• eat
  • shop
  • see
  • go
  • stay
  • daytrip
  • map
  • calendar
  • transport
  • weather
  • currency
  • tofrom


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.




Oban Inn main entrance

Dating back to 1824, the four-diamond Oban Inn is well regarded for its exceptional service and friendly staff. Wine lovers will appreciate the short drive to nearly 30 local wineries, or if you’re staying on the premises, enjoy the lush English gardens, on-site spa, restaurant, pool and hot springs.

Choose from rooms located within the main building, or four adjacent spaces with their own decks, or at the adjacent Oban House. Inn accommodations include deluxe double, queen or king-sized beds. Reserve the Oban Suite for a truly secluded hideout, complete with a seating area, spacious bathroom with a standalone tub, and pretty views of Lake Ontario and the golf course.

The pretty grounds—a blooming garden and gazebo, need we say more?—also make the Oban Inn a popular destination for intimate (up to 40 guests) weddings, along with a personalized honeymoon suite.

26, including four pet-friendly rooms.
Price Rates vary by season and are dependent on midweek and weekend bookings. November to April $140 to $210 per night, May, June and October $$240 to $300 per night, July to September $260 to $320 per night.
Conference Facilities A fully-equipped board room and a separate meeting room are each formally decorated and can accommodate up to 32 people. Take note of the Millroy meeting room, which faces Lake Ontario and connects to an enclosed sun room facing the gardens, where meals can be set up as well.

The OSpa is a tranquil escape with a range of treatments including facials, massages, reflexology, manicures, pedicures and hair removal. A special menu features male-centric offerings such as hand and foot treatments, as well as side-by-side massages for couples (or any combination of two people). Be sure to visit the steam room before or after your treatment to maintain your zen.

The fitness facility is open year-round, while from June to September, the infinity lap pool and outdoor hot springs are both open.

Oban Inn can also arrange a private winery tour with expert guide Denis Davicino, who can take up to four guests ($75 per person) to several local businesses, complete with tastings. Tours for larger groups (up to eight people) can also be arranged, with two tour guides.

A complimentary breakfast is served each morning, while lunches and dinners can be enjoyed in one of three spaces: Shaw’s Corner, a sun room, or fireside dining room. A seasonally-changing menu marries classic dishes with modern cuisine prepared with the bounty of local ingredients. The fall menu, for example, featured a kale salad with pomegranate seeds, slow-braised bison short ribs, and a Yukon potato soufflé with goat cheese and spinach crepe.

160 Front St., Niagara-on-the-Lake, 1-866-359-6226 or 905-468-2165; oban.com

Oban Inn is a member of Ontario’s Finest Inns, Hotels and Spas.

HOTEL INSIDER: Prince of Wales


The Prince of Wales Hotel

From the horse-drawn carriages parked in front to the bellhop attired in a red jacket, it’s clear that guests staying at the Prince of Wales hotel are treated like royalty. Named for King George V and Queen Mary, who were guests here in 1901, this property is owned by Vintage Hotels, whose other holdings include Queen’s Landing, Pillar and Post and the Millcroft Inn & Spa among others. This establishment in picturesque Niagara-on-the-Lake is the crown jewel however, meticulously decorated with Victorian-era furnishings but with modern conveniences like LCD TVs, Bose Wave music systems and Keurig coffee machines.

Rich dark woods, ornate wallpaper and mouldings, wood-carved and embellished sofas and chairs upholstered in rich fabrics and embroidery nod to the historic charm here. (Be sure to take note of the beautiful stained glass scene in the lobby.) Cosy seating arrangements and fireplaces are inviting spots for quiet conversations and solitude.

Choose from a range of accommodations whether it’s for a romantic getaway, a mother/daughter bonding weekend, business retreat or even for a wedding party. Book The Royal Suite for the ultimate experience, which has a four-poster canopied King-sized bed, a walk out balcony, a separate seating area, fireplace and a pampering bathroom with a jetted tub.

110, including pet-friendly rooms
Price Rates vary by season and are dependent on the day of the week. May to October $290 to $640 per night; November to April $220 to $540 per night.
Conference Facilities Seven meeting rooms that can accommodate groups of up to 90 people.

Named by Spas of America as one of Canada’s Top 50 Spas in 2013, the Secret Garden Spa is an ideal spot for pampering. Choose from individual treatments like manicures, pedicures, facials, body wraps and massages, or day packages, and treatments for couples and mothers and daughters, which exclusively uses the Babor line of face and body products. Choose from signature treatments that are inspired by tea such as the Beau-teas facial or body wrap, or the green tea pedicure. Spa guests are can also relax in the salt water pool.

Three restaurants—Escabèche, Churchill Lounge and the Drawing Room—means that guests can enjoy an assortment of dining experiences right on the premises. Upscale Escabèche is a beautiful restaurant with panoramic views of Simcoe Park. Executive chef Chris Smythe utilizes fresh, local ingredients for a seasonal menu inspired by French cuisine, while chef sommelier Fred Gamula—who has been with the Prince of Wales for more than 20 years—can provide expert pairings from the wine cellar, which has more than 8,000 bottles representing Niagara wineries, but also France, Australia, Italy and California.

Churchill Lounge is a more casual spot for tucking into pub-style fare in a library-inspired space with bookcases and leather wingback chairs.

Of local renown is the afternoon tea service in the hotel’s Drawing Room. A cheery space in an elegant palate of crimson and ivory, guests can indulge in this midday treat served daily from noon to 6 p.m. Sip a variety of teas from beautiful fine bone china cups and saucers, while nibbling on housemade scones with strawberry jam, Devonshire cream and butter, pastries, cookies, finger sandwiches or a selection of cheeses.

6 Picton St. Niagara-on-the-Lake, 1-888-669-5566; vintage-hotels.com/princeofwales/.

HOTEL INSIDER: Ste. Anne’s Spa


Ste. Anne's Spa-1


Nestled in Southeastern Ontario’s Northumberland Hills, Ste. Anne’s Spa exudes relaxation. Don a bathrobe and flip flops from day to night—expect to see fellow guests sitting in the dining room in their white robes and sandals—as you go to the spa, sit in the steam room, jump in the hot tub or dive into the plunge pool. This is a destination for unplugging and recharging.

Whether you’re planning a one-day escape or an overnight visit, the country hideaway—and its beautifully landscaped grounds—is ideal for a girls’ getaway, a mother-daughter or couples’ trip, or even for team-building sessions. An all-inclusive day spa package includes two meals, spa services and complete use of the facilities, while an all-inclusive overnight visit includes four meals, spa treatments and use of the facilities.

Guests can stay in the main inn, which has two wings featuring rooms with working fireplaces, whirlpool tubs and balconies, or in one of eight spa cottages boasting private parking, shared kitchens, dining and living spaces, and hot tubs. A complimentary chef experience is available for groups of five or more: a chef prepares a four-course meal right in your cottage’s kitchen.

Size 400 acres of scenic countryside
Rooms 28, including eight spa cottages
Price  Rates are seasonal and dependent on the day of the week. The day spa rate is $170 to $220, and includes a three-course lunch, afternoon tea and $120 allowance for spa and wellness services. The overnight getaway rate is $299 to $515, which includes a four-course dinner, breakfast, three-course lunch, afternoon tea and $120 allowance for spa and wellness services.
Conference Facilities  Three newly created meeting rooms can accommodate corporate groups and retreats for 12 to 20 people. Each facility boasts the latest technology including smart boards, conference phone and audio-visual equipment. And since they’re located in spa cottages, access to a full kitchen, bedrooms, deck and outdoor hot tub are also included.

Consistently voted as one of Canada’s favourite spas by Spafinder, Ste. Anne’s is best known, of course, for its relaxing treatments, which can be performed at the main inn, at your spa cottage, or, from June to September, in a garden gazebo. There are more than 35 treatments on the menu, including 11 types of massages, plus body wraps, exfoliations and facials. Seasonal offerings include a maple scrub (April to May), a strawberry and sugar exfoliation (June), and a citrus foot scrub and hydrotherapy bath (July to August). The spa uses select Aveda products as well as its own Ste. Anne’s Skin Nourishment creams and lotions, which are made with 100 per cent pure botanical ingredients—some of which, such as rosemary, sage and geraniums, are grown right on the property.

There’s also a fitness facility with elliptical machines, treadmillls, recumbent bike, rowing machine, inversion table and weights. Daily wellness classes include morning and afternoon yoga, stretch, meditation and circuit training. Walking trails also wend their way around the property; in winter, they can be used for snowshoeing. There’s also an outdoor pool, a grotto with a hot tub, plunge pool and lap pool, and a eucalyptus steam room. An equine program allows guests to take part in the morning muck or the evening turn-in at the stables, help groom the horses or even learn to ride.

The kitchen serves healthy, well-balanced meals with vegetarian, gluten-, nut- and dairy-free options. Mains could include chicken breast stuffed with spinach and gorgonzola cheese with a roasted red pepper sauce, ratatouille, slow-roasted beef with a wine demi-glace, a quinoa pattie or tandoori marinated tofu with stewed beans and lentils. Afternoon tea is served daily from 3 to 5 p.m., with a sweet, savoury or fruit-and-cheese plate with the likes of orange cranberry scones, white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie, cucumber sandwiches with sundried tomato cream cheese, or fruit skewers with a blood orange maple yogurt dip. The resort is not licensed, but guests are invited to bring their own wine to Ste. Anne’s and enjoy it responsibility anywhere on the property. Staff can uncork the wine (there is no fee), but they cannot serve it to guests.

Well known for its gluten-free baked goods and desserts, Ste. Anne’s Bakery is open to guests as well as to the public. Pick up goodies such as banana bread, honey quinoa bread, almond milk bread and burger buns. Take-home desserts include shortbread or pecan sea salt toffee cookies, tiramisu, flourless chocolate cake, pecan tarts and granola. Or bring home savoury frozen meals such as lasagna, shepherd’s pie and roasted veggie quiche, along with cuts of pasture-raised beef, chicken and pork.

1009 Massey Rd., Grafton, Ontario, 1-888-346-6772; steannes.com

HOTEL INSIDER: Château Mont-Sainte-Anne

Château Mont-Sainte-Anne

Originally built in 1983, Château Mont-Sainte-Anne has recently undergone a renovation led by renowned Montreal architecture design firm Lemay Michaud. Contemporary aesthetics—think black, grey and blonde wood, leather seating, and stainless steel appliances—accent every room in the Nordik Studios, each of which has its own kitchenette. Visiting with a bigger group or for more than a night or two? Stay at the Espace Nordik penthouse or condo suites, which has fully-equipped kitchens, a washer-dryer and a fireplace for at-home convenience.

Château Mont-Sainte-Anne is also recognized by the Hotel Association of Canada as an environmentally-friendly facility. It was awarded Quebec’s first ‘4 Green Keys’ as part of the organization’s eco-rating program, which measures sustainable practices such as energy and water conservation, indoor air quality, sold and hazardous waste management, and community outreach.

Located just outside of Quebec City, Beaupré is best known as a skiing town, and the powder here doesn’t disappoint whether you’re going downhill or cross country skiing. The resort is a family-friendly ski-in and –out destination with gondolas that go right from the hotel to the slopes, along with a ski shop for renting or tuning skis, snowboards, helmets, goggles and more.

Rooms: 215
Price: Approximately $250 per night in winter; $150 per night in summer
Conference Facilities: Hails itself as being Quebec’s biggest resort conference centre with a 36,000 square-foot space on the premises, as well as six boardrooms in the resort itself.

Chef Franck Jourdan mans the 60-seat on-site restaurant, Bistro Nordik, which draws on fresh, seasonal fare and new Nordic cuisine. On the menu this winter are hearty offerings such as duck confit-stuffed chicken breasts and venison medallions with bilberries and cranberry chutney. Sweet and savoury options provide a happy ending to each meal, ranging from an apple crumble with cranberries and nuts to a cheese platter.

In winter, hit the slopes. Château Mont-Sainte-Anne is a short distance from two ski hills: Mont-Sainte-Anne and Le Massif de Charlevoix. Or slap on some snow shoes or cross country skis, hop aboard a dog sled or snow mobile to experience the pristine trails along the property. If après ski activities are more your speed, get pampered at Spa Château with facials, reflexology, and massages—try the hot shell massage for a unique experience. Indoor and outdoor pools, a sauna, two all-season hot tubs, a gym, and separate games and movie rooms for children and teens ensure that those staying indoors are as entertained as those playing outside.

In summer, hike or mountain bike along trails that stretch from the top of the mountain to the Jean-Larose waterfalls. Year-round, the Mestachibo Trail proffers another option for marveling at nature’s bounty, including river rapids and a canyon, and crosses over the Sainte-Anne river. Or tee off at Le Grand Vallon, an 18-hole, par 72 golf course with 6,618 yards of tree-lined stretches and 40 pure white sand traps.

530 boulevard de Beau-Pré, Beaupré, Quebec, 1-866-900-5211; chateaumontsainteanne.com

HOTEL INSIDER: The Wickaninnish Inn — Tofino, British Columbia


Photo: Russ Heinil

The Wickaninnish Inn (Photo: Russ Heinil)

Located on the western flank of Vancouver Island, The Wickaninnish Inn is surrounded by unbridled natural landscape, loaded with sea lions, whales and bears. The hotel’s windows allow visitors to gaze out at breathtaking Chesterman Beach, where the surf-worthy waves roll onto the sand and the ocean goes on for miles. Wickannish is a member of the exclusive network of Relais & Chateaux hotels, which guarantees a high level of luxury and comfort.

Start the slideshow tour of The Wickaninnish Inn »


HOTEL INSIDER: Langdon Hall – Cambridge, Ontario


Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa

Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa

This beautiful country house is hidden away in Cambridge, Ontario—about 100km from Toronto—and is surrounded by 75 acres of breathtaking gardens, rolling forests and manicured lawns. Named the best hotel in Canada by Conde Nast Traveller two years in a row, prestigious Langdon Hall offers luxury accommodations in quaint quarters. The hotel was originally used as the opulent summer house of the Wilks family, a history that is showcased by the authentic painted portraits that hang on the walls. After joining the internationally renowned Relais & Chateaux family of hotels, Langdon Hall was brought up to date while maintaining its old-world charm.

Start the tour of Langdon Hall »


HOTEL INSIDER: Sonora Resort – Sonora Island, British Columbia


Aerial view of the Sonora Resort

Aerial view of the Sonora Resort (Photo: Darren Bernaerdt)

Once a quaint fishing lodge on a secluded island, Sonora Resort has evolved into one of the country’s most luxurious hotels, offering all-inclusive packages from May to October. Its location on on Sonora Island—part of the Discovery Islands in British Columbia, home to orca whales, sea lions and bald eagles—allows the destination to create a unique experience that blends wilderness beauty with the grace and opulence of a Relais & Chateaux hotel.

Start the photo tour of Sonora Resort »


Canada's Most Expensive Hotel Rooms

Owner's Suite terrace at Vancouver's Fairmont Pacific Rim


Want to live the life of an A-lister in Canada? In addition to the de rigueur European vehicle and the haute couture clothing labels, those who live well travel well, too.

A night's stay in one of these exclusive hotel suites may cost more than a monthly mortgage payment.

See the suites »

bodybuilding steroids


HOTEL INSIDER: Fairmont Pacific Rim – Vancouver, BC


Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, Vancouver

The first thing one notices about the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel is its sweeping views of Vancouver. The shimmering silver building is perched on the edge of the city’s harbour, providing unique perspectives of downtown, the Coast Mountains and float planes taking off and landing on the water. The location provides much more, though—the Fairmont Pacific Rim is within walking distance of Stanley Park, Gastown and pretty much everything worth seeing in central Vancouver.

Take a photographic tour of the Fairmont Pacific Rim »


Hotel of the Week: Abigail’s Hotel—Victoria, British Columbia


A peaceful retreat from the busy streets of Victoria, this Tudor-revival-style bed-and-breakfast is three blocks from the Inner Harbour area, close enough to walk from where the seaplanes land.

The main portion of the 23-room Abigail’s Hotel was built in the 1930s as the Bessborough Apartments, named after the Governor General of Canada at the time, the Earl of Bessborough. In 1985 the building was converted to a bed-and-breakfast inn, undergoing a careful restoration, and was listed on the Historic Registry of the City of Victoria. The property has received awards many times over: it was on the TripAdvisor Best Hotels list of 2012 and was named one of the 10 most romantic B&Bs for 2012 by BedandBreakfast.com. (more…)

Hotel of the Week: Skoki Lodge—Lake Louise, Alberta


Opened in 1931, Skoki Lodge was Canada’s first commercial ski lodge. The National Historic Site in the Canadian Rockies‘ Banff National Park still retains an early 20th-century charm, due in no small part to its remote location. No roads lead to the log-cabin lodge, which is an 11-kilometre (three- to five-hour) steady, gradual uphill hike or ski from Lake Louise Ski Area, and you’ll have to trek in with all your gear—the lodge doesn’t provide any transport. (more…)