Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category


TravelMuse Guide to the 2010 Winter Olympics

We’re counting down the hours with only two days until the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games!

If you’re heading to Vancouver, Whistler or Richmond, British Columbia, download this FREE, handy guide packed full of restaurants, attractions, nightlife, shopping and event suggestions near the main venues, including: BC Place Stadium, Canada Hockey Place, Pacific Coliseum, Richmond Olympic Oval, Whistler and more.

Winter_olympicsDownload pdf

Whether you’re planning on getting in on the live action between Feb. 12 to 28 or you’re inspired to visit the beautiful province of British Columbia at a later date, we hope this helps you plan a great vacation.  Plan your trip to Vancouver and check out more Vancouver trip information on TravelMuse.

Guide courtesy of WCities

Note: If you have trouble downloading this pdf in your browser, right click on the “Download pdf” link and save the file to your computer.

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Glancing at my Facebook feed, I noticed that the official U.S. Snowboarding team had been chosen for the  Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Will the reining half-pipe champ Shaun White defend his title?

With the countdown to the Games (February 12 to 28) underway all eyes will be on Vancouver and Whistler.

I took a ski vacation to  Whistler Blackcomb in 2007 and this resort ranks as one of my favorites. It offers more mountain than you can possibly cover, great après ski and friendly people. Even three years ago there was a huge amount of construction underway in preparation for the games, so I’d love to return to see what changes have been made.

Fiona heads down the Women's Downhill and Super G

Fiona heads down the Olympic Women's Downhill and Super G.

Highlights of our trip:
What struck me soon after driving out of the airport was the gorgeous scenery of the Rocky Mountains and dramatic backdrop it provided to Vancouver itself. As you make the two-hour drive up to Whistler, the scenery just gets more impressive! As well as the phenomenal skiing, I can recommend:

1. The Westin Resort and Spa Whistler: Located right next to the gondola, this is a great place to stay—especially because they offer suites which made it ideal for preparing food for our 9 month old infant outside of regular eating hours. The FireRock Lounge provides a good après ski hangout and with great tapas. The Aubergine Grille also offers fine cuisine with a good of range of seafood.

2. Peak to Creek and Dusty’s Bar: One of my favorite runs on Whistler mountain was Peak to Creek—a seven kilometer (over four miles) groomed, intermediate run with over 5,000 feet of continuous vertical. After heading down without stopping, what better place to go than Dusty’s Bar.  A great place to kick back, relax and enjoy a well earned beer!

3. Infant Daycare, Creekside: This was the only one in the resort when we visited and we loved it. However, when I tried to find contact information to share I discovered that it’s no longer available. There are options for children ages 18 to 48 months with Whistler Kids Winter Childcare, including a daycare at The Westin. For children younger than 18 months, the resort advises contacting Babysitting Whistler.

4. Whistler Village: Offers great restaurants, bars and shops. The place really comes alive later in the afternoon as everyone descends from the mountain providing an après ski vibe reminiscent of European resorts. Check out places to eat in Whistler.

5. Granville Island, Vancouver: Only five minutes from downtown Vancouver, this area is not to be missed with a great food market, shops, restaurants, cafes, galleries, etc.

What do I dream of doing on my next visit to Whistler?

1. Try out the new Peak-to-Peak gondola that connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.

2. Go helisking!  Maybe I’ve been watching too many extreme ski/board Warren Miller movies, but I’d love to try helisking –packages start at $795.

3. Stay at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler—consistently rated as one of the top 50 ski resorts by Condé Nast Traveller.

Typically host resorts of the winter Olympics have fewer skiers and snowboarders the entire season of the Games, so don’t rule it out as a place to visit this year—plan a trip to Whistler and/or plan a trip to Vancouver.

For more tips and advice read related articles on TravelMuse:

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Last month we tagged a mini-vacation onto the end of a conference my husband was attending at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, nestled in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.

Surrounded by spectacular views of the mountains and the expansive lake, it’s no wonder it’s referred to as the “diamond in the wilderness.” This was my first stay at a Fairmont, and I was pleasantly surprised at the down-to-earth and friendly vibe of such a high class establishment.

I was intrigued to learn the history of the Fairmont Lake Louise, as it was first established as a resting place along the Canadian Pacific Railway for luxury passengers encouraged to travel out West. Secondly, as this area is renowned as the birthplace of Canadian mountaineering, it attracted Swiss mountaineers in the early 1900s and as a result influenced the Chateau’s charming architecture, cuisine (including fondue) and mountain activities still on offer today.

Highlights of our stay:

Activities abound at this outdoor retreat, and even if you’re not into skiing, there’s plenty to do right at your feet. We enjoyed exploring all the ice sculptures, walking out across the frozen lake and splashing in the swimming pool. There’s also ice skating on the lake, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, sleigh rides, dog sledding or snow mobile tours. I wasn’t very interested in shopping, but for those in need of retail therapy, there are around 20 small shops on site, including a cute bookshop.

We did ski Lake Louise and had a great time exploring the Rocky Mountain peaks. Our daughter enjoyed the friendly daycare and it was fairly priced: $52 CAD per day/$30.50 CAD per half day. We also put her on skis for the first time. Being under 3 years old, she was too young for ski school, so we just worked with her ourselves, going up and down the magic carpet. Although the temp was 18 degrees Fahrenheit, the sun shone and she had lots of fun lasting over two hours on the bunny slope! See our related article on teaching kids to ski.

The breakfast buffet in the Poppy Brasserie certainly set us up for the day. We didn’t hold back sampling everything from cereal, fruit, ham, sausages, eggs, waffles, pancakes, custom omelets, all enjoyed next to the gorgeous backdrop of the lake.

It was “Family Weekend” in Canada, and the hotel made a special effort with a full program of family events and a carefully planned kids’ dinner buffet, laid out on a table about two feet high. Our daughter was thrilled that she could help herself to the mac and cheese, pizza and deserts!

Among the fine dining restaurants, the Tom Wilson Steakhouse was recommended by the concierge. Not only did they cater to our toddler’s every need, they served up a spectacular dinner. Beginning with a selection of preset small plates, served with naan bread, the only real decision we had to make was the cut of meat!

I can thoroughly recommend Lake Louise as an ideal retreat to just get away from it all!

Check out their special family friendly Easter Package from April 10 to 13, where kids can take part in face painting, bouncy castles and an Easter egg hunt.


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Chill Out: Winter Festival Roundup by Lynn O’Rourke Hayes

The winter months provide the opportunity to enjoy festivals and gatherings that celebrate all things icy and cold. Looking for an adventure where you can  chill out with carvers and climbers? Try these spots:

Ouray, Colo.

This southwestern mountain town, known for its picturesque jagged peaks, is home to the country’s premiere ice festival. In its 14th year, competitors of all levels, climbing companies and spectators gather for the Ouray Ice Festival. The Kids Climbing College offers free instruction to youngsters interested in learning and testing their skills in the Ouray Ice Park where nine routes have been established for beginners.  All equipment is provided and prizes are awarded to every child who climbs. Jan. 9 to 11, 2009. Tel. 970-325-4288,

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

Enjoy the beauty of Lake Louise and the glacier-clad Mt. Victoria during the Ice Magic Festival held Jan. 23 to 25, 2009. Professional carvers go to work on 15 blocks of ice, weighing 300 lbs. each, and transform them into elaborately designed, seven-foot-tall world-class ice sculptures in three days.  Spectators may cast their votes in the People’s Choice Award and Children’s Choice Award competitions and thus are entered to win prizes. Weather permitting, the sculptures remain on display through March. Tel. 403-762-8421,

Stowe, Vt.

The 35th Annual Stowe Winter Carnival offers a winter wonderland of family fun. Tours of the historic town, a Village Night celebration, ski races, a kid’s carnival and the chance to see the pros at work during the ice carving competition make for a great winter getaway. Jan. 22 to 25, 2009. Tel. 802-253-7321,

Aspen, Colo.

Now in its 58th year, Wintersköl, Aspen’s annual toast to snow, will be held Jan. 8 to 11, 2009.   Wintersköl is four days of festive events, including a quirky canine fashion show, torchlight ski parades and fireworks over Aspen and Smuggler Mountains. With activities for visitors of all ages, it’s a favorite among locals. Tel.  970-925-1940,

Whitefish, Mont.

The 50th Annual Whitefish Winter Carnival kicks off with a Penguin Plunge (a hole is cut into Whitefish Lake and participants take a dip to raise funds for charity). Visitors will also enjoy an old fashioned Main Street parade, ice sculpting contest, a kiddie carnival, battle of the bands, pie social, torch-light ski parade, cross-country ski race, hockey tournament, a figure skating demonstration and more. The festivities are open to the public and most are free. Feb. 6 to 8, 2009. Tel. 877-862-3548,