver. I’ve been colder surfing in Cornwall at the height of an English summer. When we finally get out, almost two hours later, eyes as wild as the rainforest backdrop, it’s because we can no longer move our arms above shoulder height without sobbing, rather than anything to do with the cold. December in Tofino doesn’t always yield such great conditions for less-experienced surfers or those new to the sport. Winter also brings big swells, making it prime storm-watching season. Most of the hotels along the coast provide wet weather gear to
guests free of charge and many of the coastal paths are designed to let you view the action closely but safely. The Wickaninnish Inn on Chesterman Beach was very much built with big wave watching in mind at the behest of its owner-manager Charles McDiarmid. He’s been surfing at the picturesque Chesterman Beach since the 1960s after his family moved here a decade before. The Wick Inn, as it’s known locally, pioneered the idea of Tofino as a destination to experience nature’s gnarly winter storms in all their glory. Given that this stretch of coast gets between 10 to 15 megastorms per year, and that a month after our visit they had their biggest swell in a decade with waves the size of houses coming in, I feel even more lucky that we got to surf such gentle waves when we did. Yet, when I wake up the next morning, the ocean does have a lot more roar and fury to it, which is great timing as we’re set to head out for a half-day hike to see some of the coastline’s spectacular blowholes. Our route is close to the Pacific Rim National Park on Nuu-chah-nulth territory. But our guide, Kevin Bradshaw from Hello Adventure Tours, has permission from the Ucluelet First Nation (pronounced yew-kloo-let) so it’s alright that we’re walking here as long as we’re respectful of the land. We’re joined by Andrew Crawford from the Ucluelet First Nation who tells me they don’t maintain the start of the path lest too many other people find it and spoil its The Ucluelet First tranquility. As we Nation have lived on Vancouver Island for walk deep into this thousands of years. amazing old-growth The Ucluelet, which forest, stepping over means “people of giant gnarled and the safe harbour”, are traditionally knobbly tree roots whalers and fishers. and bouncing on thick carpets of moss, he tells me the Ucluelet First Nation don’t have a word for wild. That blows my mind as it feels like nature on steroids here, and it might just be the wildest place I’ve ever been. But for >
TOFINO, BRITISH COLUMBIA • EXPERIENCES • 53
> Crawford and his people, it’s simply home. We emerge onto a pine-fringed beach, empty of people but full of reminders of the ocean’s power in this part of the world. You don’t get puny pieces of driftwood here – you get entire trees. And you don’t get solitary pieces of seaweed – you get whole bulbous sections of kelp forest. The waves are loud and feisty and there’s seafoam everywhere. It’s a thrilling sight. We scramble up a chain of granite boulders gleaming with seawater and enjoying this natural adventure playground. Then we hear the first blowhole before we see it, a dramatic thud at consistent A longhouse is a intervals. We climb traditional dwelling one more rock and it’s of the First Nations people. Longhouses there – a 15-metrewere typically high jet of ocean spray shared by two that looks like an art families while some installation, except were built to house up to 40 people. way more impressive for being real. We cut back into the ancient forest past cedar trees so high I can barely see their tops. Andrew tells me the cedar has always been significant to the First Nations. They made longhouses and giant canoes from the wood of this “tree of life” but also weaved the bark to make ropes and clothes. “They used every part of it,” Andrew says. “Nothing was wasted.” The hike was stunning, but perhaps just as enlightening was what I learned about >
Several major airlines run direct flights from Toronto Pearson International to Vancouver International Airport daily. Flights are approximately $600 round trip. From there you can catch a connecting 45-minute flight to Tofino-Long Beach Airport. Flights are approximately $300 round trip.
LEFT: Winter water temperatures in Tofino range from 7 to 9 C; winter wetsuits are up to 5mm thick for thermal insulation
54 • EXPERIENCES • TOFINO, BRITISH COLUMBIA
> Ucluelet culture along the way. Kevin from Hello Adventure Tours is passionate about sharing human stories with visitors in addition to helping them get their nature fix, but also wants to see it done in the right way. “It’s very important to us to work with local communities so that we can include cultural tourism on our hikes without appropriating the culture,” he explains. On another fresh but blue-skied day the ocean was calm enough to take a boat trip out from Tofino Resort & Marina, where we were fortunate enough to see why this region is often nicknamed the Galápagos of the North. We saw eagles, seals, sea
otters, sea lions, porpoises, and to cap it all off, a grey whale breaching. At this point, all semblance of decorum went out the Whales breach by window and I yelped extending half to like an infant on three-quarters of Christmas morning. their body out of the water. Breaching The kelp forests is used for commuin the Pacific Ocean nication, to loosen off the west coast of skin parasites, or simply for play. Vancouver Island are some of the richest in the world, which is why the sealife and sealife-watching opportunities are so fantastic. Kelp is used
creatively in some of Tofino’s high-end restaurants. Both kelp and pine are notable flavours of stout and ale respectively in beers made by the Tofino Brewing Company, where we enjoyed a tasting one day at their new brewery bar. December isn’t an obvious time to visit Tofino and surfing in cold water isn’t something I’d have ever expected to enjoy. But as we increasingly use travel to escape our busy city-based lives and press the reset button, it makes a lot of sense to come here in the off-season. That way you can enjoy hiking in this awesome, rugged, edge-of-theworld nature and surfing these perfectlyshaped waves in peace without the summer crowds. You can keep your bikinis and palm trees. For now, this is all I need. ◆
THIS REGION IS NICKNAMED THE GALÁPAGOS OF THE NORTH. WE SAW EAGLES, SEALS, SEA OTTERS, SEA LIONS, PORPOISES AND WHALES
ABOVE: First Nations art and culture has an important presence in Tofino, like at the Himwitsa Native Art Gallery on Main Street
WHAT MAKES A BODY BE AUTIFUL IS THAT IT’S YOURS
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ISTANBUL, TURKEY • EXPERIENCES • 57
TURKISH DELIGHT Straddling the border between Europe and Asia, Istanbul’s architecture and cuisine offer a glimpse into centuries of history and culture. Jessica Huras gives us some pointers.
Year the Hagia Sophia was built
Words by JESSICA HURAS LALS Stock
Size of the Suleymaniye Mosque grounds
Length of the Bosphorus Strait
ABOVE: Hagia Sophia was first built as a church but transformed into a mosque in the 15th century
DO HAGIA SOPHIA
This is among Istanbul’s most recognizable attractions for good reason. Acclaimed as one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in the world, Hagia Sophia is like a time capsule of Istanbul, reflecting the many civilizations that have impacted the city. Originally built as a church by Byzantine emperor Justinian in 537AD, it was transformed into a mosque by the Ottomans in the 15th century. Hagia Sophia’s interior is home to beautiful marble work, carved stone arches and a huge dome lined with gold mosaic tiles. At 31 metres wide and 56 metres high, it’s said to be the world’s biggest dome.
BOAT RIDE ON THE BOSPHORUS
The Bosphorus, an iconic 32-kilometrelong strait connecting the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea, splits the city into its continental Asian and European sides. A boat ride along the strait offers an enriching perspective on the city’s diversity, taking in distinctive waterfront districts, baroque palace facades and majestic waterfront mansions, with minarets piercing the skyline between office towers. You can hop on the same ferries the locals use to commute between the Asian and European sides of the city for a quick 20-minute ride while full- and half-day cruises are offered by numerous operators.
The Blue Mosque may be more wellknown, but it’s the Suleymaniye Mosque that’s considered to be the city’s finest piece of Ottoman architecture. Constructed in the 16th century by celebrated Ottoman architect Sinan, the mosque is set on one of the seven hills of Istanbul. Its impressive dome rivals Hagia Sophia, plus there are more than 138 ornate stained-glass windows and the mihrab (prayer niche) is decorated in gorgeous Iznik tiles. Still active today, the 15 acres of mosque complex includes a hospital, library and several schools, plus the picturesque grounds offer striking views over the city. Linger at the on-site hammam to soak in traditional a Turkish bath heated by natural oak wood fires.
ISTANBUL, TURKEY • EXPERIENCES • 59
BELOW: The Bosphorous is at the heart of life in Istanbul, dividing the city into its continental Asian and European sides
Viktoriya Krayn Viktoriya Krayn
ABOVE: Located on the top floor of the Renaissance Istanbul, Bar 212 offers great views over the Bosphorus Strait
ISTANBUL, TURKEY • EXPERIENCES • 61
STAY RENAISSANCE ISTANBUL POLAT BOSPHORUS HOTEL
The Renaissance is a modern, no-fuss option with the expected ease of a chain hotel. Rooms here are bright and business-like, with warm wood and frosted glass accents as well as marble bathrooms. The pièce de résistance is Bar 212, set on the top floor of the hotel, which offers magical views over the city and Bosphorus Strait. Located on the European side of Istanbul, the hotel is a 15-minute drive from the hip restaurants and shops of the Beyoglu neighbourhood and 30 minutes away from historic sites in the Old City. Rooms from $125. marriott.com
DERSAADET HOTEL ISTANBUL
This lovely little property offers excellent value for travellers seeking accommodation with a touch of local flavour. Dersaadet features Ottoman styling throughout, including Turkish rugs and hand-painted ceilings inspired by traditional artwork. Rooms decorated in the same historic aesthetic include kettles with free tea and coffee – some feature Turkish baths or sea views. Buffet breakfasts are served on a rooftop terrace with views of the Blue Mosque. Located on a quiet side street, the hotel feels removed from the hustle and bustle but it’s less than a 10-minute walk away from most of the city’s key attractions. Rooms from $95. dersaadethotel.com
WITT HOTEL ISTANBUL
One of the city’s most design-forward hotels, Witt Hotel Istanbul offers 18 rooms in the city’s artsy Cihangir neighbourhood. Rooms look like ultra-hip apartments with hardwood flooring, leather upholstery and black tiling and come with kitchenettes, bars, living areas and private balconies with views of Istanbul’s skyline. The hotel’s leafy rooftop terrace is an inviting spot to enjoy evening drinks in the warmer months. A topnotch buffet breakfast that includes yogurt, marinated olives, cheese and eggs is served in the lobby each morning. Rooms from $165. wittistanbul.com
62 • EXPERIENCES • ISTANBUL, TURKEY
ABOVE: Sheep’s intestines are grilled then chopped and served on bread to make kokoreç, a classic street food in Istanbul
EAT MATBAH RESTAURANT
With a prime location overlooking the Golden Horn, you’d be forgiven for thinking Hamdi Restaurant is a tourist trap; but this long-standing spot attracts as many locals as it does visitors. It was opened by Hamdi Arpacı, a former street-food vendor that won over crowds with his Urfa-style kebabs. You can still find them in his restaurant today. Save room for the lahmacun, a thin, spicy pizza topped with ground meat. The café on the first of the restaurant’s three floors makes killer baklava with pistachios, walnuts and honey. You’ll need to make a reservation and be sure to ask for a table by a window for the full experience.
Istanbul has a fantastic street food culture, so you’d be remiss to leave without sampling these authentic eats. One of the most widespread street foods you’ll see is simit, a well-loved Turkish breakfast food. Sometimes compared to bagels, simit have a fluffy interior with a crunchy outside that’s typically covered in sesame seeds. Make sure to also head to the southwest corner of Taksim Square to find stands selling wet burgers, or Islak hamburgers, which are beef patties served on white buns soaked in a garlic, onion and tomato sauce. For the brave, there’s also kokoreç, spiced sheep’s intestines served in a bread loaf. ◆
Part of the Ottoman Hotel Imperial, this elegant restaurant specializes in Ottoman palace cuisine. The menu draws inspiration from historic cookbooks, with the restaurant’s chefs having meticulously researched dishes once served at the courts of sultans. There are three distinct dining areas: a Summer Garden patio, a Winter Garden with city views and the intimate Sultan’s Lounge. Try the Sailor’s Roll, a fried pastry made from Turkish cheese wrapped in homemade filo and drizzled in honey.
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64 • CONTEST • ANNEX
explore your own backyard We’re giving away a one-night stay and dinner for two at the annex, Toronto’s new boutique hotel. to bring the community to your doorstep. Help yourself to BMV books and Sonic Boom records in your room, then snuggle up in a Merchant Sons sweatshirt blanket. If you feel like heading out, staff are on hand to give guests some insider tips for exploring the city. But if you don’t feel like leaving, there’s so much going on at the annex to keep you entertained. Reunion Island Coffee will fuel all your caffeine needs in the lobby, while Seven Lives Tacos and Big Trouble Pizza are prime snacking spots located inside the annex Commons. To celebrate the launch of the annex, we’re giving away a very special staycation package for one lucky escapism reader and a guest. ◆ To book your stay, head to the annex.com
win a one night stay and dinner for two at the annex hotel how to win We’re giving away a one-night stay at the annex for one reader and a guest. The winner will also receive a dinner experience for two with a wine pairing. For a full list of terms and conditions and to enter, visit the website at: escapism.to/competition
Whether we’re discovering hidden gems off the beaten path or dining at a restaurant full of locals, we’re always determined to feel at home when we travel to a new city. The annex, a brand new boutique hotel named after the Annex neighbourhood that houses it, understands that hotels aren’t just a place to sleep – they’re also a place to live. That’s why they’ve dispensed with all the unnecessaries so you can settle into your home away from home and live like a local. Check in ahead of time online, let yourself in with a code, and start making yourself at home. Rooms in the annex are modern and light-filled – but black-out blinds ensure plenty of shut-eye when it’s time to sleep. Best of all, the hotel is filled with work from handpicked local artists and musicians
75 83 92
The Intrepid Series
Like a Local
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
riding in a winter wonderland This winter, blow away the cobwebs with an exhilarating biking, horseriding or ice fishing adventure in York Durham Headwaters. Toronto may have a reputation as a city of winter whiners, but the travel junkie in us is inclined to believe that it’s all just a matter of context. Nobody loves schlepping to the subway in the morning when the weather is frigid, but that’s no reason to spurn winter altogether – you just need the right type of cold weather adventure. This year, it’s time to put the win back in winter. We’re declaring this snowy season the most fun yet – whether you’re ice fishing, biking or horseback riding, it’s time to get out and explore all the wonderful things that are on our doorstep. Less than 1.5 hours outside downtown Toronto, sits the Albion Hills Conservation Area. Sure, hiking in the cold might not sound like much of an adventure. But what if we said you could go fat biking (an off-road bicycle with oversized tires for the snow) down 50km of fast rolling terrain and long downhill stretches? York Durham and Headwaters has some of the best trails north of Toronto, with a network spanning across the three regions. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful pedal through the woods or a high-octane offroad experience, Albion, set in the hills of Caledon on the banks of the Humber River, is a great way to warm up this winter. If you’re an animal lover, a visit to Peace Valley Ranch is an unmissable outdoor experience, just 1.5 hours away from the heart of Toronto. Rawhide Adventures has been taking guests horseriding in Mulmur, Ontario for decades – and we’re not talking about single-file trail riding, either. Think
acres of panoramic hill country with trails in every direction, as you ride your horse across escarpments, through the forest or on the cattle ranch itself. The Cosacks run a family ranch that caters to everyone from beginners to very experienced riders. Rawhide Adventures is founded in a deep respect for the horses – some of the finest east of Calgary – and as such, they’ll choose the horse that’s the best fit for you. Ice fishing might seem more at home in Alberta, Manitoba or even northern Ontario – but the southern part of Lake Simcoe is populated with Trout, Perch, Pike, and Whitefish, and there’s an abundance of ice hut operators to choose from. The lake is located within an hours drive from Toronto, and at over 700 sq km in size, it’s considered the fishing capital of North America. Georgina’s Ice Fishing Outfitters’ huts, located on the legendary fishing grounds around Georgina Island, are clean, comfortable and well maintained. The ride to and from your insulated ice hut is in their heated Bombardiers, so you’ll be snug all day. Plus, no prior experience is required to start fishing – all you need to do is purchase an Ontario Fishing Outdoors Card online. This winter, don’t just survive – thrive. There’s more to life than watching TV, so embrace your inner-Canadian with one of the many exhilarating adventures on offer in the York Durham Headwaters region. ◆ To start planning your next winter adventure, head to yorkdurhamheadwaters.ca
the region has some of the best trails north of toronto
CENTRAL COUNTIES • PROMOTION • 69
On Thin Ice Merrell’s line of reliable trail gear, including the new Thermo Rogue Mid GTX winter hiking boot, helps adventurers around the world savour the joy of the great outdoors. Merrell is on a mission to provide outdoor enthusiasts with the gear they need to discover the simple yet profound power of the trail. For over three decades, Merrell has been producing rigorously-tested work boots, hiking boots, trail running shoes, active lifestyle shoes and apparel that inspire enjoyment of the outdoors. It all started when Randy Merrell, a onetime industrial shoe-maker, began crafting
handmade hiking boots for a small group of customers. In 1981, Merrell teamed up with former ski company executives Clark Matis and John Schweizer. Merrell’s thoughtful craftsmanship, combined with Matis and Schweizer’s industry expertise, allowed the trio to create a more affordable model of Merrell’s custom hiking boots that was an instant hit with sport enthusiasts. Today, Merrell is one of the world’s top
manufacturers of outdoor equipment. Although the company has grown, one thing that has remained unchanged is their commitment to creating products that adhere to four core values of comfort, durability, design and versatility. From jackets and pants to slip-on shoes and runners, Merrell is dedicated to making products that look as good as they feel to wear. Whether you’re walking, running,
MERRELL • PROMOTION • 67
hiking or climbing, Merrell’s rugged products are made to hold up regardless of where your adventures take you and stay strong in the face of repeated wear-and-tear. Merrell’s dedication to cutting-edge design is exemplified by the Thermo Rogue Mid GTX, the brand’s newest hiking boot. Built to keep you supported in harsh winter conditions, this streamlined boot offers the warmth and stability you need for hiking on cold, slippery trails without the bulk of a typical winter hiking boot. Every pair features 100 grams of Primaloft® Aerogel, which provides lightweight but effective insulation. GORETEX® waterproof membrane keeps your feet dry while also providing breathability and M Select™ FRESH antimicrobial agents help to
minimize shoe odour. The Thermo Rogue Mid GTX also features Kinetic Fit™ BASE insoles for intuitive support, while the outsole includes new Vibram® Arctic Grip Dura technology – created to provide firm traction on ice, snow and other challenging winter conditions. The Thermo Rogue Mid GTX boots’ exceptional performance on icy trails made it the natural choice for endurance athletes Mike Chambers and Jason Antin, who put the boot to the test traversing Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail last March. The pair travelled across 165 kilometres of terrain by ski and foot, over the course of just over 3 days. Fewer than 1,000 people are estimated to hike this difficult trail each year, but most complete the trek in
the summer when conditions are milder. In the winter, when Chambers and Antin took on the trail, temperatures regularly drop as low as -28C. The pair wore the Thermo Rogue Mid GTX for this demanding trip, which made it easier for them to traverse particularly hard-packed sections of the trail. The Thermo Rogue Mid GTX redefines what outdoor enthusiasts have come to expect from heavy winter hiking boots with its sleek design and exceptional warmth. It’s just one of the many examples of how Merrell’s innovative products are making it easier than ever for everyone to get outside and embrace the great outdoors. ◆
[ INSIDERS GUIDE ]
In association with
G ADVENTURES • INSIDER’S GUIDE • 71
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DROP and give me zen Recharge your body and mind on your next getaway with G Adventures’ new Wellness trips. Travel is about more than checking items off a bucket list or posing perfectly for photos in epic destinations – it’s about the chance to gain a new perspective and reconnect with both the world around you and with yourself. G Adventures’ new Wellness tours are designed for travellers looking for something deeper from their trips. Seven to 13 days in duration and featuring restorative activities and mindfulness practices, along with healthy food options, G Adventures’ Wellness trips invite travellers to slow down and return home feeling distinctly rejuvenated and inspired. The 10 destinations chosen for these trips each bring an opportunity to foster your sense of well-being. While the destinations span the globe, itineraries are based on three key shared pillars of wellness: Mindfulness, Movement and Nourishment: Mindfulness: All Wellness trips begin with an intention
setting ceremony, where travellers can consciously consider what they hope to achieve from their journey. For each destination, travellers will experience an authentic cultural ceremony, such as the Tirta Empul in Bali where you will take a holy bath to purify yourself, or join locals and pilgrims for an aarti ceremony on the banks of the holy Ganges. Movement: From snorkelling around Menjangan Island in Bali or hiking behind waterfalls in Iceland, G Adventures’ Wellness trips allow travellers to get outside and get active in some of the world’s most beautiful settings. Nourishment: Each tour celebrates the fresh, seasonal produce of its destination, with travellers enjoying market visits, tastings with locals and cooking classes. Throughout the trip, meals are designed to feed both the body and the mind.
Whether you’re soaking in Thai hot springs or staying in an ashram in India, your Wellness trip with G Adventures is sure to recharge your body, nourish your mind and leave you with a renewed sense of self. ◆
WIN AN EIGHT-DAY WELLNESS TOUR TO COSTA RICA One lucky escapism reader will find their inner peace in Costa Rica on a G Adventures Wellness Tour valued at $2,199. Flip the page to learn more about what you can expect from this renewing experience. For a full list of terms and conditions and to enter, visit: escapism.to/ competition
M U D B AT H I N RINCÃ“N DE LA VIEJA N AT I O N A L P A R K EXPLORING NEAR LA FORTUNA
PADDLE BOARD YOGA ON LAKE ARENAL
SUNSET YOGA IN P L AYA C A R R I L L O
living the Pura vida in costa rica Open your day with sustainable, ethical coffee; close it out with a mud bath and fill the hours in between with yoga sessions in serene settings. This G Adventures trip is brimming with wellness cred.
G ADVENTURES • INSIDER’S GUIDE • 73
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top experiences Costa Rica Wellness trip highlights: Sunset yoga in Playa Carrillo Enjoy two yoga classes in the relaxed beach town of Playa Carrillo. Set against the backdrop of a tropical sunset, the first class takes place on the hotel grounds overlooking a crescent bay. The following morning, stretch out your mat with the second session on one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Mi Cafecito Community Coffee Plantation Visit the coffee cooperative (supported by G Adventures’s non-profit partner, Planeterra Foundation) that helps over 200 farmers and their families. Learn about the entire process of making coffee, and then enjoy a fresh cup of the good stuff.
MI CAFECITO C O F F E E P L A N TAT I O N
Volcanic mud bath in Rincón de la Vieja National Park Spend the day exploring this national park, home to the Rincón de la Vieja volcano, breathtaking waterfalls and thermal pools. A short hike leads to a bubbling pit of volcanic mud – step in to feel its rejuvenating and exfoliating effects. Then, rinse off in the therapeutic waters of the hot springs. Stand-up paddle board yoga on Lake Arenal All yoga sessions are led by experienced, local instructors and are designed for any skill level. Find your centre while balancing on a standup paddle board on the shimmering surface of Lake Arenal. Sitting at the foot of the Arenal Volcano, this is the largest lake in Costa Rica. exploring near La Fortuna After starting the day with a yoga session, the afternoon is free for exploring La Fortuna. Breathe in the rainforest air as you hike through the wilderness or take time to rest and meditate. Optional activities include ziplining, climbing across hanging bridges or swimming under a waterfall.
74 • PROMOTION • NUNAVIK
Call of the Wild Discover a little-known corner of Canada’s Arctic with Inuit Adventures’ tours of Nunavik, Quebec’s northernmost region. a unique and memorable experience for travellers, in addition to supporting Nunavik’s indigenous communities. With trips ranging in length from four to seven days, it’s possible to experience Nunavik in as little as a long weekend or you can spend a week digging deeper into this impressive region. Journey in search of polar bears, caribou and musk-oxen on Inuit Adventures’s “Big Three” excursion. If you’re lucky, you might also encounter elusive tundra wolves or Arctic foxes on your trip, as well as marine life like beluga whales and seals. You might choose the “Aurora Borealis” tour for the chance to see the majestic Northern Lights in the town of Kuujjuaq. Or, spend more time exploring Nunavik’s largest village on the “Discovering Kuujjuaq” tour. On this trip, you’ll learn more about daily life in this village of 2,400 residents, which
provides essential services for the entire population of Nunavik. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet local artists and elders, as well as explore this remarkable town. ◆
nunavik comes to toronto Learn more about Nunavik and the tours with Inuit Adventures by checking out their booth at the Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show, taking place February 22-24 at Toronto’s International Centre. You can also find out more by visiting inuitadventures.com
Heiko Wittenborn; Inuk by Mathieu Dupuis
When you imagine trekking across untouched Arctic landscapes, spotting polar bears or viewing aurora borealis, far-flung destinations like Iceland might come to mind; but your northern adventure could be closer than you might think in Nunavik. Bordered by Hudson Bay, the Hudson Strait, Ungava Bay and Labrador in the northernmost region of Quebec, Nunavik spans 507,000 km2 of pristine territory (that’s almost the size of France). The region is home to wide-open tundras, rugged mountains and sparkling rivers and lakes, along with abundant wildlife, making it a natural playground for outdoors enthusiasts in search of an authentic experience. Inuit Adventures, Nunavik’s leading tour operator, makes it easy to discover the region’s raw natural beauty. The company helps local Inuit guides in developing and hosting their own tour packages, providing
THE CHECKLIST • EXCURSIONS • 75
THE CHECKLIST CHECKLIST
Lace up, strap in and hit the rink, slopes and trails in these winter sports essentials. This technical gear will have you yearning for the next snowstorm and deep freeze.
HAVE AN ICE DAY CCM JETSPEED FT380 SENIOR HOCKEY SKATES Skate circles around everyone else on the rink in these lightweight hockey skates. Their ergonomic design and durable heel lock help you reach top speeds, while a moisturewicking liner keeps your feet dry. $374.97, sportchek.ca
These versatile women’s skis offer a smooth, stable ride on a variety of mountain terrains. They allow for precise turns on softer snow, as well as in icier conditions. $699.99, sportinglife.ca
Made from durable aluminium alloy, these sleek ski poles feature a powder basket for smooth navigation on snowy slopes. The soft grip handles stay secure in your hands as you move. $64.99, sportinglife.ca
NRB BLACK PEARL 88 SKI:
PHANTASTICK 2 18MM SKI POLES:
THE CHECKLIST • EXCURSIONS • 77
◀ SALOMON GYPSY:
Ideal for both mountain and freestyle terrain, the Gypsy is a responsive women’s board that easily handles fast speeds and quick turns. Popster Booster technology and an Aspen SLCT core maximize pop. $529, salomon.com ◀ SALOMON ASSASSIN:
An all-mountain men’s board, the Assassin is wellsuited to virtually every riding style and terrain. Light and snappy, the board’s medium flex provides excellent responsiveness and control, plus it’s also great at absorbing shocks. $549, salomon.com
GOODY TWO-SHOES SAIL BOREAL RECREATIONAL SNOWSHOES Sturdy and simple, these versatile snowshoes will allow you to trek effortlessly through backcountry trails or paths closer to home. Durable crampons provide a solid grip on uneven surfaces, while adjustable bindings offer a snug, comfortable fit. $149.99, sail.ca
THE CHECKLIST • EXCURSIONS • 79
FOUR SEVEN SIGMA:
A retro, minimalist frame gives these goggles a wide field of vision, while the Sigma lens boosts contrast, making it easier to scope out terrain in a variety of lighting conditions. $140, mec.ca ◀ SWEET ABNA ROOSTER SNOW HELMET:
Made from a carbon fibre reinforced polymer shell, this innovative helmet offers impressive impact performance and strength. Streamlined and stylish, it’s tough enough for racing but protects you in any winter sport. $699.99, sportinglife.ca ◀ SWEET ABNA ROOSTER DISCESA RS SNOW HELMET:
A pro-level racing helmet, the Sweet Abna Rooster Discesa RS minimizes rotational forces in the case of oblique impact, as well as effectively distributes pressure and absorbs energy. $799.99, sportinglife.ca
80 • EXCURSIONS • THE KIT LIST
THE KIT LIST
◀ BILLABONG TRIBONG X 19” BOARDSHORT:
Made from quick dry material and featuring four way stretch, this weekender short will take you from gym to swim. A back Velcro pocket and key lanyard is handy for stashing your essentials. $65, swimco.com
Sneak away from snowstorms and slip into these stylish beach essentials that are both fashionable and functional. The Kit List by escapism is presented in association with:
SURFSIDE PHANTOM 17” VOLLEY:
OTEMANU ADELINA HIGH NECK TOP & MILA BOTTOM:
This 90s-inspired high neck bikini offers a two-way tie back and removable cups. The tropical print is inspired by the South Pacific island of Bora Bora. $61 for top and $48 for bottom, swimco.com
◀ BLEU ROD BEATTIE
DON’T MESH WITH ME OVER THE SHOULDER CROSS BACK ONE PIECE:
Featuring a V neckline outlined with mesh and horizontal mesh cutouts to flatter your figure, this jewel tone suit is perfect for your next winter escape. $139, swimco.com
Pull on these nofuss boardshorts and hit the beach. With a stretchy recycled fabric construction, soft waistband and short hem, it’s easy to move and adventure in comfort. $62, swimco.com
BLOOM KNOT FRONT ONE PIECE:
Experiment with playful cutouts in this trendy one piece. It features soft floral touches on a gingham base, along with adjustable straps at the centre back to help you find your perfect fit. $199, swimco.com
Ontarioâ€™s most charming holiday town! Historic Port Perry sparkles with style!
rian Victot mas s i r h C Perry Port wn Downto
Free! CARRIAGE RIDES Dec. 1st until Christmas Saturdays 12 - 4pm Sundays 1 - 4pm
VISITS WITH SANTA! Starting Thursday Nov 29 Thursday and Friday 3 - 5pm Saturday 10am - 12noon and 1 - 3pm
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THE INTREPID SERIES
ELCOME TO THE Intrepid Series, the part of Escapism where we set aside cultural city tours, gutbusting culinary excursions and relaxing beach getaways to pursue bolder, more adventurous travel experiences. Our daring writers put their minds and bodies to the test to bring you boundary-pushing travel stories from around the world. We’re keeping things local for our winter issue. Writer Mark Mann attempts an ambitious, five-day backcountry ski
trek in rural Quebec. His 105-kilometre journey takes us through the icy, beautiful landscapes of the Traversée de Charlevoix, one of the oldest long-distance ski routes in Quebec. Located 1.5 hours north east of Quebec City, this wilderness path links Grands-Jardins national park to the Mont Grand-Fonds ski resort area. How does Mann, a relatively inexperienced skiier, fare on this challenging journey through Quebec? Keep reading to find out. ◆
SNOW WAY OUT Mark Mann ventures into Quebecâ€™s wilderness on a five-day backcountry ski trek along the Charlevoix Crossing.
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ABOVE: The Charlevoix Crossing takes skiers through the icy landscapes of one of the oldest long-distance ski routes in Quebec
HEN A FRIEND invited me on a fiveday backcountry ski trek in Quebec this past February, I said yes right away. I probably should have thought about it more carefully, since I’m not much of a skier, and I definitely wasn’t prepared for marathon days in the bitter cold. But I have found that a glib approach to potential suffering is a good way to get into an adventure. It turns out I was right. Our destination was the Traversée de Charlevoix (in English, the Charlevoix Crossing), a 105-kilometre odyssey through a 457,000-hectare World Biosphere Reserve that links Grands-Jardins national park to the Mont Grand-Fonds ski resort area. This trip is a serious undertaking, as gruelling as it is glorious. It took me deep into an icy wilderness, to a place of stark beauty and very little comfort. I found my limit waiting for me out there, both physically and emotionally, in many moments of utter exhaustion: hunched over my ski poles, contemplating my aching feet as I panted clouds of mist into the frozen air and listened to the trees creak in the cold wind. I should have hated Endorphins are every minute, but by natural chemicals some weird magic, it produced by your was euphoric. nervous system to help relieve pain or The Traversée de stress. They create a Charlevoix lies just feeling of euphoria barely inside the after vigorous range of the possible physical activity, also known as a for someone like “runner’s high”. me, who usually prefers exercising in close proximity to a shower and a sauna. So I was grateful to embark on the journey with a group of experienced backcountry skiers, as should anyone who wants to try the Traversée. A wrong turn or a broken leg could have turned my endorphin-boosted winter adventure into a biting Siberian nightmare. But the group helped to steer me away from rookie mistakes and helped me find my inner snow-monster when the going got tough. When it came to schlepping my gear, however, I was on my own. It was on our first day on the trails that I quickly discovered how skiing with a heavy backpack is its own art form. After struggling through the snow all day, I slowly lost the will to bend my knees. But straight-legging >
ABOVE: Backcountry skiing combines elements of cross-country and downhill skiing; backcountry skis have special “skins" that attach on the base
> a curvy descent through the woods is a mistake. Not only did the backpack add an extra whomp to my falls (there were many), it also dramatically complicated standing back up. On several occasions, I found myself grunting and lurching around like a drunken walrus, while my companions plowed obliviously forward. I was grateful to have reached our first
chalet after a full day on the snow. The Traversée de Charlevoix offers rustic chalets every 15 or 20 kilometres, and they’re equipped with a wood-burning stove, a few rough-hewn tables, stacks of single mattresses to throw under our sleeping bags and plenty of hooks to hang our sweaty clothes to dry overnight. The buildings definitely aren’t pre-heated, which made for a chilly transition from wet daytime attire to dry sleepwear. My body steamed like a kettle when I stripped: an experience both disturbing and gratifying. Recharged after a solid night’s sleep, we
hit the slopes to continue our journey. The Traversée de Charlevoix has several types of trails, which are marked for their summer and winter uses. The ski-path might be used by hikers in the warmer months. These parts of the trail are narrower and carve through difficult-to-reach places. Other portions of the ski path overlap with summertime bike trails, which are wider and used by Ski-Doos in the winter. (Get ready to jump sideways if you’re sharing the route with Ski-Doos – they come roaring up quicker than you’d think.) The trail is well-signed in most places, with markers on trees every hundred
CHARLEVOIX, QUEBEC • EXCURSIONS • 87
metres or so, but we still relied on a map to navigate. There were a few times when the different trails crossed and we almost took off in the wrong direction. The tracks of recent skiers helped to guide us for the first two days on the trail. But on the third day, the previous group must have quit or turned back because the trail was no longer prepared for us. We found ourselves cutting through thigh-deep snow, and our pace slowed dramatically. Skiing through pristine, untouched snow is a hell of a lot harder than skimming along on a nicely groomed cross-country trail, as we
soon discovered. Often, it was like wading upstream against a fast-moving current. We took turns in front and switched out frequently, but even with lots of short breaks, it was brutal work. Backcountry skiing combines elements of cross-country and downhill skiing and its skis are designed for all types of terrain. They’re a bit shorter and wider than crosscountry skis and the boots are stiff like downhill boots, but they still lift at the heel. Backcountry skis also use “skins” that attach to the bottom for traction to prevent you from sliding backwards when you’re climbing uphill. Traditionally, these would have been taken from seals, but contemporary skins are manufactured. The skins also serve to slow your descents, in case face-planting a tree seems like a genuine risk, as it usually is along the Traversée de Charlevoix. Expert backcountry skiers remove the skins when going downhill, but if you’re zigzagging down a mountainside through a thick forest, you don’t want to miss any of those sharp turns. I kept mine on. Out in the snow and far away from civilization, I discovered a truth about myself that was easy to forget in day-to-day life: I am an animal, a thing of feeling and flesh more than thoughts and concepts. I felt it when I wobbled into the chalet at the end of a long day and started nursing my Emergency blankets blisters and aches. I are made of a found I could stretch metalized plastic contentedly for hours, material that reflects up to 90 with nothing else on per cent of radiating my mind except pain body heat. The inand relief. I also felt it sulating technology was developed by when I lay down like NASA to prevent a dog and slept. But overheating. I felt it most when it came time to eat. Back in the city, I’m a bit choosy about my diet. I’m not fussy, but I do think pretty carefully about what goes in my body, and I try to make it interesting for myself. On the trail, it was a different story. I got right
down to the hard math: food equals energy. Everything I ingested had a single purpose; to keep my body moving. The positive tradeoff for entering this animal-like condition was that everything started tasting pretty good. At the end of our third day on the trail, one of my companions offered me a frozen anchovy, which normally might have made me want to vomit, but I gobbled it up like a Chicken McNugget. More than the straightforward two-step through the snow, backcountry skiing is a dance of body heat. The days were marked into intervals of hot and cold: the steady warmth of physical exertion, punctuated by the brutal chill of standing still in sub-zero temperatures during breaks. I found that the best way to cope was to bring several thin layers and constantly dress and undress myself. When I was skiing, a wool undershirt and zip-up sweater sufficed; then, during a pause, I would pull on a sweater and a down jacket if I needed to. Expert skiers work with their pace and clothing in order to sweat as little as possible or not at all, but some of us don’t have that option. I’m a walking water bomb. I sweat profusely when I exercise, no matter what. The Traversée de Charlevoix is hard work, so for me, there was no way to avoid getting wet. This brought a surreal edge to my experience of the trek. I remember after a particularly punishing stretch on the fourth day, it felt like I’d taken a shower in my winter clothes and then stepped out into an icy forest, with temperatures below -15 degrees Celsius. It was a dangerous position to be in – soaked in sweat, I didn’t have to stand still for very long before my body temperature started plummeting. While we brought heat-reflective emergency blankets and had dry clothes in our bags, in case we absolutely needed to stop, that was a worst-case scenario. But I knew that the only way to finish the day was at the chalet. So I gobbled another energy bar, swallowed a few gulps of water and kept plunging forward. On the final day of the trip, we weren’t able to reach the end of the trail before >
EVERYTHING I INGESTED HAD A SINGLE PURPOSE: TO KEEP MY BODY MOVING
88 • EXCURSIONS • CHARLEVOIX, QUEBEC
> nightfall. Stupidly, my headlamp wasn’t working, so when dark descended, I had to rely on the lights of my companions. When it was my turn to break the path at the front of the group, I was illuminated by the person behind me. Their light cast my body as a giant shadow on the path ahead. It looked like a great beast was thrashing through the woods in the dark, but it was just me. Though I was exhausted and desperate to rest, I watched that powerful, Yeti-like version of myself leaping ahead of me and it made me feel strong. Given the intense difficulty of a trip like this, I often wondered, why do it at all? It’s hard to explain what it feels like to move quietly along a frozen stream in the early
morning, or to make a fast descent down a narrow trail through an evergreen forest. You just have to put on your gear and go. There’s no other way. There were moments out there that could never have existed unless I left my normal life and entered the wilderness. They were more like visions than stories: standing under a luminous sky swirling with snow and gazing out over a wintery, wind-blown valley. My heart was beating hard. I was cold, but I was okay. Though my legs were brutally Yeti, also called the Abominable Snowman, is an ape-like creature that is said to inhabit the Himalayas. Yeti originates from Nepalese folklore but was popularized in the west during the 19th century.
MY HEART WAS BEATING HARD. I WAS COLD, BUT I WAS OKAY. MY LEGS WERE BRUTALLY SORE, BUT I FELT POWERFUL
ABOVE: Summits surrounding the Charlevoix Crossing reach up to 1,000 metres, surrounding multiple ecosystems, forests and streams
sore, I no longer wanted to stop at all. I only wanted to coast in that strange, low-grade exhilaration that comes from steady effort and forward motion, one foot in front of the other, all the way to the trail’s end. ◆
GETTING THERE Air Canada flies non-stop from Pearson International Airport to Quebec City’s Jean Lesage International Airport multiple times a day (about $300 round trip for a 90-minute flight). From there it’s a 90-minute car ride to the beginning of the Charlevoix Crossing. aircanada.com
90 • EXCURSIONS • MARRAKECH, MOROCCO
SPECIALTIES OF THE HOUSE
RUGS Moroccan rugs are known for their distinctive designs and craftsmanship. Find them in all shapes, sizes and colours throughout the souks, with the best selection in Souk Zrabia. Wool rugs are generally of better quality.
TARGET MARKET Jessica Huras gets lost in the chaos of colours, noises and cutthroat haggling of Marrakech’s bustling souk district.
shops overflowing with every kind of good imaginable. The best way to experience the souks is to embrace the chaos and dive in (while watching out for the motorbikes and carts that will barrel you down if you don’t keep an eye on your surroundings). If you’re after a particular item, it can be helpful to walk through the souks with a guide the first time or spend a day orienting yourself around the souks before getting into some serious shopping. When you’re ready to buy, be prepared to haggle – a good rule of thumb is to offer half the first price the seller quotes you and then bargain from there. Remember to carry cash (ideally dirham, but some vendors accept Euros or USD) for your purchases because few places take cards. ◆ Jessica visited Marrakech’s souks as part of G Adventures’ Morocco Kasbahs & Desert tour.
LAMPS Find everything from tea light holders to floor lamps and hanging lanterns. Most are made from colourful glass and metals. The best deals are in Souk Haddadine, the blacksmithing souk.
Jon Chica; Lamps by VisualIntermezzo
ALKING THROUGH MARRAKECH’S souks is a dizzying and enthralling experience, with a wave of smells, colours and noises overwhelming your senses the moment you step through the entrance. Souk is the term used to describe a marketplace in northern Africa and the Middle East, and Marrakech is home to Morocco’s biggest collection of them. The souks are covered with a loose roof of boards, creating shadows that add to their mysterious allure. The boards are designed to shelter shoppers from the scorching African sun but, particularly in the summer, it’s still best to shop early in the morning to avoid the worst of the heat. Although there are technically multiple souks stretching between Jemaa el Fna and the Ben Youssef Mosque, they unfold like an endless maze of narrow alleys and
LEATHER GOODS Leatherwork is one of Marrakech’s specialties. You’ll see a huge array of leather goods, including rainbow-hued leather slippers, called babouches, in range of designs from simple to embroidered or covered in jewels.
LIKE A LOCAL
Canadian Massimo De Francesca, executive chef at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, shares his favourite local haunts on sunny Grand Cayman Island.
ABOVE: Colourful buildings enliven the waterfront of George Town, the capital of the Cayman Islands
GRAND CAYMAN, CAYMAN ISLANDS • EXCURSIONS • 93
GO FOR A DRIVE
A drive around the island is unbeatable. Head to the local market for some fresh fruit, coconut water and snacks to take with you. Make sure to stop and check out the blowholes (water-spurting openings along the shoreline) on your way to Rum Point and Starfish Point.
This place dishes up the flavours of Cayman – it’s a small rustic kitchen, set up with a few picnic tables outside, right along a seawall. Get the fried fish escovitch!
QUEEN ELIZABETH II BOTANIC PARK
There are some very interesting and unique plants and trees here. It’s one of my favorite places to take friends and family. Don’t miss the Mastic Trail hiking path nearby.
CAYMAN ISLANDS HUMANE SOCIETY
If you’re an animal lover (like me!) and have some time to spare on your vacation, the Cayman Islands Humane Society allows you to take a dog for a walk. Massimo by Scott Gardner; George Town by Joann Snover; Rum Point by Eric Laudonien; Park by Joymsk; Little Cayman by Jaime Pharr
Take one of the quick, easy-access flights to our sister island, Little Cayman. It’s a very special island with amazing diving and beaches like Point of Sand. ◆
GETTING THERE WestJet and Air Canada offer regular nonstop flights to Grand Cayman’s Owen Roberts International Airport. Flight time is around 4 hours from Toronto. westjet.com; aircanada.com
Find respite from winter’s worst at adults-only all-inclusives, après-ski hotspots and secluded beaches.
g row n-up G etaways Find tropical tranquility at these adults-only resorts that offer rest and relaxation minus the kids.
1) CENTARA RAS FUSHI, MALDIVES With a great beach, lively vibe and smartly-decorated
rooms, this North Malé resort offers excellent bang-foryour-buck, making it popular with younger couples. All-inclusive and full board packages are available and guests need to be at least 12 years old to stay
here. Rooms are located along the shore or overwater – some are positioned to maximize sunset views. There’s prime snorkelling offshore (equipment is free), a dive centre on-site and overwater hammocks.
2) CAMBRIDGE RESORT, BERMUDA Set on a 30-acre private peninsula, Cambridge Resort is one of Bermuda’s most luxurious and secluded properties. Although it’s not strictly an all-inclusive resort, packages covering meals are available. Guests stay in one
of 87 traditional pink cottages, each with its own unique décor and history – some date as far back as the 17th and 18th centuries. The property includes access to four private pink sand beaches and a striking infinity pool ringed with waterfalls. Breezes, the resort’s openair restaurant, offers amazing sunset views best experienced with an afternoon cocktail.
Cambridge’s Pegem Cottage is one of Bermuda’s few historically-listed properties. Apparently, the original owner was a pirate who hid his booty in the lower floor.
THE SELECTOR • EXCURSIONS • 95
3) EXCELLENCE PLAYA MUJERES, MEXICO Located on a quiet stretch of white sand north of the touristy hotel zone, this serene resort proves that there’s more to Cancun than party-hardy properties. The resort’s aesthetic
4) SANCTUARY CAP CANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Set on a 30,000acre property, this romantic resort is designed to resemble a historic Spanish castle town. Rooms are divided into three sections – Colonial, Castle and Villa Collection.
blends Mexican colonial touches with more modern beachy elegance. All rooms come with balconies, rainfall showers and hot tubs. There are ten restaurants and a swish spa with Swedish saunas, steam baths and heated waterbeds. The resort also features seven pools (five of which are heated in the cooler months), along with a curving lazy river.
The Fijian archipelago is comprised of more than 330 islands. Just 110 of its islands are inhabited.
5) ROYAL DAVUI ISLAND RESORT, FIJI This intimate retreat is set on a private eightacre island in the Fijian archipelago.
Each features a distinctive aesthetic, however lavish rooms with private outdoor spaces are common throughout. There are five pools, including an infinity pool overlooking the resort’s white sand beach. Five on-site dining options are covered in the all-inclusive rate, including seafood meals in the Blue Marlin’s overwater dining room.
Villas are built into a hillside and offer spectacular ocean views, plus come with two outdoor decks (one of which has a stone plunge pool), luxe living areas and bathrooms sheltered by electric roof shutters. There’s also a shared
18-metre pool fringed with palm trees and multiple picture-perfect beaches with topnotch snorkelling and diving. The restaurant serves Pacific-influenced dishes. At lunch, request a gourmet picnic hamper to enjoy on the beach.
a lp in e t im e
When you’re off the slopes, these ski and snow towns deliver an après-ski game that’s worthy of being its own attraction. 5
1) LIVIGNO, ITALY Nestled in a valley between two mountains, the town centre of Livigno is a
duty-free shopping paradise. The taxexempt area is home to over 250 stores. But don’t get too carried away – the amount you can bring across the border is limited. After a day spent skiing the Italian
Alps, choose from Livigno’s 100-plus bars and restaurants with a number of nightclubs that keep the party going late. Taking a break from the slopes? Aquagranda features a waterpark for kids and adults.
2) LES DEUX ALPES, FRANCE
3) KITZBÜHEL, AUSTRIA
Due to the height of its glacier, Les Deux Alpes has an extra-long ski (and party) season that stretches from December to April. There are several slope-side attractions and eateries, including Pano, where the excitement starts at 3 p.m. with live DJ sets, dancers and musicians. Once the slopes close, head to Rue de Vikings for more bars, lounges and nightlife.
Eateries in Kitzbühel run the gamut from snack shacks to gourmet restaurants, making it the top destination for food-focused après-ski. Right on the mountain, 60 restaurants and ski huts allow you to chow down in between runs. The alpine area is home to several Gault & Millaurated restaurants including Gourmet Kupferstube.
The Gault & Millau is a restaurant guide founded by two French food critics. Unlike the Michelin guide, Gault & Millau focuses purely on the quality of food.
4) WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA
Whistler’s après-ski scene offers a little bit of everything.
Dive into a tipple at one of the many bars including Dusty’s, a go-to spot for Caesars and Merlin’s, where the staff encourage bartop dancing. “Family Après” programming at Olympic Plaza lets kids join in
on the fun with hot chocolate, outdoor activities and entertainment. Enjoy fine dining at Bearfoot Bistro or take a break from skiing at Steeps, a full-service restaurant right on the mountain.
champagne bar that appears on Aspen Mountain so you can ski in for some bubbly. At the base of the mountain, grab drinks, truffle fries and a prime people-watching seat on the patio of Ajax Tavern. For afternoon dancing, hit the outdoor deck at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, where the party starts at 1 p.m.
A snowcat is an enclosed-cab vehicle designed to ride over snow. Aside from grooming ski trails, snowcats are also used for logging in marsh areas and leveling beet piles.
5) ASPEN, COLORADO Between the four mountains and the two towns of Aspen and Snowmass, there’s plenty of choice for après-ski in this destination. Towed behind a snowcat, the Oasis is a pop-up
THE SELECTOR • EXCURSIONS • 97
seclude d sa n d s Eschew overcrowded beaches and hit these hidden tropical enclaves for some genuine R&R.
2) TORREVIEJA, SPAIN
If you don’t mind going on a ramble through the shrubs to reach a truly secret beach, Happy Bay in St. Martin ticks a lot of boxes. Its white sands are the perfect place to while away an afternoon in virtual privacy. Given the uncommercial nature of the beach, pack a picnic so you don’t have to make a trek when your belly rumbles. Don’t forget to throw a snorkel in your bag; Happy Bay is one of the best spots for it on the island.
Of course, the rest of the world is well aware of the Costa Blanca coastline, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still find seclusion on some of its beaches. Torrevieja is a seaside city in Spain’s southeastern Alicante province set between two salt lagoons (pink and emerald). It’s not unchartered territority, but beaches like La Mata offer a smaller, unspoiled version of some of the busier resort spots on the Mediterranean
The vibrant pink-purple colour of Torrevieja’s salt lagoons is caused by pigments of the halobacterium bacteria which thrive in extremely saline environments.
3) KOH LANTA, THAILAND 1
Many fans of ‘The Beach’ might assume that no idyllic, isolated Thai beach truly exists anymore, but you’ll be pleased to know that there are some hidden-ish shores, if you really look for them. Koh Lanta in the Krabi province
is by no means undiscovered. However, due to its remote location (think planes, trains, automobiles and then maybe a ferry), you can still find unspoiled stretches of white sand beach, particularly on the south end of the island. Hire a bike and get away from the tourists on Long Beach for virtually uninhabited spots south of Relax Bay.
1) HAPPY BAY, ST. MARTIN
coastline. There are no high-rise skyscrapers, just warm water and a beautiful strip of sand. Visit the many nearby coves (Ferris Cove, the Zorra Cove and the Mojón Cove) for some peaceful snorkelling in crystalline water.
4) TAMARAMA BEACH, AUSTRALIA
5) KERAMA ISLANDS, JAPAN
The Bondi to Coogee coastline walk, a six-kilometre clifftop stretch in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, is a tourist favourite. But between the well-trodden path sits Tamarama. A popular spot among locals, the 80 metres of shoreline makes for a shorter but no less impressive place to stop and catch your breath. While it’s known for its great surfing, it can be pretty dangerous for swimmers with swells that produce some serious riptides. Stay between the flags if you’re planning on taking a dip.
Japan may not spring to mind when you think of white sand beaches but the bustling island nation lays claim to some beautiful coastline. The Kerama Islands is a group of 22 islands located southwest of Okinawa Island and was designated a national park in 2014. Nagannu Island is an uninhabited beach destination just a 20-minute boat ride from Naha. Spend the day exploring the coral and swimming among tropical fish. Despite its lack of tenants, you can still find food, drink and snorkels to rent.
98 • EXCURSIONS • PATAGONIA, CHILE
HE MARBLE CAVES, also known as the Marble Cathedral or Capillas de Mármol, are a series of spellbinding caves located in General Carrera Lake in the Patagonia region of Chile. Accessible only by boat, the caves’ otherworldly appearance is the result of the glacial lake’s waves slowly carving the rock walls over the course of thousands of years. The hue of
the lake’s waters varies based on the water levels and time of year. The water colour ranges from turquoise to deep cerulean blue, and these shifting shades are reflected up on the cave walls. The best time to visit is between September and February, when the water takes on a beautiful blue-green hue. The cave’s appearance becomes particularly enchanting at sunrise and sunset. ◆
saba, your island adventure awaits.
unspoiled, undeveloped, undeniably beautiful. for more information visit sabatourism.com
saba, your island adventure awaits.
unspoiled, undeveloped, undeniably beautiful. for more information visit sabatourism.com