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HOTEL INSIDER: Drake Devonshire


Dubbed “Drake by the Lake,” this Prince Edward County outpost of the ultra hip Toronto establishment is set alongside Lake Ontario in a former foundry building, circa the late 1800s. A two-year renovation led by design firm +tongtong under the creative direction of John Tong and the Drake Hotel’s CEO Jeff Stober transformed the space into a rustic yet artsy homage to Canadiana chic.

Incorporating some of the building’s original elements, such as the main entrance, a carved maple staircase and a fireplace in the parlour, whimsical accents and cheeky touches infuse the boutique hotel with a contemporary feel that also nod to the Drake’s signature aesthetic. Rooms are bold and striking, with walls painted in a palette of turquoise, sky blue and mauve, and vibrant wallpaper from Flavor Paper. Interspersed throughout the hotel is a mix of vintage items, which were sourced by the Drake’s in-house stylist (and one of the Drake’s co-founders) Carlo Colacci at flea markets and antique shows across North America, as well as custom designed and handcrafted pieces.

Art is prominently displayed at the hotel, with the Drake’s in-house curator Mia Nielsen having secured works by Canadian artist Rick Leong, who painted a custom mural in each room. A rotating roster of artists are also featured throughout the hotel, alongside permanent works by local artist Don Maynard, as well as Toronto artists Jennifer Murphy and Team Macho, and Brooklyn artist Faile.

Among the in-room amenities and luxuries are custom-crafted armoires, walk-in marble and glass showers, Malin + Goetz toiletries, MacAusland blankets, Bose bluetooth wireless speakers, and DVD and iPod listening libraries.

  11 rooms and 2 suites
Price  $229 and up
Conference Facilities  Though none of the spaces are specifically for conferences, the Drake Devonshire can accommodate groups of eight to 80 in its various rooms, including the Glass Box, Pavilion and Dining Room for meetings and team building sessions.

The Drake Devonshire features multiple gathering spots throughout its space, each with a distinctive personality of its own.

The ultra comfortable Living Room was inspired by the concept of a farmhouse parlour. Mismatched furniture with an eclectic mix of prints and styles and a cozy fireplace makes this an ideal spot to read a book, write or for some quiet relaxation.

The aptly-named Glass Box has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a garden and Lane Creek. A riff of a family rec room, guests can play ping pong or board games, or watch a movie here. The space is alternatively used for weddings and corporate gatherings.

The Pavilion is a striking all-season space, though it particularly shines during good weather. Douglas fir beams and a dramatic floor-to-ceiling mural by Brooklyn artist Faile make for an eye-catching backdrop for live shows, special events, seasonal markets and holiday activities.

Enjoy the waterfront views from The Deck and bleachers, or grab a seat around the fire pit. The hotel’s food and drinks menu is also available here for alfresco dining.

The cantilevered dining room with pristine views of Lake Ontario is a picturesque spot to tuck into chef Matt DeMille’s seasonally-changing menu of farm- and lake-to-table offerings that include Drake favourites as well as new items that pay homage to the region. Try the likes of chicken and waffles, smoked brisket hash or blueberry scones for breakfast or brunch, smoked chicken pot pie, crispy eggplant parmesan, slow roasted short ribs or the Devonshire burger for lunch or dinner.

A select wine list includes vintages from Prince Edward County wineries like Huff Estates, Hubbs Creek and Norman Hardie, as well as from further afoot, including Kendall-Jackson of California, Domaine la Montagnette of France and Cirelli of Italy. Try the house wine, Vintner’s Daughter, which was made in partnership with Wellington’s Rosehall Run Winery. Inventive cocktails include a bourbon con leche—cinnamon-infused bourbon mixed with condensed milk, coffee syrup and tiki bitters.

24 Wharf St., Wellington, Ontario, 613-399-3338 or 1-844-898-3338; drakedevonshire.ca

HOTEL INSIDER: Great Wolf Lodge


This American chain of resorts first opened its doors in 1997 in Wisconsin, followed by additional outposts across the United States, including Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and Ohio. The first—and thus far only—location outside of the U.S. is in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Beloved by families, Great Wolf Lodge is best described as a resort-meets-waterpark with a glamping ambience. Rustic in decor, a log cabin theme pervades the property with such touches as totem poles at the front entrance, antler chandeliers, and a fishing cabin-themed guest service counter.

Rooms are similarly decked out in a woodsy manner. Choose from 10 suite configurations between standard, themed and premium options. Standard rooms can include one or two queen sized beds, a sofa sleeper, in-room microwave and mini fridge. Themed suites have queen sized beds with a separate sleeping area for kids, which are outfitted with bunk beds and a TV. Premium spaces include loft-style suites, rooms with private master bedrooms and semi-private living or breakfast areas. Most rooms have access to a private balcony or patio.

Most of the resort’s communal space is geared towards families, with such activities as board games in the Grand Lobby, two daily performances by animated forest creatures, and nightly story time with resort mascots Wiley, Violet, Brinley and Oliver.

The resort uses a waterproof wristband system, which means you can go anywhere during your stay without your wallet or purse, or worry about forgetting your room key. Each wrist band can unlock your room, and can also be pre-loaded with money to be used throughout the resort, including the arcade, restaurants, bars, gift shops and other services, or wrist bands can be tapped for purchases and billed to your room.

A 25-acre site that overlooks the Niagara Gorge, complete with a 103,000 square-foot waterpark.
Rooms  406 suites.
Price  $219.99 to $799.99
Conference Facilities  5,000 square-feet of flexible conference space is available complete with support from sales and banquet teams. There are five meeting rooms in total that range in size; options include Fallen Timbers A and B, which can seat up to 174 people together theatre style to the more intimate Eagles Landing, which can seat 16 people. Two other rooms, Northwest Territory A and B, can seat up to 200 guests combined in a theatre style.


The big draw here is without a doubt the expansive on-site indoor waterpark, Bear Track Landing, as well as an outdoor waterpark, Loon Lagoon that is open seasonally. Together, 2.5 million litres of water fill the space, which boasts 13 waterslides, six pools, and a four-storey treehouse water fort. There are myriad of water play options for everyone, whether its lounging in an inner tube in the lazy Crystal River, playing in the Rainbow Lake wave pool, riding the Niagara Rapids Run water roller coaster with its 52-foot vertical drop, or sliding down a waterslide. The tiniest of guests can get their toes wet in Chipmunk Cove, a zero-depth entry pool with interactive toys.

If the aquatic exercise isn’t enough of a workout, the Iron Horse Fitness Centre is accessible 24 hours a day, and has equipment such as treadmills and elliptical machines.

Or, if a little pampering is in order, there are two options: Elements Spa is an ideal spot for adults who are in need of some “me” time. The spacious facility offers a range of treatments including manicures, pedicures, facials and massages, as well as couples’ treatment rooms. For pint-sized guests, book an appointment at Scooops Kid Spa, which is exclusively for children ages 3 to 12. The colourful space is inspired by an ice cream shop, and offers manicures and pedicures, as well as a gift shop carrying the likes of foot masks, bath fizz and scrubs.

There are eight family-friendly options at Great Wolf Lodge, which means that even picky eaters can find something to satiate their appetites or quench their thirst. Tuck into the buffet at either the Antler Shanty or Camp Critter Bear & Grille, or a fresh pie from Northwoods Pizza Company, or perhaps some ice cream at the Bear Claw Café. Buckets Incredible Craveables is located right in the waterpark, and has a menu of easy-to-eat kid-favourites like hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken strips. (Seasonally, Crazy Loon is open at the resort’s outdoor facility, Loon Lagoon.) For a jolt of java or a tea, there’s Canoe Coffee, or for cocktails and beer, there’s Grizzly Rob’s Bar.

3950 Victoria Ave., Niagara Falls, 1-800-605-9653; greatwolf.com/niagara

HOTEL INSIDER: Trump International Hotel & Tower


The name Trump is synonymous with luxury, and guests of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Toronto are pampered with impeccable service and the utmost attention to detail during their stay at the 65-storey tower. From the first step into the lavish lobby, which is adorned with a Swarovski crystal art installment and the Trump signature scent of champagne and caviar, guests are welcomed into opulent environs.

Guest rooms start at 550-square feet, and can go up to 2,300 square-feet—larger than some homes in Toronto! With a modern aesthetic by II by IV Design Associates, the hotel is awash in a neutral but warm palette. Rooms and suites are outfitted with a range of features including bedside touch panel control for lights and curtains, fireplaces, heated bathroom floors, a rainfall shower head, deep soaker tubs, complimentary digital newspaper and magazine services, and perhaps the most unique offering: an aromatherapy pillow menu from which guests can choose from pillows designed to help restore balance, revitalize energy, renew the spirit or provide tranquility.

A 65-storey tower with 263 hotel rooms and suites, which range in size from 550- to 2,300-square-feet.
Price  Starting from $395 per night.
Conference Facilities  Fittingly for the former Apprentice host, a reality television show that was known for its heated boardroom antics, Trump Tower boasts three floors of meeting spaces located on the ninth, 10th and 30th floors. The Grand Ballroom can host more than 300 people, while more intimate rooms are available for groups up to 30 people for conferences, seminars, workshops and more.

The well-equipped fitness centre boasts treadmills, free weights and other cardiovascular equipment to help guests maintain their exercise regime while travelling. There is also a studio for yoga, pilates and aerobics, as well as personal trainers to assist guests. And if they’ve left their gear at home, guests can partake in the hotel’s Travel Fit program, which can lend Under Armour fitness apparel and footwear, as well as pre-loaded iPod shuffles for use.

Or go swimming with a view of the city skyline from the infinity salt water lap pool located on the 32nd floor, which measures 65 feet long by 16 feet wide. Adjacent to the pool is a raised clean-stream whirlpool with a cascading waterfall and dry saunas.

Get pampered at Purebeauty, a full-service salon and spa offering an extensive menu of treatments including massages, facials, manicures, pedicures, blow outs and more.

Hotel guests looking to dine in can tuck into breakfast, lunch and dinner daily or Sunday brunch at America restaurant. Two teams from the city’s most respected dining conglomerates, Ink Entertainment (of La Société and Patria fame) and Oliver & Bonacini (of Canoe and Luma), are responsible for the hospitality dished out here. (Ink Entertainment also co-operates Late Night America, which is open every Saturday night from 10 p.m.) Inventive and beautifully-plated mains include Sichuan pepper duck breast and scallops, shrimp and squid linguine, finished with a cheese board, white Russian sundae or bourbon chocolate tart.

The Calvin Bar is a sleek and contemporary space for creative cocktails like a spiced sazerac or barrel-aged negroni.

Don’t want to leave the confines of your hotel room? A Quick Bites program provides express in-room dining options in 15 minutes or less for busy guests on the go.

325 Bay St., 416-306-8800 or 1-855-888-7867; trumphotelcollection.com/toronto

HOTEL INSIDER: The Ivy at Verity


This boutique hotel located in a restored 1850s chocolate factory boasts four pristine rooms, each outfitted with Hästens beds, Italian linens, and a private terrace overlooking a secluded courtyard. Part of the Verity Group, which also owns George restaurant, Sweetgrass Spa and Verity women’s club, founder Mary Aitken wanted to ensure that guests feel right at home. As such, heated bathroom floors, generous counter space in bathrooms, ample closet space and full-length mirrors are among the simple luxuries that can be found in each of the rooms. Another Aitken touch is the colourful decor—the wallpaper, upholstered headboards and chairs are awash in cheery hues and prints, reminiscent of a charming Parisian hotel.

Four custom-designed rooms
Price $399 per night. Room packages are available for $449 and $559, which can include dinner and a spa treatment.

Guests of The Ivy are privy to many of the services and facilities of Verity, including the club’s concierge and members’ lounge. Female guests also have access to the fitness centre and swimming pool.

Sweetgrass Spa is a women-only oasis (though male guests can have Swedish massages in their hotel rooms) with a carefully edited menu of signature treatments, such as the Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage, a 24 karat gold facial using products from the Dr. Hauschka line, a Tata Harper red carpet facial, and a Medico oxygen facial. Pre- and post-treatment, (female) guests can enjoy the infrared sauna, whirlpool, ozonated swimming pool—where there is even an underwater spin bike—or relax in the lounge with freshly-pressed juice, coffee and cocktails. By appointment, a hairstylist can also do blow outs; the spa can also bring in additional hair stylists and estheticians for larger groups wishing to have their hair and makeup done.

The elegantly-appointed dining room at George restaurant is well-served as a destination for business lunches and dinners, as well as a romantic meal or fun feast with friends. Headed by chef Lorenzo Loseto, who has won Canada’s National Culinary Championship among other accolades, an oft-changing menu of seasonal dishes utilizing fresh local ingredients could include the likes of pork belly with agnolotti and cardamom mustard or ahi tuna with potato samosa and cauliflower. Or simply entrust chef Loseto with your meal and tuck into a tasting menu, with or without wine pairings. (A three- or four-course lunch ranges from $55 to $70; five-, seven-, 10- and vegetarian-course dinner is about $85 to $150.)

Queen-Richmond Centre, 111 Queen St. E., Toronto, Ontario, 416-368-6006; theivyatverity.ca.

The Best 10 New or Improved Attractions in Canada for Summer 2015


  Best New or Improved Attractions in Canada for Summer 2015: A shot of Banff’s winner

Get summer-vacation inspiration with Canada’s Best New or Improved Attractions, as selected by the regional editors of Where. This annual awards program celebrates the most exciting brand-new or significantly improved attractions—or existing attractions observing major milestones—in 10 cities or regions across the country.

This year’s winners offer many appealing diversions for travellers exploring the Great White North—from hands-on activities like bobsledding on an official Olympic track, mountain climbing in Banff, and trying your hand at prospecting to intellectually stimulating institutions detailing early Ukrainian pioneers, Muslim culture, human rights and more.

Discover the winners of the Best New or Improved Attractions Awards for 2015 »

Vancouver’s Craft Beer Circuit

Easy drinking, hoppy or just plain experimental—a bevy of brews can be found around Vancouver. Explore the options at these breweries, all just a hop, sip and jump away


The beautiful interior at Steel Toad Brewpub & Dining Hall. (Photo: KK Law)

The beautiful interior at Steel Toad Brewpub & Dining Hall. (Photo: KK Law)

1. BIG ROCK URBAN This Alberta outpost’s proximity to the SkyTrain makes it an ideal starting point. On tap: the brand’s stalwart brews alongside sips such as Hollow Tree Pacific Northwest Red Ale, inspired by the Lower Mainland and developed to please West Coast palates.

2. 33 ACRES The pristine aesthetic at this brewery and tasting room is a design buff’s dream, and the perfect locale for sipping 33 Acres of Sunshine, an unfiltered white ale, or 33 Acres of Life, a smooth California Common–style beer. Refuel with food truck fare or an espresso-based bevvy.

3. MAIN STREET BREWING Tucked away just east of Main Street, this industrial heritage space serves a rotating menu of cask-conditioned beer alongside a solid selection of regular draft options such as the Westminster Brown and the Saison No. 7, with its subtle splash of pepper and citrus.

4. BRASSNECK Reclaimed wood and zany artwork line the walls, while the frequently rotating taps attempt to keep pace with even the most enthusiastic beer lover’s thirst for new and inventive brews. Nano batches keep the pours fresh and eclectic, reflected in the eight or more offerings on tap.

5. STEEL TOAD This refurbished industrial space boasts an airy mix of glass and wood, and brews that range from the authentic Yorkshire Best Bitter to the more adventurous East Coast “Nineties” IPA with spicy rye undertones. Stay for inventive bites from the menu, then hop the SkyTrain for a quick—and perhaps wobbly—exit.

2015 Where to Dine Awards: Vancouver


Pacific octopus with Tuscan beans at Cioppino’s

Pacific octopus with Tuscan beans at Cioppino’s. (Photo: KK Law)

Fueled by a wealth of flavours, Vancouver celebrates a bounty of fresh ingredients, from myriad seafood species to specialty farm-raised meats, along with winning wines. Every year, Where’s globetrotting readers weigh in on those tastes that left their mark well beyond the trip home. These accolades reinforce the city’s rep as an international culinary destination driven by diversity and a merging of influences through multicultural respect and understanding. (more…)

In The Know: Speakeasies Make a Modern Comeback in Calgary


Milk Tiger Lounge's co-owner Nathan Head mixes up a Vieux Carre, a classic New Orleans prohibition-era cocktail. (Photo: Marnie Persaud)

Milk Tiger Lounge’s co-owner Nathan Head mixes up a Vieux Carre, a classic New Orleans prohibition-era cocktail. (Photo: Marnie Persaud)

In the Prohibition era of the early twentieth century, going out for a night on the town was a clandestine affair. Bar patrons would quickly glance around for the coppers before slipping into an alley and rapping out a secret knock on an unmarked door to be admitted into a speakeasy for a glass or three of bootlegged moonshine.

Now that alcohol is as legal as apple pie, there’s no need for stealth. But, the impact that Prohibition speakeasies had on social diversity, operating practices, and even cocktail recipes still reverberates through drinking establishments nearly 100 years later.

Over the last few years, modern speakeasies have been popping up all over North America—genteel bars with a vintage or retro vibe, nattily dressed bartenders, and a focus on classically inspired and crafted cocktails. Don your fedoras and flapper dresses (or whatever kids are wearing these days) and check out Calgary’s contemporary interpretations of the speakeasy—secret knock not required. (more…)

26 Dinosaurs Are On Display at “Dinosaurs Alive”


Something big has arrived! Relive your favourite dinosaur movie adventures (Jurassic Park anyone?) at Calgary Zoo’s Dinosaurs Alive exhibit. With life-sized animatronic dinosaurs around every corner, it’s bound to be a great adventure. While the crowd pleasers (like the T-Rex, of course!) will definitely be present, other lesser known species are also on display. In fact, here are 26 dinosaurs you can expect to see at Dinosaurs Alive.

While that may seem like a lot of dinosaurs already, it’s merely scratching the surface of what you can expect to witness at Calgary Zoo’s Dinosaurs Alive exhibit. Grab your tickets now — after all, you truly won’t be able to get a sense of just how spectacular these creatures are until you experience them in person.

Images are for representation purposes only.

25 Toronto Spa Treatments to Get You Ready for Spring


Toronto Spa Treatments

Gee Beauty

Toronto Spa Treatments for Your Beautiful Face

A litany of ailments can mar what ought to be your glowing visage: puffiness, redness, clogged pores, brown spots and blemishes, not to mention dryness resulting from the season’s harsh elements. Routine facials can help to remedy all that, leaving behind a natural luminosity.


HOTEL INSIDER: Sterling Inn & Spa


Sterling Inn & Spa

Located off the main Niagara strip, but still within walking distance of casinos and numerous other attractions in Niagara Falls, this thoroughly modern boutique hotel is easily recognizable by the milk bottle-shaped entrance. Though construction for the hotel began in 2006, the building itself dates back to 1928 when it was Cairns Creameries (and later Bordens Dairy), one of the largest cream producers in the region—hence the front façade of the building. In the 1980s, the building housed a popular nightclub and restaurant.


7 Perfect Pizzas in Vancouver


Cooking up a delicious pie at Novo

Cooking up a delicious pie at Novo

The days of greasy buck-a-slice being the only option are numbered. Recent years have seen an explosion of pizza joints popping up all over town. From stringently traditional to playful twists on the predictable, this is one delicious trend we can sink our teeth into. (more…)